Monday, January 25, 2010

My newsletter

Lifting Club (long overdue)

I hope everyone hasn’t forgotten me. I know it has been awhile since my last newsletter, so I was expecting throngs of you to be asking me, “bro, when are you going to send out another awesome, information-filled, hilarious newsletter?” Much to my surprise, nobody said anything like that. Nobody.

But enough about me. The Green Cup Challenge is starting up soon and they’ve been showing some interesting documentaries on Tuesday nights at Commons. I’ve seen a few of them before and they’re worth checking out. Due to my negligence, I failed to promote “Food, Inc.” which they showed a week ago. The documentary’s goal is lift the “veil” that major food companies have put over your eyes because if you found out where your food was coming from you might stop giving the companies your money. It’s an informative and relatively brief documentary (it’s a walk in the park after watching any Spike Lee film) that will change your perception of the food you eat. To put it in layman’s terms, “Food, Inc” could quite possibly rock your socks off. I saw it with my parents a few months ago and my dad, who’s not much for hippy stuff, called it “terrifying.” I know you must be bummed right now because you missed the showing, but you can find it on youtube. You can also read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” but who actually wants to read books these days?

For this week’s recommended reading, here’s a powerlifter’s testimonial about his experience on the caveman diet. Not only did he go from being a fat ass to shredded, but he experienced a few side effects that most people would consider miracles: his lifelong asthma disappeared and so did his arthritis. It also cured his erectile dysfunction. Okay, I made one of those up. Still, the fact that a basic diet can cure common maladies that doctors can only shrug their shoulders at means something.

Not totally related, but I’ve found directions for building a homemade TRX (Phil’s torturous strap-thing) and hope to build it over break. When I say “hope to build it,” I actually mean “I’m going to have Chris do all the work while I stand back and try not to mess anything up because he’s great with tools and I suck.” It seems easy enough, so I (meaning Chris) could make many TRX’s and all the world will rejoice. If all goes according to plan, my core will be so strong I’ll be able to grate a cheese grater on my abs.

That’s all for this week. I’ll be less lazy next time.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lifting Club Email

Here's the email I sent out to my "club" today.


I hope everyone is enjoying the easy first week back after a relaxing break (except for seniors finishing apps). Wait, no, our teachers seem to have conspired against us and made this week annoyingly hard. Yipee.

Anyway, the workout/meeting this Sunday at 12:30 is inspired by a recent article (link below). The workout is a test of strength and endurance. The goal is complete 21 reps of 4 exercises (deadlift, bench, weighted pullups, curls) in under 30 minutes. How heavy the lifts and the time it takes you to complete the workout determines whether you go to heaven or not and how awesome you are. Obviously, there's a lot at stake here.

I know all of you read "Born to Run" over break... for those of you that didn't, the moral of the story is that your feet are better at doing their job than shoes. This statement makes sense because humans have spent bajillions of years evolving to be fit and strong without shoes.

To make up for you slackers, I read "Spark," the book from the ASM meeting about exercise and its effect on the brain. If I could sum up my review in one sentence, I would say this: some mumbo jumbo that I didn't understand, but the take away messages and practical information are terrific and make it worth the read. Por ejemplo (I'm flexing my spanish muscles), one Duke study showed that exercise was as effective as Zoloft for treating depression as well as other studies that showed a correlation between "fitness" and scores on intelligence tests.

My one complaint is that his take on nutrition is, to put it politically correct terms, "so stupid and hypocritical that I wanted to slap the author." Trust me, that's a toned down version of my thoughts. To support the need for exercise in modern life he uses the logic that humans evolved to exercise and, therefore, exercise is critical to optimum performance. However, he doesn’t believe this logic applies to nutrition. He spends about one page in the entire book discussing nutrition and recommends a conventional diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low meat intake, effectively screwing the pooch. I think he underestimates the importance of nutrition to health and well-being and should have looked into the “caveman/paleo” diet before blindly following conventional wisdom. And that grinds my gears.

That rant went on long enough. I have one recommended reading this week, which is a Navy SEAL's testimonial of his experience with training and diet. When Navy SEALs speak, it's worth listening because these people are the crazy.

Here's to a ballin' 2010,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

More Thoughts on Spark

While I may have come off a little harsh on the nutritional aspects of Spark, I want to emphasize that I think it's a great and informative read. Furthermore, his belief in the efficacy of exercise in treating common ailments such as depression, anxiety, and addiction was congruent to some of my principles.

I'm not a big fan of pharmaceutical medicine. That might be due to me being a foolish teenager, but I don't like the method that most medicines use: treating the symptoms, but not curing the problem at the source. Take cold medicines. They do nothing the get rid of the cold itself, but mask the symptoms and can have unpleasant side effects. I know some people claim that cold medicines are designed to prolong symptoms in order to generate profits, but I certainly cannot say its true. Antibiotics are prescribed for certain illnesses because they kill bacteria. However, it can kill the good bacteria in the gut that supports the immune system. Could this increase the chances of getting sick in the future? I'd say yes.

And this all comes back to exercise in a roundabout way: exercise helps cure these problems in a more dynamic way than Zoloft or other drugs. I can't explain the hard science behind it, but Ratey does a good job of explaining how exercise impacts "things" compared to just drugs. Ratey doesn't say to eliminate the use of drugs--he supports them in many cases.

The missing piece of his equation is nutrition. I can't say that proper exercise and nutrition will cure everything, but Ratey has shown that just exercise can have a profound impact. Add nutrition to a program that features exercise and, surprise, I imagine that the efficacy would be even better.