Honoring Your Genetic Endowment

“Fear paralyzes; curiosity empowers.  Be more interested than afraid.”

– Patricia Alexander

Having spent 17+ years in the pharmaceutical industry leaves me somewhat reluctant to jump wholesale on the bash-the-pharmaceutical-bastards bandwagon.   Drug companies do provide lifesaving drugs for millions, and having been a part of that legacy is something that I can be (and am!) proud of.  There is a darkside, of course, and that darkside has everything to do with the Wall Street mentality of putting corporate profits before public good.  The sad fact of the matter is that from a purely profit-driven standpoint, it makes little sense for the industry to “cure” and even less sense to promote a holistic/natural-remedy approach; forget about promoting resistance training coupled with adequate physical activity.  I dunno, maybe it is poetic justice that the shareholders of these companies are being just as bamboozled by Big Pharma as the rest of  society.  Hell, it’s gotten to the point now where the industry will simply “invent” a new malady, then fund “non-biased” research into the treatment of said malady which inevitably leads to — shock of all shocks — not a cure for the malady in question, but a life-long treatment regimen.  High cholesterol, anyone?  Diabetes?

I wonder what ol’ Vince would think about the wholesale handing over control of your health to “the establishment”, to Big Pharma, to allowing government to run roughshod over your right to seek and obtain unadulterated, un-processed, un-fracked-with, un-“value-added” food. Oh…yeah…probably a little something along these lines   🙂

Heh, tell us how you really feel, Vince  🙂

More on the Physical Culturalists against the machine theme: so if you haven’t yet seen the clip below, be sure to check it out.  Walter Bortz tells it like it is (though not in quite as “direct” a manner as our friend above).  Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex — Here, Bortz highlights what I predict will become known as the Pharma-Medical Research University complex.  Not nearly as catchy, but hey…Of course, it’s your birthright to just opt-out of this ugly scene by taking seriously your own genetic endowment.  Not easy, mind you — but possibleEasy is the path that leads to Big Pharma.

Now if I could just figure out a way to opt out of the economy 😉  Capitalism 2.0 (or 3.0?), here I come  🙂


My good buddy (and practically my next door neighbor — in Texas terms), Ken O’Neil, recently had the enviable opportunity to meet and talk with another native Texan, the venerable Tommy Suggs.  Ken was kind enough to send me the following piece in reference to that visit.

A visit with Tommy Suggs

Recently re-discovering Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength website mandated some catching up: it’s loaded with videos now. They include interviews with Tommy Suggs and Dan John along with some Olympic lifting coaching by Suggs. Add to that quite a collection of articles by Suggs, Bill Starr, and others — quite a collection of otherwise impossible to find lifting wisdom all in one place.

Tommy Suggs? Back in the 1950s and 60s, Suggs and Terry Todd were both known to train at the legendary Texas Athletic Club — back when Mike Graham ran operations. Suggs and Todd both graduated from University of Texas, and both ended up working for and training with Bob “The Father of American Weightlifting” Hoffman and his York Barbell Club. From the 1930s well into the 1970s York was The Barbell Capitol of America, and it’s teams were close to being the whole American Olympic team. Hoffman frequently funded overseas competition by American teams from his own pocket. Aside from the weight equipment company, York maintains an impressive museum and archival collection from the Hoffman era.

Todd, then later Suggs, were recruited to work for Hoffman — having roles in production of monthly magazines. In those days all aspects of the iron game were sanctioned by the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which along with the US Olympic Committee upheld strict standards of amateurism — you couldn’t make money from sport, including being paid to train. So Hoffman employed his lifters and bodybuilders for about 20 hours a week, leaving ample time for training at world class level of achievement.

Today Terry Todd, along with wife Jan, are faculty members of UT Austin’s Department of Kinesiology, co-creators of the Todd-McLean Physical Culture archives (over 300,000 items making it the largest such collection in the world) and Terry is Executive Director of the Stark Center.

Suggs was at York for 6 years, during which time he recruited Bill Starr. Starr’s a living legend as probably the first NFL strength coach: his last position was with Johns Hopkins. His book Built to Survive remains the classic work in strength coaching for football. His monthly articles in Iron Man Magazine are just cause for collecting that periodical.

Suggs went on to other professional callings after leaving York, including a stint running a gym in the Houston area as well as a term as strength coach for the Oilers. At 74, he’s retired now, spending time between San Antonio, West Texas and Arkansas. We met up in New Braunfels, Texas, then made a trip to his Central Texas location.

If you watch Tommy’s coaching videos on Rip’s website, what you’ll see is how many of us used to learn to train from mutual coaching. Tommy calls that Factor-X, the energy or element in a robust gym that makes it a community. We didn’t have videos in the 50s and 60s, nor did we have coaches. Books showed only the start and finish of a lift, NOT how to move the weight. York was where the masters met and got better at mastery — and coaching each other. That develops an eye for all the subtleties in making an explosive, in the zone lift that gets three green lights from the judges. What you’ll see Tommy doing is something many of us learned back then. And it’s a lot more precise and powerful than videos because a lot of custom fitting is involved: lifting is being refined for that particular lifter’s unique body.

Factor-X? It exists. Any gym with Factor-X is the best place to train: you feel it the minute you walk in the door. Joe Gold’s original Gold’s in Santa Monica felt that way; so did his World Gym in Venice, as did Bill Pearl’s and Vince Gironda’s. Mike Graham’s Old Texas Barbell Company in Lockhart, Texas has that mystique. Big box chain and franchise gyms don’t — they’re too squeaky clean and have next to no coaching know-how.

