Beating a dead horse…

Ok, the Lance Armstrong scandal has died down somewhat, but I just want to ask this: Where is the deafening political outcry over this heinous immoral educational cheating? Where are the front page headlines attacking the 35% + of ALL COLLEGE STUDENTS who routinely cheat their way through college by taking these brain STEROIDS? Where are the congressional committees investigating students and the college/universities that facilitate this abuse? After all, how is a “clean” scholar supposed to “compete” with these “brain juiced” cheaters for lucrative scholarships that could save a student a hundred thousand or more dollars in tuition costs?

Really, how is it different?

It’s not.  It’s the same damn thing.  And the celebrity athlete should be no more vilified than these desperate students who are simply trying to do whatever it takes to compete and succeed in the world their parents created for them.

Just saying…

NYTimes: Attention-Deficit Drugs Face New Campus Rules

Misuse of attention deficit drugs has become a problem on campuses, and colleges are reconsidering how — and even if — their student health offices should try to diagnose A.D.H.D.

Atheism and the Martial Arts

The problems with magical thinking…not really related to my blog, but understanding the difference between reality science based training and magical faith based beliefs is important. The lesson is the same. If only bad training could punch you in the face.. Read the interview through the part about the two video’s. then watch the video’s in order to get the magnitude of how anyone can get seduced into delusional beliefs and become CONVINCED it is real and true.
Then repeat this mantra “magic is make believe, or insanity when you can’t turn the make believe off”.

Here’s the link to the full article:


Reasons Not to Stretch –

I’ve written about stretching numerous times, and the evidence has been steadily mounting against stretching as a warm-up modality prior to exercise, and these two real scientific studies add to that pile. The article is very well written and explains the studies clearly and why these studies are so compelling. The NY TIMES wellness blog continues its tradition of alternating excellent reporting with pointless and confusing filler; this piece being quite valuable. Read it.

This does not invalidate stretching as a legitimate form of exercise, however, and I’ll elaborate.

Almost all these studies; current and past; use real athletes as subjects. They are already well trained, fit, and lead an active lifestyle that helps keep their musculoskeletal system supple and more flexible than the average sedentary adult.

Inflexible muscles, muscular adhesions (muscles and connective tissue sticking together) and poor joint range of motion, can cumulatively impede your ability to move effectively and safely while exercising. Regular stretching can help alleviate and minimize these problems in many; if not most; cases.

So if you need to stretch, how do you incorporate it into your routine?

1. Stretch after your workout, never before.

2. If your muscles are super tight make stretching a separate workout altogether; do it on a day you aren’t doing any weight or cardio training.

3. Incorporate activities like vinyasa yoga or tai chi that focus on movement activities that force you to move through full ranges of motion.

4. Get deep tissue massage. It can really loosen you up. Again, only after a workout.

Read the post, linked below.

Phys Ed: Can Pickle Juice Stop Muscle Cramps? –

I’ve talked a number of times about the enduring mystery of muscle cramps. No real knowledge exists as to why they occur; only educated and uneducated guesses that have absolutely no research to rely on. Until now.

It’s been a highly accepted bit of exercise lore that pickle juice can reduce the duration of cramps, and I’ve suggested it to a number of clients and “spinners” over the years. Everyone assumes its the electrolytes, potassium and salt that helps, though I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the exercise science literature shows that perfectly hydrated people with excellent electrolyte profiles cramp with the same frequency as everyone else statistically.

Why it helps no one could say. Until now. Pickle juice has been specifically studied as to its efficacy in combatting cramps, and been found very effective. This, in and of itself, also gives compelling clues as to why muscles actually cramp, as well.

Of course, further studies need to be done. Read the interesting New York Times piece below.

Gluten-Free for the Gluten Sensitive –

To eat, or not to eat (gluten), that is the question.
The article linked at the bottom is talking about wheat products. All wheat based products contain gluten, and depending on your health sources you should avoid it at all costs or not worry about it at all.

This NY Times piece is quite balanced and discusses the issue from each side of the divide, as well as from the point of view of real medical scientists. Keep in mind, that according to this story, the most recent study; conducted with scientific double blind placebo controls, had a sample size of 34 people. 34? Not 34,000. Not 3,400. Not 340. 34. Well, so much for conducting a definitive study.

