The next few days were a furious blur of paint and dust and alcohol. Jeff, Romen, and Bryan worked more on the rehab property painting more of the house and laying down tile in what would later become the kitchen. Each day of labor Continue reading
Posts Tagged With: strength
When Bryan awoke the following morning he had a slight hangover. Nothin’ he ain’t dealt with before, he was a sailor, so he knows how to drink. Making a quick breakfast of oatmeal and Earl Gray tea, Bryan thought back to a thought he had last night amidst the inebriated pool game. Get a tattoo, Bryan mused to himself. I think it’s time to get my Compass.
Bryan had long wanted to get a compass tattoo on his left forearm Continue reading
Leaving the Citgo station our favorite Nomad resumes walking on the southbound road. He decides that he really just wants to walk for a while. The weight of his rucksack starts digging into his hips, pressing thin, hard metal carabineers into his soft, squishy skin. Bryan knows that this is happening because he refuses to adjust his bags. You see, Einstein thought it might be a brilliant idea to wear a belt under a belt attached to a belt. Huh? Continue reading
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.
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.
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 consists of 3 main aspects:
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.
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 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 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?
In the last article we discussed how fear arises, where it comes from, and how to begin asking questions of it. We also learned how to counter our fears by questioning our questions and doubting our doubts. In this article we will discover two means of looking at fear in such a way that even if your fears are valid, when seeing them in this light, they are completely disarmed.
So far we’ve learned to question our fears. When fear says, “What if something bad happens?” Continue reading
In the last article, we very briefly discussed fear, what it does and how it works. In this article, we’ll talk about why you should want to be fearless, that is without fear, the benefits of being so, and some general methods of overcoming fear.
Why should you want to overcome fear? Well, let me ask you another question, are you happy? Are you living the life you want? If your answer is anything other than “yes my life is friggen fantastic” then you have probably have some changes you’d like to make. Perhaps you’d like to go travel as we’ve been discussing, but maybe your goals are more career orientated. Would you like to open up that business you’ve been talking about? Maybe you’re looking for Mr. /Mrs. Right. Whatever your goals are, it will undoubtedly involve risk, and risk that you’re averse to taking else you would not continue reading this. The key to getting over that aversion and taking action toward those goals lies in the art of overcoming fear, of breaking those chains that hold you back.
Let us dive right in with a quote from William Shakespeare,
“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”
Couldn’t have said it better Bill. The most important reason to overcome your fear is the sheer number of opportunities you’ll have once you stop shying away from them and start attempting to accomplish them.
Now, our next question must be how can we fight our fears and get moving in a positive direction in life? Well, there are a variety of methods to combat fear, and generally the more radical the more effective. But before we train in fear fighting tactics, we first must learn a fear busting strategy.
Real quick, what is the difference between a Strategy and a Tactic? It is an important question because the two are quite different. The best way I ever heard it put is, “Strategies are those things you THINK about, the things you keep in mind as you fight. Strategies are acquired by asking questions and analyzing information. Tactics are those things that you actually DO, the methods you employ in the fight. Tactics are the actions required to make a particular strategy successful and are usually naturally derived from the strategy itself. Tactics are refined and perfected over time by practice, failure, and a kind of trial by error approach.”
In other words, we’re going to learn the theory before the practice. This will bring us to-
Fear Busting Strategy #1. Know your enemy.
It is important that we study fear and how it operates before we face it in battle or we’re just asking to be caught off guard when it throws something unknown at us. In order to analyze our enemy we must first ask questions to acquire information to analyze. So the first strategy must be this: Ask general questions about Fear itself. Questions like, “Where does fear come from? What causes it and can we cut it off at the source, potentially avoiding a fight altogether?
So let’s ask those questions… Where does fear come from? Fear is born from the avoidance of pain. Now, I’d like to take the time to prove this to you logically. Pain itself is an interesting phenomenon because its sole purpose is to end itself as fast as it can and prevent itself from reoccurring in the future. It does this, by wielding Fear as a tool. Think about it. Let us take a very basic painful situation such as burning yourself on the stove. Touching the hot stove causes Pain. Pain’s purpose is to end itself. Thus when you feel Pain, you immediately remove your hand from the burner. The immediate cause of Pain ends. The burns may last, but the initial cause has been stopped. Pain would like to prevent itself from occurring in this fashion in the future, and so the Fear of hot stoves begins. Now, every time you get near a stove you are a little uneasy because you remember what happened last time. It doesn’t mean it will happen, but as soon as the possibility of remembered Pain presents itself, you will feel Fear as a protective reaction.
What can we extrapolate from this about the workings of Fear? Let’s break it down. Fear is the avoidance of Pain with regard to the possibility that a remembered Pain can happen again. Is this true? Let’s see. At home you rant and rave about how you deserve a raise and tomorrow you’re gonna march into your bosses office and demand what’s rightfully yours. Your boss denied you last time saying that the budgets had been slashed and that your department may be downsized ‘considerably’. In your living room you are strong and confident and talk a big game. You may even hold on to that strength as you swagger through the front door of your firm, but as soon as you see your boss’s door or catch sight of him in the building your guts jump up in your throat and you find yourself wondering where you can cut costs in your household budget.
What happened? Why did you not speak to your boss? You were afraid. Why? You remember what happened last time and your boss seemed to have implied that you may find yourself out of work if you press the issue. So when it came time to put up or shut up, you allowed your Fear of what negatively might happen to shut you up to avoid the Pain of maybe being out of work.
