Sunday, June 27, 2010

Open Thread #015

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of alishav)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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TOS Article: Protect Yourself Against ObamaCare

By Paul Hsieh

The Summer 2010 issue of The Objective Standard includes my latest health care article, "How to Protect Yourself Against ObamaCare".

The website includes the introduction to the article, as follows:

On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known colloquially as "ObamaCare"), declaring that the law would enshrine "the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care."

But, for reasons I have elaborated in previous articles in TOS, far from establishing security regarding Americans' health care, this new law will make quality health care harder to come by and more expensive for everyone. Unfortunately, until our politicians rediscover the principle of individual rights, choose to uphold it, and reverse this monstrosity of a law, we Americans are stuck with it and will have to cope the best we can.

So, what can you do in this new era of "change" to preserve your access to quality health care?

Although it is impossible to avoid the harmful effects of ObamaCare entirely, if you plan wisely and act accordingly you can minimize its effects on you and maximize your chances of receiving quality health care in the future.

Toward that end, I offer the following four strategies, two of which pertain directly to your personal arrangements for health care, and two of which pertain to intellectual and political activism...
One of the points I highlight is the need to exercise your own independent judgment with respect to diet and exercise, rather than relying uncritically on government recommendations.

Subscribers have access to the full content. If you're not a subscriber, you can purchase a PDF for $4.95.

But if you want to read more of their excellent comment, I highly recommend subscribing! There are numerous new subscription options, including online only, print, audio, ebook (PDF, ePub and online), etc., to suit any budget and taste.

[Crossposted from FIRM blog.]

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Trey Givens hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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Friday, June 25, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #014

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.


What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Benjamin Skipper presents Chocolate Review: Ghirardelli's 100% Cocao posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "My thoughts on Ghirardelli's baking bar. Wonderfully bitter and lovely to pair with a sweet counterpart, but a bit expensive. Despite its price, I prefer it over the cheaper alternative I've tried since it's easier and more enjoyable to eat."

Amy Kubal presents Healthy "Guidelines"??? posted at Fuel As Rx.

Laurie Donaldson presents A Chicken in Every Pot posted at Food for Primal Thought.

Todd Dosenberry presents The Primal Blueprint Cookbook Recipes: Coconut Pancakes by Primal Toad posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "The recipe is from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. I have made coconut pancakes in the past but these were much better. Enjoy the video!"

Kristy A. presents Sunshine of Your Love Part 5: Toxicity posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "Fifth in the Mega Series on Vitamin D. How likely is vitamin D toxicity? What can happen to you? How can you safely get what you need? Find out the answers to these questions and many more!"

Nell Stephenson presents A Treat For Paleo Athletes posted at TrainWithNellie.

Christian W presents Avoiding the Micronutrient Madness posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "The unacknowledged truth about micronutrient optimization."

Diana Hsieh presents The Glorious Pain of CrossFit posted at NoodleFood, saying, "A glowing report on my experience with CrossFit after just a month of training at a local gym."

Josephine Svendblad presents Coconut-Curry Asparagus Soup posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "The combination of flavors is unbelievably delicious: the subtle sweetness of the coconut milk, mild curry and the interesting bittersweet taste of the asparagus make for a most delectable appetizer or even lunch entrée. Just remember to pair this soup with your favorite protein if you’re going to eat this as a stand-alone dish."

Jeff Pickett presents Monsanto's New Solution Places Us in More Danger posted at Primal Chat, saying, "It was a busy week earlier for Monsanto. What occurred will no doubt continue to impact the U.S. food supply and healthcare system."

Marc presents Fish and Sweet Potato Soup posted at Feel Good Eating, saying, "Gourmet on a budget. Easy, very tasty and quick."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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The Sous Vide Review #004

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this month's edition of Modern Paleo's second blog carnival, The Sous Vide Review!

The Sous Vide Review is a monthly blog carnival featuring the best blog posts on sous vide cooking from members of Modern Paleo's SousVide e-mail list. What is "sous vide"? As Wikipedia explains:

Sous-vide (pronounced /su ˈvid/), French for "under vacuum", is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point (usually around 60°C or 140°F).
Sous vide is an up-and-coming cooking method, one still quite new for most of us home cooks. The Sous Vide Review aims to expand our horizons. It highlights the best blogging on this emerging culinary art every month.

Now, without further ado, I present this month's edition of The Sous Vide Review:
David presents Stellar Weekend of Recipes to Share posted at Maison Marcel.

Josh Grills It All presents Plastic Baggies, Water Baths, Funny French Words posted at Josh Grills It All.

Fritz Cloninger presents Wag in the Bag posted at beef and whiskey, saying, "Wag in the Bag: Cooking a Wagyu ribeye sous-vide style."

Jason Logsdon presents Sous Vide Chicken Marsala posted at Cooking Sous Vide, saying, "A new 'sous vided' take on an old classic."
Many thanks to the members of SousVide who submitted to this edition of the The Sous Vide Review!

I hope to see The Sous Vide Review grow in the future as more people try sous vide cooking -- and blog on their adventures. If you blog on sous vide cooking and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the SousVide e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find the blogs of the SousVide; bloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Glorious Beets!

By Earl3d

The produce at Figueroa Produce has been particularly lovely lately. These organic chiogga beets were so beautiful I hated to cut them up and eat them!





Who knew beets would be so photogenic?! The colors were unreal.




All I did was coat them in olive oil and roast them for about 45 minutes at about 350, stirring and turning them about every 15 minues or so. I covered the pan with foil about half way through, to help keep the moisture in.


Here they are (below) with the sea bass they shared the oven with. To prepare the sea bass, I buttered the bottom of the pan, placed the fillets, then drizzled them with the juice of a grapefruit I picked from my tree in the front yard, as well as some olive oil, and a little salt + pepper. Then I baked them for 10 minutes, turned them over, and then finished them for another 6-8 minutes or so.


This was a pretty good pairing, and the sea bass was quite affordable at only about $3.59 a pound. The beet greens got cut up and mixed in with lettuce for salad. They were slightly firm, almost like spinach, and not at all tough. They also had a very interesting flavor that I'm at a bit of a loss to describe. It was almost like they were a little bit salty or tangy tasting. They could be served sauteed, but I think they were delicious raw.

Good stuff!

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Avoiding the Micronutrient Madness

By Christian Wernstedt

Nutrient X has been found good for Y, therefore eat foods that have X!

Really?

We all know the drill. Another article such as this is published that discusses some study linking certain micronutrients (minerals, vitamins etc) with protection from certain diseases. The enthusiastic reporter writing the piece invariably includes a list of foods (usually skewed towards politically correct foods) that have significant amounts of the wonder-nutritent under discussion.

Sure, it's great that the link beteween diet and health outcomes are made visible to the general public. Food is medicine. This message is important.

However, the big elephant in the room is never acknowledged:

The question that is always evaded is how a person could possibly access all of these super-important nutrients without having to make skewed or unhealthy trade-offs, or without having to hedge by stacking up 10000 calories per day of various food items listed in the reports, plus an array of supplements.

