Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hero WOD: Bruck

Wednesday 130626

Four rounds for time of:
Run 400 meters
185 pound Back squat, 24 reps
135 pound Jerk, 24 reps

Enlarge image
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Third Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal, 24, of Smithtown, New York, assigned to Tactical Law Enforcement Team South, Law Enforcement Detachment 403, based at Coast Guard Air Station Miami in Florida, was killed on April 24, 2004, at the Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal off the coast of Iraq when a boat that he and his team intercepted near the terminal exploded. He is survived by his wife Pattie, daughter Harper, born after his death, father Eric, mother Laurie Bullock, and sister Noabeth.

Fair winds and following seas on your journey warrior!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mercola on Cancer and Ketogenic Diets 20130616
The Mercola "story at a glance":
·   A ketogenic diet, which calls for minimizing carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy fats and moderate amounts of high-quality protein, can offer hope against cancer, both for prevention and treatment
·     Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. Cancer cells lack this ability so when you reduce carbs to only non-starchy vegetables, you effectively starve the cancer
·     Cancer can be more accurately classified as a mitochondrial metabolic disease. Few people inherit genes that predispose them to cancer (most inherit genes that prevent cancer), and inherited mutations typically disrupt the function of the mitochondria
·     The mitochondria—the main power generators in your cells—are believed to be the central point in the origins of many cancers. Your mitochondria can be damaged not only by inherited mutations, but also by a wide variety of environmental factors and toxin
·      Fasting has remarkable health benefits and strengthens your mitochondria network systems throughout your body. As long as your mitochondria remain healthy and functional, it’s very unlikely that cancer will develop

Does sugar play a role in the ability of a cancer cell to thrive and displace healthy cells?  In many cases, this seems to be the case.  Thus, intermittent fasting would seem a valuable tool in stopping the growth cycle of cancerous cells, as would carb restriction.  There seem to be many factors in cancers, and once they reach the growth stage some do not respond well to ketogenic diets, but seem to suffer when glucose and fructose are in short supply.  
It's all pretty simple until one tries to indulge an activity like CrossFit which requires higher carb intake if one hopes to be at one's best, due to the relatively low amounts of glycogen which the body will store  when carb levels are kept at ketogenic leves (seemingly 75g/day or less for me).  At that point, intermittent fasting, carb loading once per day, and perhaps weekly carb binges may be necessary.  However, even without those, CF performance can be passable when in a ketogenic state, and most life activities are well enhanced by cyclic ketogenic eating, and as the linked article points out, this approach may hold significant protective elements for cancer prevention.   

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hero WOD: Gallant

Thursday 130613

For time:
Run 1 mile with a 20 pound medicine ball
60 Burpee pull-ups
Run 800 meters with a 20 pound medicine ball
30 Burpee pull-ups
Run 400 meters with a 20 pound medicine ball
15 Burpee pull-ups
Post time to comments.

Enlarge image
U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Taylor Gallant, 22, of Winchester, Kentucky, assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12, based in Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, Virginia, died on January 26, 2012, while conducting diving operations off the North Carolina coast in the Atlantic Ocean. He is survived by his son Ethan, brother Kyle, mother Elizabeth, and father Joseph.

Fair winds and following seas on your journey warrior!

Female Triad

The "female triad" refers to the a condition that results in (as the author states):

* Low energy availability/intake - this is with or without an eating disorder
* Menstrual disturbances - amenorrhea or irregular cycles
* Bone loss - osteoporosis/osteopeniaTriad

The Triad results from pro-longed under eating, and probably specifically from under eating fat/protein - that is to say, there's some anecdotal evidence that in the presence of a high fat and adequate protein, ladies can sustain lower body fat with normal monthly cycles.

The author points to this article for further discussion:
*Please check out Figure 1 from the position paper by ACSM for a fantastic model showing the progression of the triad here

Any female is susceptible to the triad, but it is commonly seen in female athletes whose sports emphasize low body weight or leanness - think gymnasts, ballerinas, or endurance runners. The female doesn't have to be an athlete nor do they need to be in a sport that emphasizes leanness. It could simply just be a woman who is restricting her calorie intake.

