Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Named Workout

CrossFit has a new named workout. It posted a few days ago. I haven't tried it yet though something tells me that's going to change really soon. If you beat me to it, post your comments so I know how to 'optimize'.


For time:
95 pound Overhead squat, 21 reps
42 Pull-ups
95 pound Overhead squat, 15 reps
30 Pull-ups
95 pound Overhead squat, 9 reps
18 Pull-ups

Obviously, substitutions may be in order. Don't be shy about using a PVC pipe if you're not completely comfortable with the Overhead Squat and you can sub kipping pull-ups on a box or hanging rows depending on where you're at with pull-ups.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Coffee With Your Warm-up?

I didn't really need any data to justify my coffee habit because I came to the conclusion long ago that I'm going to drink it anyway. I know, I know. I'm so quick to cringe at even the hint of toxicity or antinutrients but coffee is my comfort food and I'm just as weak and whiny as everyone else when it's suggested that I give it up. Keep in mind then, that the data that makes it through my coffee filter will tend to support my habit. I got this little tid-bit in my inbox while I was sipping my morning brew. Ahhh, fabulous:

In January, researchers at the University of Georgia reported a breakthrough in the battle against DOMS. Their study, to be published in the February 2007edition of The Journal of Pain reports that moderate caffeine ingestion, the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee reduces post-exercise muscle pain by up to 48%.

Nine previously untrained female college students who were not regular caffeine drinkers engaged in a single bout of exercise that caused moderate muscle soreness. The unique exercise bout consisted of electrical stimulation to produce eccentric contractions of the quadriceps muscle. One and two days later they were given either caffeine or a placebo prior to performing the same exercise at both maximal and sub-maximal efforts. Participants given caffeine1-hour before the maximum force test experienced a 48% reduction in pain and a 25% decrease in pain with the sub-maximal force test compared to controls.

The authors speculate that caffeine blunts the pain response by blocking adenosine receptors. This prohibits adenosine, which is released in response to inflammation, from binding and completing the pain loop.

Based on the results of this study caffeine may be more effective than many common OTC medications used to reduce pain and soreness, ibuprofen,acetaminophen (Tylenol) aspirin, and naproxen (aleeve). Previous studies onIBU have been inconsistent in producing a significant reduction in pain from DOMS.

Although the results of this study appear promising, take caution in recommending this approach to clients/patients. There are some limitations to this original research. First, the researchers did not evaluate men, who may respond differently to caffeine than women. Second, caffeine sensitivity may play a role, and people who currently use caffeine regularly may not benefit. Third, some people are intolerant of caffeine because of side-effects that include increased feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, upset stomach, increased urination and disrupted sleep.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Girl Fight

PHOTO ABOVE: Many thanks to Ben Blackstone for submitting to the leg lock. Ben has been a very patient instructor in both Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and I'm grateful for all of his work.

When you find yourself down on your hands and knees in a room full of SWAT officers, you’re bound to question some of the decisions you’ve made. When one of those officers is tucked in behind you and draped over your back, those questions in your head are asked more earnestly. For that split second five years ago, I questioned what I was doing in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Then I rolled him into a leg lock . . . .

For the rest of this article link to Performance Menu. I had the chance to write a little something for them last week with insights from both Jenika Gordon of CrossFit Westside and Cindy Hales. Many apologies to Cindy, however. I hadn't talked to her in quite awhile and I wasn't aware that she was promoted to Black Belt. If you have a chance, read her bio. She's pretty amazing and I'm excited that she's doing some training at CrossFit Eastside these days.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Be Bullet Proof

About a year ago or so, I went to Fort Lewis to run a small group of soldiers through a CrossFit workout. It was a sinister plan by my friend Chris Davis who I knew as a fellow grappler but who also happened to be enlisted. Chris is exactly the kind of guy you want protecting you which makes him exactly the kind of guy you don't want to risk losing. Anyway, he thought it would be lots of fun to see soldiers struggle to keep up with a girl. He thought it might be a mighty good lesson, too.