Tommy’s opened a new chapter in strength coaching. Every summer he’s out in the Dakotas, running training camps for Native American youth. When he found that teen agers there — like everywhere — are too ‘cool’ to train, he offered it to the younger kids. Summer after summer they came back in growing numbers. When they turned teen, they started asking for special permission to keep on training. Those are kids who won’t have type II diabetes or obesity challenges.

We talked training rhythm. Tommy was one of a handful of pioneers training on the first York power racks. Those racks were real small footprint size in comparison to today’s monster cages. Upright vertical columns were spaced around 8 inches apart, while they were made of heavy duty channel iron or pipe. Strength gains were phenomenal on them.

In the early 1970s, Arthur Jones’ Nautilus machines were heralded as a break through due to their rotary cam design replacing pulleys in earlier machines. Each cam was said to be unique, each based on the strength curve of the individual exercise. Cams were to provide what Jones called omni-directional resistance, meaning the cam kept resistance optimal throughout the range of movement by changing relative resistance in accord with stronger and weaker positions. As we gained experience with Nautilus in the 70s, many of us discovered the fatal flaw in Jones’ design: one size doesn’t fit all. The cams were statistical means — averages, if you will — artificial: they didn’t take varying bone lengths, constellations of bone lengths, length of muscle bellies and insertion points into consideration, much less variations due to height.

The rack harkened back a decade earlier. It, too, aimed at increasing intensity for developing strength and hypertrophy. Like the cam, rack training is based on recognition of relative stronger and weaker power zones within an exercise. With the rack, you’re always going to be working with your unique power zones — not some statistical average.

Rack training divided a lift into three zones: the stronger start of a lift, the difficult mid- or sticking point, and the lockout or completion. In those days we worked out on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, with Saturday for lift practice. Taking the press as an example, on Mondays we’d work starting point, Wednesdays sticking point, Fridays just short of lockout. We’d set up pins to rest the bar on for our starting point, then another set of  pins six inches higher: press from low to high for 5-8 reps, last rep being an isometric hold at the top for as long as you can, then resist back to the start. It only took one or two sets of those spread over 6-8 exercises. We spend more time in the gym loading, unloading and setting up the bar than lifting.

Rack training fell out of favor due to confusion, maybe annoyance, and certainly due to drugs. Dr. John Zeigler introduced the rack as well as working with CIBA to develop Dianobol, the first oral anabolic steroid. Some lifters made remarkable progress using both. 50 years ago most everyone thought steroids were a new food supplement! When word got out that some people’s progress included steroids, some ditched the rack in favor of drugs.

What a treat it was visiting Tommy’s garage gym in Central Texas. For the first time ever I got the hands on experience of the York home model power rack. Now I know how to build one! And old fashion York globe style dumbbells. Fifty pound plates all over the place from famous manufacturers long out of business. A mix between a home gym and antique collection!

Tommy showed me how he squats these days: foot up on a tall box between 3-4 feet tall from the ground, he simply stands up. Pretty difficult movement, but all the more amazing when he told me he’d had both knees replaced. I found I bore certain assumptions about knee replacement surgeries based on people I’ve known that had them: loss of mobility, loss of flexibility, a ‘can’t do list’, and complaining.

There’s a new breed of aging people: one’s who ignored the expert warning of coaches about getting muscle bound if you lift weights. Ones who kept on lifting throughout life. Their hair may be gray — for many of us, what’s left of hair — their size somewhat shifted, but that gait remains steady, exuding power, carrying broad shoulders, wide backs and a vice like grip through life.

Talk of training systems. Conclusion? They all work. Sticking to the same routine forever doesn’t work — due to no challenge, boredom, etc.

Nice work, Ken.  I’d also say that the anabolic continuum has much to do with the nature of what works for whom…and when.  Also, check-out master Tommy’s advice on rack work for the Olympic press here.  This kind of coaching is just friggin’ priceless.  And in my opinion, this is the press that ought to be considered in the NFL combine, as I think it is much more indicative of functional pressing strength than the flat bench is.

A few things about Ken; he’s undoubtedly the Godfather of Physical Culture knowledge, and in my opinion ought to be made PC’s honorary historian.  He knows (or knew before they passed) everybody who was/is somebody in the iron game, and has some wonderful, never-heard-before anecdotes, asides and commentary about these characters — and he possesses the most awesome Physical Culture man-cave that I have ever seen in my life!  Jealous?  Hell yeah I am!  An entire ground floor/basement, half the space of which is devoted to a fully-equipped gym (we’re talking power racks and black-iron here, buddy!) and the other half devoted to a full-fledged library of Physical Culture research.  More from Ken in the coming months, I can assure you!  And maybe I can cut a video tour of his most awesome lair of Physical Culture.

And speaking of Physical Culture…many folks have asked me to define just what the term Physical Culture entails, and I must confess to rather clumsy attempts at best to encapsulate just what this idea entails.  But how’s this, from the Stark Center website:

Physical Culture is a term used to describe the various activities people have employed over the centuries to strengthen their bodies, enhance their physiques, increase their endurance, enhance their health, fight against aging, and become better athletes.

Nicely put!


On the workout front –

Just a sampling of the workouts I performed over the last week or so:

Wednesday, 1/19/11 –

(A1) Xccentric flat press: +50 lbs x 13 rest-pause singles (80×0 tempo)

(A2) Xccentric flat press: assisted negatives, +90 lbs x 4, 8 second negative singles (rest-pause)

(A3) Nautilus pec dec: 95 x ~12 (40×0 tempo)

(B1) Xccentric dual bicep curl: (0 added weight), 3 sets of 15.  Think regular Oly bar curl here, but with a truly unique range of motion arc.

