Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Time to end the war against saturated fat? -

"Malhotra cites a 2009 UCLA study showing that three-quarters of patients admitted to the hospital with acute myocardial infarction do not have high total cholesterol; what they do have, at a rate of 66%, is metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of worrying signs including hypertension, high fasting blood sugar, abdominal obesity, high triglycerides and low HDL ("good" cholesterol).
"Meanwhile, research has shown that when people with high LDL cholesterol (the "bad" kind) purge their diet of saturated fats, they lower one kind of LDL (the large, buoyant particles called "Type A" LDL), but not the small, dense particles ("Type B" LDL) that are linked to high carbohydrate intake and are implicated in heart disease.
"Recent research has also shown that Mediterranean diets -- admittedly skimpy on red meat but hardly light on saturated fats -- have outpaced both statins and low-fat diets as a means of preventing repeat heart attacks. Other research suggests that the saturated fat in dairy foods may protect against hypertension, inflammation and a host of other dysfunctions increasingly linked to heart attacks.",0,2193813.story#axzz2iyzEOz96

The case against saturated fat was never strong, and it looks sillier and sillier each day.  None of the predicted benefits of restricting saturated fat have materialized for either populations or individuals.  The case that government killed thousands by recommending low fat diets on weak science is much stronger than the case against saturated fat.  Please insert rant here about unaccountable pseudo scientific recommendations by government entities.

Forgiveness, Sort Of

  1. Build a good core of aerobic conditioning and muscle endurance before any workout that is “extreme.”
  2. Slowly progress your performance in terms of repetitions. Even if you are fit, a workout that included hundreds of reps of something you haven’t been doing is potentially very dangerous.
  3. Understand and maintain proper form during an exercise. When you lose form, your muscles are tired and the benefit from continued additional reps is exponentially less.
  4. Provide ample rest and recovery. Stress loads the system, improvement happens during recovery when your body rebuilds.
  5. Stay hydrated, with balanced nutrition, ensuring you have enough carbohydrates on hand for energy while you exercise.
  6. If it’s really hot where you exercise, consider using early morning or late evening workouts to reduce the risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
  7. If you feel like you have questions about these steps or the risk factors, consult a health provider. Physical therapists and physicians are great choices here.

I wrote a response to this author's original article which stated that CrossFit's dirty little secret was rhabdomyolosis.  While I appreciate his situation - he didn't mean to be in the middle of a national firestorm, and probably would have edited his article differently were it intended for a national audience (and I would not want to be held to the carpet for every single thing I've written in this blog for the last five years, by the way) - his response could have simply been, and should have been, "I was wrong to imply or state that CrossFit has been deceptive about rhabdo."

Instead he wrapped himself in a mantle of "I started a debate" and "I'm a scientist, you guys just don't understand scientifically informed folks like me."

Kinda weak, but who cares.  Folks may learn more about rhabdo from this kerfuffle and that's good.

The author is an example of how being baked into a profession limits one's ability to perceive and analyze something new.  He sees through the same beliefs that allowed him to become a professional PT, so he sees value in platitudes like the above.  It's not that there's anything wrong with the above, but it won't make anyone well or fit, and he doesn't understand how CrossFit makes folks well and fit better than whatever else is in the market.  He also doesn't realize that's why CrossFit is growing like it has.  He also doesn't realize that while there are certainly some of the 7000 CrossFit gyms who put more emphasis on to the max exertion than I do, most of the CF gyms are filled with blue collar athletes like I am who were never at any risk of earning glory for our guts or athleticism.  We just want to live better and have useful bodies.

