A few weeks ago, I posted that I had signed up for a one month boot camp at CrossFit Local. With one more day to go I wanted to offer a few thoughts about the experience and my exercise plans for the coming few months.
- Boot camp was incredibly challenging in spite of my belief that I had built an OK base of conditioning doing Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint for Fitness (PBF). That isn’t a negative against PBF, but rather on me for doing it incorrectly (taking rests between each movement).
- 6:15am is too early for me to exercise. Even though I was getting up only 45 minutes earlier than normal, my body wasn’t quite primed to work that hard.
- After the first few sessions, I was INCREDIBLY sore. That subsided but I was still tired on the day immediately following the workout.
- Without a doubt, my fitness level improved during the month, and I learned to pace myself better. The proper pacing (in my opinion) is at about the effort level you would use to run 2 miles, not a 400 meter sprint.
- I found muscles (i.e. soreness) in my upper back that I never knew existed (from using kettlebells).
- Most of the boot camp exercises were based on bodyweight movements; however “real” CrossFit incorporates much more of a strength training component using free weights.
The verdict: I have signed up for the next step which is a Foundations class. Over the course of a few weeks, I will be introduced to the remainder of the CrossFit experience in preparation for the normal Workout of the Day (WOD). Probably the biggest reason for me to take this next step is for accountability. Yes, I could do much of this at home (for free), but would I push myself as hard?
More luck will be needed!
photo credit: Biggunben
I am NOT a true believer with respect to cholesterol being the root of all evil when it comes to heart disease. That said, I think there is good evidence that elevated LDL levels (across large populations of people) may be an indicator of (BUT NOT CAUSE) heart disease.
From Paul Jaminet at Perfect Health Diet:
“LDL cholesterol is the ambulance crew that arrives at the scene of the crime to help the victims. The lipid hypothesis is the view that ambulance drivers should be arrested for homicide because they are commonly found at murder scenes.”
From Chris Masterjohn at The Daily Lipid:
“I think the evidence for the central role of the LDL particle in the development of atherosclerosis is overwhelming. However, I believe the evidence is very strong that the LDL particle is a victim rather than a perpetrator in the process, and that it is the oxidative destruction of the particle itself rather than the concentration of cholesterol within it that is the culprit.”
With respect to HDL, there appears to be good evidence that higher HDL levels are associated with better health; however the simplistic explanation that HDL mops up the bad LDL seems to be both inadequate and wrong.
Again, Paul Jaminet:
“The lipid hypothesis presumed that the function of HDL is to clear toxic cholesterol from arteries, cholesterol having evolved for the purpose of giving us heart attacks. HDL then brings cholesterol to the liver which returns it to the blood via LDL (which evolved for the purpose of poisoning arteries with cholesterol, and giving HDL something to do).”
“But there is an alternative hypothesis: that infections cause disease, and that HDL has an immune function. This hypothesis would explain why HDL protects against infections and against all diseases of aging.”
I would strongly encourage you to read all three of Paul’s recent articles regarding HDL:
- HDL and Immunity
- HDL: Higher is Good, But is Highest Best?
- How to Raise HDL
I found the last article, How to Raise HDL, especially interesting (and it certainly doesn’t require taking a statin).
Here is additional information if you are interested in learning how to read Scientific Research.
This morning I spent several productive hours working outside in the garden. First up was a quick weeding of the previously mulched garlic. And the weeds turned into much appreciated cow chow.
Next, I transplanted my first batch of 60 tomato plants which I started from seed in mid-February. The nice surprise in this task was finding earthworms galore as I dug the holes for the tomatoes. All of that hard work in soil improvement is most definitely paying off.
A few days ago, I retrieved a small swarm of bees from one of my hives. Luckily, the swarm settled down in a semi-dwarf apple tree which made the job of getting them into a new hive almost trivial.
Lastly, I wrote another guest post for Robb Wolf this week about Growing Sweet Potatoes. Please check it out.
Thanks for reading.
photo credit: realhealthdebate.com
Last week Harley Johnson (a.k.a. Durianrider) champion of the “low fat, raw, vegan” experiment attempted to debate Richard Nikoley (blogger at Free the Animal). With facts and reasoning on his side, Richard clearly articulated the benefits of eating a Paleo diet based on nutrient dense animal products.
At one point in the debate, Richard challenged the listeners to compare the nutritional value of a small four ounce serving of beef liver to a “healthy” vegan alternative. One listener (via 30 Bananas a Day) suggested that his meal of 5 pounds of fruit (mangos and strawberries) was nutritionally equivalent to the liver. Five pounds of fruit (at one meal) – You must be joking (211 grams of sugary carbohydrates)!
Note: Not everyone loves to eat liver; however almost any cut of pasture-raised meat will show a vastly superior nutritional profile to the vegan alternative.
My worldview is strongly shaped by a belief that humans are a product of millions of years of evolution and adaptation. While our large brains have enabled us to achieve great things (from a human point of view), we too often think that evolutionary rules do not apply to us, that we are special and different from the other creatures on the planet.
A case in point is the belief that humans are best suited to a vegan diet, one devoid of ANY animal products. This belief is based on a moral argument that says keeping and/or killing animals for human needs and nutrition is wrong and unnecessary. While I can appreciate the sentiment, it totally ignores how our species has eaten (AND ADAPTED) for thousands of generations.
