Reblogging… AKA legal content theft.

My blog has just started to garner a bit of attention and already I am running into the phenomena of ‘reblogging.’ What the hell WordPress? I’ve searched in the forums and have seen that you allow this. I have found my content, my original, personally created content on some wierd ass sites that have exclusively reblogged content.

These sites where my writing appears, have created none of their own work. They just reblog posts from other blogs. Granted that it only takes a snippet of my post and provides a back link to my blog, but that’s not the point!

If my words and titles are on their site, does that influence search results? Am I losing traffic because what used to be my keywords and search terms are now associated with a spam blog that has commerical interests and can pay more money to be higher up in the search results?

Why would you allow this WordPress? And don’t tell me it was to make blogging easier. It was already pretty easy, it just takes time to generate consistent traffic and attract dedicated readers and followers. But blogging, by and large is pretty easy; it ain’t exactly digging ditches or working on a farm.

Press This wasn’t enough? Dig and Stumble Upon and the automatic Facebook update wasn’t enough? Twitter?

C’mon WordPress… this is just you blatantly allowing content theft.

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Categories: Blogging, Building, Character Development, Leadership, online, philosophy, Politics, Society, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Looking for feedback.

First I’d like to start by thanking everyone who reads my articles. I really appreciate it. This is my first web page where I can rant and rave and post updates about my nutritional, philosophical, and sometimes political ideas.

I am curious though. Those of you who read, how do you like the site? Is it easy to access earlier articles? Do you find it easy to post comments and navigate the site?

Do you have any thoughts about how I can improve the site?

I Appreciate your thoughts.

Categories: Blogging, Building, Character Development, Friendship, online, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts about Religion Politics and the Idea of a Philosopher King.

Religion fascinates me, specifically the idea that people of religious affiliation are ‘grouped’ together. People born in America ‘tend’ to be raised Christian while people in China ‘tend’ to be raised in a Buddhist or Taoist fashion. I find it interesting that if my family, who are all Christian, had been born and raised in the Middle East they might have Muslim ideas. If they’d been native to India they’d probably have embrace Hindu philosophies.

 

It’s very interesting to consider how much influence social constructs (laws, religion, invisible geographic boundary lines, customs and tradition) have over our lives, and one must wonder to what extent their lives are actually their own. Do we live the way we do because we want to? Or are we just following the path that has been laid out for us? Even if one is not religious, how can one be sure that they are not still under the influence of ideas that originated in one’s native religion?

 

If one has changed spiritual paths, how can one be sure that they have not carried with them the philosophical seeds of the very ideas they strove to divorce themselves from and that they are not in fact, interpreting their new found spirituality through the lens of their old thinking and behavior?

 

Religion I do believe is a dangerous thing especially taught to children of young ages. Children are so… malleable, so blank and pure and when you consider the bloody histories of many of these religions, I think it is at best irresponsible and at worst completely evil to start uploading all these fucked up thoughts and mental structures into their pristine little minds. Especially if the teacher themselves has not critically examined their own beliefs.

 

And it raises the question, “Even if a child grows up and voluntarily decides NOT to be a part of the religion that raised them, can they ever really separate themselves from the effects of that religion?” They may not go to Church or attend their Wiccan Circles or pray at the Mosque, but do those ideas still influence their decisions?

 

Furthermore, what if one of these children becomes a man of wealth, influence, and power? Would they, completely unknowingly, foist their subtle philosophical principals upon the existing structure? I’ve been thinking about our culture and where our philosophical roots come from. Democracy is essentially mob rule, the majority wins, even if it is not ‘good.’ We take our political system from the Greeks and Romans, whereby those that were allowed to vote, debated on the issues of the time and cast their vote.

 

The result was supposed to be enacting decisions that were to be for the good of the community. But not everybody was ‘allowed’ to vote. Presumably only people capable of actually weighing the issues were allowed to vote, unlike today where anybody can vote; intelligent or not. This I think is one of the fundamental problems in our form of Democratic politics.

 

Now that was our basic political structure (ish). But the founding Fathers recognized another, very powerful social construct that if allowed, would graft itself to our political and legal system: Religion. To me it is quite clear that the FF (Founding Fathers) did everything they could to take religion OUT of the legalities and politics. Which is why there is the separation of church and state and why our initial political documents make no reference to a specific ‘god’ but rather use the purposely vague term, ‘Creator.’

 

Perhaps it was inevitable that Christianity as our basic spiritual framework would enmesh with our Democratic political framework. Consider this: Christianity very much contains an Us vs. Them mentality, that is to say, “Spiritual Power is on OUR side, so WE are right and YOU are wrong. If you are not with us, you are against us, and this is morally acceptable because our God can beat up your God.”

 

In Democratic voting you have all kinds of people who think many different ways. You think this way, and I think this way, and he thinks the other way and we’re all going to discuss it and try to come to an agreement about what should be done and this will be decided by voting for what we think is the best course of action. Sounds very civil, though it may not be effective if people’s votes can be ‘bought.’

 

But if you take Christianity’s Us vs. Them mentality along with their Power is on OUR side and you combine it with the Democratic system of voting, I think you would inevitably get a system that, even without religion’ devolves into “the Political Power (majority) is on OUR side, you are wrong, WE are right and this is Legally acceptable because under the rules of our particular political game, our party can beat up your party, and if you are not with US you are against us.”

 

Scary to think that even without the religion that we’re still operating under its influences. And remember the individual that acts as a catalyst for these ideas wouldn’t even be aware of what they were doing. They would have no clue that combining ideas is a lot like chemistry and that some should not be combined, lest they have terrible results.

 

What if the simple truth of people, the real low down on mass population, is that most people are generally unfit and not intelligent enough to act in a leadership capacity? If this is true, and it seems to be, then our entire political system is completely flawed, even without considering the underlying theocratic influences.