It is an optimization problem of potentially mindboggling complexity.

However in reality the answer is staring us in the face, and it is very easy:

Eat a diverse and as nutrient dense diet on a per calorie basis as possible, based on whole foods.

Let's look a bit on what this statement implies.

First we must add the qualification that since some foods contain anti-nutrients or toxins (gluten, lectins, saponins, etc) or other stuff that we want to avoid such as excess sugars or omega 6 fats, we must also make sure that we get as much of valuable nutrients per unit of undesireable content in our foods as possible.

To stay on a desired level of caloric intake and to otherwise preserve health, this means not eating foods that have a scarcity of micronutrients per calorie and/or mess with our health in other ways, and instead eat a variety of foods that have a maximum amount of nutrients per calorie, and a minimum of the stuff that we want to avoid.

Also, it must be a whole foods diet, and not a bunch of supplements (though I'm not against well considered supplementation) and not franken-foods like Atkins bars. The reason for this is that without a whole foods approach one will add another layer (if not several layers) of complexity in regard to how various nutrients interact when eaten together (or when not eaten together). There are also factors such as bio-availability and absorption that impact what actually happens when we ingest a nutrient in a processed form versus what happens when we eat it as a part of a whole food. (A great paper on food synergies here.) As evolved animals we are undeniably adapted to nutrient clusters delivered in the form of whole chunks of plant matter or whole chunks of animal tissue, not to nutrient molecules as such. (Each individual cell might not care if we ate a bunch of molecules or a steak, but each separate cell has no clue about our overall health, and doesn't care either.)

In practice things actually get quite simple: Eat a diet consisting of primarily meats (yes, meats including seafoods, and organ meats are the most nutrient dense foods that one can find) accompanied by a somewhat smaller amount (calorically speaking) of eggs and a variety of vegetables and perhaps some nuts and fruits thrown in occasionally.

In other words, the rational way to be nutritionally aligned in real life with the advice coming in from all of these micronutrient studies without going either crazy or become sick (or both) is to eat according to [drum roll] a paleo diet!

Who would have known?

PS. Great paper by Cordain showing more details on the supreme nutrient density of a contemporary paleo diet here.

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Raw Milk News and a Special Event

By Earl3d

There seems to be a lot of action lately around raw milk and related products over at Figueroa Produce, my favorite modern caveman food supply establishment. They have expanded their product line to include Caravale Farms raw Jersey milk and cream:

Pure, Raw Jersey Milk - Mmmmmm

I have had milk from jersey cows before, and I can tell you that if you like milk, you haven't lived until you try pure Jersey Milk. I don't know what those jersey cows have going on that makes their milk so delicious, but it is definitely an experience! That, combined with this milk being raw, makes this stuff a true delicacy.

And, as an aside, it's a true delicacy that you won't find at that big expensive national organic supermarket chain store that no longer sells raw milk, for reasons completely unrelated to the wholesomeness of the product, and in spite of the growing demand for it as more and more people realize how much better it is for you than regular milk.

Raw Cream, how great is that?

Raw Butter too!

In addition to the Claravale Farms products, they have expanded their Organic Pastures section as well. Now they carry raw butter, raw cheese (which you can see the edge of in the cream photo above) and I think a few other things I'm forgetting about.

What's all the fuss about raw milk, you ask? If you live in the L.A. area, I have a great way for you to find out: the folks at Fig Produce are hosting a special presentation (with free samples!) by Organic Pastures Dairy. This was supposed to have happened a few weeks ago, but got canceled. Happily, the Raw Milk Event has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 17th, at 5:30 p.m.

The not-so-great news is that it looks like I will not be able to attend. I am very disappointed, not only because I wanted to see the presentation myself and taste the samples, but also because my earlier post on the event seemed to generate some real interest, both over at Modern Paleo and on the OEvolve Google group.

Since I hate disappointing my readers, I am putting out an open call for a guest blogger to attend for me, and write about the event. If you would like to cover the Raw Milk Presentation, and have your guest post appear both at Modern Paleo and at my regular blog, Creatures of Prometheus, please email me thru (my first name)DOT(my last name)AT gmail DOT com.

You don't even need to have your own blog, or any blogging experience per se. All you would need to do is attend, take some pictures, ask a few questions (which will be provided in advance) during the Q and A, taste the samples, and write up a short report. I would be more than happy to help with resizing and editing the photos for the final blog post, if that's not in your bag of tricks.

Also, I would prefer to have someone who shares either (or preferably both) my Objectivist and/or Paleo views of things in general, if possible.

Remember: free samples! Spread the word!

Cross-posted from Creatures of Prometheus

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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Glorious Pain of CrossFit

By Diana Hsieh

In mid-May, I began training at a local CrossFit-affiliated gym: CIA Fit Gym. As has been evident from my tweets and status updates, I've been in PAIN GLORIOUS PAIN pretty consistently since then. I've also been enjoying myself immensely. And I'm very pleased with my results so far.

I'm just doing one or two half-hour classes per week, mostly with Kevin. On my off days, I'm gardening, rowing, and hiking. If I'm only doing one CrossFit class in a week, I try to lift heavy at home at least once. I might increase my training load after OCON, but right now, that's all that I can manage, physically or mentally. And it's good enough!

I've been nothing but super-happy with my experience with CrossFit so far. Here's some random thoughts about it:

  • I love the gym's schedule of four weeks on and then one week off. Breaks in training are important; you don't want to kill yourself week after week. My schedule of travel hasn't matched up with that well so far, but I'll get in sync after OCON. Also, they do the same workout for time at the beginning and the end of each four-week session, so that you can gauge your progress. (More on that below.)
  • I'm really pleased with the training I've gotten with regard to form on difficult movements, e.g. cleans. I've never felt neglected, nor burdened with more weight than I can handle as I learn these movements. So I'm definitely making progress with them, without risking injury.
  • I need the encouragement that I get from the trainers, as I could never convince myself to do these workouts on my own. They're simply too difficult. But I've never felt like I'm being pushed beyond my limits. If I'm just resting too long, I'll get a nudge to keep going. However, if I'm feeling off in any way -- like when I got a bit dizzy doing thrusters -- I can take the time I need to feel okay without any pressure.
  • I love the variety of movements I'm doing, and I love not knowing what I'll be doing in the workout until I check out the whiteboard in the gym. It's all difficult, particularly since I'm on the steep part of the learning curve for the skills, but it's interesting! Plus, I love seeing what used to be beyond my reach become easier, both with respect to strength and skill.
  • My classes are very small. I'm not in a popular time-slot because it's during working hours, and I like that. The gym does lots of fun outings though -- like backpacking trips -- that I'd love to do.
  • I'm definitely gaining in muscle. Hooray! I've still carrying about ten more pounds of fat than I'd like from the hypothyroidism, but I'm not going to worry about that for a few months. Just doing what I'm doing is quite enough.
  • My primary trainer Kevin is a darn nice guy, and he's eats Cordain's Paleo Diet. So we chat about beef jerky and other paleo foodstuffs pretty regularly. Heck, he even knew about Modern Paleo without my saying anything about it. That delighted me to no end, I must admit. After doing handstand pushups (with the band) for the first time on Friday, I said "Holy cow." Kevin corrected me: "Holy cats." Yup, that's a Robb-Wolf-ism. (He knows that I love that podcast.)
  • Much to my delight, the intense workouts seem to have kicked my metabolism into high gear, such that my few lingering hypothyroid symptoms have vanished. Basically, I'm no longer freezing cold, I've got plenty of energy, and the skin on my hands isn't dry. I feel totally normal, i.e. fabulous!
Finally, here's a fun note about my progress.