She continues:
In fact, sometimes women have no idea that they are experiencing the female athlete triad until they present to the doctor with a broken bone. It sounds crazy, but even signs and symptoms, such as a lack of a monthly period, become second thoughts to these women. Sometimes they are even happy about not having to DEAL with a monthly cycle. This is not okay. Women are supposed to have monthly cycles during their reproductive years.

This is an important metric in the context of gauging your health by how you look, feel and perform:
"Fertility is a sign of health - whether or not you want to get pregnant."

I am not qualified to treat anyone with an eating disorder and don't want to imply otherwise, but my bet is that many eating disorders and the triad that may result stems from unnecessary restriction of fat intake. A healthy young (or not quite as young as she used to be) athlete should be eating "healthy" portions of fat (in other words, quite a lot of fat). A fact about humans is we are not different biologically than any other animals - our relevance in the creation of the future is our ability to reproduce, at least insofar as the genetics that got us to this point are concerned. If you want to look, feel and perform well (thank you Robb Wolf for that perspective), you will get the most gain for the least pain if you work with your genetic purpose (Fertility!), even if you don't plan to express that genetic purpose in the short term.

The implication of this genetic purpose for women is they must store enough raw material to concoct a six to eight pound human over a nine month period of gestation. The only way to do this is to start that process with plenty of fat stores and well fortified bones/teeth, since a lady will not likely be able to ingest enough of the raw materials to support herself and the rapidly growing fetus.
Now take a young person, or not quite so young, who is trying to look like what she thinks is feminine and fertile, and in that process hears that eating fat is counterproductive. If she fat deprives herself, she will also likely deprive herself of the nutrient dense foods that give her the raw materials for baby making. This will not be normal. The body will respond as it always does to nutritional deficiency - hunger will result. I don't know that this scenario leads to the complex cycles of eating disorders, but I can see how those disorders might be a natural result of doing something as drastic and unnatural as substituting carb consumption for healthy fat consumption for the purpose of looking "skinny" at a time when the body is programmed to put a goodly amount of fat into storage.
Which is to say, if you can convince the young ladies in your circle of influence that eating fat is not the bugaboo it is made to be in terms of body composition management, and that they need a good quantity of healthy fat to look and feel good, you may be doing them a great benefit, with long and short term implications for their health and wellbeing.
As an aside, I think that CrossFit may give young ladies another huge benefit by giving them a way to understand what their bodies are for aside from having a certain idealized appearance - their bodies can generate a lot of force, and complete a great deal of work. The young lady can chase performance, and in so doing begin to see a purpose separate that the one created by exercising for a benefit in appearance.
I don't think we can make folks believe that how they look, and really how they think they look, is not significant - it is, and it always will be. The win would be bending their perception that deprivation of fat is the key to a better appearance, and helping them to see that, on the contrary, low fat intake is a ticket to high appetite and low nutrition.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"There is no try. Do or doughnut." Attributed to Yoda

A doughnut at the office - newsworthy?
The other day I had a doughnut in the office, the first I've had since my November experiment with blood sugar (2 D-nuts = blood sugar 212, ugh).  My co-workers snapped this photo.  However, when my kids visited my office and all laughed at the picture of me eating a doughnut, I realized it was a more significant photo than I had thought.  The secret to me not eating doughnuts all day every day wasn't that I have an iron discipline, that failed me for 30+ years.  What changed was I learned not to like doughnuts.  What enabled that was shifting from a sugar dependant metabolism to a flexible, fat burning and ketone making metabolism, and then noticing over a few years of running on fat, that doughnuts were just another pile of sugar, nothing special, nothing exotic, nothing magic.  