 

If we accept as true that most individuals are not capable of leading a nation (well and responsibly) does that statement imply an inverse concept? That it is possible for one man or a small group of individuals to lead a nation well and responsibly?

 

I think this is exactly true. What if a monarchy was really the best thing we had going for us, until religion grafted itself to the system? One man (and his advisors) ruled over things and made decisions, which if we accept that most people are not capable of weighing in on these decisions would really be the best thing. Free from political infighting a small group of presumably intelligent individuals (or at least intelligent enough to acquire power) would be led by one individual and when they made decisions there would be nothing to ‘get in the way.”

 

And maybe that’s what we need. Our cultural progress stagnates from Us vs. Them politics and essentially, ‘we get in our own way.’ If we paved the way for a handful of individuals to make clear decisions that could enact without opposition and jumping through hoops, we’d at least start moving in ‘some’ direction. Whether that direction if good or bad, we’d get there quickly and if it is good we allow it, and if it is bad I trust that the people would revolt and that Civil War would serve the necessary purpose of setting our governing back on track and would serve as a precedent for the future.

 

Future Kings and Queens (in my hypothetical monarchy) would think about making decisions and remember the Civil War of 2013 and think twice before attempting anything underhanded like taking our weapons. Because they’ll remember that the last time that was tried, the country nearly tore itself apart and it’s really hard to maintain power in a country that doesn’t exist. Therefore, it would be best NOT to destroy the thing you are trying to dominate.

 

The very idea of a monarchy scares Americans, because we think that one small group of rulers cannot be trusted and even less so one man. But in Greek philosophy there arises the idea of a Philosopher King. IF, and I admit it is a big if, one could put a Philosopher King on the throne, then everything will be fine as the leader would be a wise learned philosopher and would be intelligent and wise enough to know what to do and would theoretically be evolved enough as an individual to be above such petty things as the pursuit of wealth and political power.

 

The problem is in finding and installing such a Philosopher King. A Philosopher King by his very definition is enlightened and evolved and would presumably value the integrity of his spirit above the acquisition of power. He would be intelligent enough to know that power corrupts and that absolute power (which is what we’d want to give him) corrupts absolutely. Therefore he’d be wary of even the idea that he should be followed or allowed to wield such power.

 

In short, it would turn out that the right man for the job would be the very man that we can’t get to accept the position!

 

This individual would however possess a sense of honor and compassion towards his fellow man, such that the only way to make him take the throne (once we’ve found him) would be if there was no other alternative; that is, if the people were in such dire need enlightened guidance that our Philosopher King would be spiritually duty bound to accept the call against his intellectual Will.

 

And even then, because of his own fear of power, he would by nature establish means of checking himself and holding himself accountable. He would lead while adamantly asserting up and down that he ought not to be leading. And this would be to the peoples benefit as there would be someone in charge with the power to make things happen that would only make happen that which is good for the people and when nothing needed to be done, he would do just that: NOTHING!

 

Power should only be entrusted to one who is not looking for it, does not want it, would not use it, is actually afraid of personal corruption but if he absolutely had to, he would use power to be of mass benefit and then stop and go back to not using it.

 

Of course this raises the question of, “If the Philosopher King would not willingly take the throne, who should be the one to declare that such and such is the right man, and who should be the one to appoint him?

 

This leads to the idea that government and people must evolve together. One cannot have an enlightened ruler without having an enlightened society that would voluntarily and intelligently choose to put him there. The people may not be as evolved as the Philosopher King, but they would at least have to be enlightened enough to know that they needed one, and enlightened enough to recognize him when they saw him, yet not be enlightened enough to simply save themselves. For the PK would only accept the position if there was no other way and the enlightened society would have to be in incredibly dire straits that they (for some reason) could not (or did not) prevent using their own enlightened intelligence.

 

There we see an insight that gives us pause to ask a great question: IS government corrupt because it is government? Is it corrupt because the people are unenlightened and unevolved and put the government there in the first place? Did the people create their own monster that they now cannot control? And if the people did create their own monster, is it too late to rectify these mistakes, or is the beast to powerful to be tamed and controlled; must it in the end simply be put down?

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Fear, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Society, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1/25/12 Lift Heavy Things 3: LEVEL UP!

This is actually my third session of Lift Heavy Things (LHT). The first was my self assessment, the second happening about 3 days from then, and now we have this one. Here’s how it went:

Max Effort

Knee Push Ups- Goal 50- 1st Set 50- 2nd Set: 50

Full Squat- Goal 50- 1st Set 50- 2nd Set 50 LV UP

Jack Knife Press- Goal 20- 1st Set 20- 2nd Set 21

Forearm/Knee Plank- Goal 90 sec- 1st Set 90 sec- 2nd Set 90 sec LV UP

1 Leg Assisted Pull Ups- Goal 15- 1st Set 15- 2nd Set 15

Notes: I’m ready to step it up on my squats and my Planks, I think I’m accomplishing them too easy and in good form. So I’m Leveling Up. Yes, thats right. As though this were an Final Fantasy game, I’m Leveling Up.

I do have some thoughts about my results though… I’m noticing that my lower body is vastly stronger than my upper body. My squats are going to LV 5!!! and my Planks are moving up to LV 3 after only 10 days. Even when I look in a mirror I notice that my thighs are huge in comparison to the rest of me. And its not fat. My extremities don’t seem to have that much fat; its all pretty much centered around my ass, my abdomen, and my upper torso.

My upper body results leave something to be desired. I made the goals set, but Knee Push Ups are seriously kicking my ass (though not as much so it IS an improvement.) And I get the feeling that I am using too much ‘leg’ with my chair assisted pull ups.