He recommends using "good form", which is an industry term that has no meaning beyond the perception of that person using the term, and what that person has come believe "good form" is.  I prefer the term technique, which can be quantified - the technique that gets the work done more powerfully with the least risk of injury is better.  Sure, drink water.  Sure, rest after you workout, and don't overtrain.  Sure, have some "balanced nutrition" (with the caveat that the professionals of nutrition say that but don't generally prescribe a diet that is "balanced" in any way that seems to help people; thanks very much for another meaningless buzzword, media).  Definitely don't do anything extreme, in fact, it may be better to stay inside your house all day.  As for aerobic conditioning and "muscle endurance" these are likely to set you up for rhabdo more than trying CrossFit as a neophyte - CrossFit neophytes generally cannot work hard enough to rhabdo themselves.  But take a bodybuilder who's a killer athlete and have that person attack even a moderate CrossFit workout without prior exposure and beware.  If you want sound advice about how to avoid rhabdo, try this:  First work mechanics, then consistency, then intensity.  This is CrossFit's time tested approach.  All beginners should hear this, and every introduction to CrossFit should reinforce this.

How many times has a PT been confronted by a client who said "I started squatting, worked on the technique for months, and my knees are awesome now!"  I bet, next to never when compared to the number of times a PT or doctor encountered a person who squatted heavy weights, with zero technique, and complains of knee injury.  In this way, doctors and PTs can be the worst folks to ask about exercise - they have no skin in saying "sure, train hard and do stuff that's out of the box."  They are almost professionally bound to say "well, there was this article published in 1960-something that said squats loosen your knee ligaments, so just walk briskly 30 minutes per day and eat less."

I look forward to the day I can get an MD in my gym, who will cure what ails her, and she will tell all her patients "go to CrossFit, and do what they say, and you will get the health you want without the pills I will give you if you don't do that." I bet this is happening often in the 7000 affiliates around the world, and I think this can - no kidding - change the world.

Note to Memphis CrossFitters:  Dr. Brad Cole, of Cole Pain Therapy Group, will work with you to make your CrossFit much better!  He's an example of how the traditional medical providers can recognize the value of CrossFit and help us do it better.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Is Unseen (Thanks Bastiat!)
In the article linked above, the author makes a case against saturated fat intake that amounts to an epidemiological conjecture dressed in scientific sheep's clothing.  It also reminds me of one of my favorite economics treatises, "That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen", which is referred to as "The Parable of the Broken Window" or "The Broken Window Fallacy".  I read this thing annually and it is remarkable how relevant it is today, even though it was written over 100 years ago.

In this author's defense of the saturated fat is bad for you conjecture, what is not seen is any evidence an intervention study would provide.  There's a good reason why that author did not reference intervention studies that show saturated fat is bad for you - there are no such studies.

I could repeat my repeated descriptions of why epidemiological studies do not prove anything and don't "show" anything except correlations (IOW, the sun comes up and I wake up - but which caused which?  Epidemiology cannot tell you the answer to that question).  If you are curious, this article tells the story of how epidemiology went wrong at length and in detail:
Taubes - Do We Really Know?

In other words, there's only one thing this article presents - the author's opinion about how to interpret epidemiology and other non-intervention based scientific evidence, and that's great.  The only reason the article is the least bit interesting is the author's claim, in the title, that the saturated fat conjecture is not debatable.  Hopefully that's the editor's doing, and not the author's.  As a "scientist", the author should know debate never ends in science.  All scientific work is subject to debate.  The point of science is to discern what may be true by always looking for the way to disprove the matter at hand.

The effort to disprove never ends.  Everything is always debatable.  If we found an apple that floats in the air, or a situation in which matter cannot be converted to energy and instead simply evaporates to nothing, we'd have to review certain "laws" (laws are those conjectures that have survived every attempt at disproof over a long time by many who try to disprove).  

One needn't be a "scientist" with a PHD to know the reality of the scientific method.  The frustrating thing is how many "scientists" seem to think that opinions of scientists are related to the scientific method.  They are not.  Even if every scientist believed saturated fat is bad for you, that would not mean anything scientifically speaking.