Freud said "Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar."  He was trying to say "It has no sexual connotation when I smoke a stogie."  Well, to get control of sugar snacking behavior, you have to get to the point that a doughnut is just a doughnut.  When your metabolism is not sugar ingestion dependent, it doesn't make you feel much different when you eat a doughnut, or some other carb laden sugary treat.  When, on the other hand, you are dependent on carb ingestion to sustain blood sugar levels and mood, the doughnut is a lot more than just a doughnut.  To the unconscious mind, that doughnut was a life line, a way out of the darkness, a light at the end of a dark tunnel.  In that context, you'd be hard pressed to oppose the unconscious mind's association to goodness the next time you reach a close point of approach with a doughnut.  

Getting to the point of not eating sugar all the time so that I could become a fat burning machine was more a matter of organization and habit than will power.  The right organization and the best habits were discovered by years of trial and error.  Or as I like to tell the kids, "You have to fail to succeed."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mercola Fingers Obesity

"Obesity is a terror [threat] within; it's destroying our society from within and unless we do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist event that you can point out."

Presently, a full two-thirds of Americans are overweight <> or obese. Childhood obesity has also skyrocketed, tripling over the past 30 years. One in three children between the ages of 10 and 17 is now overweight or obese, and 27 percent of young adults, 17 to 24, are too heavy to join the military <> .

As a result, today's children may be the first generation whose life expectancy is shorter than that of their parents...

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 110,000 Americans die as a result of obesity each year, and about one-third of all cancers are directly related to it.

Data collected from over 60,000 Canadians also shows that obesity now leads to more doctor visits than smoking One in four Americans is also pre-diabetic or diabetic, and heart disease and cancer, both of which are associated with obesity, top the mortality charts.

Clearly, the issue of how to achieve good health has never been more pertinent to more people. Yet despite the enormity of this problem, very little is being done to effectively combat obesity.

The film examines the causes of obesity and suggests ways to reverse this deadly trend. Below, I sum up my own recommendations as well.

It's quite clear that conventional diet and health recommendations are off the mark... Obesity and related health problems are directly attributable to flawed diet-a diet too high in carbs and poor-quality proteins, and too low in healthy fats.

The article goes on to discuss fructose, intermittent fasting and several other issues, as Mercola's articles often do.  I agree with his premise of course that most folks that are over-fat and sick could heal themselves with carb restriction.  Sadly, what they usually get is medications to help them stay alive while sick for longer.  The cost of this approach in dollars and lost vitality of life is hard to overestimate.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gluten, FODMAPs, Kresser, Human Science, and IBS