My very first CrossFit class happened to be the kind of killer workout for time that appears at the beginning and end of each session. That time, I managed to complete about 1/3 of it, and it nearly killed me. On Friday, in my sixth class, I did another such workout for the end of the session. (I was in New York at the beginning of the session, so I didn't do it then.) Here's what it was:
  • 10 hand-stand pushups. (I did those with a band and a spot, as that was my first time)
  • 70 push-ups with chest tap (ouch)
  • 30 sit-ups (on the ham-glute developer machine, but only going back to level)
  • 50 pullups (I used a band, and still I nearly died)
  • 50 figure-eight kettlebell lunges (I used 26 pounds, I think)
  • 50 air squats with hands overhead
  • 70 groiners (alternating legs, not so bad)
  • 30 dips
  • 10 burpees
You could do these items in any order, but once you started an item, you had to finish all the repetitions. My time was 33:37 -- definitely slower than everyone else, and slower than I'd like it to be. Nonetheless, I'm thrilled because I did the whole damn thing! Go me!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Open Thread #014

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of jillclardy)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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More FDA Paternalism

By Paul Hsieh

The FDA wants to make it harder for you to find out what's in your own DNA.

As one industry spokesman said, it's "appallingly paternalistic".

If a patient wants to know medically relevant information about his or her own body, and is willing to foot the bill, why should the government interfere?

(Via @zooko.)

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

3-Ring Binder hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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Keith Lockitch on Environmentalism

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

Keith Lockitch of the Ayn Rand Institute has written some excellent op-eds on environmentalism from an Objectivist perspective. Below you'll find two that I thought particularly illuminating.

First, It Isn't Easy Being Green:

It isn't news that environmentalism has gone mainstream in a big way--with organic food in every grocery store, hybrid cars on every freeway, and every mass-market magazine declaring green the "new black." More than ever before, consumers are buying into environmentalist ideology--and buying products that purport to impact nature less, in order to impact nature less.

One would think that serious environmentalists would be thrilled about this trend--thrilled that the public seems willing to take ecological marching orders and do its duty to the planet. But they aren't: A backlash against "buying green" has arisen in environmentalist circles, with critics disparaging the new eco-consumers as "light greens," and condemning the "Cosmo-izing of the green movement."

Surprising? Not really. Not if one grasps the deeper meaning of environmentalism.
What is "the deeper meaning of environmentalism"? Read the rest of It Isn't Easy Being Green to find out!

Second, No "Footprint," No Life:
As environmentalism continues to grow in prominence, more and more of us are trying to live a "greener" lifestyle. But the more "eco-friendly" you try to become, likely the more you find yourself confused and frustrated by the green message.

Have you tried giving up your bright and cheery incandescent light bulbs to save energy--only to learn that their gloomy-but-efficient compact fluorescent replacements contain mercury? Perhaps you've tried to free up space in landfills by foregoing the ease and convenience of disposable diapers--only to be criticized for the huge quantities of energy and water consumed in laundering those nasty cloth diapers. Even voicing support for renewable energy no longer seems to be green enough, as angry environmentalists protest the development of "pristine lands" for wind farms and solar power plants.

Why is it that no matter what sacrifices you make to try to reduce your "environmental footprint," it never seems to be enough?
For the answer, go read No "Footprint," No Life. It might surprise you.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #013

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Todd Dosenberry presents Primal Fitness: Simple Fit Workout Day 3 posted at Toad's Primal Journey.

Amy Kubal presents Not So "Natural" Flavors... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Nell Stephenson presents Is It OK To Use Wasabi On My Sashimi? posted at TrainWithNellie.

David Csonka presents You Can't Do Both Low-Carb And Low-Fat posted at Naturally Engineered, saying, "Humans are adaptable enough to live on a wide variety of food type combinations, but a high protein, low everything else diet does not work out so well."

Patrik presents PaleoDiet Meetups Everywhere on July 8th 2010 posted at Paleo Hacks, saying, "Kickstarting more self-organized Paleo Meetups!"

Benjamin Skipper presents Chocolate Review: Endangered Species 72% Raspberry posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "This marks the first in a long line of reviews for dark chocolate. I really love the stuff, for eating and thinking about it. Here I review Endangered Species 72% dark chocolate combined with raspberry flesh."

Paleotron presents Fried Zucchini posted at Paleotron, saying, "Fried Zucchini is a perfect paleo appetizer. It only takes a few ingredients, is cheap, and, most importantly, tastes incredible."

Michael Gold presents Footwear and an Integrated, Inductive View of the Foot posted at Modern Paleo.

Jeff Pickett presents A Growing Level of Concern posted at Primal Chat, saying, "It's in more than you know. And it's derivatives continue to show up in more and more foods. It's literally a growing concern."

Kristy A. presents Sunshine of Your Love Part 4: Supplementation posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "This is my fourth installment on this Hot Topic (and there are more to come!). Find out about Vitamin D supplementation/replacement guidelines to see if you're on track!"

Earl Parson presents Raw Milk Event Rescheduled and I Can't Go :( posted at Creatures of Prometheus, saying, "Figueroa Produce has rescheduled their Raw Milk Event, and here are all the details. Plus, other raw milk news and the most beautiful beets ever!"

Josephine Svendblad presents Roasted Pepita Encrusted Shrimp Salad posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "Today we’d like to introduce a very quickly prepared meal that you could serve as Hors d’oeuvre or on a salad for lunch or dinner as we show here in our picture. You can prepare this meal or appetizer in less than 5 minutes and you will enjoy all the health benefits and nutrition that your body needs."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

De-caffeinating My Life

By Christian Wernstedt

Don't get me wrong. I think that coffee is great - almost as great as Ray Peat thinks.


Even so, I have decided that I can't allow my caffeine intake to dictate my mood and energy anymore. I want to troubleshoot why I feel so slow and grumpy in the AM, particularly until I have had that first cup of joe. Another issue is that I have noticed how caffeine seems to make my heart rate go into overdrive with a lag of a few hours and I suspect it messes with my blood sugar too. (To be accurate, it seems like decaf coffee has somewhat deleterious side effects as well on my mental- and physical state.)

On a more general level, I want to see how far a clean paleo lifestyle can take me in terms of day to day well being and energy. I got a great energy boost from going paleo in mid 2008, and I think that, inherently, the human body, given an optimal supply of nutrients, should be able to produce just the right amounts of neurotransmitters and feel-good-chemicals in order to not need supplemental stimulants like coffee.