Thursday, 1/20/11 –

(A1) T-Bar swings: 125 x 25, 25, 25, 25

(A2) weighted pull-ups: 45 x 7, 7, 6, 6

Friday, 1/21/11 –

“Clustered” sets of power cleans and power snatches; approximately 15 seconds between sets and about 15 minutes between the clean round and the snatch round.

PCs: 135 x 10, 155 x 6, 175 x 3, 185 x 2

PSs: 135 x 5, 5, 4, 5

Saturday, 1/21/11 –

(A1) CZT-V neutral-grip deadlift: 5 hyper-reps
(A2) Nautilus Nitro leg press: 420 x 21 reps (to positive failure)
(B1) CZT-V Dips: 5 hyper-reps
(B2) Blast strap flyes: BW x 23 (to positive failure)
(C1) CVT-V Pull Down (fully pronated grip): 5 hyper-reps
(C2) Trap bar Bent over rows: 155 x 13 (to positive failure)


And finally: Rest in Peace, Jack LaLanne.  You demonstrated to us all what *is* possible; you defined what the consummate Physical Culturalist ought to be.  Thank you, sir, for your gift.  We at Efficient Exercise will do all that we can to carry the flame.

In health,


Resistance Training for Quality of Life…Resistance Training for Survival!

A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
H. L. Mencken

A slight bit of a departure here for me today, as this post is not about striving for that n=1-defined pinnacle of expressed Physical Culture.  No, this is simply about grasping hold of, and maintaining, a decent (deckplate level?) quality of life — this is about simple, day-in-and-day-out, vibrant health.  So here’s the thing: we all know that the current American system of heathcare delivery cannot be sustained.  We, as a nation, cannot continue to live as if cheap medicine and a ready flow of inexpensive pharmaceuticals will scrub clean our individual and collective lifestyles’ dirty laundry.    Governments can’t (or won’t), or are otherwise too hamstrung by special interests to institute any meaningful change for the better, making them increasingly ever irrelevant as a positive force for change in our lives — not only in the healthcare arena, but in an ever-increasing number of policy issues. But before you get the idea that I’m on some kind of back-to-the-stone-age, Libertarian/Luddite rant, let me say this: the advances of western medicine (including the contributions of the pharmaceutical industry, of which I was once a part), over that last half-century have been nothing short of phenomenal — and, too, they’ve been an absolute Godsend for humanity (apart, of course, from the economics of the delivery of said care).  The problem, as I see it, is this: that explosion in advanced medical technique and know-how has been potentiated by an ever-growing, critical mass of of increasingly sick individuals.  Simply put, this exposition in technology is the result of your basic supply and demand theory, and it’s quite the Faustian bargain.  Want to push the limits of your skills as a mechanic or bodywork man?  Try keeping that demolition derby entry on the racetrack.  There’s a reason why the old “Maytag repairman” ads were so popular — there was an underpinning of truthfulness present; a well built machine, properly cared for, needs very little intervention:

Not to beat a half-decent metaphor to friggin’ death, but try to operate that well-built machine as if it were a cement mixer and, well…you get the idea.

And while our government(s) may be hamstrung in promoting lifestyle interventions that will result, ultimately, in less collective reliance upon the medical establishment (tell me again why HSA money cannot be used for personal training and/or gym memberships?), we, as individuals, are certainly still free (and even more empowered now than ever before) to pursue our own, intelligently-driven, n=1 path.  As I’ve said previously, no system can be created that will not ultimately implode under the weight of a diseased citizenry.  And, ultimately, healthcare has to come down to n=1 lifestyle decisions; we can afford nothing less personally, or collectively.  I am encouraged, though, by the fresh, entrepreneurial spirit being brought to the healthcare debate, and I feel that this new philosophical approach to that ever-vexing (and divisive) “insurance/coverage” problem, coupled with even a wee bit of personal responsibility cost-averaged over the nation’s populace, will ultimately constitute “the answer”.

So, both collectively, and in an n=1 sense, we have to begin to re-integrate the intelligence that is carried within each of us when it come to regaining/maintaining health.  Some of us know intuitively of the body’s ability to heal and right-orient itself — others need a little more help in coming to that realization.  I am encouraged with the direction (though maybe not the pace) of progress on this front when I see/hear this kind of disclosure and talk in mainstream media health programming.  That proper, intense exercise (as opposed to mere physical activity) is being promoted by distinguished sectors of the healthcare mainstream as the palliative that those of us immersed in the Physical Culture scene have long known it to be, is — well…refreshing, to say the least.  And that people are now beginning to question the medical community, instead of regarding them as “all-knowing” is refreshing as well.  Medical professionals are educated, yes — but not infallible.  Question “authority”, folks — relentlessly.

Changing subjects just a bit, I ran across an excellent epigenetics primer clip this week.  This particular clip happens to focus on some of the possible epigenetic “whys” behind sexual preference, but in reality, the focus could have just as easily been on the overall body composition of twins, each having been trained in a dissimilar manner.  Genes are, of course, the hand that cocks the hammer of phenotypical pistol; the finger that pulls the trigger, though, is epigenetics.  You have more control of your phenotypical expression than you realize.  The tricky part is living as if you do.