So, what happens when you eat saturated fat?  Will it kill you?  Here's what happened to me.  My body weight dropped over six years from 225 to my current 195.  My cholesterol numbers are the envy of my doctors - trigs 25-75, HDL 60-75, and LDL estimated at 114.  My waist is three inches smaller.  I feel good, sleep well and perform well in my athletic pursuits.  I eat sat fat by the boatload - butter, MCTs, heavy cream in my coffee, sour cream, cream cheese, hard cheeses, and red meat whenever I like.  In other words, every known health marker improved when I ate MORE fat and less carbohydrate.

What happens when you eat high fat and moderate to low carb?  Your body burns saturated fats for fuel, which reduces the saturated fat to water and CO2.  What happens when you eat low fat and high carb?  Tour body makes a saturated fat from the carbs, and blood levels of fats go much higher (measured as triglycerides).  The reverse is also true (and testable by you in your body):  when fat consumption replaces carb consumption, triglycerides go down.  So if you want to raise the levels of fat floating around your veins, by all means, pig out on pizza, whole grains, and especially sugary foods of any kind.

In short, beware the opinion dressed in scientific sheep's clothing.  Until they complete rigorous intervention studies that show mortality reduction via restriction of saturated fat, "they got nothing."

Get Your Rhabdo Here | Glory

"There are an average of 35,000 deaths from car accidents each year. An individual’s lifetime risk of dying in a motor vehicle is about 1 in 100. Assuming an individual occasionally texts and drives, the risk for an accident is increased by 20 times. Let’s now compare that to the annual incidence of rhabdomyolysis. A whopping .06% of patients. Also remember, this is total incidence. The most common patients that develop rhabdo are already sick with another illness such as cancer. Out of all rhabdomyolysis cases the mortality rate is less than 5%.
Point being? Everyone takes risks on a daily basis. We all knowingly enter a vehicle daily because of the convenience it offers. This author is literally telling you to avoid CrossFit because there is a very, very, insanely miniscule chance you might get a non-life threatening illness. Please note, I am not brushing this off as a silly illness. It is a very scary thing, and every trainer should take it seriously and know how to safely train his or her athletes. This illness is also completely avoidable. Step 1, do some research on the gyms in the area. Step 2, take responsibility for your own actions. There is absolutely no reason to go 110% at a workout during your first day, and no coach would ever force that upon you. If you’re wavering on trying CrossFit because of an article you read about it killing you, you should contemplate the fact that you are highly more likely to die on the way to said gym than find one with a coach that forces you to do 500 burpees, for example."

I don't have anything to add to that, but I recommend this article if you are concerned about CrossFit and rhabdo.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Running Transition Program

Interesting program which has been built by Dr. Romanov and family - I look forward to seeing how it helps runners to move better!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Video Intro - What Makes Skilled Running?

Less waste, better running.  First rule to avoid waste in running - use the least force necessary to oppose gravity.  This will allow gravity to accelerate your mass forward with the least effort from you.

The best runners don't have their feet on the ground long because they expend the most force in the least time (relative to the speed they need to run).

In other words, as they fall forward, their feet strike the ground under the general center of mass, and immediately pull back towards the runner's hip.  The more force the runner can generate in the least time, the greater the degree of lean (GCM ahead of point of ground contact) a runner can sustain.

Watch a great runner.  Do their feet contact the ground way in front of their body or right under their body?  Is their torso relatively vertical or bent at the waist?  Do they keep a high tempo or a low tempo?   Do their knees reach full extension behind them or do they pull the foot quickly, before the leg is fully extended?  Each of these is an element of:
-Minimal time in ground contact (expend high force against the ground quickly, then pull foot to hip)
-Working with gravity (feet are not in contact with the ground way ahead or behind body)

Dr. Romanov says he's teaching "perception."  First a student who wants to run with skill must learn a new concept of what running is.  Most of us think of running as propelling ourselves forward, but we are mostly using our support leg to repel us from the earth (so that we can keep falling forward instead of falling down!).  Running is the act of falling forward while changing the supporting leg.

Once a student begins to understand the concept, they will still struggle to run with skill, just as a nascent juggler can understand what the hands should do without being able to do it.