This is a longer cut than I usually like to take, but for those who deal with this issue, it is very informative.  Point one - FODMAPs and gluten overlap to create IBS symptoms.  Two - human science is hard to do well.  Three - can you believe folks are actually testing this kind of thing, finally?  
So the first one was a study about the gluten-free diet and how it improves irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.  There are two different types of irritable bowel syndrome.  There’s constipation predominant and diarrhea predominant.  In this study, they took a bunch of people with diarrhea-predominant IBS, and they didn’t select them on the basis of prior self-reported gluten intolerance, which is good because some studies have done that and it kind of biases the results.  So it was just a random sample of patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS, and they put them on a gluten-free diet.  And they found that the people who followed a gluten-free diet had decreased stool frequency, so their diarrhea improved.  And they also had less gut permeability, so their guts weren’t as leaky.  And they had increased expression of tight-junction proteins that regulate the intestinal barrier, so again that’s another way of saying that the gut barrier integrity improved.  And these effects were greater in people with the HLA-DQ2 and DQ8, which is the genotype that is associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.  That’s not the first study that showed that, but it was another study that showed that a gluten-free diet can improve IBS.
This other study, though, showed that a gluten-free diet, while it does help with IBS, it doesn’t help IBS patients that are already on a low-FODMAP diet.  They took a bunch of patients, put them on a low-FODMAP diet, which we’ve talked about before.  FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide, And Polyols,” and they’re basically specific types of carbohydrates or sugars that are not well absorbed in the digestive tract, and then they can linger around and become food for pathogenic gut bacteria, and if SIBO is present, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which is one of the causes of FODMAP intolerance, eating a lot of FODMAPs can make it worse, and then studies have shown that removing or greatly restricting FODMAP intake can have a profound effect on IBS.  In fact, I think some studies have shown up to 75% to 80% of patients improve, which is way, way better than any drug treatment for IBS.
So they were randomly assigned to groups, and they were all on a low-FODMAP diet.  But then there was one group that was placed on a high-gluten diet with 16 grams of gluten per day.  And there was another group that was on a low-gluten diet, and that was 2 grams of gluten per day and 14 grams of whey protein a day.  And then there was another group on a control diet with 16 grams of whey protein a day.  And then they assessed different markers of intestinal inflammation and immune activation and then different ways of measuring fatigue.  And this was a crossover study, so 22 of the patients then crossed over and ended up in a different group, so the patients that were on the low-gluten group went into the high-gluten group and vice versa.  And that’s a good way of doing a study like this.  It just strengthens the results.  If you find, for example, that patients in each case that were on the low-gluten diet did better rather than just one group of patients, it strengthens the results.
As suspected, the low-FODMAP diet universally reduced symptoms in everybody, regardless of whether they were eating gluten or not eating gluten.  But reintroducing gluten once FODMAPs were already really restricted didn’t cause any problems in this particular study group.  So there was no difference in symptoms in people on a low-FODMAP diet who were taking supplemental gluten and people that were on a low-FODMAP diet and weren’t taking gluten.
This is certainly interesting.  I mean, does this mean that we should eat gluten?  I don’t think so – you may not be surprised to hear me say that – for a few reasons:  Number one, these results actually directly contradict a previous study that the same researchers did.  It was a placebo-controlled study where they gave patients capsules, some with gluten and some with a placebo powder that didn’t have any gluten in it.  And these patients were also already on a fairly low-FODMAP diet, and they did that to kind of reduce any background noise because these researchers knew that FODMAPs can trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms.  And in that study, the patients who did receive gluten had more symptoms and were worse off than the patients who didn’t.  So there are two completely different results there.
Steve Wright:  I haven’t seen this study, but do you think that in this new study they just measured the wrong variables or they measured the wrong things?
Chris Kresser:  I don’t know.  I mean, one thing that’s interesting is that they used whey as a control.  And certainly some patients with IBS would be sensitive to whey, in my experience.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Silly Reindeer Games

"What these results seem to be telling us is that wheat flour consumption contributes to early death for several people, perhaps those who are most sensitive or intolerant to wheat. These people are represented in the variable measuring mortality in the 35 to 69 age range, and not in the 70 to 79 age range, since they died before reaching the age of 70.

"Those in the 70 to 79 age range may be the least sensitive ones, and for whom animal food intake seems to be protective. But only if animal food intake is above a certain level. This is not a ringing endorsement of wheat, but certainly helps explain wheat consumption in long-living groups around the world, including the French.

"How much animal food does it take for the protective effect to be observed? In the China Study II sample, it is about 221 g/day or more. That is approximately the intake level above which the relationship between wheat flour intake and mortality in the 70 to 79 age range becomes statistically indistinguishable from zero. That is a little less than ½ lb, or 7.9 oz, of animal food intake per day."

The "Health Correlator" blog is a mathmatician's answer to epidemiological studies, which are often used to confuse humans into eating food that will kill them.  I like to think of epidemiological studies in general as the "silly reindeer games" of science, but as the HC pointed out above, you can often find correlations that study authors never intended to IF you can use mathematics with insight (Denise Minger at is the bomb at this skill).