There’s a lot of Fear, Pain, and unsubstantiated views of the future in that line of logic. In this case you were afraid of what might happen. No one knew for sure what would come about by approaching your boss, but you ‘feared’ that your boss might ‘downsize your department’ (read: fire you) if you didn’t settle for what you had. So you didn’t broach the subject, you just collected your paycheck went home defeated and nursed a beer while your wife nursed your bruised ego.
But see; now we know. (And knowing is half the battle G.I. Joe.) Now we understand what happened; what keeps happening every time we try to do this. I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that a similar pattern would emerge if we looked at the woman who was too shy to talk to the cute guy (who unbeknownst to her wishes she would talk to him), or the traveler that can’t seem to put in his two weeks, or the business man who is afraid to invest in a product that he already knows is the next 800 lbs. gorilla in his market.
Once again, to paraphrase ole’ Bill Shakespeare, ‘Your doubts were traitors, and made you lose the good you might have won, by fearing to try in the first place.’
So if learning about fear is our first strategy, what should we actually DO when we discover that our fear is scaring us out of opportunity? Well, we employ-
Fear Fighting Tactic #1: Question your doubt.
When fear says, “What if something bad happens?” You must respond, “Well, what if something good happens?”
In the face of fear it is important to be militantly optimistic or else your doubts will weaken your resolve. Question your questions when they arise and follow the train of questions logically, to their natural end. “What if something bad happens?”
“What if something good happens?”
“What if you get mugged and robbed and end up homeless?”
“What if I don’t and instead I have an incredible experience and make new friends for life?”
“What if your boss fires you?”
“What if he appreciates my daring in the face of uncertainty and gives me the raise and a new position to boot because of my courage?”
“What if my wife leaves me for bringing up a sensitive subject?”
“What if she’s feeling the same way about this tension that we both know is there, and will be relieved to finally resolve the issue?”
As you question your questions with positive things that are as equally likely to happen as the negative things, your worry will begin to dissipate and you will instead start to see the possibilities hidden between the two extremes. ‘Well maybe that bad thing could happen, but this other good thing is also likely.’
So the next time you feel fear creeping up, try implementing these techniques and see if your life doesn’t get a little easier. In the next article we’ll discuss following our fears to logical extremes.
On to Article 3
Would you like to Travel? Do you surf the web reading travel blogs, much like this one, hoping to catch a glimpse of the adventurous lives of countless long time over seas travelers? Do you know flight prices by heart? Do you find yourself beginning a different language study every 2-3 months because you “just know you’ll use it in that one country eventually?”
You read and you read and you devour page after page of the sweet, hot, vagabonding goodness that abounds on the Information Super Highway. Your mind is filled with the teeming possibilities of ‘going there.’ Several countries call to you in your sleep. Thailand. Japan. Argentina. France. Australia. You’ve read so many reports and blog entries from those travelers ‘in the field,’ that you could walk through Hong Kong blindfolded, yet you’ve never been there.
You plan and prepare; research flights and draw up an itinerary; you might even pack a bag or two. You tell friends and family and bid farewell, yet something very curious happens. Despite your energetic enthusiasm and unusually youthful optimism, you don’t go. You never talk to your boss about getting time off and you can’t seem to convince yourself that your plane ticket to Chiang Mai is a ‘reasonable investment.’
Something strange begins to happen inside your head. Your thoughts turn dark. Instead of imagining the wonders that are here and now, or that may very well be naught but a fifteen hour flight away, you begin to panic about future worries that may or may not even happen. You begin to wonder what the consequences of traveling are. You begin having thoughts like, “Will my job still be there when I get back? What if I get robbed while I’m overseas? Is now really the time to be traveling in this age of terrorism? I must think of my age, travel is a ‘hobby’ for younger men. Travel is expensive, ’tis not something a middle class worker like me can afford.”
And so on and so forth. I’ve dealt with many of them. These are idle, malicious thoughts that seek to cloud your judgement and put your happiness to route. This ‘hell inside your head’ is the inevitable result of that dreaded ‘F’ word.
Fear… that’s a dirty word in my book. Fear is the emotion that ruins the party. What happened to your excitement? You were finally going to get on that plane and go to Rome. This time you were really going to tell your boss that you needed time off to decompress; this was to be your last glorious stand. You had it all planned out.. You were going to march into your firm on Monday morning after a non-fat latte and a three bean salad and kick open your boss’s door then ask, nay, demand 6 months of vacation time for your 15 years of loyal service. Goddammit, in your mind you were righteous! What happened, man?
Fear, that’s what happened. Fear is a sneaky bastard. Fear will tell you that what you’re doing is stupid and illogical. Fear is the pseudo logical emotion that does the math, crunches the numbers, and then feeds you some incredibly skewed misinformation. Fear will bind itself to your vision of the future and play on the memories of your past. Fear cherry picks the information it wants you to see, and thus causes you to doubt what you are doing by not giving you an accurate view of the situation to start with.
If you have decided that you want to travel, or do anything in life that requires risk, but know that you cannot yet take action due to fear, then you know what you must do. Your course is clear. You must over come your fear. You must find a way to calm that raging storm of paranoia that surges everytime you come to the threshold between planning and taking action; putting that plan into motion. In the next article we’ll take a look at a whole host of methods and techniques designed to break those chains and get you out there.