Workouts?  Yeah, I blew through a couple over the course of the week; here’s the run-down:

Tuesday, 12/14 –

(A1) high-catch power cleans: 135 x 7; 155 x 5; 175 x 5; 185 x 3; 195 x 2; 205 x 1, 1, 1

(B1) low pulls from the floor: 235 x 5; 255 x 5, 5, 5, 5


Wednesday, 12/15 –

(A1) Nautilus pec dec: 110 x 12, 7, 7 (5010 tempo)

(A2) Xccentric flat press: (0 counter, no added weight) x 15, 7, 7 (5010 tempo)


Thursday 12/16 –

(A1) single-arm snatch (Oly bar): 95 x 5; 105 x 5 sets of 2 (each arm)

(A2) *roll-under pull ups: bodyweight x 5 each of the six rounds


*semi-supinated grip pull-up to the top position, then tuck and roll so that you’re in a suspended, semi-fetal position with the back parallel to the ground (body maintained as close as possible to the bar).  Lower slowly from this position to full arm extension…kinda like a negative bent-over row…then “un-roll” back into a normal pull-up start position.


In health,



Thought I fell off the Edge of the Earth, huh?

Well, I suppose I have fallen off the edge of the “wired” earth 🙂  Slowly but surely, though, I am making my way back into some sense of wired-world normalcy.  And hey, have I mentioned that I love my new gig with Efficient Exercise of Austin?  Yeah, it’s true; I’m like a kid in a candy store…er, more like a Neanderthal at a cave bear kill!  I get to train/partner with a spectrum of interesting clients (each with unique goals) for a living and I have access to so many fitness toys it’s simply mind-boggling.  How cool is that?  Very, very cool in my book!

So my day-to-day routine is totally out of the window for the time being, which is both a good and, in some respects, a very challenging thing to deal with.  One the good side of the ledger, my body has been exposed to a myriad of new movements and schemes which, in turn, forces a whole new level of adaptation.  This new “workout landscape” produces an exhilarating feeling and a CNS that is now hyper-wired as a result of trying to keep up with each new stimulus being thrown its way.  Also, my caffeine consumption has dropped dramatically; that will soon change, however, as Austin is replete with some of the coolest coffee shops anywhere, like the fantastic Thunderbird Coffee, which is only about a mile’s hard fixie sprint from my Rosedale studio.  Oh, and have I mentioned that I’m now in fixie paradise?  Yeah, it’s true, I’m lovin’ my new surroundings.

For the next couple of weeks, Meesus TTP and I will be living in limbo, as the closing on our new casa won’t take place until on or around the 15th of this month.  Then, another round of adjustment will unfold, and another new groove will be laid down.  Hang with me folks; eventually I’ll return to my old blogging ways.

I’ll leave you today with the following little food-for-thought morsel (hat-tip to TTP reader Dan for bringing this to my attention): the US Army’s lowering of physical fitness standards.  This is sad commentary indeed on the state of the nation’s well-being.  And this isn’t a problem particular to only the US — all “developed” nations face the same crisis of dwindling physical readiness.  Couple poor physical readiness with the push toward “low-fat” offerings in the chow halls and, well…let’s just say this is a bad double-whammy for the guardians of freedom.  How can a nation continue to adequately defend itself when its fighting forces are of dwindling strength and dwindling vigor?

Small Victory — S.510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, Has Been Modified

You win some, you lose some; small/local farmers and ranches are still locked in the bill’s cross-hairs, though, and much work remains while we still have time.

A quick update on what I wrote about yesterday in reference to this bill; this snippet from the Downsize DC organization:

Word comes that we’ve won another small victory in Congress

Thanks to public pressure, including lots of pressure from DC Downsizers, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), has been modified!

The new version of the bill now exempts dietary supplements from possible future regulation through the ominous sounding Codex Alimentarius.

The idea was to start making your vitamins comply with international rules. We’ve dodged that bullet, but we can’t yet say that it’s a final victory . . .

* No one knows what will happen when the so-called food safety bill goes to conference committee
* And it’s still possible Senator McCain could revive his original vitamin bill

In addition, the Food Safety Bill itself WILL pass. It simply has too much support from corporate welfare interests, while we have too few members of the Downsize DC Army, and related groups, to fight against it. So, here’s where things are heading . . .

Our government is squeezing small businesses to extinction, by constantly erecting regulatory schemes with which only big companies can afford to comply.

In this case the victims are small family farms, but in other cases, like the recent new lead regulations, the victims were small toy makers, Mom and Pop retailers, and thrift stores. Remember . . .

Mattel was responsible for the scare over lead in toys, but Mattel was also in favor of the new regulations that resulted from Mattel’s mistake. Why? Because Mattel could afford to comply with the regulations, while many, small competing toy makers could not. Thus, thanks to government regulations, Mattel has benefited by thinning-out its competition. It’s wrong to profit from your own screw-up, and it takes a State (coercive, Big Government) to make such a thing happen.

This is increasingly what it means to live in The United States of Corporate Welfare . . .

* Small businesses get regulated out of existence
* The remaining businesses are too big to fail
* Big businesses know that they’re considered too big to fail, and so they feel free to take big risks that often result in big disasters
* The little guy then gets taxed to bail out the big guy, and
* More regulations are created that kill more little guys

Please go to the Downsize DC website, register (it’s free!), and join the fray.  The local farmer and ranchers will appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.  This isn’t the end of the fight.

*August 26, 2010 edit: S.510 has been revised since this the time of post, with the new version being a bit more palatable.  See this for a concise rundown of the revisions.