In any case, I'm not set to take coffee out of my life; I just don't want to be a slave to it. I'd like to rewind the clock 20 years or so, to the time when having a cup of coffee did something tangibly positive for me rather than just picking me up to baseline (combined with a cluster of side effects).

So, a couple of weeks ago, I begun cutting down on coffee by only drinking just enough to satisfy cravings and mitigate withdrawal symptoms. I might now toss away half a cup of espresso at the point where I feel that I've had the "right" amount. This has worked quite well, particularly in terms of my subjective experience of less feelings of stress and unduly raised pulse. A side effect in the first week was a bit of dizziness in the late afternoon, and in later weeks some headache - classic caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Two weeks ago I also wanted to start addressing my grumpy morning mood and remaining afternoon coffee cravings. For that purpose I got a supply of supplements to use for troubleshooting and as training wheels. The book The Mood Cure (HT: Cheeseslave) and Poliquin's seminar on brain nutrition provided some tips in regard to which ones.

Coffee has multi-pronged effects on the psyche. It stimulates the release of dopamine (the "go-do-something" neurotransmitter), it releases endorphins (feel good chemicals), and it impacts serotonin (a neurotransmitter related to mood and a range of other things).

So I wanted to try some supplemental compounds that might also impact the same brain chemicals in order to perhaps discover why I crave coffee in the morning, and to mitigate whatever deficiency might be implied by that.

At this point I've tried the following in a preliminary way - one compound per day, except for #4 which I've taken almost every day:

1) DLPA (DL-Phenylalanine) - Impacts both dopamine and endorphins levels positively. This is the one that Cheeseslave reported great results with.
2) L-Tyrosine - Impacts dopamine.
3) 5-HTP - A precursor to serotonin.

4) R-Lipoic Acid + Acetyl-L-Carnitine . (I'm not sure how related it is to what caffein does, but I threw this into the mix because it's a tried and tested combo for clearing "brain fog" in the morning.)

I wish I could announce a miracle cure at this point, but so far I can't say that any of the above has made any significant difference. This actually makes sense because a paleo diet, after all, supplies these compounds naturally through food given good digestive function, and I don't have any overt digestive problems. (By the way, carby foods can create a temporary release of serotonin that probably beats a typical low carb paleo meal, but that's more of a transient effect.)

I will probably try the supplements a bit more systematically in another round of testing, while continuing to reduce my daily dose of coffee.

The goal is to go to zero, and to stay there for a couple of weeks with more troubleshooting of my morning grumpiness, and then to go back to drinking a small amount every day.

Read more...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Footwear and an Integrated, Inductive View of the Foot

By Michael Gold

In Mid-May, some of my new shoes arrived -- and I threw out, in a very fitting way (don't ask!), my old, $120+ New Balance running shoes. Here are my new shoes (both pairs of which I highly recommend):

Why new shoes? Why not modern running and dress shoes? Aren't the shoes we already have modern and scientific? And don't they have a lot of orthopedic- and physiologic science backing them up?

Quite the contrary, I think. Unfortunately. Modern shoes are based on incomplete "science." They are not based on Aristotelian science: inductive, integrated knowledge of cause and effect.

We need to follow the Aristotelian program, and think what function(s) our feet are supposed to have. To figure out how to use and care for our feet -- and to see whether modern shoes are good or bad for our feet -- we need to appeal to physics, anthropology, study of primitive cultures, evolution, physiology, exercise science.

A good general primer is Mark Sisson's blog post "How to Strengthen Your (Bare, Flat) Feet."

The study that Mark Sisson mentions in his post -- "Conclusions Drawn From a Comparative Study of the Feet of Barefooted and Show-Wearing Peoples" by Phill. Hoffmann, M.D. -- is available for pdf download on the website of the JB&JS, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. That website also has a summary of the article.

The pdf includes the B&W pics that Mark Sisson has posted on his site, and more. In his research, Dr. Hoffman looked at ancient sculpture as well primitive cultures, and provided some pictures of sculpture in his article. He took a much more comprehensive view of the human foot than most moderns seem to do.

A good study of the physics, physiology, and exercise science of using our feet is being done by Harvard's Skeletal Biology Lab: Biomechanics of Foot Strikes & Applications to Running Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear. On their home page, they say:

There are many discrepancies between the way some of the press has reported our paper "Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners" (Lieberman et al., Nature, 463: 531-565) and what the paper actually reports.

Here is a summary of our findings, which we try to explain in simple terms, videos and images in the following pages:



Our research asked how and why humans can and did run comfortably without modern running shoes. We tested and confirmed what many people knew already: that most experienced, habitual barefoot runners tend to avoid landing on the heel and instead land with a forefoot or midfoot strike. The bulk of our published research explores the collisional mechanics of different kinds of foot strikes. We show that most forefoot and some midfoot strikes (shod or barefoot) do not generate the sudden, large impact transients that occur when you heel strike (shod or barefoot). Consequently, runners who forefoot or midfoot strike do not need shoes with elevated cushioned heels to cope with these sudden, high transient forces that occur when you land on the ground. Therefore, barefoot runners can run easily on the hardest surfaces in the world without discomfort from landing. If impact transient forces contribute to some forms of injury, then this style of running (shod or barefoot) might have some benefits, but that hypothesis remains to be tested.



Please note that we present no data or opinions on how people should run, whether shoes cause some injuries, or whether barefoot running causes other kinds of injuries. We believe there is a strong need for controlled, prospective studies on these problems.
We can find out more about connecting the use and care of our feet to the use and care of our body by studying the work, writing, and systems of Ester Gokhale, Erwan Le Corre (founder of MovNat), Natural Posture Running, "Shoes, Sitting, and Lower Body Dysfunctions" (HT to Christian W), and others.

With this background and more, I bought the moccasins and VFFs.

So far (it's been a month now), I love them both. On the right are the Vibram Five Fingers (pictured are the KSO Trek; I have a pair of KSO on the way). They are very close to barefoot -- though, as I have gone barefoot a lot (around the house; when sprinting; when working out with kettlebells at home; when doing Crossfit-style workouts at home) for about a year, I find barefoot is better. But I would not go barefoot to the gym or a public restroom! And the VFFs provide good foot protection on ground with rocks or sharp objects. The VFFs have a minimal sole, a low profile, and a pocket for each individual toe; they allow you to feel the surface on which you are walking, allow your foot to function naturally, and allow you to have better posture. (Do I need to add a proviso for the FDA, USDA, ICC, and all the other alphabet agencies, that I am not receiving any benefit from these companies? Well, except for the shoes I bought and paid for. And the consequences deriving from said shoes that I bought.)