I do love how the workout is truly a TOTAL body workout. One exercise I used to do for my lower back was hyperextension with a kettle bell. I think the planks pretty much take care of that now, in addition to all my other core muscles: abs, obliques, hip flexors. I even notice that proping myself up on my forearm works my upper back.

Full squats REALLY get the heart rate going. I remember back when I was going to the gym and eating a shit ton of carbs before my 20 minute morning cardio and then I would hit the free weights; and NEVER out of all those gym workouts with weights have I had my HR increase so fast and so powerfully than with these prisoner squats.

I love the Jack Knife Press. Its difficult, but I just like the movement; the muscles it works. I’m doing pretty good on them, I reached the goal today without too much of a ‘stop’ between reps, but I think I should continue until I can blast the full 20.

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Medicine, Nutrition, Paleo, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Primal Week 1: Wanna go Sprinting Barefoot after a Steak?

As I sit here picking bits of Medium Rare tender beef steak out of my teeth, I am reminded of why I love being a human: I get the rare opportunity to eat the meats of lesser boned aminamals… and be conscious of my enjoyment of it.

Vegetables are great, I fuckin love’em; I’m eating a HUGE salad with this meal. But eating a garlic pepper seasoned, slightly bloody, organic, grass-fed steak is like… a kickboxing match in your mouth. Ah… yes.

This post is about my month-long experiment of Going Primal. So let’s first spell out the rules.

For the next 4 weeks, or 28 days, I will be following ‘The Primal Blueprint.’

This means I will be eating according to their guide as well as ‘exercising’ according to their standards using their methods. Very basically this means following the 10 Primal Laws.

The 10 Primal Laws.

1: Eats lots of animals, plants, and insects.

2: Move around a lot at a slow pace.

3: Lift Heavy Things.

4: Run really fast every once in a while.

5: Get lots of sleep.

6: Play.

7: Get some Sunlight every day.

8: Avoid Trauma (Self Destructive behavior.)

9: Avoid Poisonous things (Mc. Donald’s, processed food, Grains… etc.)

10: USE YOUR MIND.

For those who want to hear all this straight from the horse’s mouth, I direct you here http://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-primal-blueprint/#axzz1jg4ZSjHP

That’s a pretty simple outline for a lifestyle, maybe too simple? I thought getting fit and eating right had to be this hard, overbearing, miserable, and long and drawn out process; now you’re telling me that PLAYING is a part of my health and fitness? So it would seem.

People take up a diet and fitness routine for its benefits to one’s health and physique, so I assume the question on everyone’s mind is “how will you eat and what exercises will you be doing?” ‘Tis a fair question. Let us dive in to the eating part. As Mark Sisson, the author of the Primal Blueprint says, “80% of your body composition is the foods you eat.” I won’t type word for word what he goes on to say about gene expression; it’s quite lengthy and you can just buy his book or visit Mark’s Daily Apple.

Primal Eating.

Basically I will be eating primally, following the first Primal Law.
1: Eats lots of animals, plants, and insects.

That’s simple enough. Like most eating patterns this means (Law 9: Avoid Poisonous Things) no processed bullshit, sodas, refined sugars yada yada yada. What’s new, at least for me, is the blatant attack on grains coming out of left field. I always thought whole wheat, multi grain, and oatmeal was good for me.

Maybe not. The cornerstone of the Primal Blueprints eating habits all revolve around your body’s insulin production and the pancreas’ insulin response to the amount and type of carbohydrate that you put into your body, as well as removing all grains from your diet. Completely. Immediately. Permanently. Why? An in-depth look at why grains are bad is another matter in itself; one that would easily double this article. Therefore, I direct you here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-grains-are-unhealthy/#axzz1kK24SP00

In short the Primal Blueprint (PB) dietary lifestyle is:

  • No Grains. This means no bread, rice, pasta, corn (yes corn is a grain not a vegetable), oatmeal (I will miss you) or cereals or granola bars.
  • No Dairy. This means no milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, but strangely allows butter (real butter.)
  • No Soy. The problems with soy revolve around the lectins found within much like grains. Also like grains, soy cannot be eaten unless it is processed.
  • No Sugar including molasses, processed foods, artificial sweeteners… etc. etc.
  • Enjoyed sparingly will be foods like honey, dark chocolate, alcohol.
  • Foods to be eaten in moderation are most fruits. Some fruits contain a surprising amount of carbs (fructose) and so eating fruit in moderation will be important.
  • I’ll be eating as much as I can of meat and non-starchy vegetables.

Now I must admit that I will from time to time, once a week, have a small amount of cheese in my salad and perhaps a tiny amount of milk, because I enjoy these things. I won’t drop everything I love cold turkey, but I will be getting Primal Eating right about 90% of the time.

Primal Fitness

Primal Fitness consists of 3 main aspects:

Sprinting

Move Slowly/ Play/ Rest

Lift Heavy Things/ Workout of the Week

Sprinting; run really fast every once in a while.

It’s pretty simple. One day a week, go run your guts out (It’s what I did today.). Sprint with as much effort as you possibly can. And it’s more about effort and raising the heart rate than about speed, though in time your speed will improve, but improved speed is not the goal; rather a byproduct.

Move Slowly.

My long diatribe against Chronic Cardio could easily add another 5 pages to this article, but suffice it to say that our ancestors did not wake up in the morning and ‘go for a run.’ That’s stupid, ‘go for a run.’ They ran only when they absolutely had to and when they did they ran really, really fast. See Sprinting above. For the most part, our ancestors were nomadic and traveled constantly. They did not stop in one area, build a house and a deli and make cities. It was not until the Sumerians set up shop that we had cities. When they were nomadically travelling, they moved slowly. They took their sweet ass time barring any danger at their backs.