3/8/10, Unilaterals, Ring Work…and the Modern Politician as a Simple Tool

Yesterday’s fixie romp apparently hit my legs a little harder than what I’d figured, as I had to use slightly lighter weights, and my normal “snap” wasn’t as pronounced.  All-in-all, though, still a very productive workout.

Single-Leg Creds*: 50 x 3, 3; 60 x 3, 3, 3

Pistol Squats: 20 lb DBs x 5 each leg for each of the 5 rounds

Elevated Feet Ring Flyes: x 12 reps, each of the 5 rounds.

*The single-leg Cred takes a good deal of prior prep work, and this is not something that I’d recommend just jumping right into.  For starters, if you’ve got wishy-washy stabilizers in your hips/lower back, the movement will wreck you.   Essentially, this is a normal Cred catch, preceded by a single-leg pull.  The dumbbell, of course, is held in the hand opposite the “pulling” leg.  It’s very important, since a light weight will be used, to avoid “muscling the weight up” as opposed to snatching the weight correctly.  Same pulling cues should be employed as in a regular pulling exercise (push/drive with the heels, transition to toes at the last moment, pull the weight “back”, etc.).

My shoulders end up being approximately 6 inches below my feet at the bottom of the ring flye movement.  Also, I don’t allow my hips to cave, or allow a sinking/saddle-back condition to develop during the movement.  Nice and tight throughout, just as if I were performing a “praying man” plank.

The Politician as Corporate Tool

A Legislative Heads-up: The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010
There’s a new money and power grab in the works by our “friends” in Washington.  Same tune, same tactic as was employed in the now-failed (for the time being — public outrage works!) S.510 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act — Legislator X endorses a bill, purportedly crafted to keep all fair and unassuming citizens of the US safe from the evil grasps of (choose your boogie man).  This go-round the legislator/grinder monkey is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), and the “boogie man” are the hordes of supplement manufacturers who conspire to trainwreck a trusting and unsuspecting public’s health.  I won’t even begin to launch into the irony embedded in that last sentence.

The essence of the Big-Pharma’s attempted power-grab boils down to this:

“…If this bill is passed, it will make it far easier for pharmaceutical companies to file use patents on what are now inexpensive dietary supplements and convert them into outrageously priced “drugs.” Just look at the cost of prescription drug fish oil that so many cardiologists are prescribing to their patients. It costs about seven times more than the same amount of EPA/DHA fish oil you can buy as a dietary supplement. Just imagine if the FDA was given arbitrary power to ban omega-3 dietary supplements!”
– William Faloon, Life Extension Foundation.

Here’s another take on the issue, from my friends at Downsize DC.  I happen to think that the main impetus for this bill emanates from Big-Pharma, with the sports-industrial complex providing additional pile-on “support”.  In the end, though, it really doesn’t matter who’s the true spearhead, here, as there’s only one looser — the American citizen who wishes to purchase dietary/health supplements free of government hand-holding.  By the way, if you register with Downsize DC, you can utilize their Educate the Powerful system to easily voice your discontent to your elected officials.  And please do so — it’s fast, easy, and it works.  Case-in-point is the stymied S.510 legislation.

More in the way of explanation of this legislative fiasco from the Life Extension Foundation — Part 1 and Part 2.

Also, Carl Lanore does a bang-up job discussing this legislation with Dr. Michael Smith of the Life Extension Foundation, during this recent episode of Super Human Radio.

Do your part to keep the “silent” revolution rolling —

The Looming Health Care Trainwreck

“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Richard, of Free the Animal notoriety, recently posted this erudite dismantling of ADA (American Dietetic Association) group-think (in general), and more specifically, the Tatyana Kour piece that I mentioned a few days ago in this post.  Today’s offering, then, could be thought of as a continuation of that same theme.   This post is not meant to address the (multiple and extreme) failings of the ADA in particular, or government health care reform efforts as such, but will focus more so on each individual’s responsibility to “the health care cause”, and the unique place of Metabolic Syndrome within the grand scheme of things.  That said, in matters concerning the current debate raging on the Hill, and more specifically, in the Senate, I defer once more to the erudite GK Chesterton, and his observation that,

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”.

Alright, alright – so the “Gub’mit” is a big, broad and easily bashed entity.  And I’ll admit that Gub’mint hatin’ is kinda like hunting sloth – there’s just not much sport in it.  But now that I’m on a roll, I have to add one more philosopher’s take on the subject.  These two snippets are from my man Friedrich Nietzsche, and they offer a tidy segue into what I wanted to discuss today.  In Nietzsche’s view, democracy can be explained as:

“two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to have for dinner” and “A political system calculated to make an intelligent minority subject to the will of the stupid.”

And both statements are apropos, I believe, when it comes to government involvement in health care.  Now, I’m not opposed to government’s involvement in health care in a contemporary Conservative/Progressive sense, nor do I stake any claim along mind-numbing, sound-bite, ideological lines.  There are too many competing (and symbiotic, as well) tentacles wrapped around the whole of the issue.