I’ve personally never seen a reason to cut wheat glutens from my diet. Consuming wheat has never appeared to have a negative impact on my past performance as a pro racquetball player, a body builder, a runner, or a cyclist. I’ve never had a problem with energy levels or bloating. Those who are most vociferously aligned against wheat gluten seem to take it on faith and dubious pseudo science, or have an actual diagnosed case of celiac disease. The amorphous new “symptoms” newly medically recognized as “gluten sensitivity” seems to be growing, but whether its growth is legitimate or mass hysteria based on marketing is still up in the air. Many body builders and other physique minded people have been claiming for 2 decades that glutens cause bloating and negatively affect abdominal appearance.

Prior to the 1990’s, NO ONE seemed to have a problem with glutens (outside sufferers of celiac disease) and physique athletes didn’t seem to have a problem developing the sculpted bodies made of dreams. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself can be seen wolfing down an entire pizza pie immediately after winning his final Mr. Olympia title in the documentary Pumping Iron, and amid all the conversations the body builders have about nutrition in the film, no one mentions gluten sensitivity.

On the other hand, according to this article, the gluten content of breads has increased dramatically in recent years, and perhaps more people’s systems are unable to cope. It certainly deserves way more comprehensive study.

Do any of my readers have a gluten sensitivity related story to share? Why Women Can’t Do Pull-Ups

This is one of the good articles.  It’s actually accurate.  I myself have helped train 5 women over 28 years to be able to perform a pull up.  Sadly, that’s a statistic I’m proud of, since I know the extreme disadvantages women have in upper body strength.  Anyway, read and enjoy.

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High-Intensity Regimens and Older Exercisers –

Thanks to reader Thane, again, for bringing a great piece to my attention (and yours, by extension).

Kudos to the NYT. As seems to be their pattern, they publish an outstanding piece following an embarrassingly bad one.

Below is a really GOOD article published in the NYT about the benefits of high intensity training (with some caveats) for older adults; 60+ years old up to 75! The same advice could be given to just about anyone, at any age. Intensity is king when it comes to physical training. And high intensity is relative to the current condition, and age, of the trainor. In other words, stop futzing around. Click the link below

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Why I eat Organic

Sometimes, I truly hate the New York Times. Their tag line runs the heading: “All the news that’s fit to print”. I wonder how many people today know the source of that tag line. I sometimes wonder if the editors remember the source of it. Let me tell you, in case you don’t know. Back in the 1890’s competing newspapers were more concerned with sensational headlines to move sales, and they weren’t above making stories up, or blowing small stories up into national epics by exaggerating it out of all proportion (think about news organizations that continue to publish stories about “birthers”).

The Times would stand above all that and it’s reputation for integrity has allowed it to become the 3rd most widely read newspaper in the nation, and the only local newspaper with a national following (USA Today and the Wall Street Journal are 1 & 2, respectively) and garner 108 Pulitzer prizes in its history; more than any other news organization in the world; an award created by a rival newspaperman, but judged by a panel of national writers.

Unfortunately, this “newspaper of record” has experienced steadily declining readership (as have all print newspapers), and feels the need to print things, I’m guessing, that create a bit of sexy controversy.

The NYT recently published the results of a Stanford university study that cast doubt on the value of organic fruits and vegetables compared to non organic. They compared three vitamins; A, C, and E, and concluded their was no statistical difference in the content. The Times offered the conclusions of this one study; with out of context quotes by the lead researcher; and no other analysis. There was no discussion of method, other studies, why only those three micronutrients were compared, or any of the other reasons someone might choose to eat organic, that have nothing to do with nutrition yet still profoundly affect health.

To be fair, the NY Times did follow up on their “Well” blog and did a much better job of going into the details and nitty-gritty (click this sentence).

How many of you actually knew that? My point is, if the story didn’t merit a full examination in the print edition, it was not worth publishing at all. It merely confuses and muddies the thoughts of a public already too overwhelmed with information overload to follow-up with further investigation on their own,  and that’s why they purchase The New York Times in the first place!