So the modern-day equivalent to move slowly, is to go for long walks and hikes; 3-5 hours a week of just moving slowly. Exert enough effort to elevate the heart rate a bit, but keep it to a vigorous hike at most. If you can’t carry on a conversation during your jaunt, you’re going too fast.

Playing/ Resting

Playing is an important part of life; it’s what hard work is for. The human brain and body decided a long time ago that it would only exert itself in order to obtain ‘goodies.’ No ‘goodies’ no work. In our modern times, man works against his fundamentally playful and curious nature, by working for nothing; that is working without gaining any satisfaction. Paying bills and working a job and purchasing items and such may be necessary to sustain Life, but they are not what Life is for. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not wasted in slave labor to pay the electric bill. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “Man spends the best part of his life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty, during the least valuable part of it.” All work and no play make Man a dull boy; and add an outrageous amount of stress to his life.

In Primal times it is thought that Grok didn’t have the chronic stress that we do today. Sure, he had some stressful things to think about, possibly getting eaten, maybe going hungry for a day or two, competition among other paleolithic humans, and the stress that comes from the intense physical exertion (and fear) of climbing up an unstable structure to get said food.

But once these moments had passed, the stress was done. Stress was an in the moment thing for Grok; he didn’t carry the stress with him all day/ week/ year. Almost getting eaten by a tiger was hell, but assuming he escaped death, one thing he certainly did not do was go back to his cave, crack open a mind altering depressant (beer) and bitch to his wife about how unfair the system was; shouting that tigers are just fuckin running around eating people and that somebody should do something about it.

After the stressful moment was over, Grok went back to eating his current meal, moving slowly over the Earth, wrestling with his young children, bonking his female mate, playing competitive rock throwing, log lifting games with his male hunting buddies. For all the danger there was, Grok seemed to be having great fun when his life wasn’t in mortal danger.

The life of Grok had a lot of ups and down to be sure and the swings were intense, but the one thing that we can be sure of is that Grok had fullness of experience. Grok’s life may have been short (because he probably got eaten or succumbed to deadly diseases neither of which are really valid survival issues anymore) but it was full and intense in a way that we have forgotten and Grok didn’t let the stress of daily dangers and struggles ruin the moment for him.

So in our day of chronic ‘take your work home with you’ stress, Play is important if only to relieve all that stress since stress is a risk factor for nearly every major disease and illness. Play also makes your life worth living; it makes life fun which as far as I can tell is the only purpose for Life. Life isn’t going anywhere, that is, it’s not ‘doing’ anything. The things that happen in Life don’t seem to be coherently moving in any particular way; towards any particular goal. So, play from what I gather is the point, the purpose of Life. Be happy while you’re alive. Happiness and fun are really the only things that actually matter.

Lift Heavy Things

Twice a week you should Lift Heavy Things. In Primal Fitness, this amounts to progressive bodyweight training or if you’re fit enough, tackling one of the Work Outs of Week. The bodyweight exercises are simple and ‘designed’ to mimic the 5 essential compound movements of our primal ancestors. All exercises work a wide range of muscle groups and performing all 5 exercises is truly a full body workout. The 5 essential movements are Push Ups, Pull Ups, Overhead Press, Squats, and Abdominal Planks. All of them are bodyweight exercises; none require a gym membership or expensive equipment. The most you might need is a pull-up bar, but a little creativity can overcome the lack of one.

The bodyweight exercises in Primal Fitness are incredibly malleable and infinitely scalable; they can be as easy or as difficult as you want by adding weight to your body to make it harder or simply changing your body’s position. If straight push-ups are too hard make them a little easier by inclining your body up a hill; to make them more difficult turn your body the other way and face down the hill allowing gravity to aid you in a tougher workout.

There are 9 variations of each of the 5 movements. I won’t write here about all the variations of the 5 movements (45 different movements in total), but they’re all structured the same way with LV 4 being the basic movement itself, the 3 LVs preceding building up to the essential movement, and the 5 LVs that follow serving to increase the difficulty.

But where should one start in this sliding scale of exercise difficulty? That was my question when I started this week and the answer to that riddle lies in the self-assessment. To find out which bodyweight exercises you should start with, Primal Blueprint Fitness (PBF) suggests undergoing a self-assessment to ascertain your current level of fitness.

The assessment places you by scoring your ability to perform a certain number of reps of five different exercises. These are the exercises performed and the scale to grade yourself. I did the Primal Blueprint self-assessment and I’ve got to say, I thought I was stronger than this. My scores were horrendous:

22 Push Ups

5 Pull Ups (How can one do 5 pull ups but only 22 push-ups?)

61+ Full Squats (Thanks to my back packing tendencies I’m ok here.)

6 Dive Bombers

60 Sec Forearm/ Feet Plank (Really expected more outta me here.)

I really thought that having bicycled across the country I would be at least a little more fit than this, but I guess not. Just goes to show you that things that seem difficult may not be so hard and may not make you so tough because you did them.

Based on my self-assessment scores I’m starting with:

LV 2 Knee Push Ups

LV 2 One Leg chair assisted pull ups

LV 4 Full Squats

LV 2 Jack Knife Press

LV 2 Forearm knee planks

In all honesty, I’m not very comfortable starting with such ‘unmanly’ training exercises like knee push-ups and knee planks or assisted pull ups. My ego tells me that since I scored pretty close to LV 3 on the push-ups that maybe I should ‘challenge’ myself by starting with incline push-ups which would seem a little more ‘manly.’ But, I’m trying to respect the process of progression that Mark Sisson has come up with and I’m giving the Primal Blueprint methodology a fair and honest opportunity to demonstrate itself. So, for now, I’m going to train with my body and not my ego.

