As you may know, my wife and I are the proud parents of eight year old twin boys, Evan and Neil. Of the many cool things about this age, the best may be that the kids don’t yet realize their dad is somewhat of a geek with limited athletic ability. Attributes like speed and strength are all relative – that is to say, if I am stronger than or faster than my kids, they think I am a force to be reckoned with. And if I am somehow able to help them run faster, I am a genius to be listened to. Who knew?
It appears that eight year olds can “master” new activities like hurdling after about three tries (why does it have to be so hard at 44?). Above are Evan (left) and Neil (right) cruising over homemade PVC hurdles. Not that their form is terrific, but I was floored that they could sprint/jump over all six without falling face first into the ground (as I would likely have done).
1) Dr. Andrew Weil has recently revised his stance on saturated fats:
“You’re correct that my thinking on saturated fat has evolved. One catalyst was a scientific analysis of 21 earlier studies, which showed “no significant evidence” that saturated fat in the diet is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. The 21 studies analyzed included nearly 348,000 participants, most of whom were healthy when they were enrolled. They were followed for five to 23 years, during which 11,000 developed heart disease or had a stroke. Looking back at the dietary information collected from these thousands of participants, the investigators found no difference in the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or coronary vascular disease between those individuals with the lowest and highest intakes of saturated fat. This goes completely against the conventional medical wisdom of the past 40 years. It now appears that many studies used to support the low-fat recommendation had serious flaws.”
2) In spite of Dr. Weil’s intelligent reevaluation of the facts, our local newspaper dietician, Suzanne Havala Hobbs, continues to dole out the dogmatic advice of avoiding “artery clogging saturated fats.” Come on Mrs. Hobbs, your readers deserve guidance that is based on sound science, not fat phobic conventional wisdom.
3) If you are interested in making your own bacon, check out my guest post at Robb Wolf’s site. This post is similar to my very first blog post Makin’ Bacon; however I have made the instructions much easier to follow.
4) You have a few days left to post your June fitness goal in order to be eligible for the free, signed copy of Sarah Fragoso’s Everyday Paleo. I will pick a winner on June 1.
As I mentioned in The Illusion of Nutrient-Dense Food, pastured animals should be on, well, pasture and not a bare patch of ground. During the winter this is not always possible; however with the warmth of spring and summer, there really isn’t a good excuse.
And with that warmth, many of my early season crops like lettuce, spinach and arugula have rebelled and are attempting to “bolt” or go to seed. This makes the greens very bitter, but to a chicken they are divine. So rather than waste this good green forage, I have recently moved my portable chicken netting to encompass the greens.
I am also trying some experiments with black soldier flies (BSF) as supplemental food for the chickens. BSF larvae are insatiable eaters and will consume/convert large quantities of organic material into wiggly protein that chickens love. Here is a short time-lapse video of what BSF larva can do to a hamburger in only 5 hours.
In no way do I want to nag or harass anyone about setting fitness goals, but I do have a challenge (if a little extra incentive might help).
For the month of June, I challenge you to pick a fitness goal that you feel is achievable and will move you towards better health. For some of you this may mean beginning an exercise program, it may be to simply walk X miles during the month, or it may be something much more advanced.
Please post your goal in the comment section below. For those of you that participate by publicly posting your goal, you will be eligible to win an autographed copy of Sarah Fragoso’s new book, Everyday Paleo.
Also, please let me know if you shared this post and/or provided a link to it on your blog. For each of these activities, you will receive additional chances to win the book (the winner will be selected on June 1). Continue reading
As regular readers will recall, I have been taking daily heart rate measurements to determine how exercise improves heart rate variability (HRV), a valuable measure of heart health. You can refer back to my post Do You Have a Healthy Heart? to learn about what I am measuring and why it matters.
Results for April
My seated resting heart rate has shown a decrease from 75.8 beats per minute (BPM) down to 73.1 BPM (a good thing). Also my chosen HRV metric, RMSSD, has increased from 25.6 to 28.1. Remember, increased HRV is what I am after, as a heart that shows a good degree of variability tends to be healthy.
In looking more carefully at my results (baseline, March, and April), the numbers are all fairly similar and within a standard deviation of each other. So rather than worry whether the numbers are “statistically significant” or not, I will be satisfied that the trend is improving.
Prediction: I will need several years of solid exercise before I see the type of improvements I am hoping for (resting heart rate around 60 BPM and RMSSD about 2x or 3x where it is now).
Other Thoughts on Exercise and the Central Nervous System (CNS)
I have spent quite a bit of time reading and studying the roles of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. As I learn more, I am absolutely amazed at the incredible complexity that is found in the mind-body connection. As an example, I can review my daily HRV measurements and see EXACTLY which days of CrossFit provided a strenuous CNS workout, and how long it took me to recover (usually 2 or 3 days). At some level my mind processes the intensity of the workout and decides how to regulate my heart rate for the next several days. Pretty cool!
If this idea of mind-body connection is intriguing to you, you might be interested in the following research paper: “From catastrophe to complexity: a novel model of integrative central regulation of effort and fatigue during exercise in humans.” The three key conclusions are as follows:
- “… all physiological functions are … regulated by CNS control mechanisms to ensure that bodily harm does not result.”
- “The conscious sensation of fatigue does not arise directly from the action of metabolites in the periphery, but rather from the regulatory centres in the subconscious parts of the brain, the function of which is to ensure homoeostasis during exercise. Therefore the distinct sensation of fatigue is not directly related to a physical end point, but is rather an interpretation of the effect of the current level of activity on future exercise capacity and any threats that immediate and future events pose to the maintenance of homoeostasis.”
- “As the sensation of fatigue is an emotion rather than a physical state, pacing strategies and their control during self regulated exercise—the journey and not just the end point—are probably the most important phenomena in exercise physiology.”
So remember, that fatigue you feel as you try to finish one more pull up, it’s all in your mind.
Please note: This is a discussion about how ancient humans hunted and killed animals. If you find these ideas disturbing, it is probably a good idea to skip this post.
Last week I exchanged several comments with my friend Sean at Prague Stepchild about his post The Myth of Persistence Hunting. Persistence hunting is a strategy where an animal is chased (hunted) until it collapses from heat exhaustion. Let’s just say that there is a good bit of debate about the relative importance of persistence hunting as a survival strategy for our earliest human ancestors (2.5 million years ago until the invention of stone weapons). Continue reading
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.“ - Hippocrates
In my wayward vegetarian days, before finding Weston A. Price and eventually Paleo, I ate my fair share of faux food: soy ground beef crumbles, egg substitutes made from tofu, heart-healthy margarine, and my favorite, seitan (pure wheat gluten). For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, check out this 30 second “public service announcement” from Ron Swanson of NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Continue reading
This is the second season I have grown Hakurei turnips, and they look fabulous! Instead of growing them in my poorest soil (like last year), I amended several raised beds with double doses of compost. Most root vegetables need this loose soil structure created by the compost so they can easily expand.
The Hakurei variety is also known as the Tokyo or salad turnip. The Hakurei is a perfect cross between a turnip (earthy) and a radish (spicy) with a hint of sweetness. While typically eaten raw, tonight I am roasting them in the oven to go along with grilled pork tenderloin. In addition, I will use the turnip greens (sautéed) as a second side dish.
These turnips are becoming more and more common so look for them at your local farmers market. And remember to save (and eat) those greens.