With that said, to the left is a sketch depiction of how I envision the make-up the black hole that is our (collectively) current health care situation, with Metabolic Syndrome smack dab in the center of the vortex.  All the blather currently taking place on the Hill will ultimately result in only shifting the vortex a smidgen left or right – momentarily deform the storm structure, as it were – until it ultimately re-organizes anew (and it most certainly will) with the same veracity as before.  The only way to permanently disable the storm is to bust-up the vortex, and TTP reader’s know very well how to accomplish that task.  The problem is that the entities fueling the storm have the same knowledge as you and I – or worse, they are truly clueless, manipulable, and in a position to serve, unknowingly as added fuel (see Richard’s post, re: the ADA).  Defeating Metabolic Syndrome is easy – TTP readers slay the beast on a daily basis.  But who stands to profit from this slaying?  No one, and that’s the crux of the problem.  Big Ag., Big Pharma, Big Oil?  Remove Metabolic Syndrome from the center of the storm, and these players’ profits are soon (and permanently) crippled.  Not only are their profits crippled, but their influence over government policy is reduced – double whammy.  The self-perpetuating, self-strengthening storm then collapses in upon itself.  A victory for health equates to an ugly bottom line for the big players, and that simply won’t do.

Surely, though, we’ll all be saved by the next, more enlightened generation, right?  Uhh, not so fast – the big boys, it seems, have beat you to the punch –

Cute, huh?  Budding little diabetics.  Or worse.


Save yourself, and save those who’ll listen and can be turned.  And stay in touch with my friend Brent Pottenger, at healthcare epistemocrat, as he explores some ingenious options for mapping our way out of this morass.

There is hope.  There is always hope.

In health,


Talk Radio as a Motivational Tool? And a Blistering, Friday After Work, Workout

“Youth is not a time of life – it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of red cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is a temper of the will; a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over a life of ease. This often exists in a man of fifty, more than in a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.”

Samuel Ullman

wipeboard wisdom

wipeboard wisdom

A little bit of ECU Track and Field throws coach David Price’s wipeboard wisdom; deconstructing the hammer throw.

Well, well, well…how could I not workout after listening to this Super Human Radio exchange between host Carl Lanore and guest Randy Roach, author of Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors.  This is a fantastic episode of SHR, and if you’ve never given the show a chance because you think it might be just a bunch of meathead, bodybuilding blather, give this episode a shot.  I promise it will change your mind.  Plenty of intelligent, edgy discussion on healthcare reform, vaccination controversy, corrupt politicians and companies, nutrition, diseased citizenry — I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  This episode will get you jacked for a workout better than downing a double red-eye (known as a black-eye in some parts) while jammin’ to my boys Rage Against the Machine. A little old school RATM here, just to set the tone–

Nicely done, boys.  And remember, now — if you don’t turn on politics, politics will turn on you.

Anyway, after an hour’s long drive home from work, listening to Carl and Randy ranting it up all the while, I was good and spun; the ol’ Friday evening kick-back was not an option at this point.  I immediately jumped out of my work-a-day garb and into some workout attire, saddled-up the ol’ fixie and headed out.  I hit about 45-minutes worth of sprint intervals around G-Vegas and the ECU campus, finally winding up out at the track and field throws practice area (aka, the playground).  From there I performed the following:

  • Pull-up bar (straight bar) muscle-ups x 4
  • Elevated feet ring flyes x 10
  • 45 lb. plate toss* x 10

4 rounds, with very little in the way of a breather between rounds.

*For a demonstration of the plate toss, check out the athlete in this Jay Shroeder, Evo Sport clip, at 24 seconds in:

Now in my version, I used a heavier plate (a 45, in this case), and I also added a glute/hamstring kick (akin to what you’d get out of a kettlebell swing, or maybe a power snatch movement) to propel the plate as high as possible, while still maintaining “control” of the plate; i.e.,  I was able to catch the plate cleanly, at chest level, with hands just above the 9 and 3 position, and with the plate face remaining verticle to the ground (i.e., flat to me).  Believe me, snagging 45 lbs from a free-fall a few feet over your head x 10 reps will toast your shoulders and arms.  It’s good stuff.

Next up here on TTP, I’ll be ranting about the unholy beast that is the bill HR 2749, set to enter Senate debate shortly.  Want to maintain access to raw milk, grass-fed, free-range meat, organic produce, supplements and the like?  Well, it’s time to get your opposition on.  Well talk about it next up.  Until then, here’s a preview of this insidious bill, from The Proud Political Junkie’s Gazette, one of my favorite political/activist blogs.

In health,


Whole Foods and the Healthcare Uprising

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

Margaret Thatcher

photo: ThomasThomas

I’ve had a little bit of time now to mull over the moral outrage directed at John Mackey (and, by association, Whole Foods), over Mackey’s recent Wall Street Journal Op Ed piece.   From what I can tell, the nexus of the piss-storm from the left has come about from the following two statements:

“…Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?”


“…Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.”

And I can’t say that I necessarily disagree with Mr. Mackey on these points, or with the whole of his Op Ed piece, for that matter. I think most of us here can pretty much full-on agree with the second statement.  How much could be saved in the health care system as a whole, if we were able to eradicate metabolic syndrome alone?  And this “syndrome”, in the vast majority of instances, is totally, totally, preventable.  Remove metabolic syndrome from the table, and I dare say that this debate would not even be happening.  The general public, however, has not yet been forced to face the fact that they are a huge (dare I say the largest?) part of the health care problem — not government, not business — but the masses who choose not to take serious interest in the maintenance of their own health.

As to Mackey’s first statement, well…I’m an odd political mix, and I hold true to no particular political party or ideology; that said, I am for what works in any given situation, regardless of the origin of that idea’s ideology.  I do, however, find myself siding mostly with the libertarian point of view on most issues.  Not always, though — health care being one example.  Putting a man on the moon, the interstate highway system, the creation of the National Parks system — these would have never come to fruition without significant government involvement.  It is my opinion that health care reform is the same kind of animal.  There is no perfect answer, of course, but I feel that a good first step starting point — a platform from which to proceed further — would be something akin to the Swiss/Dutch system.