Here’s my take.Some people eat organic foods under the erroneous belief that they automatically are getting more nutritious products. There are dozens of factors affecting the micronutrients content of produce that it’s very difficult to compare. The soil it was grown in, the water used to irrigate, and the ripeness when it was picked all affect the nutritional content. So if I can’t be sure my organic produce is more nutritious, why spend the extra money? Well, I know what won’t be in my organic produce: poison. Pesticides are poison. Skull and crossbones poison. Dont believe me? Go to your local home and garden section at Home Depot and look at the warning labels on any pesticide you find. Poison. Plain and simple. Imagine seeing this warning on produce at the market: “this produce has been repeatedly sprayed with deadly poisons”. See what they tell you to do in case of accidental ingestion of pesticides.

Multiple studies have shown that Pregnant women who consume the most pesticide laden diets give birth to children whose elementary school I.Q.’s are 4-7% lower than average. Childhood cancers, autism, learning deficiencies of all kinds, MS, MD, and a host of other once rare disorders are becoming all too common in our society, and the constant ingestion of *poison* would seem to be a logical place to start looking. But instead, the popular myth that childhood vaccinations, which save 100’s of millions of lives every year ( there is actually a historical record, you know), is somehow the cause of every childhood disease and disability, while the **poisons they ingest daily** somehow remain free of blame or even suspicion.

When “mad cow” disease swept Europe, livestock farmers who used organic feed were unaffected. No cattle on organic farms had to be destroyed, while upwards of 80% of all the other livestock around the continent had to be destroyed because of the infection.  Read this if you want to learn more on this:  Click

Other reasons I eat organic is because organically grown produce doesn’t last as long. It tends to be locally grown and locally sold. In other words, I’m supporting the local economy; the farmer next door, who’s making an extra effort, at considerable expense in time and money. And by the way, the local can buy personal training sessions with me if they are earning a good living, the farmer in Idaho can’t support me at all.

There are concerns with organic farming when looking beyond the local and personal level.  Repeated studies have shown that organic farming techniques produce significantly lower crop yields compared to modern industrial farming.  With 7 Billion people in the world, is it possible to feed everyone organically?  I have my doubts, and I’m not about to start saying we should allow 50% of the world population to die of starvation.  Starving today or possibly getting a deadly cancer in 20 years isn’t a hard choice to make if you’re the starving person or the parent of a starving child.  Click this sentence to be taken to a great article in Scientific America.  My advice, on a personal level, is anyone who can afford to eat organically should do so, as much as possible, without becoming sanctimonious.  Then we should be encouraging agricultural scientific research to produce safer, better approaches for industrial farming to make food, and the environment, safer.

C’mon NYT’s. We have so few reliable media sources left. You charge 100% more per edition than any other local daily. If we buy your paper at that price, don’t we deserve the whole story and all the details, too.

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Subtracting Calories May Not Add Years To Life

YOU AND I ARE NOT IMMORTAL.  There.  I said it.  Was I not clear enough?  Try this: YOU AND I ARE GOING TO DIE SOMETIME BEFORE OUR 120TH BIRTHDAY.  

Morbid?  No.  I choose to live in the real world.  Our life spans are mostly determined by our genetics.  We’ve all known or heard the stories about someone who smoked 5 packs a day of unfiltered cigarettes and lived to 90, and died of completely unrelated causes.  No matter how you may want to deny this biological truth, the fact is that modern neuroscience, combined with biology and organic chemistry, are showing that our lives, thoughts, and even choices, are mostly in the hands of factors completely out of our control.  We can, at best, be aware of what we are doing as we start doing it, and try to be reflective on the likely outcomes.  In that way, we might be able to modify what we’ve started doing, and change course if we think the outcome will be bad.  For more on this point, I highly recommend this book: FREE WILL, by Sam Harris.  Sam Harris has a degree in Philosophy from Stanford University, and a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA.  For more information about Sam Harris and his work, click on his name.

What you can do is focus on improving the quality of whatever life you will have, as opposed to desperately trying to prolong it at all costs.  Exercise to ensure that you have energy and vitality and strength to meet life’s challenges at all stages of your life and be able to both take care of yourself for as long as possible, and enjoy yourself, for as long as possible.  What I’m afraid of is the loss of my physical independence; of becoming so frail and weak that i can’t take care of myself or play with my grandchildren, or walk a dog.  My grandfather Max died in 1975, almost 90 years old.  He wasn’t rich.  He lived in a small, one bedroom apartment that he moved into after his wife died.  And he had a girlfriend 30 years his junior.  He died in his bed, (not that way…) but lived his last day as an independent, self-sufficient individual.  That’s the way to live, and that’s how I want my last day to be.