Let me be clear – I think that vegetarians, partaking of nutrient dense animal products such as eggs, milk, and cheese, can live in a healthy fashion. Vegans on the other hand are choosing to ignore evolution and experiment with an unproven diet. I do not think their experiment will end well.
Photo credit: Allen Gathman
A reader (Joyce) sent me the following email asking for my thoughts about using a root cellar in North Carolina.
I would love to read if you and your family have ventured into the world of food preservation. Having grown up in the Midwest with root cellars, I’ve been trying to find info on using root cellars here (we’re in Charlotte). I can’t seem to find anything. Do you know if there is a tradition of root cellars in the Carolinas? Our rocky clay soil really retains water which doesn’t bode well for my root cellar dreams, but I can’t think of any other way to preserve food without electricity or dehydrating. I really don’t want to live entirely off dehydrated foods.
Great question! Continue reading
photo credit brnzwngs
Jenny and I went out to dinner in Durham last night but beforehand we took in a few hours of the Duke Invitational Track Meet at Wallace Wade Stadium. This was a two-day event featuring over 1000 athletes from more than 50 schools.
While we were able to see several amazing races, the strongest impression I was left with was the total absence of spectator and fan support. With many world-class runners (we didn’t watch field events), we expected that the stadium would have been packed; however with the exception of a few family members, it was mostly the athletes supporting and cheering for their teammates. On the positive side, this made it quite easy to get prime seats and to interact with some of the runners.
The races that I was most interested in were the men’s and women’s 400 meters. In the women’s finals, 26 runners ran sub-60 seconds and in the men’s finals 19 runners were able to beat 50 seconds.
I was also struck by several individual performances. In the men’s 3000 meter Steeplechase Ryan McDermott from Duke cruised to a winning time of 8:55.89 (he barely seemed out of breath). And as good as his race was, I was even more impressed by Dena O’Brien, a freshman from the College of Charleston, who smoked everyone in the women’s 3000 meter (regular run, not Steeplechase). Her time was 9:28.25 and she was able to lap several of the slower runners. (Her time was just barely above a 5 minute mile pace – Wow!)
Next weekend is a one day meet at UNC (for local folks). If you aren’t from the area, just look up a college track and field webpage and check out their schedule. Take your family and find someone to root for. I’m guessing that the lonely athletes will greatly appreciate your support.
The following is a quick post with the results of my heart rate variability measurements for the previous month. You may want to refer back to my introductory post Do You Have a Healthy Heart? and my Baseline Measurements post to have a better idea of what I am measuring.
Modifications to Methods
I am still using my Suunto t6d heart rate monitor to measure my resting heart rate every morning; however I have made a few changes. Instead of measuring in both a seated and standing position, I am now just measuring my seated resting heart rate. And I am measuring for 5 minutes instead of 3, and looking at a 3 minute window instead of a 1 minute window. These changes were made after consulting with two of the authors of studies I referenced in my first HRV post. They felt that a slightly longer measurement would give me a bit better insight.
And since I am no longer recording standing resting heart rate, I am not calculating my orthostatic heart rate (the difference between standing and seated) as it didn’t seem to be indicating anything very interesting.
Over the past month, my seated resting heart rate averaged 75.8 (+/- 4.3) beats per minute. This number was almost exactly the same as the baseline number of 75.2 (+/- 3.8) beats per minute.
My heart rate variability (expressed by RMSSD – the root mean square of successive differences) went down to 25.6 (+/- 7.0) from 34.8 (+/-10.9). This is the wrong direction; however it isn’t completely surprising considering that I have dramatically stepped up my exercise habits over the past month (and may be slightly overtraining). What I hope is that my body adapts to the exercise and increases parasympathetic output which will lead to a much higher HRV measurement.
Here are a few quick comments and several links to things that I have been reading (or watching) recently:
- Yesterday we harvested our first asparagus spear of the season. Yum!
- CrossFit - It was pretty tough to get up and down the stairs yesterday (after two workouts). Clearly I have not been doing proper squats (need to go much deeper). This morning I can actually walk without pain which is encouraging.
- This is probably the most awe-inspiring track performance I have EVER seen.
(hat tip to CrossFit Local )
- Speaking of running – After reading Born to Run, I was hungry for more information about human evolutionary adaptations specific to running. This paper, Endurance running and the evolution of Homo, provides a lot of compelling evidence on the topic.
- Lastly check out Chris Masterjohn’s new article on “Fatty Liver Disease.” Eating high fructose corn syrup (drinking sodas) combined with not getting enough choline (eggs and liver) can produce a condition that damages your liver in a way similar to consuming too much alcohol.
photo credit impicard
Tomorrow it begins – at 6:15am to be precise. Thanks to the Daily Deal at Groupon, I am signed up for a one month “boot camp” at CrossFit Local. Normally $150, this 12 session, structured introduction to CrossFit was priced right at $39. What a deal!
As some readers may recall, I have been following Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint for Fitness for a couple of months (with good success). CrossFit is similar in that the focus is on short duration, high intensity workouts that improve overall functional fitness. The benefit to CrossFit is that I will be receiving regular instruction and community support.
So it is with excitement AND apprehension that I am approaching tomorrow morning. I believe my overall fitness level is still pretty abysmal; however it has certainly improved, hopefully enough to get me through a tough workout.
Wish me luck!