After the workout we were loading the kettlebells back into my car and he was telling me that a month after he returned from his tour in Iraq, he got a letter from the military telling him his Kevlar had been recalled. All along he'd been walking around as if he was bullet proof and he might have been a bit more cautious if he had known he was not.

Recently, I was wondering how we'd live differently from day to day if we thought we were something other than what we've always believed. It came to mind when I was talking to a client who was struggling to get to that coveted last few pounds of weight loss. Like so many people in that spot, she could maintain her weight but she couldn't seem to inch her way downwards.

I realized as I listened to her, that she was stuck in that trap that we all get stuck in sometimes. We justify our bad habits with the resignation that comes with the phrase, "I always do that." Whatever bad habits kept tripping her up where no big surprise, it was the obstacle she'd tripped over hundreds of times which you'd think she might have seen coming. She did. All my clients are clever and they don't need me to point out the obvious.

Simply seeing, however, isn't a plan and it isn't a belief that you truly have a handle on it either. In order to step over that obstacle you have to believe you're bulletproof. In her case, she wants to be 130 pounds and what I told her that day was to get out in the world that very minute and live as if she was already 130 pounds. What would someone at that weight live like? What would they do differently? How would they take care of themselves and what would they eat? How confident would they be and how proud would they be of their success? She certainly looked a lot thinner the moment she thought about it.

The fact is, part of losing that habit is losing the mindset that goes with it. If you keep expecting to be the person who does 'that thing' you will continue to meet your expectations. If you're waiting for the world to give you the sign that you've suddenly become something else it won't, but if you just alter you're understanding of who you are, you're habits will change to suit those expectations.

On Friday a former client beat me at a workout. Admittedly, it wasn't my best day but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that he's put in the work, he's lost 40 pounds, and he continues to improve. At the end of the last run, I was ahead of him and, as I began to falter, he yelled, "keep going, you don't want me to beat you!" I struggled and in the last 50 yards he passed me. No, I didn't let him, he was just faster than me that day.

What surprised me is that it surprised him. He still wasn't ready to let go of the guy that always gets beat by me. What would it mean if that were suddenly so? And how would life have looked for him if he had always known that one day he'd beat me?

I'll still want him to see that for himself even though I'll get him next time. Afterall, I still have to believe I'm bullet proof.

Pick a Pistol Progression

If some coach in a back room sat up at night analyzing tape, he/she would soon find the holes in my game. It would be such a waste of time since I'll readily cough up the information - I hate to see someone miss out on shut-eye. For starters, I can't do a pistol. I'd say it's not for lack of trying but actually it is. I just don't remember to practice the Pistol aka one-legged squat and really that's just silly. It's a shame because it's such a handy little tool if you're putting together a list of exercises that are effective and equipment free.

I was sifting through the CrossFit forum when I came across a link that offers several different progressions to the perfect pistol. It's worth working on and, given the fact that I've already admitted that I haven't put a particular effort into this so far, it won't surprise you to know I haven't tried most of these.

The Challenge

Pick a Pistol Progression
Work 3-5 reps per leg a day

Pistols at Dawn - wouldn't it be funny if you beat me to it? I suppose I'll have to get on that.

Organic: Everybody's Doing It

The Seattle Weekly features a story this week called 'Organicize Me' by Michael A. Stusser who's just your average guy trying to eat organic for a month. It has a bunch of interesting stats about organic foods and he researched this for you so I don't have to. Go to an organic coffee house and snag a copy of the Weekly, one that isn't already sitting out with the pages ripped or stuck together, and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Almond Addendum

It's worth mentioning that nuts don't really roast at 170 degrees. After the last post I assembled said salad and roasted the nuts per the precise directions from whatever Shmo offered the ideal temp. I ended up with slivered almonds that were hot, maybe a little parched but certainly not toasty. If you are equally concerned about rancidity, you can probably roast nuts according to guidelines in an Easy Bake Oven or by holding them in your palm under your reading lamp. In desperate times, place the nuts in a ziploc bag and leave them under your armpit - this should only be done if you use a natural deodorant.