Like the VFFs, the mocs -- I bought a pair of Double Bottom Softsole from Totem Pole (HT: Kara D) -- are very low (e.g., I can roll onto the sides of my feet with a smooth motion; I do not have the sudden falling clunk as with running shoes); they are very flexible; they make me feel "grounded;" they allow me to feel the ground surface I am walking on, as opposed to "anaesthetizing" running shoes or dress shoes; I feel like I am walking on earth, not an air mattress or water pillow; and they make it possible, and encourage, good foot strike on the ground. I do not have to make myself not use my heel as I did when wearing running shoes. I feel more like I am walking barefoot, as far as foot strike goes -- and this is important to me. In the month I've had them, I've noticed that proper foot strike is much easier to achieve than it was with running shoes, and walking is much more enjoyable.

Sometimes I feel -- with the nice, smooth compressions of my feet by concrete sidewalks -- like my feet are getting a massage. The VFFs sometimes allow the toes to feel stimulated like they cannot be in running shoes.

And sometimes, as quiet as my footstep can be, I feel like an American Indian on the hunt. Priceless.

Course, in the mocs, my toes are not spread out and capable of individual motion as they are with the VFFs. But I can wear mocs to work and to a restaurant, which I could not do with the VFFs. And the mocs provide more give than conventional running shoes or dress shoes, which are rigid; the mocs have a leather top and bottom, which expands and stretches with my foot.

I liked the first pair of moccasins I bought so much, that I bought more (arrived June 4th):

Pictured are two pair of Leather Laced Softsole (they are the only pair of mocs I have that are padded; but they are still low-profile and flexible) and, in the middle, a pair of Moosehide Double Bottom Softsole. The middle pair is for nicer, more formal occasions. The other pairs are for horseback riding and messing around.


Someone new to going barefoot or to wearing "minimalist" footwear might want to start with the padded mocs. As for me, I like the double-soled mocs much, much better. But I've been sprinting and exercising barefoot for over a year now. When the padded mocs wear out, I'll replace them with some double-soled mocs rather than another pair of padded.

Barefoot would be optimal, allowing you to feel the ground (thereby giving you sensory data and feedback that you miss when wearing shoes), adjust to minor and large-scale variations in the terrain (again, you miss this when wearing cushed-up shoes; but this is not so much an issue with mocs and VFFs), develop muscles and tendons needed for balance and strength (with modern running shoes, this does not happen as much as is optimum; VFFs and the mocs are very close to optimum).

But I need something I can wear to work and something to wear to the gym to work out. Vibram Five Fingers or barefoot would not be appropriate to wear to work. Even moccasins will probably be pushing the bounds for some people.

Some notes on mocs and VFFs:

1. I have been going barefoot, i.e., sockless, in my mocs so my feet are getting discolored. You might want to wear socks.

2. The mocs are secure and comfortable, but easy on, easy off.

3. One night, when walking in a wet grocery store parking lot, wearing a pair of the Laced Leather Softwole mocs, I found myself slipping a little on some steps. I'd like better traction than that. And, since the mocs were made from a single piece of leather, my feet were getting slightly moist/damp. It would be a good idea to get a pair with a thin rubber bottom or a pair of hard-soles. And maybe to apply some water repellent to a pair.

4. The recommendation for sizing on the Vibram site seems accurate. Follow the instructions for sizing on Birthdayshoes.com. Some people have recommended getting a size bigger than what those instructions say.

5. Re perspiration in VFFs, you can wash the shoes, then let them air dry. I have not, of course, had to deal with that yet. I've read some things (not much) about cleaning and deodorizing them; someone recommended baking soda.

Update (6-24-10, 10:10 PM):
6. The VFFs and mocs, being lower to the ground than running shoes, might require you to roll up your jeans/pants or buy some new jeans/pants.


7. The padded mocs (which have a single piece of leather for the sole) seem narrower than the double-soled pair. Maybe it was my imagination. I'll have to measure them.

8. The size 42 VFF KSOs, I received last Thursday (6-18). They did not have a lot of toe room, as I worried they would. They fit good. In fact, they make me want to try on a size 43. But, as I said, the size 41 KSO Trek fit just fine.

9. Since there is such variation in the shoes by style, and since it's looking like I should be wearing a size or two bigger shoe than I measured to fit, I think you should decide what size to get by trying shoes on.


Here are some companies and individuals that sell similar footwear (HT to Kevin A and David L for some of these):

Vivo Barefoot -- minimalist shoes

Russell Moccasin -- handmade, custom moccasins, boots, and shoes

Sa-Cinn -- moccasins and mukluks (appear to be authentic & handmade)

List of companies/people who make American Indian moccasins

Native Arts Trading -- handmade, custom authentic Indian moccasins

Spirit Connection Store -- Native American-style moccasins and moccasin kits

Feelmax Footwear -- minimalist footwear

Barefoot Ted's Sandals -- sandals and more

I'd be interested, of course, in hearing what others have to say. Questions? Thoughts? Criticisms? Further input?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quiche Bowls and Microwaves

By Ari

My purpose here is two-fold: to briefly discuss the alleged harms of microwave cooking, and to mention oven-baked quiche bowls.

After writing about microwave egg bowls, several people claimed that cooking by microwave is unhealthy because of the way it modifies foods. While I remain open to evidence demonstrating some harm of microwave cooking, to date I have seen not a shred of evidence to suggest that microwaves are in any way unhealthy.

Note that evidence does NOT consist of parroting some other web page on the matter which itself relies on overblown and unsubstantiated claims.

Also recall that Franz Mesmer made some superficially plausible-sounding claims regarding magnetic health treatments -- claims that turned out to be complete crap. (That hasn't stopped various companies from continuing to sell magnetic underwear and such, which is comparable to snake oil.)

I have also read that cooking itself harms food and is therefore unhealthy; see the "raw food" movement. I do not doubt that microwaves alter foods, as does any sort of cooking; what I doubt is that microwave cooking alters foods in ways significantly differently than the ways that regular cooking does, and that cooking itself is harmful. (Obviously certain types of cooking, such as charring meat over an open, smokey fire can introduce carcinogens.) Rather, I am persuaded that cooking actually makes many foods more healthy for human consumption, and that humans evolved while cooking with fire.

Readers are welcome to point to actual evidence testing claims about microwave healthiness. However, I will not publish comments that merely cite other unsubstantiated claims.

Nevertheless, obviously there are many ways to cook foods other than by microwave, and different techniques provide better results for different dishes.

This morning, I cooked quiche bowls for my wife and me in the oven:

DSCN6416

My bowl consisted of two eggs, some milk, a quarter of a diced red pepper, some sausage (which my wife skipped), and a slice of swiss cheese. The bowls cooked to perfection in 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. We used our regular, oven-safe ceramic bowls.

There are several advantages to cooking a bowl of eggs in the oven rather than in the microwave. I like the texture better. One can cook several bowls at the same time. There is no need to stir the contents during cooking, as is necessary with a microwave. I like bowls rather than one large quiche because they cook faster, and different eaters can add different ingredients. And the clean-up is trivial. We ate our breakfast straight from the bowls resting on coasters; the bowls would be too hot for children.

I will probably start cooking eggs more often this way, because they are healthy, good, and easy. So there are definitely reasons to choose some cooking methods over others for different dishes. Overblown, unscientific fear mongering is not among those reasons.