This does not mean, however, that I believe the government to be competent (or uncorrupted) enough to handle such an undertaking.  Far from it.  Unfortunately, the health care issue comes tethered with vast amounts of money, and, with that, a phenomenal amount of greed and power mongering.  If anyone believes that at the highest levels of government and corporate America, if this discussion is centered around anything other than profit and potential profits, you’ve already ingested you’re fair share of “blue pills”.  Go now, turn on a Three’s Company rerun, and rest peacefully until your number’s up.

*Seriously, that’s my last red pill/blue pill analogy for quite some time.  I think I’ve sufficiently worn that one thin.*

My personal gut feeling about how healthcare reform will shape up is summed-up beautifully here, in a post by Hunter, at the Daily Kos.  In a nutshell, you’ll get mandatory universal coverage — coverage supplied by private insurers, and something similar to the previously-mentioned Swiss/Dutch system.  Insurers will make up for the have-to-cover, “pre-existing condition” groups and/or expensive customers with the positive of adding additional millions of paying customers to the bottom line.  Both the left and the right will, after sufficient “spinning”, claim ideological “victory”, politicians will mostly be re=elected in their districts, and the system will continue to eat itself alive because the underlying problems of corporate greed, political power-mongering, and an inattention to basic personal health (diet/fitness) remain.  The Swiss/Dutch system works, not because it is a clever mix of government and open-market interaction, but because the Swiss and Dutch are culturally of a different mindset.  No system can be created that will not ultimately implode under the weight of a diseased citizenry.  In the US, attitudes must change.  Priorities must be re-arranged.  I know I’m speaking to the choir here when I say this, but if you want true healthcare reform, you must first reform that person in the mirror.  Everything else, then, will take care of itself.

Tonight’s speech will be interesting…and telling.

In health,


You Gotta be Kidding Me, Right?

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

– Thomas Edison

Uhhhh, ok?
Uhhhh, ok?

I’m not even sure where to begin with this; speechless, you might say — and when it comes to diet and fitness, that’s not at all like me.  The one thing that I can say, though, is that one can easily see how we as a nation ended up in the health care morass we find ourselves in now.  Now I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a conspiracy theorist per se, but damn, if the general public is gullible enough to be taken in by the utter bullshit spewed by the folks behind the Smart Choices food labeling campaign, well… I guess I’m the fool for not taking in some of that action, too.  Problem is, I can’t seem to muzzle my conscience.  The Smart Choices crowd, however, seems to have no problem at all with that little inconvenience.

Anyway, how’s this for a few selected pearls of “wisdom”?

Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said the program’s criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards.”

Emphasis mine.  Apparently, having a long list of credentials following one’s name does not inoculate against pure F*ing stupidity.  Or selling-out, for that matter.

“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

How about a nice cup of arsenic, kiddos, or maybe a duce-duce slug to the temple?  Hell, CAFO animals are treated more humanely.   Donuts.  Froot Loops.  Health care debate.  Now I’m feeling suicidal.  If you haven’t already, check out Richard’s post for more on the subject of rampant, abject stupidity.

“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. “You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”

And just who is this Celeste A. Clark dumb-ass, you ask?

“Dr. Clark, who is a member of the Smart Choices board, said that the program’s standard for sugar in cereals was consistent with federal dietary guidelines that say that “small amounts of sugar” added to nutrient-dense foods like breakfast cereals can make them taste better. That, in theory, will encourage people to eat more of them, which would increase the nutrients in their diet.”

Ahh, I get it now. Nice move, doc.; now, how does it feel to be wealthy and soulless?  Explain to me again the difference between this and the business model for a successful drug cartel?

And finally this.  “Finally”, not because that’s all the stupidity and wanton greed exposed in this article, but because it’s all that I can stomach in one day:

“Ten companies have signed up for the Smart Choices program so far, including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods. Companies that participate pay up to $100,000 a year to the program, with the fee based on total sales of its products that bear the seal.”

I bet they have. Now, take a wild guess as to what kind of political power these companies wield via intense lobbying efforts.  What kind of incestuous interests do these companies have in the pharmaceutical and insurance business?  Things to ask yourself.  You say you want health care “reform”?  I say you’re seriously fucked; pardon the French.  Comparisons to the military-industrial complex, anyone?

More on this later.

In health,


Usain Bolt’s Other-Worldly Performance, Sensible Healthcare Reform, Free-Range Meat, and More

“To find yourself, think for yourself. ”

– Socrates

Another fine, fine, n=1 quote.

Little Girl and Big Guy, courtesy of Farm City

Little Girl and Big Guy, courtesy of Farm City

A few things from this past week.  First off, a couple of observations from the world of track and field —

If you haven’t yet seen this clip, check it out.  I’m left grasping for something to compare Usain Bolt to.  One tends to forget that this kid is walking away from world class athletes.  Astonishing, is all that I can say…

Bolt is the “perfect storm” of sprinting; off-the-charts power-to-bodyweight ratio, aerodynamically put together, extremely long stride at top-end speed (with the ability to both maintain the speed and stride length for the duration of the race, i.e., anaerobic stamina) and the ability to transfer that high power development to the ground, both from a dead-start (piston action) and at full stride (spring action).  A perfect sprinting combination of fortunate genetics and fabulous, first-class training methods.  The Jamaicans know how to train sprinters, and they have a wealth of talent to choose from.