I think it's safe to say that manufacturers roast at much higher temperatures. Between that, and prolonged exposure to light and air, I'm guessing most bulk-bin nuts are shades of rancid. And let's not pretend that small children aren't sticking snotty fingers in there also - I'm just saying.

Until I find a better source, or one of you can provide one, have one last hoorah, invite friends over, serve Planters Cocktail Peanuts - extra salt if you can find it - and wait for the mothership. Or don't and just make my salad.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lunch: It's Driving Me Nuts

Last week's lunch was part biochemistry, part activism and part culinary theatrics. I wanted Curry Chicken Salad without the soybean oil or canola oil in standard mayonnaise (please don't make me explain why again). I decided to make my own Olive Oil mayonnaise - something I've done before with sub par results. My plan this time was to use 'light' olive oil without the pungent taste that made my previous attempt underwhelming especially with curry. After a couple of botched batches and an extravagant waste of free-roaming eggs, I finally saved the separated mess with the help of one extra egg yolk and the sage troubleshooting advice from 'The Joy of Cooking."

This week, I wanted no such drama. I wanted shredded chicken with an Asian inspired slaw but now new obstacles awaited. First, there's the drama at [large chain of organic markets that could easily sue me] and their cabbage crunch. Several years ago, I commented to a familiar deli worker that their cabbage crunch was particularly tasty. He smiled and said, "that's probably because we add a little bacon fat." Bacon fat, by the way, was not on their snazzy index card of ingredients.

Um, I'm Muslim though not a particularly good one. The no-pork thing was the area in which I excelled. I thought it was going to be my one pinkie toe out of hell. And since I'm not a particularly good Muslim, I wasn't sure whether I was obligated to throw myself on a sword at that point. I wasn't happy and for that one moment Muslims and Jews united - with a big group hug from the vegetarians.

Now [large chain of organic markets that could easily sue me] has an Asian Slaw with, yep, canola oil. Given the great pains I've taken to dodge and weave Canola thus far, it would be sad to cave now and it's really just a few ingredients that I can easily make myself. Now I have to tackle the great slivered almond debate. Almonds or no Almonds? Toasted or not Toasted?

These brings up the question of rancidity or aflatoxin? If I use raw almonds, I'll reduce though not completely eliminate the chance of rancidity which occurs with toasted nuts when the oil is heated at too high a temperature or when nuts are stored and the oils oxidize. This creates free radicals which can lead to cancer.


According to some shmo on the internet - really it was the only place I could find someone who would provide an actual temperature - "Roasting nuts at a temperature higher than 170F will cause a breakdown of their fats and the production of free radicals. When nuts roasted at the high temperatures used commercially are consumed, the free radicals they contain can cause lipid peroxidation-the oxidizing of fats in your bloodstream that can trigger tiny injuries in artery walls-a first step in the build up of plaque and cardiovascular disease." Feel free to refute my shmo with a shmo of your own. Either way, we've got an answer.


Then there's aflatoxin which is a fungi that contaminates food. The quick explanation is provided by the World Health Organization in a published report Workgroup Report: Public Health Strategies for Reducing Aflatoxin Exposure in Developing Countries "The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) first recognized aflatoxins as carcinogenic in 1976. It subsequently reaffirmed naturally occurring mixtures of aflatoxins and AFB1 as Group 1 carcinogens (carcinogenic to humans) (IARC 2002). Additional effects of chronic exposure have not been widely studied, but are thought to include immunologic suppression, impaired growth, and nutritional interference." It's another one of those things that the government regulates here to a 'safe' level though safe levels haven't been established. It commonly contaminates nuts though peanuts tend to be the largest offender and roasting nuts can kill much of the fungi.

Omega 6

We've covered this but it's worth mentioning again. Because Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and Omega-6 is inflammatory, you want to increase your Omega-3 and decrease your Omega-6 intake. Most nuts are high in Omega-6 so it's really more of a lesser-of-evils sort of question.