This is where drills come in to play.  Drills allow a student to practice better movement patterns with reduced kinematic load, so that they can be applied while running.

For most of us, POSE won't transform us into Carl Lewis, we will still have many of the same neurological limits that we were born with.  The point of POSE for most of us is to enjoy running more, to run with less pain, and to run with better movement that will not beat us up more than necessary for the job at hand.   For me, this has been like magic for my injured left knee!

"Making Money Is No Way to Run A Business."

The Ripple Effect
This is a great read about CrossFit's unconventional business approach.

“Trying to make money is no way to run a business,” Glassman told the audience at the State Policy Network 20th Annual Meeting in Florida in November 2012.
“Money is essential to run a business, but it’s not why you run a business; it’s not what makes a business grow. Busi- nesses grow on dreams.”
Glassman estimates that the total CrossFit economic ecosystem is worth close to a billion dollars. That number includes the total financial take of all the trainers at all the affiliate gyms around the world.
“And our chunk of this is about 24 degrees of 360, or about $50 million,” he continued, and that small percentage kept by CrossFit Inc. will only grow smaller as the CrossFit community grows. 

This slice of the pie that’s within our control is narrowing, and by design, because the circle is growing,” Glassman said. “We call this the ‘least-rents model.’” 

Coach still amazes me all these years later!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Boyle's 25 Mistakes

This is a good read from Mike Boyle.  A couple of highlights:
Mistake #12: Not teaching my athletes to snatch sooner
We’ve done snatches for probably the last seven or eight years. The snatch is a great lift that’s easier to learn than the clean and has greater athletic carryover. Take the time to try it and study it. You’ll thank me.
Mistake #13: Starting to teach snatches with a snatch grip
When I realized that snatches would be a great lift for my athletes I began to implement them into my programs. Within a week some athletes complained of shoulder pain. In two weeks, so many complained that I took snatches out of the program. It wasn’t until I revisited the snatch with a clean grip that I truly began to see the benefits.
Just remember, the only reason Olympic lifters use a wide snatch grip is so that they can reduce the distance the bar travels and as a result lift more weight. Close-grip snatches markedly decrease the external rotation component and also increase the distance traveled. The result is a better lift, but less weight.
Mistake #14: Confusing disagree with dislike
I think it’s great to disagree. The field would be boring if we all agreed. What I realize now is that I’ve met very few people in this field I don’t like and many I disagree with. I probably enjoy life more now that I don’t feel compelled to ignore those who don’t agree with me.
Mistake #15: Confusing reading with believing
This concept came to me by way of strength coach Martin Rooney. It’s great to read. We just need to remember that in spite of the best efforts of editors, what we read may not always be true.
If the book is more than two years old, there’s a good chance even the author no longer agrees with all the information in it. Read often, but read analytically.
This is the link: 25 Years, 25 Mistakes

Monday, October 21, 2013

Beautiful Running!

Beautiful running technique on display!  Foot lands under the hip, foot pulls to the hip with minimal time on the ground, whole foot/ball of foot makes first contact with the ground (foot not dorsiflexed or landing in front of the runner), tempo is relatively high.

It is lovely to watch!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Train Movement with Skill then Strength

"Why doesn't movement improve – even when you strengthen the muscles involved in that movement?
One theory is that the body adapts to move in the path of least resistance (not necessarily the best or safest path – just the easiest) and when something might change this preferred movement pattern (like changes in joint forces from stronger muscles) the body simply adapts to maintain it's old pattern. 5 This is speculative, of course.
More importantly, one must not forget the specificity principle. If the goal is to improve the strength of a specific muscle, then use targeted exercise. However, if one wishes to improve a particular movement or skill, they should practice that movement or skill specifically."

This isn't a great read, but the point is solid gold.  You can't make a great athlete better by working specific muscles - the athlete needs to move better through natural movement patterns, and then needs to have strength built into the natural movement patterns.  