See Ari Armstrong's blog.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Open Thread #013

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of netskibruhaha)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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Hsieh OpEd at PJM: Free Speech Use It or Lose It

By Paul Hsieh

PajamasMedia recently published my latest OpEd, "Free Speech: Use It or Lose It".

My theme is that Americans need to be aware of some dangerous new threats to our freedom of speech, and we must fight back based on a proper intellectual defense of free speech.

In particular, paleo bloggers should be alarmed at any move by the government to clamp down those advocating health and scientific position that might run contrary to "conventional wisdom".

Here is the introduction:

"We're from the government and we'll have to revoke your blogging license if you keep spreading too much 'misinformation.'"

A few years ago, such a warning would have seemed far-fetched. But recent developments threaten to turn this from bad science fiction into grim reality. If bloggers and independent journalists wish to avoid this nightmare, we must speak out now to defend freedom of speech -- and we must defend it for the right reasons...
(Read the full text of "Free Speech: Use It or Lose It".)

I'd also like to acknowledge two excellent sources for some of the ideas presented in this OpEd.

The first is Steve Simpson's article in the Spring 2010 issue of The Objective Standard, "Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America".

The second is Eric Daniels' superb course from OCON 2008, "Freedom of Speech in American History".

And thank you, Instapundit, for the link-love!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Titanic Deck Chairs hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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What Is Philosophy?

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

Lately, I've begun re-reading Leonard Peikoff's book Ominous Parallels. In the second chapter, I was struck by the clarity of his explanation of what philosophy studies. People are often baffled by the very subject of philosophy: they confuse it with religion, psychology, or anthropology. When teaching introductory philosophy courses in graduate school, I always spent a class or two on philosophy itself, so that my students wouldn't be utterly confused about the purpose of the course.

So for anyone not quite clear, these paragraphs might be illuminating:

Philosophy is the study of the nature of existence, of knowledge, and of values.

The branch of philosophy that studies existence is metaphysics. Metaphysics identifies the nature of the universe as a whole. It tells men what kind of world they live in, and whether there is a supernatural dimension beyond it. It tells men whether they live in a world of solid entities, natural laws, absolute facts, or in a world of illusory fragments, unpredictable miracles, and ceaseless flux. It tells men whether the things they perceive by their senses and mind form a comprehensible reality, with which they can deal, or some kind of unreal appearance, which leaves them staring and helpless.

The branch of philosophy that studies knowledge is epistemology. Epistemology identifies the proper means of acquiring knowledge. It tells men which mental processes to employ as methods of cognition, and which to reject as invalid or deceptive. Above all, epistemology tells men whether reason is their faculty of gaining knowledge, and if so how it works--or whether there is a means of knowledge other than reason, such as faith, or the instinct of society, or the feelings of the dictator.

The branch of philosophy that studies values is ethics (or morality), which rests on both the above branches--on a view of the world in which man acts, and of man's nature, including his means of knowledge. Ethics defines a code of values to guide human actions. It tells men the proper purpose of man's life, and the means of achieving it; it provides the standard by which men are to judge good and evil, right and wrong, the desirable and the undesirable. Ethics tells a man, for instance, to pursue his own fulfillment--or to sacrifice himself for the sake of something else, such as God or his neighbor.

The branch of philosophy that applies ethics to social questions is politics, which studies the nature of social systems and the proper functions of government. Politics is not the start, but the product of a philosophic system. By their nature, political questions cannot be raised or judged except on the basis of some view of existence, of values, and of man's proper means of knowledge.
Of course, the best overall introduction to philosophy is Ayn Rand's essay "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" in her anthology Philosophy: Who Needs It. Nothing beats that.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #012

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere. As always, you'll likely find some new paleo bloggers that you'll want to read regularly!

Here is this week's edition:
Paleotron presents Nopalitos Salad posted at Paleotron, saying, "I made a super fast chop 'n' mix cactus (nopales) salad for a side with my fajitas - delicious, fast, easy, cheap, and paleo, just like me."

Amy Kubal presents (Dys)"Functional" Foods.... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Tara Grant presents FEMIVORISM Grr. posted at Primal Living, saying, "I recently came across an article in the NY Times talking about "femivorism" and realized I fall right into this category. It fits in perfectly with a primal/paleo lifestyle, and I suspect a lot of you are femivores too. :)"

Nicole Markee presents The Ketogenic Diet posted at Astrogirl, saying, "I learned more about biochemistry from this e-book than any other I've ever read!"

Patrik presents What do you think of Epimicrobiomics? posted at Paleo Hacks.com.

Dan Gregory presents Primal small plate posted at The Red Pill.

Nell Stephenson presents Ordering Off of the Menu posted at TrainWithNellie.

Richard Nikoley presents Dry Rub BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Paleo Sauce & Slaw posted at Free The Animal, saying, "More cooking. Of note is that the BBQ sauce is paleo compliant, spicy, & low-carb."

Jeff Pickett presents Caveman Resurrection is Now Available! posted at Primal Chat, saying, "After three months of work, it's finally done. A complementary body of work to make your caveman transformation the best you've ever been."

Diana Hsieh presents Homemade Mayo: Disaster Averted posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "I was able to save delicious homemade mayo gone wrong by re-emulsifying it."

Ari Armstrong presents No Sugar Cheesecake posted at Modern Paleo.
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stress, Sleep, and Exercise

By Hoyt Chang

Previously I blogged about my high intensity training with a focus on the recovery time in between workouts. Since then I've collected more data, and the focus now is on stress.

On May 1, I had a couple of beers with dinner. I almost never drink. It was the first time drinking since college. Even in college I didn't drink much. I should go for wine, since beer is made from grains and we know that grains are bad news. But I had 2 beers.

The next day (May 2) I did my high intensity workout, with an 8 day interval since my previous workout. It was a horrible workout. I felt like I was not in control, and my whole body was wracked with pain. I felt like I gave up at the end of each exercise, because of the unbearable diffuse pain, instead of an exhaustion isolated to the specific muscles I was working out. The next day, there was no soreness.

The data is in the chart below. As you can see, the seated row and the bench press increased, but the bicep pull-down, the seated overhead press, and the squats decreased. There is one caveat, though, if you are trying to draw any conclusions from this workout. This workout was when I started implementing Drew Baye's Dynamic Exercise Ordering. Basically, since the bicep pull-down showed the greatest improvement in the previous exercise, I shifted it to last during this work out, and put the seated row and the bench press earlier in the workout. This may explain why these two exercises improved: I performed them without being tired from the other exercises. This, in combination with the beer, and possibly other significant factors, led to the data you see. Recall that TUL is time under load, and ideally we want to see steady improvement in TUL for a fixed weight being lifted.



I then performed workouts on May 10, May 20, June 3, and Jun 11, continuing the dynamic exercise ordering of moving the poorest-performing exercise to the beginning of the workout. The data just jumps around with no discernible trend, although the bicep pull-down fluctuates the most. This is 5 data points over the course of 2 months, which is a considerable time period, and yet no real progress was made. Why?