Each workout session, sessions that should only happen twice a week unless I feel up to adding in an extra bout, will consist of two cycles performing one set of X number of reps of a particular exercise. I had wanted to include a sample of what my workouts looked like, but apparently I’m too stupid to create a table that formats correctly. -.-;

Progression

Progression in bodyweight training is based upon the successful completion of X number of reps of your chosen bodyweight exercise variation in BOTH cycles. And you should honestly evaluate yourself based on form and how difficult it was to achieve the target reps. For instance based on the scores of my training above; I can progress to the next LV in everything. However comma, it was really hard. I’m serious, I didn’t expect girly knee push-ups to kick my ass, but having to do 50 of them straight was quite difficult. I have to be honest in my evaluation and I should stay with this for a while. In time I will progress, but that time is not now.

Thoughts so Far.

I suppose I’ll end this long (but worth it) article with a photo update. This is what I look like after about 10 days Primal:

Is it much of an improvement? I’m sure 7 days is not enough time to make that call, nor do I think the photograph does my ‘improvements’ justice. In just a short amount of time, I feel better. I definitely feel improvements, even if they are not aesthetically obvious, I have lost weight and by that I mean flabby padding around my mid-section.

I’m not weighing myself so I’m not sure the number of how much weight I’ve already lost, but this morning I walked naked in front of my bathroom mirror and noticed that I have muscle; muscle I never noticed before. I suppose it was always there, but had been covered by some layer of fat that is slowly being eroded (not that I had much fat to begin with compared to some that are vastly overweight when they start.) When I tense my abdominal muscles, I can feel under my skin the ‘notches’ of six-pack abs. It’s like I know they’re there, and I have to keep going so as to undergo a fitness ‘gestation’ period. And as time has gone by, I have begun to notice slight improvements in my physique; improvements that a camera does not catch.

In following articles I will give details about my eating habits and workouts, as well as post photo updates to watch the progression. I appreciate all who read. Is there anybody reading this that is ‘Primal?’ Has anybody tried it and what was your experience?

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Nutrition, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prelude to my Primal Experiment. I was so strong before, what happened?

Ladies and Germs, for those that don’t know back in September of 2011 I went on a really long bike ride. I rode from Yakima WA to San Diego CA. It took about 55 days and I rode over 1700 miles living on $8-$11 a day. During the trip I became fascinated by a diet called the Paleolithic Diet. Far from being a fad diet, Paleo was about a lifestyle and  required many changes to bring ones life more closely aligned with how we’ve evolved over 2 million years. I won’t go into the details of Paleo living, literature abounds on the net. Google it yourself.

However I am here to tell you that for the duration of my trip I adopted the Paleo Diet and doing no ‘exercise,’ that is without setting aside a specific time to ‘train’ or ‘workout’ I lost 40 lbs in about 2 months. Many would say that my biking 30-50 miles a day on average helped. I’m sure it did, I’m sure the moving and the exertion of effort was a great factor into my weight loss and strength gain.

But I don’t believe thats all there was to it. I met many cyclists on the road who were no where near as fit as I had become. They had been cycling for years, they were around my age, and they’d been ‘exerting themselves’ for waaayy longer than I had, yet they had a mere fraction of the strength I’d only recently developed. What was the difference between us?

The one thing I noticed was our diets. Both the items we ate, the nutrient contents, and the money spent. They spent way more money, ate way more food, but stayed about the same. When I told them of the complete transformation that I was undergoing they wondered how it was possible that I would make such progress in such a short amount of time.

Consider these photos:

This is what I looked like before my trip in July of 2011. I didn't actually decide to take the plunge and go on my trip till September of that year.

And this photo:

This is me in a hotel in Garbersville CA, just 26 days into my cycling trip.

No pictures were taken unfortunately, but I looked even better by the time I got to San Diego and I was stronger, so much stronger than when I started.

What did I do? How did this progress happen in such a relatively short period of time? The only thing I’ve come up with is that I adopted a Primal Lifestyle. Part of it was a choice and part of it was just the necessities of cycling across the country with no money. I didn’t eat dairy products. No milk, cheese, yogurt. Where would I have put these things? I wasn’t packing a refridgerator on my bike; they would have spoiled. And they were expensive. Some travellers I saw would buy a half gallon of milk everytime they wanted a bowl of cereal. I don’t have that kind of cash nor a desire to drink that much milk in one sitting.  So travelling and financial necessity demanded that I give them up.

I learned how to listen to my body. Early on in my trip, grains just werent cuttin it for me. I love oatmeal, but it just wasn’t filling. Nor was pasta or rice. After a half hour of biking I would be ravenously hungry. From time to time I carried meat with me. I usually bought it in small quantities and only on rare occasions as it was, comparatively, expensive. I started to notice that on the mornings that I ate beef or chicken, I stayed full till my next planned snack/ lunch in 2.5-3 hours.

Grains stopped working for me, so I gave them up. I decided that meat wouldn’t be that expensive if I stopped buying grains. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy both grains and meat, but I figured that the money I’m not spending on grains I could reinvest into meat.

I of course ate ALOT of fruits and vegetables. Some I ate less frequently because of their cost (blueberries, blackberries, avacadoes) but when I added up what I was saving from not buying grains I found that I had money left over, even after buying meat. So I was able to gradually work these more expensive, but very healthy foods into my diet.

At some point, I realized that the fat in the meat was what kept me full and gave me energy for long bike rides. I worried about my carb intake. I figured that carbs were very important since I was cycling across the country and all. So I researched my foods on the internet to see how many carbs I was eating without bread and rice and oatmeal. I found I was still eating about 150- 170 g of carbs a day. My fruit and vegetables were full of them!!