That's why S&C programs use squats instead of hamstring curls and pullups instead of curls.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Green Pastures: Food Chain as Orgin of Vitamin D in Fish

I like this company, Green Pastures, very much.  We've used their fermented fish oil products for several years.  Interesting premise about vitamin D, and would explain why the Eskimo could get enough vitamin D even without much sun.
Food Chain as Orgin of Vitamin D in Fish
"Here are a couple studies that show the prominence of vitamin D in the base of our food chain, grass and plankton. The study of the hormone we call vitamin D is in its infancy. The general conclusion of 'vitamin D is good for me' is a good conclusion but to draw deep meaning, or molecule counting like conclusion, is way too early.  (Related study; chytochrome 450, health of the thyroid, age etc..)

"I recall many years ago when I was attempting to understand our products a lab ran a Vitamin D test on our High Vitamin Butter Oil. The results came back with the HPLC graph. Circled on the graph with a hand note from the technician was a notation something like ' very unusual, have never seen this in dairy. Have seen a couple times in different fish oils'. The same type reaction from technicians is noted when testing our FCLO for vitamin D.  Many unusual peaks within this graph that are not understood. The first  study on the pathway of  hormone D in fish was just completed a couple years ago.  We are many years away from understanding the foods we eat as it relates to hormone D and how the introduction of D in our diet affects our bodies/health."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why Everything You Know About Lactic Acid Might Be Wrong | Breaking Muscle!

This is a good read, but a bit geeky.  The short version - lactic acid does not cause DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) or the feeling of the "burn" when training hard.  But lactic acid is rapidly broken down and recycled to make more fuel, for either oxidative or glycolytic training.

Why do you need to know this?  You probably don't, you just need to train hard and smart, but if you read this article you can save yourself the overwhelming indignity of repeating last century's understanding of what lactic acid does and does not do in your body!

Monday, October 14, 2013

About Training - Exercise Is Normal, Programming Success is a Skill

Most people workout with a short-term goal in mind. I like looking at health in a different way…
  • The goal is not to lose 40 pounds in the next 12 weeks. The goal is to regain your health for the rest of your life.
  • The goal is not to bench press 300 pounds. The goal is to be the guy who never misses a workout.
  • The goal is not to sacrifice everything to get your fastest time in next month’s race. The goal is to be faster next year than you are today. And faster two years from now than you will be next year.
Ignore the short-term results. If you commit to the long-term process, the results will come anyway.
Furthermore, stop acting like living a healthy life is a big deal. You can go to the gym every week. That can be “normal” for you. Not a sacrifice. Not an obligation. Normal.
What’s funny is that when you commit to being consistent over the long-term, you end up seeing remarkable results in the short-term. That’s the power of average speed.

Read more:

This is a great read.  I know of no one who would find themselves in the gym, or working out in some way, who would say after ten years "gee I wish I had not made time to be active."  Or, "wow, it sucks to still have strength, health and mobility."  The challenge is - what makes it possible for some but not for others to consistently train?  Some do the minimum necessary, some are putting hours into chasing their demons, and some can't get themselves to do either.  Why?

I think the work that best explains the difference is that of Tony Robbins.  A summary:  You do those things that your unconscious mind associates to either cessation of pain or experience of pleasure.  Your unconscious mind will owrk harder to avoid pain than to get pleasure.  Your unconscious mind will also ignore a lot of pain - think of fighters, marathoners, CrossFitters - to get pleasure if it has associated more pleasure to getting the workout done than it associates pain to the workout.

How can you use that information?  You can "work it" in two ways.  One, don't bite off too much when you start training.  If your first workout is over the top, it teaches the UCM "pain."  Two, give yourself a reward for doing something, anything, to get started.  The frustrated perfectionists fail here - nothing is enough for them to feel good about, thus everything is both pain and failure.  Three, ALWAYS give yourself credit for doing ANY workout, and give yourself more credit/reward for doing several in a week, or for going every other day, etc.