This brings me to the article linked below.  It is a follow-up to a decades older research study that has entered the popular consciousness.  That study found evidence that when rats were fed extremely low-calorie diets, their average lifespan increased by 15-30%.  It was merely the first study published trying to determine the effect of caloric intake on lifespan.  Some people, privileging the purpose of life with longevity, have slavishly tried to extrapolate that rat study to their own lives, believing that their lifespan would be similar extended.  Not too many people, mind you, because to emulate the calorie count for adult human weight would allow you to consume 600-800 calories per day.  As a point of reference, that’s the same caloric allotment German Nazi’s allowed the Jews in concentration camps; the idea being to slowly starve them to death while allowing them to perform some forced labor until they became too uselessly weak.  You should know what happened next.

The very idea that a starvation diet would allow you to improve your odds of living longer is so blatantly counter intuitive that it should have set up severe warning signals in everyone who read this study.  But the press reported it with conviction, hailing it as a potential major breakthrough, and the public who read it took to this snake oil promise of longer life with fervor, even if they couldn’t abide by the strict caloric requirements.

Now comes this study, using our closest relatives, and it refutes the findings of the older study, at least to the efficaciousness for humans.  Read the last paragraph.  Study and memorize the last paragraph.  Embed and imprint the last paragraph into your brain stem.  There is 100 years of research, tried and tested and found valid, in that last paragraph.  Then go and do something fun and exciting.

I found the following story on the NPR iPhone App:

Subtracting Calories May Not Add Years To Life by Nell Greenfieldboyce

NPR – August 30, 2012

Scientists have known for decades that lab rats and mice will live far longer than normal if they’re fed a super-low-calorie diet, and that’s led some people to eat a near-starvation diet in the hopes that it will extend the human life span, too….

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Weight training for youths

Knowledge is a never ending pursuit. Knowledge is constantly evolving, growing, and often changing our outlook in revelatory ways. Change is the nature of the honest intellectual.

The pursuit of intellectual integrity demands that the pursuer keep an open, but skeptical, mind, and when better evidence and new facts emerge, re-evaluation and change must follow.

This is a strength. Science is always looking at reality, and whenever a flaw in an answer is exposed, it looks for a better answer, based on new evidence and better observation, as opposed to dogmatically insisting that the earth is, indeed, the center of the solar system and flat, with the sun and planets all revolving around it.

This isn’t indicative of mistake. Once upon a time illness was thought to be the fault of bad spirits; that’s why we say “bless you” when you sneeze. Eventually, the nascent medical profession in the 16th century started making some connections to environment and certain illnesses (evidence that was known in to ancient Egyptians and Greeks, Babylonians and Romans, the great dynasties of ancient China and the Hindu wiseman of the subcontinent, as well as those unfortunate wise women of the middle ages burned at the stake for “witchcraft”). We now know better. We understand the role of bacteria,virus, environment, and genetics in human health, so our approach in treatment changed. Gradually. Some approaches were wrong and later corrected. Some were ahead of their time. Vaccination was used in the later 18th century during the American revolution with some success and very high risk. This led to further study, further experimentation, further refinement. Today, it’s unlikely that any reader of this post knows anyone with polio. If we lived in a faith determined world we’d still be trying to pray the flu away and dying in the millions instead of it being a moderate inconvenience (it was the deadliest persistent disease in human history until the discovery of bacterial causes and antibiotics).

So where is all this high minded exposition going? The New York Times has printed a new health article on the importance of weight lifting for children.

My friend and reader Thane pointed me towards this article: in the NY Times about weight training for youths.

Until 20 years ago, everyone outside of a few researchers considers this harmful and dangerous. For the last 10 years the published evidence has been mounting to the contrary. I found that evidence compelling and philosophically sound, but would have still cautioned against it as the preponderance of opinion still was strongly opposed. 5 years ago the debate was 50/50, but the trend was clear. No new evidence supporting the dangers of proper weight training for children emerged, while evidence of its being beneficial continued to accrue.
Perhaps this information will start filtering into the mainstream, and we can start teaching our children healthy habits earlier, to take into their adult lives, without dogmatic falsehoods holding them back.