I began to research low carb diets on the internet to see if eating such a low amount of carbs was healthy for me. This is when I came across the Paleolithic Diet. You can read about the diet on your own time, but during my cycling trip my body had basically been telling me to eat almost exactly the way The Caveman diet described.

Once I include eggs (yes I found a way to carry them on my bike) nuts, and a bottle of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) I was set, my food costs did jump to a outrageous $8 a day on their own, but even if you add the average $5 a night it cost me to camp in the Hiker/ Biker sections of State Parks, I was living an incredibly nutrition, healthy, active, and most importantly FUN lifestyle on $13 bucks a day!!!

This is why I think the ruling powers in our society hate vagabonders and generally disdain adventurous travel. Its so friggen cheap!! And Good for you!! You can’t make money off the vagabonder. He eats low cost nutritious food so theres no money to get out of him for overpriced, unhealthy, processed foods. He’s active all day, so his immune system is powerful and he almost never gets sick and even when he does, water and proper rest usually sees him back on his feet in a day or two, so pending any catastrophic genetic health disorders, theres no money to be made off him in pharmacutical drugs or medical tests or hospital bills.

He’s content to live simply, and doesn’t go to excess, but doesn’t neglect what is fundamentally important to him: his health and quality of life. And he understand that the quality of his health, is the quality of his life. He’s also smart enough to know, that it doesn’t take much to be healthy.

Now, I told you that to tell you this. I am currently in Providence KY. I have been here with my parents for a little over a month. Recently, I’ve been on their diet; I eat what they eat. They eat: Bread, Rice, Fried Meats, Pasta, things that are supposed to be good for you. I also go for runs and jogs. I’m not exactly biking 30-50 miles a day, but I’ve still been kinda of active; I run 3 miles a session for about 2-3 sessions a week; 6-9 miles a week. I’ve also occasionally had a few sessions of push ups and crunches. Not a lot of activity, but not sedentary either. I’ve been eating what they eat for about a month. This is what I look like now:

January 15 what I look like after eating my parents high carb diet for 1 month

So what happened? Heres what has changed: I’m not NEARLY as active as I was during my trip. I’m eating grains again, which I wasn’t doing. Because grains are basically ’empty’ carbs I’m essentially eating sugars (thats what carbs are) that have no nutritional value, or we could say that I am eating carbs that have ‘some’ nutritional value, but no nutrient that I couldn’t get from better fruit and vegetable based sources.

I think that I can reproduce the fast and dramatic results from my cycling trip. The Primal Blueprint sounds about like what I was doing on my trip. Low carb, high fat, moderate protein, lots of low impact exercises, with sessions of short high intensity physical exertion. Yes, cycling across the country, when taken day by day, mile by mile, is a fairly low impact activity. The cycling wasn’t difficult except when I had to grind up the hills and the switchbacks. Other than that, it was fairly low intensity; I just kept plugging along.

The constant activity, combined with with what was essentially a Primal Diet, resulted in pounds melting off me and improved physical strength. The only major difference between what I was doing and a Paleo/ Primal lifestyle was the type of exercise I did. Cycling is defnitely cardio and Primal frowns on Chronic Cardio and instead focuses more on strength training and building lean muscle mass to burn calories.

So I am planning an experiment. I will follow a Primal lifestyle for 1 whole month and see if I notice a significant difference either in my physique or in ‘the way I feel.’ I will post regular updates here and possibly videos on my Youtube account. Details of the experiment to follow in another post.

Have fun watching me ‘Go Primal.’

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Medicine, Nutrition, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why I hate conventional health (Sick) care.

The Price of Health.

I hate conventional health care. I mean I really hate it, which is painful for me to say since I enlisted in the Navy as a Corpsman, volunteered as an EMT and work as a Nurse Aid and was contemplating becoming a Nurse; I once thought of going to Medical School. However comma, my opinion has changed, not in spite of my experience with our health care ‘industry,’ but because of it.

Recently, I made a decision to go to the hospital via ambulance and get checked out by the local hospitals Emergency Room department. I did this because I was having symptoms of dizzyness, nausea, chest pain, along with muscle twitching and numbness in my bottom three fingers in my left hand. It seemed pretty serious to me.

Normally when I feel in ill health, the first thing I’d do is take a look at my diet; what I’m eating and how often, or I’d drink more water, consider how much I’m exercising, and look at recent changes in lifestyle to account for the suddeness of my symptoms.

But nearly becoming unconcious from an acute manifestation of… something, warrented more immediate action in my book, so I made the decision to call the ambulance.

Short version of the story: I spent over 4 hours being ignored by the hospital staff, had to talk to three different Nurses (all Male and all jawjacking at the nurses station) to get my IV taken out, and in the end it was a Medic who actually bothered to take out the line. One of the Nurses eventually got around to seeing me and gave me shit for letting the Medic take out the IV.

The first person that talked to me upon my arrival to the ER was a 19 year old girl in scrubs with a computer, who wouldn’t make eye contact and started by asking for my social security number, my BILLING address, my date of birth, my last name, middle inital, and first name… IN THAT ORDER!!!!

These people wanted to know how they could charge me before they wanted to know why I was there or what potentially life threatening conditions I may or may not have. The Doctor eventually came around after my second hour and asked my symptoms. I told him all the things above, and he told me he didn’t know what was wrong. He had NO CLUE. All those years in medical school; $300K invested into his medical education and he couldn’t even ball park it. He kept saying that there was nothing he could do and he was very sorry, but he could refer me to people.

If I’d had wanted ‘referals’ I’d have opened a phone book!!! My vitals were fine, X-Ray came back clean, and blood work showed that I was the picture of friggen health. My electorlytes were normal, CBCs normal, WBCs normal, Urine showed no signs of drugs or alcohol. As far they could tell I was fine and there was nothing they could do for me.