What does this bit mean to you?  We still don't know whether "science" shows this or that food is good or bad for you, and apparently all the variables are so complex we may never know.  The best you can do right now is try an approach until you find one that works and leaves you looking, feeling and performing your best.  Big bellies, high blood sugar and feeling tired, grumpy and hungry all the time are clues you have some work to do.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Intensity Is the Key

"But methods bucking this conventional take are gaining serious mainstream traction - with the scientific evidence to support some counter-intuitive conclusions. Long, slow runs are pretty good at building endurance for long, slow runs. It's becoming increasingly clear, though, that shorter, more intense bouts boost both short term and long-term exercise capacity, resulting in more efficient workouts that take a fraction of the time.

"The protocol can be used running, swimming, biking, or while performing weighted or bodyweight resistance movements (push-ups are a personal favorite).

"Dr. Tabata's method is just one of many high-intensity interval programs that have gained popularity over the past decade, and the business of fitness is adapting in kind. Some of today's most popular workout methodologies - most notably CrossFit, which occasionally includes Tabata intervals - are based on the scientific superiority of very high-intensity work over long, slow slogs.

"Back in the day we realized that proportionally, we burn more calories from fat at lower intensities. We aptly named this the "fat burning zone." Get on an old-school piece of cardio equipment and you'll see that the lower heart rate zone is labeled "fat burning." But we made a colossal mistake. It's not that we were wrong, necessarily. It's that we were looking at the science through a straw. Yes, we burn more calories proportionately from fat at lower intensity, but we burn far more calories, period, at higher intensity. In other words, if you want to burn fat.the most effective "fat burning zone" is higher intensity training. "

I like that analogy - "looking at the science through a straw".  However, that is still the case for almost every instance of exercise science, including the idea that if the reason we gain fat is something as simple and linear as "calories in, calories out."  While it is undoubtedly true that a person losing fat and gaining or maintaining muscle is in a state of caloric deficit, trying to induce caloric deficit by eating less and moving more has proved a complete failure. 
Which is why CrossFit generally, and yours truly specifically, recommends that you exercise for the physical capacities that are important to you, and that you control body fat accumulation by avoiding foods which signal the body to partition calories ingested towards storage as fat.
In other words, you cannot out train a bad diet.  Or put another way, exercising to help you support a life style of eating nasty neolithic foods is a bad bargain.  Eat for health.  Eat in a way that makes you feel good most of the time, so you don't have such a strong need to reward yourself with food treats.  Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, little fruit or starch, and no sugar/wheat.
In so doing you can lose the long, boring workouts on a treadmill and exercise with intensity to create greater and more useful improvements in muscle mass and power, anaerobic and aerobic capacity, and positive hormonal and emotional changes as well.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sardines - They Are Not Just for Breakfast

This is a good summary of how many ways and why you would want to eat sardines, and how to pick them.

My take - skip the ones in soy oil, or any oil except olive oil.  Then eat them any way you like them!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Classic Quote, Roosevelt

"It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things."
Theodore Roosevelt

TR was as lousy as a president as any of them were, but he was an interesting man.  This quote is just plain old truth.  Changing behavior is nothing more than never giving up, finding some kernel of success in every failure, and getting back up on the horse.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


The processed food bars seen above can be used to keep carbs low, but still get something to knock the edge off of appetite.  They are portable, better than arsenic and not unreasonably expensive.  I used these kinds of bars extensively in early efforts to master food, diet and health.

What I've found is that even thought they can be low in carbs, and they can be crutch which is better than carb indulgence, they are not a thing to rely upon for daily use if you want to maximize your health.  For that - you need food.

However, much like diet soda, if you can use these bars in place of nasty high carb foods - that's a win. Go from worst to better, and then eventually from better to best as you chase the lifestyle change that will help you feel like you are thriving day in and day out.