Now, back to that salad

The recipe includes shredded cabbage - I'm going with both purple and green, sesame seeds - probably black and white, slivered almonds, green onions, shredded chicken and a dressing that includes vinegar, probably some Tamari (fermented soy doesn't have active isoflavones), light olive oil, and whatever else I decide to toss in at the last minute.

In a chart provided by Nutrition Data, all my food micromanagement can be realized in one compelling page of charts that will keep me analyzing way past lunch:

Caloric Ratio Pyramid™This symbol shows how the Calories in this food are distributed between the different macronutrients, and can help you identify foods that best match certain diet plans, such as low-fat, low-carb, high-protein, or balanced-ratio.
Learn more about:ND's Caloric Ratio Pyramid

Nutrient Balance Indicator™This symbol illustrates the density of essential nutrients in this food, and can help you create meals that are healthier and more nutritionally balanced.
Learn more about:ND's Nutrient Balance Indicator

Nutritional Target Map™ (Patent Pending)This symbol maps this food in relation to common nutritional goals. Foods closer to the upper right corner are Better Choices for healthy weight loss, while foods closer to the lower right corner are Better Choices for healthy weight gain.
Learn more about:ND's Nutritional Target MapND's Fullness FactorND's RatingND's Better Choices Diet

Apparently, as I busily crunch numbers, there will be no time for crunching Asian Slaw. Perhaps a 'Happy Meal'? I heard the fries are finally trans fat free . . . . . of course they'll still kill you.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dumbbell DDR

There are dark places on the web where men go to chat in giddy tones and interrupt each other excitedly as they compare details about their favorite dumbbell complexes. Really, they start to sound like a bunch of school girls gossiping about, um, dumbbell complexes (what did you think I'd say?). Frankly, I go to these places so you don't have to.

Think about complexes like the Electric Slide with dumbbells - 80s hair and attitude optional (Seriously, I think I just heard a gasp from the P-Menu forum). Complexes are really just choreographed sequences of exercises with dumbbells. So, really, maybe more like the Macarena with dumbbells (as funny as that is, I think villagers are gathering at the town square with torches).
I came up with this particular complex this morning though I may have plucked it from CrossFit Eastside, chewed it up, and spit it out as my own. I've been around this stuff for a long, long time, so my apologies for the Milli Vanilli if I just inadvertently claimed somebody's stuff.

Challenge, Possibly Lip-Synched

3 Dumbbell Deadlifts
2 Squat Cleans
1 Push Press (extra credit for the jerk)

One full sequence equals one rep - interrupted reps don't count, so don't put down the dumbbells in the middle of the sequence. At the end you're welcome to set them down for a quick moment of silent contemplation.

How many reps can you finish in 20 minutes?

Pick a weight that is appropriate to your skill level. For those of you playing at home with lighter dumbbells, your number of reps will reflect the ease of execution (in other words, do more).

For more dumbbell complexes, Coach Mike Rutherford of CrossFit KC has a book called Dumbbell Moves. This is not an actual endorsement only because I haven't had a chance to read his stuff but he's well respected and his book has gotten good reviews from other CrossFitters. If you buy it, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Seminar Hiccup

I was 'away' for two days in a training seminar and as a result, a lot of folks didn't get there at-home workouts. I hope this helps. This was a group of workouts I sent on Safari with one of my regulars. I'm not sure if all the jumping and flailing scared away the wildlife or attracted it but he came back in one piece.

Tabata Squats
followed by
1 minute Jumping Jacks
1 minute Shuffle Splits
1 Minute Jump Lunge
two rounds

10 Burpees
10 Sit-ups
10 Squat Jumps
10 Sit-ups
Ten rounds

1 Divebomber Push-ups
1 Knees to Elbows
2 Divebomber Push-ups
2 Knees to Elbows
3 Divebomber Push-ups
3 Knees to Elbows

25 Burpees
25 Sit-ups
4 Rounds

50 Push-ups
50 Sit-ups
50 Lunges
3 Rounds

2 Minutes Jumping Jacks
35 Push-ups
1:30 Minutes Jumping Jacks
35 Knees to Elbows
1 Minute Jumping Jacks
35 Push-ups
30 Seconds Jumping Jacks
35 Knees to Elbows

Sunday, February 4, 2007

High Costs of Cheap Corn Syrup

I watch few movies and even less television. It generally doesn't cross my mind to sit for that long. But that's the kind of thing that makes me stand out in unfavorable ways amongst a lot of younger trainers who incessantly quote movie lines. I never know what anyone is laughing at and in my weaker moments I assume me.