A while ago, Christian wrote a post about stress and exercise. Robb Wolf talks a lot about stress and sleep on his podcast. Body by Science talks about the need for stress management. Mark Sisson has talked a lot about the need for sleep when the sun goes down. See what I'm getting at?

The reason I had the beers was because I was very stressed out, from my work, among other things. This was the kick-off for a period of prolonged stress and a very bad sleep cycle: getting to bed between 2 and 4 am, and hitting the snooze button several times at 7 am. My personality is such that I am very likely to stay up late if I’m doing something where I easily ignore my own tiredness: reading books, watching TV, surfing the web and reading blogs, listening to music, painting, etc. During the day, I’ve been 100% engaged in my work, which recently has to do with solving crisis after crisis. I love it and hate it. I love it for the opportunity to be unusually productive, and I can ignore my tiredness because the work is so urgent, and I hate it because in the evenings I’m tired but not sleepy. Even if I have the discipline to get to bed early, I can’t sleep and just lie there wide awake because I’m wired.

All this has had a negative impact on my workouts. Previously, I could feel my specific muscles getting worked out with a burning sensation, and I felt extraordinarily exhausted, but fantastic, after a workout, as well as the day after. Now I just feel a whole lot of diffuse pain during a workout, and no “feel-good” or any soreness afterward.

I need to get back into a healthy sleep cycle. There was a short period of time earlier this year where I went to bed between 8 and 10 pm, and woke up each morning refreshed, and usually before my alarm clock. I’m pretty sure that if I stay in the current unhealthy cycle, my workout performance will just bounce around in the same range and not show any improvement. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall from a good sleep cycle to a bad one: all it takes is one night of staying up too late, but it’s hard to go from a poor sleep cycle to a good one: even if I change my evening schedule to get to bed earlier, I’m wired and unused to falling asleep so early, so there is no quick fix. I have to gradually ease back into the better sleep cycle. Ironically, it takes hard work to sleep better and reduce stress! And there's a sense in which I think I'm still young and invincible and can handle any sleep deprivation, but at the same time I know I desperately need to fix my problem and get my ducks lined up. Even as I write this I'm half dead-zombie-tired and half alert and energetic.

Back to the exercises. The performance of the squat is not very meaningful, I don’t think. More often than not, I stop not because my legs have reached failure, but because my back has gotten tired and I sense that it will become dangerous if I continue. If I can find a leg press machine I can solve this problem.

I tend to do much better at the pulling exercises than the pushing exercises. You may notice that the bench press and the seated press just kind of coast along without much improvement at any time. When I do these exercises, I believe that I spend too much energy flexing non-essential muscles. With the pulling exercises, I feel more in control and I tend to do a better job of targeting essential muscle groups such as the biceps. With the pushing, I just get tired overall without being able to target anything. I think I can help address this problem by using a lighter weight for the pushing exercises. It may help me learn how to relax non-essential muscles like my back, my legs, my neck, etc. In all the data so far, I haven’t yet changed the weights.

Also, I might reduce the big 5 to a big 3, because I’m just so damn tired after my first and second exercise that I don’t think I’m being very productive on the remaining exercises.

And now, I've spent more than enough time staring at a computer screen, and it's time for lights out.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Amazing Almond Meal Pancakes

By Ari

Somebody recommended Rick's Primal Pancakes, and they are absolutely amazing. These are honestly the best pancakes I've ever eaten. I think it's something about the flavors of the coconut with the almond.

DSCN6059

I used the recipe as listed, except I doubled it. The given recipe consists of 1 egg, 1/4 cup Almond Meal, 1/4 cup of coconut milk, 1/8 t cinnamon, and 1/8 t vanilla extract. They were a bit runny, so I think you could increase the ratio of meal to milk. (I imagine you could also use cow milk.)

I wend shopping this morning at Sunflower before I made breakfast. I was going to purchase almond meal, but it can cost over $10 per pound. Before I left, I read Yvette Marie's suggestions for making almond meal. So I paid something like four dollars a pound for bulk raw almonds at Sunflower, then made my own meal. (I didn't sift the meal, as Marie suggests, but I don't mind it a little crunchy.) It turned out great.

DSCN6062

DSCN6063

(See Ari Armstrong's blog.)

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

No-Sugar Cheesecake

By Ari

For New Year's, Jennifer made a great cheese cake without sugar or any added sweetener. We topped it with blueberries or apples sauteed in butter and cinnamon, so of course that added the fruits' sugar. The texture of the cake was fantastic.

We used a low-carb cheesecake recipe, except we didn't put in the "artificial sweetener" (because, yuck). While I like it fine without any sweetener, we discussed putting somewhere between a quarter cup and a half cup of sugar in future attempts if we want a sweeter dessert.

One thing we got out of this recipe that will be useful for other things is the almond meal crust. We'll probably make this for quiche and mousse pies.

To make the crust, mix a cup of almond meal and two tablespoons of melted butter (Jennifer just used a fork for the mixing). We thought we'd increase the quantities by half next time. Press the mixture into the bottom of a pie plate, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until slightly browned.

DSCN6179

To make the filling, mix in the following ingredients, one at a time in order, with a hand mixer, scraping the bowl with a spatula between each ingredient:

* 3 packages (1.5 pounds) cream cheese (room temperature)
* 4 eggs (preferably room temperature)
* 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
* 1.5 teaspoons lemon juice
* 0.25 cup sour cream
* 0.25 cups sugar or some other sweetener (optional)

After you add the last ingredient, beat the mixture for an additional minute.

We used a water bath to bake the cake. Ours worked great for an hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It puffed up a bit and then settled back down as it cooled.

Here's the finished cake in the water bath:

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Cooled, sliced, and topped:

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(See Ari Armstrong's blog.)

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Homemade Mayo: Disaster Averted

By Diana Hsieh

A few days ago, I made Monica's mayonnaise for the third time. (I made it in my food processor. I didn't add any sugar, and I used 1/2 coconut oil and 1/2 high oleic sunflower oil. I had to heat the oil ever so slightly to melt the coconut oil.)

At first, the egg and oil mixture emulsified well, but after adding one-and-a-half of the two cups of oil, I realized that I'd run out of space in the small bowl of my food processor. So I switched everything to the larger bowl. (When I made this mayo the first time, I made a half batch. I used the large bowl, and that was the wrong choice. Alas, I chose wrongly again!)

Unfortunately, something in that process of overcrowding then switching bowls caused a serious problem, because the mayo was reverting to a liquid state. Or maybe the two cups of oil was too much. I'm not sure. In any case, after I added the vinegar and the lemon juice, I had runny, separating liquid rather than a thick, creamy emulsification. Yikes! I was seriously unhappy at the thought of wasting all that good oil. Plus, I needed the mayo for my lunch, and I was hungry!

I tried adding another egg yolk into the mixture, but that didn't do anything. So I moved the liquid-mayo to a bowl, added three more egg yolks into the food processor, turned it on for a minute, then slowly drizzled in the liquid mayo. Basically, I re-made the mayo.