The reward can be a square of chocolate, a text of victory to your friend or coach, or it can be earning for yourself the right to do something you like doing.  Imagine the perception of working out you would have if every time to worked out you received $1000.  You may not have a $1000 to give yourself for doing a workout, but you can find something that would give an equivalent amount of pleasure.  If you are reading this and have an example, please post that in comments.  My example - what do pro and college athletes do after they make a play?  They have a ritual, an arm pump, a holstering the gun motion, a jump and point to the sky .... something that helps them anchor an attachment to the powerful, good feelings of success, something that becomes associated to the pleasure of success, and something that they can draw on when they have a set back (or set backs).

Is this just mind games? Yes, and no.  This is how successful people are successful.  They either have huge unconscious drivers that make lack of action very painful (not the ideal), or they learn to give themselves good feelings for taking the actions that lead to success.  What is maddening about this is how simple, easy, cheap and cool this is - and how difficult it is to learn and implement all day every day once you "see" how it works.  Like my coach, James Murphy told me years ago, "People overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years."

Imagine - what could you accomplish in ten years of working out for an hour 5 days a week?  5 of 128 hours training.  2500 hours of training over ten years - how would that change the "you" of ten years from now?  How much better would you feel eat and every day after your first month of that kind of activity?  Is there anything else you could do for 3-5 hours a week that would guarantee that you would feel that much better?  If your answer is the same as mine, let that desire for good feelings guide you to a 5-10 minute workout tomorrow, and a 10-12 minute workout the next day.  Work you way way to a 10 minute warmup and skill session, followed by a 10 minute high intensity (for you) workout.  CELEBRATE every workout no matter how pathetic you think you are doing - the only thing that matters is that you do something.

If you do something, you will eventually be doing something you are very proud of, if you do nothing because nothing is "enough".

If you do nothing you will never earn that right to feel proud of what you did.

Something is always better than nothing.

"Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today."  CELEBRATE every win, no matter how small.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"How I Made My Training Sustainable and Injury Free"

I read this story and thought "how ridiculous it is to suggest that there's any alternative to doing CrossFit as do or die, my way or the highway, full on, full out, go big or go home, kill yourself w CrossFit or die trying!!"

OK, obviously I'm kidding, the point of CrossFit is to make yourself more fit, and you don't have to kill yourself trying.  CrossFit's high intensity is scaled, the right amount of intensity is relatively high - relatively high for you.  The guideline I like is "better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today."  You don't have to have a sub-3 minute Fran time to be a good CrossFitter.  You have to do Fran, and the other WODs, while striving for better movement, better effort, and trusting these process goals will deliver faster times.

The only thing I dislike about the article is the title, which implies Andy's interpretation wasn't always out there.  CrossFit has always been there for you to scale to your own ability, which is why 70 year olds, 20-something Games athletes and over-weight teens can all do the same WOD at the same time (by scaling the WOD to their ability and goals).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

BBC News - How much can an extra hour's sleep change you?

This is a great read, telling all about why you will remember more of your life if you sleep, how you will function better if you sleep, and even a bit about how sleep affects fat gain/loss.

The bigger challenge - how to make time for sleep and how to optimize the sleep you get.  My best tactic is the afternoon nap, which seems to "make hay" in terms of how much total sleep I need to feel my best.  The nap has to be short to work - over 45 minutes makes it worse, and I try to make it 15 minutes or less.  It feels awesome!

I noticed a long time ago that I gained body fat when I was chronically sleep deprived - now they are starting to see why that happened.  Insulin resistance goes up when you under sleep - and nobody wants that.  There's a chicken/egg issue with sleep and fat loss, too - a low quality, high carb diet leading to blood sugar dis-regulation will disrupt sleep, and the resulting sleep dis-regulation will make you insulin resistant and carb hungry.  I lived a long period of my life like that and it wasn't pretty.

If you want health and pleasure, more sleep is the cheapest ticket to get there.