Every now and then I decide to cultivate my pop culture education. Yesiree, I decide, I'm going to stop being lazy about this. I'll park my butt on the couch and I won't move until I've done lots of watching. This was my inspiration when I rented 'Akira', one of the Japanese animation films that people cooler than me watch.

It oozed. Even the oozing substances oozed some sort of substance. I have no idea why people want to watch various forms of animated ooze unless animating ooze is somehow very challenging to, um, animators. The only way I could feel some sense of horror at the fictitious destruction of make-pretend Neo-Tokyo, other than the horror of sitting for that long to watch ooze, was to pretend that that substance was High Fructose Corn Syrup.

We really are being overrun by the ooze of high fructose corn syrup but most folks are happy to bathe in pools of it. We've drunk the Kool-Aid of manufacturers that make Pepsi, Coke, iced tea and even fruit juice and we've decided to embrace this substance as harmless, empty calories. In reality, High Fructose Corn Syrup really is oozing - out of our pores, out of our foods, and out of the food industry. Whether it's harmless is the wrong question when we should be asking how it's useful other than to address a major corn surplus that occurs because our government subsides it's costs and encourages it's growth.

Though I'm sure we'd like to imagine that High Fructose Corn Syrup is a product squeezed on the farm from freshly harvested corn cobs in a quaint process that dates back to the early days of farming, it's really more of the FemBot of sugars requiring multiple steps to achieve an end product. Three different enzymes, two of which are already genetically modified, are used to break down corn starch into fructose and glucose. The result is tinkered with further through a process of liquid chromatography to bring the concentration of Fructose to 90% and then the original slurry is blended back in to bring the final mixture to 55%. Wasn't quite the romantic folksy tradition of townsfolk coming together to stomp corn cobs, was it?

And with flashbacks to the 'eat butter, no margarine, no butter' flip-flop, Linda Forristal, explains some recent research in an article on Weston A. Price Foundation's site, "Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy--that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young."

Um, I'd call "unable to produce live young" affected.

PubMed went further in outlining the harmful affects of High Fructose Corn Syrup in one study which said, "fructose is a potent reducing sugar that promotes the formation of toxic advanced glycation end-products, which appear to play a role in the aging process; in the pathogenesis of the vascular, renal, and ocular complications of diabetes; and in the development of atherosclerosis. Fructose has also been implicated as the main cause of symptoms in some patients with chronic diarrhea or other functional bowel disturbances. In addition, excessive fructose consumption may be responsible in part for the increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Although the long-term effects of fructose consumption have not been adequately studied in humans, the available evidence suggests it may be more harmful than is generally recognized. The extent to which a person might be adversely affected by dietary fructose depends both on the amount consumed and on individual tolerance. With a few exceptions, the relatively small amounts of fructose that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables are unlikely to have deleterious effects, and this review is not meant to discourage the consumption of these healthful foods.

The fact is, your body has a natural governor in regards to consuming mass amounts of fructose in it's natural form. Frankly you'd be uncomfortably full or suffer some digestion disturbance before you could consume harmful levels. Whenever we engineer foods in scary ways, we override the bodies built-in systems to guard against toxic levels and the impact of that override is still poorly understood.

The Sugar Conversation

Sugar is good. I mean, it's really bad. Maybe it's just the most comforting and nurturing relationship you'll ever have with something that treats you poorly and then stalks you if you try to break up with it.

In the good/bad, black/white, scenario that most of us build around sugary foods, there's no real reason to talk about it. Living in the world of "I just won't/can't" eat sugar is a place we grudgingly call home until we take those unexpected and sometimes refreshing vacations.