But whatever you  do - if it says "soy joy" just say no!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


This was a lunch from last week:

  • Pellegrino water, because to do a workout after work, I have to force drink water all day, and Pellegrino is interesting enough that I'll drink it long after I'm way bored with plain water
  • Sliced turkey for cheap, portable, storable protein
  • Salami for the fat and salt and because I like it
  • Hershey's dark chocolate, enough to give me 25g of carbs
  • Coconut oil for the medium chain triglycerides and to make the dark chocolate more palatable
  • I probably ate some macadamia nuts with this
  • Many days, I eat an apple with this

Most of these things I can keep in my desk, the others are gathered during a once weekly run to the grocery store and kept in the office fridge.  This makes it easy to have a lunch that provides basic nutrition, it's enough food that I can barely eat it all, it is not too expensive, and it does no metabolic damage (no wheat, very little sugar).  Oh yes, I like most of these also!

Many of these items would not qualify as "paleo", but they work fine.  Which is to say, I'll never say I do "strict" paleo because I drink 3 or 4 glasses of milk weekly, I eat cheese, I eat processed meats, and I don't eat all that many veggies or fruit.  What I take from the paleo model is that dairy, wheat, sugar, and many fruits/veggies which exist as a result of man made efforts to breed sweeter varieties of foods, are suspect (as are industrial seed oils).  I tolerate butter, cheese, some raw milk, processed meats and other marginal "paleo" foods just fine, so I eat them if I like them.  In the summer in particular, I eat some rice and sweet potatoes since I seem to feel better when I get more carbs in the summer.  I eat sweet potatoes year round, because they are awesome and make a great excuse to eat more butter (ditto of course all veggies, potatoes, rice and mashed cauliflower).

It can be easy and relatively inexpensive to avoid sugaring, wheating, seed oiling, or high carbing yourself to death.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chasing the Goats

CrossFitters talk about goats as a way of referring to those movements that are a relative weakness for them.  CrossFit goats are on a scale for me and I assume for many of us.  Toes to bar is an example of a goat I can do, but slowly relative to the best in my age/gender range.   Ditto box jumps, hand stand pushups, chest to bar pullups, muscle ups, and a few more.  There are other movements I just don't have - non-false grip kipping MU, rebounding box jumps, multiple butterfly kipping chest to bar pullups.

I'm chipping away at all of these, but yesterday make the breakthrough - rebounding box jumps to 20 inches. My left knee doesn't love this, but I did two sets of five reps yesterday with no fallout felt.   I doubt I'll ever be able to do this in high volume, but love being able to do it at all. Strangely, I thought of this as an athletic deficiency, but like so many perceived hurdles, it wasn't; it had more to do with understanding body positioning and midline stability. I have learned about those elements of force generation practicing and teaching POSE method and double unders.  As lower force movement improved (lower force meaning from double unders and running, with are rebounding from a lower fall) I gained the skill needed to hit those box jump rebounds with the right position and was therefore able to generate the force needed to bounce back up.

I realized a year or two ago that I needed to keep my glutes and belly tight to improve my DU - a floppy middle doesn't work any better for jumping that it does for squats, deadlifts, cleans or pull-ups - because otherwise, correct position was distorted by impact with the ground.

As Kelly and Carl have pointed out (, and, this is the path to progress in all elements of human performance - it starts with body position. I gained the insight I needed to get over the hump with this movement watching Annie Thorisdottir during the Open WOD of deadlifts and box jumps. I don't know that she's the best at this but as a taller, heavier athlete, she adapts nicely to the demands of the movement.

I made a similar insight watching Jason Khalipa performing butterfly chest to bar pullups - but I have not made the leap to multiples yet.

Thanks Annie and Jason!

By the way, if you have not seen the face off between Khalipa and Fronning, it's a classic, an absolute stunner of work capacity by both men.  Inspired when I re-watched it!  I did OK in this WOD compared to my master's athlete peers, top 27%, with 56 reps in 4 minutes.  Fronning did 90+ in the first 4 minutes, then hit 180 by the 8 minute mark, and his reward was the chance to keep working for another four minutes.  Incredible.

Of note - Khalipa's movement is good, Fronning's movement is so close to perfect it's not worth talking about the defects.  He's putting on a clinic in this WOD, even at near exhaustion.