And speaking of genetics, genetic expression, and the powerful effects of hormones on the phenotype, how about the controversy surrounding the women’s 800 meter phenom, Caster Semenya?  Now, I’m certainly not trying to imply that following a Paleo lifestyle will impart an extra Y chromosome “advantage” to the Paleo ladies out there, or unleash an unlimited fountain of testosterone in the guys, only that the Paleo “push” that we do provide via positive genetic expression (and, hence, hormonal expression) does account for a good portion of our overall health and bodily composition benefits.

According to the NPR news story cited above:

Gender testing used to be mandatory for female athletes at the Olympics, but the screenings were dropped in 1999. One reason for the change was not all women have standard female chromosomes (i.e., an xxy make-up — my insertion for clarification).  In addition, there are cases of people who have ambiguous genitalia or other congenital conditions.

The most common cause of sexual ambiguity is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of hormones.

Health of the modern-day, semi-hunter-gatherers

What’s interesting here is that the people being studied (the Tsimane tribe, of Amazonian Bolivia) exhibit high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, and yet show no signs, even in far advanced years, of heart disease or other markers of “metabolic syndrome”.  The high CRP levels — a marker of inflammation — are surely attributed to the high instance of parasitic infestation among these peoples.  What keeps them from developing good ol’ western style metabolic syndrome?  Well, my guess is that the Tsimane maintain low insulin levels due to a lack of simple carbohydrate ingestion.  Again, insulin is the main player, with other factors (in this case, inflammation) playing the part of “tools of convenience”; aiding and abetting, so to speak.  Very, very interesting, to say the least.  Check out the NPR story (podcast), here, and the University of Southern California news story, here.   We as modern Paleos can learn much from research like this.  The most practical take-home message here being that the intelligent Paleo practitioner will marry the best of the past (diet, movement patterns) with the best of modernity (sanitary practices) in what should be an ever-evolving, progressive and intelligent union.

On “Evangelizing” the good news…

Yes, it’s tricky business, to be sure, the practice of offering unsolicited advice; and I avoid it myself, as if were the plague (…attempting to teach a pig to sing will only frustrate you and annoy the pig).  But when the government is involved, though — in other words, someone with the power to force their will upon me — I feel it’s imperative to speak up.  Here’s an interesting bit of commentary on the on-going (American) healthcare debate.  The link is to a Super Human Radio podcast interview with Dr. Ronald Klatz.  Dr. Klatz is one of the Founders of A4M (The American Academe of Anti-Aging Medicine) and has presented a Healthcare plan that can not only (purportedly) save the country Trillions of dollars, but will also extend the lives of most Americans.  Also, check out A4M’s article on the 12 Point Action Plan for effective healthcare reform ( here is the 12-point plan itself).   My only problem with the proposal is that is conspicuously deficient of any mention of the positive health markers elicited by the adoption of a Paleo-like lifestyle.  One small step at a time, I suppose.  Even with that deficiency, this is still the best set of action points that I’ve seen floated by any group with any sibilance of influence (little as A4M may have) in Washington.  Kinda tough to compete with folks like this, ya know.

…and of having the good news evangelized to you

Again my good friend Carl Lanore, at Super Human Radio comes through with an informative and timely interview.  This time out, he’s got John Wood, of US Wellness Meats on the line.  John has been raising beef cows in the traditional, grass-fed way for decades.  Listen as the discussion turns to the health benefits of eating grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free beef, over the conventional beef-look-alike that lines your grocery food store shelves.  When it comes to grass-fed beef, John knows his stuff.  Want to know why the Argentinians are so adept at producing a fantastic steak?  John will fill you in.  Now I’m lucky in that I live in a relatively rural area, so I have ready access to grass-fed/free-range meat.  If you don’t have ready access to these products, though, check out the folks at US Wellness Meats.  Really, their prices aren’t that much higher than what I pay for my locally raised products.  That’s a good deal for everyone — you and the producer of these quality products; not to mention the animals themselves who get to live out their lives naturally, and free of cruelty.

What I’m reading now…

417+3oDgsoL_optWant to try your hand at subsistence farming and ranching?  You say you’d love to, but live smack-dab in the city, and that, of course, ends that little dream.  Well, think again.  Novella Carpenter has written a gem of a book entitled Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.  I could gush on and on about this book — it’s just fantastic.  The juxtaposition of farming and animal husbandry struggles against life in the “hood” is nothing less than fascinating.  Even if you have no desire whatsoever with delving into raising your own food, I’d still highly recommend this book.  Really, it’s the sleeper of the summer, and I’m so very glad that I stumbled upon it.  If anyone will make you want to chuck the ol’ 9-to-5 (7-to-6 is more like it nowadays), and try your hand at eeking it out on your own little plot, Novella will.  And before you think that Novella is some kind of militant Berkeley vegetarian, think again — she raises her own chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats and pigs for consumption, and does her own slaughtering.  My kinda girl.  Anyway, pick up her book and check out her blog (cited above); you’ll be so glad you did.

And one final tidbit…

Psychological barriers: we all know what it’s like when we can’t seem to bust past certain plateaus in our workouts.  Maybe it’s a certain amount of pull-up reps, or a certain number of 100 meter repeats.  We feel like we ought to be able to pull it of physically, but for some reason our psyche is holding us back.  Well, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker.com has a great idea to help overcome that overactive (and self protective) mind: using a camcorder; check it out.  Of course, in time you can train your brain to somewhat squelch that overly-protective-mom-like feature, but this camcorder idea looks to me like a perfect bridge to help get one to that point a little quicker.  Try it out and let me know what you think.