When you embrace the reality that you and sugar are neither good nor bad and that your paths are bound to cross in ways that shouldn't necessarily be labeled either 'good' or 'bad', you will learn how to arbitrate a settlement that offers a little more acceptance. In one of my most common conversations I discuss a place to live in peace with sugar.

Finding Acceptance

I never used to talk to my clients about sugar but then I realized that's a little like trusting your kids sex-ed to the older kid on the bus whose parents allow uncensored access to the Internet and cable. This tends not to lead to well educated, well planned choices and instead to anxiety producing visits to Planned Parenthood.

With some similarities to the 'Birds & Bees' conversation, sugar tastes good, it makes you high and it's everywhere whether you like it or not. The moment you make an unplanned, unconscious food decision it will most likely be carb-heavy because, in the world of convenient food, carbs have a high profit margin, a long shelf life and the ability to inspire impulse purchases. Do not underestimate this phenomenon because avoiding sugar rich, carby foods requires both diligence and planning and that's true even for those of us who have been doing this for a very long time.

The first step to restraining yourself is to accept the fact that sugar is everywhere and it tastes good which means you'll be tempted often. Period. That said, understand that all sugar can tempt you but only a fraction of it is worth your time and the toll it takes. So the second point to embrace is that there is and always will be a downside. Maybe that downside is fatigue, a headache, a fowl mood, inflammation that causes pain or limits your performance, abdominal distention, feelings of guilt or shame or more pronounced cravings for a day or two but it will be unpleasant and it will occur without exception.

Action: Look around you at work, home, restaurants, espresso stands and grocery stores and make a point of noticing the variety of sugary, starchy, carby foods and imagine if you had a month to sample a serving of each one of those items. How much food would you have to eat? imagine how your body would feel if you did that? Imagine how hard your workouts would feel and how disgusted you'd be as you continued to eat? Be aware of the food not as an automatic veto but as a choice that you're making and how different you're life would be if you never imposed limits on these foods.

Defining Choice

It's a good thing not every day is Christmas otherwise we'd have nostalgic connections to everything we put in our mouth and every meal would not only be sustenance but also a loving attempt to keep memories alive. And there'd be wrapping paper everywhere.

Sometimes food is just food. The celebration we attach to food is not always necessary though sometimes it is. We've lost perspective and forgotten that the celebration of food is that we have it. In a world of overabundance it's hard to be grateful for the treat of just being fed at all. Instead we build in other pointless celebrations in order to add significance to our meal and keep ourselves amused. 'It's Friday!', 'This has been a tough day!', 'I'm on vacation!', 'It's so-and-so's birthday!', 'It's the Superbowl!'

We can find numerous ways to celebrate with food and an equal number of ways to console ourselves with it. But it's just food. You've opted to give food a certain power in your life and then you feel powerless to choose healthy options. It was you who decided that healthy eating wasn't a treat and yet you feel so much better when you eat healthy and so much worse when you don't. Makes you wonder how you came to your conclusions and why you haven't changed your mind about them.

Along with acceptance though, is the fact that we do indeed have strong connections with food and it's important to honor that too. You just need to be clear that celebration isn't something that should happen every meal. Not every occasion is worth the cost and not every 'treat' is actually a 'treat.' As much as it feels like part of the occasion sometimes, enjoying the company of friends doesn't have to include a lot of chewing or even any.

As an example, I had a pesky problem buying myself a little something deviant every time I went to the supermarket. On those occasions when I left without a little snack to eat in the car I felt deprived and the behavior would pop up again. I realized that this habit developed when I was a child and my mother would promise me a 'treat' if I was good in the grocery store. Since I've long established that I'm able to make it through the aisles tantrum-free for the most part, the bribe is now unnecessary but the habit was harder to shake.