Much to my delight, that worked! The mayo emulsified again perfectly. After I took this picture, I added the whey and left it on the counter for a few hours to preserve it. (That immediately turned the mayo more white; I have no idea why!) Meanwhile, I was able to make myself some delicious turkey salad for lunch.

In case you've had problems making mayo -- or in case you do -- don't despair! You might be able to save it.

Notably, after writing up the above account for OEvolve, William Green sent me a link to Alton Brown recommending the same process for emulsification gone wrong. (See "Scene 6.") Nice!

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Open Thread #012

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of vauvau)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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The Disaster of the Gulf Oil Leak

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

I've love to write up some substantive commentary on the BP oil spill in the Gulf, but I'm sure that I won't have time. So I must content myself with a few quick points, plus some links:

  • The oil spill is clearly a horrid disaster for mankind and our environment, including for our marine food supply, recreation, science, and more. I can only hope that the leak is plugged, and soon. That will require serious money, determination, and ingenuity -- not more grandstanding from politicians, activists, and the media. I hope that BP has what it takes to do the job, but I worry they don't.

    "Plug the Damn Hole!" by Tom Bowden of ARC
    Obama's Metaphysical Frustration by Doug Reich
    A Quick Thought on this Oil Spill and Extraordinarily Callous by Trey Givens

  • If BP was negligent, then it ought to pay for the cleanup in its entirety, even if that means the company goes bankrupt. I suspect it will, given the vast damage done. Our government might subsidize BP or limit its liability, but I hope not. (Or rather, I hope that's not already the case.) That would be a horrible injustice.

    BP Would Be Toast in a Truly Free Market by Kevin Carson

  • Environmentalists like to blame oil companies for such disasters, then call for further regulations on industry. Yet such disasters are the product of existing regulations that prevent oil companies from drilling in perfectly safe areas, including on land. People who want to prevent these kinds of disasters in the future should advocate for the repeal of environmental regulations in favor of strict adherence to property rights and tort law.

    Environmentalism is Responsible for the Gulf Oil Spill by Jason Stotts
    The Offshore Drilling Controversy: Remember Santa Barbara by Alex Epstein of ARC

  • The oceans should be homesteaded as private property by the people and companies that create value from them. As with all private property, owners would have a strong incentive to maintain the value of the property. In some cases, that would mean protecting access for drilling or mining. In others, that would mean making the property useful for recreation, such as fishing, snorkeling, or sailing. In others, that would mean protecting and enhancing the value of the marine life for food or even study. Such homesteading might not have prevented this disaster, but it's necessary to preserve and protect the value of the oceans in the long run.

    Deep-Six the Law of the Sea by Thomas Bowden of ARC
For right now, I just hope the leak can be sealed off safely and effectively.

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Nick Provenzo Rule of Reason hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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Exploit the Earth

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

Last week, I posted a brief sketch of why Objectivists reject environmentalism, even though most find pleasure in nature. Here, I explore that topic further, thanks to a blog post from Craig Biddle (editor of The Objective Standard) in response to Earth Day. (I'm reproducing it with his permission.) He argues that human life depends on exploiting the Earth, and he explains what that means. But beware... as you can tell just from the phrase "exploit the earth," Craig Biddle minces no words!

Exploiting the Earth--using the raw materials of nature for one's life-serving purposes--is a basic requirement of human life. Either man takes the Earth's raw materials--such as trees, petroleum, aluminum, and atoms--and transforms them into the requirements of his life, or he dies. To live, man must produce the goods on which his life depends; he must produce homes, automobiles, computers, electricity, and the like; he must seize nature and use it to his advantage. There is no escaping this fact. Even the allegedly "noble" savage must pick or perish. Indeed, even if a person produces nothing, insofar as he remains alive he indirectly exploits the Earth by parasitically surviving off the exploitative efforts of others.

According to environmentalism, however, man should not use nature for his needs; he should keep his hands off "the goods"; he should leave nature alone, come what may. Environmentalism is not concerned with human health and wellbeing--neither ours nor that of generations to come. If it were, it would advocate the one social system that ensures that the Earth and its elements are used in the most productive, life-serving manner possible: capitalism.

Capitalism is the only social system that recognizes and protects each individual's right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Under capitalism, people are fully free to choose their goals, to identify the means of attaining them, and to act on their best judgment. Accordingly, those who recognize that in order to live well they and their loved ones need abundant energy, clean air, clean water, and the like tend to use the available resources rationally, with an eye to the distant future. Further, under capitalism, if a person (or corporation) spews toxins onto someone's land, or poisons his water supply, or in any other way violates his property rights, the offender is held accountable in a court of law. But, so long as a person does not violate anyone's rights, he is free to act in accordance with his basic means of living: the judgment of his mind.

Environmentalism, of course, does not and cannot advocate capitalism, because if people are free to act on their judgment, they will strive to produce and prosper; they will transform the raw materials of nature into the requirements of human life; they will exploit the Earth and live.

Environmentalism rejects the basic moral premise of capitalism--the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment--because it rejects a more fundamental idea on which capitalism rests: the idea that the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value. While the standard of value underlying capitalism is human life (meaning, that which is necessary for human beings to live and prosper), the standard of value underlying environmentalism is nature untouched by man.

The basic principle of environmentalism is that nature (i.e., "the environment") has intrinsic value--value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of the requirements of human life--and that this value must be protected from its only adversary: man. Rivers must be left free to flow unimpeded by human dams, which divert natural flows, alter natural landscapes, and disrupt wildlife habitats. Glaciers must be left free to grow or shrink according to natural causes, but any human activity that might affect their size must be prohibited. Naturally generated carbon dioxide (such as that emitted by oceans and volcanoes) and naturally generated methane (such as that emitted by swamps and termites) may contribute to the greenhouse effect, but such gasses must not be produced by man. The globe may warm or cool naturally (e.g., via increases or decreases in sunspot activity), but man must not do anything to affect its temperature.

In short, according to environmentalism, if nature affects nature, the effect is good; if man affects nature, the effect is evil.

Stating the essence of environmentalism in such stark terms raises some illuminating questions: If the good is nature untouched by man, how is man to live? What is he to eat? What is he to wear? Where is he to reside? How can man do anything his life requires without altering, harming, or destroying some aspect of nature? In order to nourish himself, man must consume meats, fruits, and vegetables. In order to make clothing, he must skin animals, pick cotton, manufacture polyester, and the like. In order to build a house--or even a hut--he must cut down trees, dig up clay, make fires, bake bricks, and so forth. Each and every action man takes to support or sustain his life entails the exploitation of nature. Thus, on the premise of environmentalism, man has no right to exist.

It comes down to this: Each of us has a choice to make. Will I recognize that man's life is the standard of moral value--that the good is that which sustains and furthers human life--and thus that people have a moral right to use the Earth and its elements for their life-serving needs? Or will I accept that nature has "intrinsic" value--value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of human needs--and thus that people have no right to exist?

There is no middle ground here. Either human life is the standard of moral value, or it is not. Either nature has intrinsic value, or it does not.
I ask: What do you think the proper relationship between man and nature is?

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