I was having chest pains IN THE ER!! and the EKG and my cardiac enzymes said I was fine. Three of my fingers were numb and they said they’d refer me to a cardiologist!

They discharged me with a diagnosis of “Dehydration.” I got news for them, I drink water, I exercise fairly often, I eat healthy; disdaining sugar, vegetable oils, fried foods, caffeine, chemical additives and eat a generally low carb diet. I don’t salt my food, but I’m not afraid of salt either. Water and hot Green Tea are about the only things I do drink.

So ‘Dehydration’ is bullshit. I bring them chest pains and numbness in an extremity and they come back with dehydration. I tell them I drink water and relay my diet to them and they maintain their diagnosis while looking like they couldn’t care less about new information.

The fact that I was still experiencing my ‘Dehydration’ symptoms after they pumped 1000 ml of Normal Saline (NS) solution into me, didn’t give them any cause for double checking their statements.

My incident began at about 8pm. When they discharged me it was 1230 am. I only live a short 20 minute car ride away. And I didn’t know anyone in Madisonville that I could call to come get me, my parents being asleep after having a few beers; they couldn’t (shouldn’t) drive even if I woke them up.

So… I hitchhiked home. At 1 oclock in the morning, after receiving such great treatment from our healthcare system.

The cost of this ‘advanced medical care?’

$2,742.73 !!!!!

Does anyone else see a problem with this!? THEY DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!!!!

Here are the line items on my bill:

Billed Balance–                               $1,483.73

LEVEL 4 WITH PROCEDURE– $827.00

Hydration up to 1 hour–               $300.00

Hydration add or SEQ hr–           $132.00

——————————————————————————————–

Account Balance–                          $2,742.73

I don’t even know what this means! What am I being charged for? Hydration is a simple process, just add water, maybe some sodium and it looks like it cost $432 to pump a tall glass of salt water into me. They did decide to X-Ray me, and if it cost me 800 bucks to get an X–ray that I didn’t even ask for, I swear these streets will run with blood.

This could bankrupt somebody!! A charge like this (for service like that) could ruin one’s financial life. My only safeguard is that I am currently unemployed. Yes, folks. That’s right. Not working is to my financial benefit. Apparently, our healthcare system has several programs that help the uninsured homeless and the unemployed pay their medical bills. Its sad that if I actually had the good fortune to have any kind of job, but just happened to not buy insurance because I’m generally healthy, the hospital would actually expect me to pay 3K for that horrible service.

Don’t think that this incident didn’t make me think about getting health insurance once I get a job. But, I thought about it. And in our society, thinking is ‘bad’ because if you think about how something works long enough, you’ll eventually figure it out. Must be why our government hates critical thinking among the general populace.

The cost of insurance isn’t worth it, even in the face of such outrageous medical expenses. Consider this. My mother pays about $200 per month for health insurance, which she uses (only because she has it.) That’s $2,400 per year, which is close to my current bill. BUT! Her healthcare is not free, it is only reduced to reasonable prices. Its $30 for an X-Ray and she still pays about $20 everytime she gets a medication and she has a couple of them. It still costs money to go to the doctor’s office or to get bloodwork and other tests done.

These charges are IN ADDITION to the $2,400 she pays over the course of a year. Its an interesting ( and hugely profitable dynamic) because if she doesn’t get sick in a given year, she basically wasted $2,400 that year. If she does get sick it actually costs her more than $2,400.

And either way the health insurance company wins!!

If she pays and doesn’t need their services they’ve made $2,400 that year off one individual for doing nothing. If she does need their services they have to cover apparently only part of the total cost, which means she’s still paying out of pocket, but not as much, which I guess to some people sounds better.

We also have to wonder if the hospitals charge the insurance companies the same thing they charge us? As far as I know the business dealings of my local hospital are not a matter of public record, so I can’t just go in and ask to see their books and research insurance expenses.

It makes me wonder… if I had insurance, would it cost my insurance company 2,800 dollars for my bill? Even if I had to pay half, would the hospital charge the ins. company 1,400 bucks? If I’m paying my half do they pay theirs? Maybe ins. companies only get charged what its actually worth like $300. Which would mean the total bill (in this hypotetical case) would actually cost $1700. This would be extremely profitable for the ins. company. They pay $300 while making $2,400 a year off me. That’s still a profit of $2,100.

And the benefit to the ins. company wouldn’t necessarially lay in their financial profit, since any profit is still profit. The extreme benefit would be in what they made me think that they paid on my behalf.

Consider this: if they’re really charged significantly less than what I would have been charged because they have ‘deals’ with the hospitals, then they pay many times less than I would have even though it appears that they have done me a great favor. I’d be thanking my ins. company for covering such a huge portion of my bill.

But if their protion of my bill was not as large as I am lead to believe, then I would have, in reality, paid them a good deal of money for almost nothing while still paying some out of pocket money, even as they sit back and profit.

And we have not even begun to ask questions about the quality of the service provided for such costs. My friend is sometimes having dizzy spells during the day, so using her insurance she goes to see the Doc, who prescribes her a medication for dizzyness that has a side effect of dizzyness.

Wait… what?

Yes, the medication that is supposed to treat a condition has a side effect that causes the condition it treats. Talk about quality. The Doc also told her that its really the only med she can prescribe for her dizzyness. I just took 30 seconds to Google herbal remedies and found 10, count them 10 herbal remedies to alleviate the symptoms of dizzyness.

Now, I am not as simple as to assume that one herb is going to solve her problems, or that one should be taking herbs (or drugs) based on one symptom. If my casual study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has taught me anything, its that individual symptoms mean very little and it is best to look at the whole pattern of disharmony before choosing a course of treatment.