Though I was usually choosing something off-plan, I could justify the habit for awhile because it wasn't outright debauchery. The point is, it was still unnecessary and it was still throwing me off. I finally learned to think of a 'treat' differently. I realized I would avoid buying some of my favorite vegetables when they were more expensive yet I still budgeted in 'treat' money. If I chipped in the couple of dollars to buy yellow peppers even when they're $4.99 a pound, that still felt a bit luxurious and if that wasn't enough, I'd toss in some exotic and rare fruit, out of season no-less. By changing the definition of a 'treat' in my head and identifying unnecessary behavior, I was able to change it.

Action: Define what occasions truly matter in your life. What deserves celebration and what feelings can be addressed without food? What types of things can you do to address stress and to comfort yourself - I like to call this the warm-fuzzy-sock option since that's my comfort default. Does it really matter to your friends and family what you eat with them and can you alter behaviors around that? I go for coffee with friends instead of lunch or dinner and my friends don't mind when I join them at meals even when I don't order.

Building a Framework of 'Favorites'

What really needs to be part of your world? If you learn to limit celebration to times that are truly significant to you, suddenly your snack items hold a greater weight. Now this is where things get fun because you get to ponder what foods, no-holds-barred so to speak, are truly a treat for you.

In my case it's chocolate - love the stuff. In order to winnow the field, I sat down one day and went through a list of things I like to create a hierarchy of 'favorites' and what I learned is that some things I thought I liked really weren't that important. Sugar tastes good, but it doesn't taste good enough to make me crave doughnuts, cookies, pies, or ice cream. None of those things really light my fire even when in the form of chocolate doughnuts, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cream pie and chocolate ice cream. Nope, when I created a hierarchy nothing could knock straight-up chocolate off the top.

Once you allow yourself to eat anything, you become way more particular in your choices. Once I realized chocolate would be 'my thing' I stopped being tempted by any number of other deviance's. The phrase that pops in my head when offered ice cream is, "I don't really like ice cream." It's true, but I would have probably eaten in just the same before I made that declaration.

Action: Make a list of your favorite foods and put them in order of importance. Consider whether or not the items that didn't make the list need to be part of your life anymore. Once you know what your favorite foods are, consider where you can find the best of the best. Who makes the best rice pudding? The best cheesecake? The best ice cream? Limit your splurges to those items which are your absolute favorites and make a special point of not settling for anything less. Whenever you're confronted with your favorite food, delay having any and tell yourself, "Maybe later this week I'll have some [insert favorite food here] after my workout."

Finding Limits

Just because I gave myself the option of having chocolate doesn't mean the next step was stocking the cabinets and filling my gym bag. I next had to draw up ground rules around consumption. The rules are: No CHEAP chocolate - nothing by Hershey's or anything else sold at the check out, no purchases greater than I could or should consume in one sitting, no supply at my disposal, no chocolate unless it's after a workout, no 'chocolate flavored' anything else, and no chocolate if I've strayed in any other direction. But other than that, I can have it anytime I want.

The other part of that is determining serving size. That requires honesty because you have to be willing to admit that a bite of [insert your favorite food here] just won't cut it. If that's just a big fat lie and you need to eat more than that, fine. But the impact needs to be recognized and accounted for in order for the plan to work. If you find that the food you selected can't be eaten in relative moderation, you may have to defer to 'favorite #2' or recognize that you're choices may impact your goals too heavily.

Dealing with Deprivation and Learning to Delay

There are still times, however, that I ponder for at least a second the thrill of launching festively into a fat slab of a near strangers birthday cake just because I got caught in the crossfire of a coworkers midday party. Maybe, just this once, I could carelessly join the camaraderie of the shared sugar buzz around a bowl of M&Ms without my clients ever having to know.

Besides wanting to avoid the look of horror I'd get from people familiar with my austere eating regime which, by the way, would most certainly be a buzz kill, the Pavlovian pang in the gut rings in the realities of a gluten and sugar intolerance. "Warning step away from the sugar! sharp pains, poor performance, and uncontrolled napping in three bites!" The spoiled child in my head still stomps a foot and sulks long after the 'Code Red' is relegated to a false alarm.

It's then that I employ really bad parenting practices for that pesky little inner-tike. I buy it off with false promises. "There, there." Oddly, it's the only place in the world that 'there, there' sounds comforting, "if you still really want cake on Saturday we'll go get some of that FABULOUS cake at [insert location in which 'fabulous' cake is procured] and we'll make it a celebration," I say to myself. Ah, delay. Nine times out of ten I won't even remember by Saturday. On the tenth time, I bring a friend.

Shmi is vegan and in her own world she smiles knowing that sugar will always be vegan and ice cream counts as dinner. Her noble dietary habits take into account the health and wellbeing of every living creature other than herself. I've been stuck answering such questions as is chocolate mousse cake 'better' than carrot cake. A tough question no matter how you slice it. How do I say they're both really, really 'bad' without sounding like I'm passing judgement especially since I'm holding the desert fork across from her? Luckily this doesn't happen often and that's the point.

Action: When you do celebrate have limits but enjoy. Make mindful decisions about what you're going to eat and how you're going to account for it. Don't make your relationships with friends strictly about food but look for that balance that allows you to include the occasional indulgence enjoyed with a pal.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Superbowl Party

It's funny that the 30-90 second short intervals that Angelo Tremblay found produces greater fat loss fits within the framework of a Superbowl commercial. It's also funny how many fewer nachos you'd eat if you knew you'd be doing burpees during the next commercial break.

The Challenge

Given that a Superbowl commercial costs millions of dollars, most advertisers are going to settle for a 30 second spot. It was a considerate gesture on their part to create a perfect framework for GPP intervals. On Sunday, you will use the commercial breaks to run through the following list:

Jumping Jacks
Side Lunges (unweighted)
Mountain Climbers
Step Lunges
Shuffle Splits

Rotate through the list and record your numbers. Try to maintain those numbers throughout the game. If you happen across a 60 minute spot, lucky you.

Halftime show: Tabata This!

It'll will be a big hit with your guests. As you know, it's 20 seconds of work and ten seconds of rest for eight sets. You're score is the lowest number of reps in the eight sets of work. Take one minute of rest before you go on to the next exercise. Enjoy!


Should we be terrified by interesterified fats?

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind," wrote Joseph Heller in Catch-22, yet it seemed absurd to his compatriots that the lead character, Yossarian, would worry about being killed in a war when it was clear that he was indeed being shot at. It's the way I'm beginning to feel about nutrition and my efforts to avoid all the edible landmines with which the government allows us to be carpet-bombed.

To prove it's not a simple case of paranoia, the new alternative to Trans Fats, interesterified fats, may turn out to be as dangerous a hybrid as trans fats only without the required labeling. The only way to dodge this new sludge may be to avoid processed food all together. Unless you're bulletproof, that would seem to be the conclusion of a rational mind in the face of dangers that are real and immediate. Yet why do I get the idea that many people would find the idea of giving up convenience food absurd in spite of the peril?

The Findings of a study appeared online recently in a ScienceDaily article entitled 'New Fat, Same Old Problem With An Added Twist?'. As the article explains, the process of interesterification hydrogenates fats and then rearranges the molecules. That doesn't sound scary at all. Consumption of the fats, it explains, "adversely affected human metabolism of lipoproteins and glucose, compared to an unmodified, natural saturated fat. Interesterification to generate a stearic acid-rich fat is fast becoming the method of choice to modify fats in foods that require a longer shelf life because this process hardens fat similar to oils containing trans-fatty acids."

"In this study we discovered that trans fat also has a weak negative influence on blood glucose. The newer replacement for trans, so-called interesterified fat, appears even worse in that regard, raising glucose 20 percent in a month," explained biologist and nutritionist K.C. Hayes, who collaborated on the research with Dr. Kalyana Sundram, nutrition director for palm oil research at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board in Kuala Lampur.

"This is the first human study to examine simultaneously the metabolic effects of the two most common replacement fats for a natural saturated fat widely incorporated in foods. As such, it is somewhat alarming that both modified fats failed to pass the sniff test for metabolic performance relative to palm olein itself," noted Sundram.

And you're surprised why?