But the point is the information she was given. She was told by a highly trained (12 years of school), medical professional (read a science god we’ve put on a pedestal) that there was only ONE DRUG she could give, and that this was it. I defied this Doc’s claim of truth in 30 seconds.

And so I am left to ask a very serious question. Is our health care, advanced though it may be, worth the cost?

Categories: Health, Leadership, Medicine, philosophy, Politics, Society | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tao Te Ching Chapter 2

Everyone recognizes beauty,

Only because of ugliness,

Everyone recognizes virtue,

Only because of sin.

Life and death are born together,

Difficult and easy,

Long and short,

High and low–

All these exist together.

Sound and silence blend as one,

Before and after are mutual in sequence.

The Sage acts without effort,

And teaches without talking.

All things flourish around him,

And he does not refuse anyone of them.

He gives, but not to receive,

He works, but not for reward,

He completes, but not for results.

He does nothing for himself in this passing world,

So nothing he does ever passes.

Keep it together

The second chapter of the Tao Te Ching clearly conveys to us a basic fundamental principle of the Universe: Everything is what it is, only in relation to something else. Hot is only hot when it can be compared to something cold. High is only high when in contrast to an object that is lower. There can be no THIS without THAT, and THAT does not exist without THIS. Like two sides of the same coin, they ‘go with’ each other. In a coin you have heads AND tails. There is no heads then tails afterwards; they both exist at the same time as a part of the same unit and they cannot be split apart without ruining the whole heads/tails system. And further more when an event happens, the mere happening of an event inexorably implies its exact opposite. Flipping a coin and getting heads up by necessity of the design implies that you also got tails down.

So in life good and bad go together. Just as it is pointless to think of one side of the coin and ignore the other, so too is it useless and just frustrating to think of only good without recognizing that the bad goes with it. What is bad draws its pejorative implications by being contrasted with that which we all agree is good. And things and events we call good find themselves hidden with that which we call bad.

The Sage.

Here Lao-Tzu seems to go off on a bit of a tangent and mentions the Sage. The Sage is an idea that Lao-Tzu will talk about many more times in the Tao Te Ching, and in fact one of the many ways the Tao Te Ching may be interpreted is as a guide to becoming a Sage. It is here in chapter 2 that we are told of the Sages attributes.

“The Sage acts without effort.”

It is clear from this that the Sage is one who lets simplicity and quick direct action guide his daily life. No effort. This does not mean laziness, but rather that the Sage does what he does so well, that he makes it look easy, and when he is observed doing it, we can’t quite be sure exactly how he does it, so easily does he accomplish his task. His success is rooted in both the Sages simple approach to his task and the simplicity of the tasks he would choose to complete. The Sage is not one to choose a big complicated thing to do. In Taoism if it can’t be done simply it shouldn’t be done at all. Of course that’s not to say it can’t be done, it very well can, but that if you actually carry out a huge, complicated ordeal then it will only be a matter of time before it fails, due to its own complicated nature. The Sage is one who is wise enough to know when things are too big and complicated, and disciplined enough to refrain from taking them on to begin with.

“The Sage teaches without talking.”

The Sage is a man of priceless wisdom, wisdom that stems from the simplicity of his daily life. Therefore one can learn from the Sage in the same manner as the Sage learned from nature: Observe, watch him live. The Sage is one who leads by example and if one observes his daily life and is inclined to think about what they see, then they will most certainly find that everything the Sage does is for a reason and usually that reason finds itself in some kind of a common sense approach to things that others view as complicated and sometimes impossible.

“All things flourish around him and he does not refuse any one of them.”

Openness and a very accepting nature are the trademarks of the Sage. By being compassionate and genuinely interested in those around him, he is welcomed wherever he goes. Things come his way, some things good, some bad, but regardless he accepts them all. He accepts good things with respect and humility and allows bad events to unfold as they would without resisting them. When the bad events pass as they invariably do, he moves on.

“He gives, but not to receive, He works, but not for reward, He completes, but not for results. He does nothing for himself in this passing world, so nothing he does ever passes.”

Humility is what the Sage excels in and it is with a humble heart that the Sage completes his daily task. Selfless in the nature, the man of character, the Sage does nothing for himself. Everything he does is for others, after all for the Sage, Tao provides all he needs. What more can he ask? Is there anything he could ask of people or of himself that Tao has not already taken care of?

 

Back to Chapter 1

On to Chapter 3

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Leadership, philosophy, Spirituality, Tao Te Ching, Taoism | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tao Te Ching Chapter 1

The way that can be walked,

Is not the Eternal Way.

The name that can be named,

Is not the Eternal Name.

Tao is both Named and Nameless,

As Nameless, it is the hidden origin of all things,

As Named, it is the mother of of all things.

A mind free from Desire,

Can see the essence, the mystery of Tao,

A mind full of Desire,

Can see only the mere physical forms of this world.

The essence of Tao and the physical world seem different,

But in truth they are one and the same thing.

The only difference between them is in what we call them.

How deep and profound is this unity, how great!

It is the truth beyond truth,

The secret of all secrets,

The gate to the heart of everything. Continue reading

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Leadership, philosophy, Tao Te Ching, Taoism | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cycling from Yakima WA to San Diego CA 4

I lost track of time as I biked on and eventually I came upon that winery and vineyard that Jody told me about. I pulled to the right, my tires grinding over loose gravel and made my way passed a few tall metal buildings towards a large house in the back. When I got close enough 8 different dogs approached me barking loudly. Dismounting my bike I walked past the dogs, up to the house and knocked on the door. No one answered. I looked in the window; no one seemed to be home.

For a second I didn’t know if this ‘Tim’ would be here, or even if I was in the right place. I Continue reading

Categories: bicycling, cycling, Travel, Vagabonding | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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