“Do it for me”

I found the following quote. It is a slight paraphrasing of the original that appears in Bill Phillips’ Body For Life, a fantastic and important book.

Jamie & Barry were brothers. One day Barry dove into a lake, hit a rock & broke his neck, paralyzing him from the neck down. “It was a tragic accident that, as you might imagine, has taken a lot of healing to cope with. Jamie explained to me that one day he was talking with Barry about the difficulty he was experiencing trying to get in shape. He told his brother, ‘I can’t stand running on the treadmill or lifting weights. I just hate it!’ To which Barry responded, ‘Jamie, I’d give anything in the world to run on a treadmill. I’d give anything in the world to flex the muscles in my legs–to feel my arms getting stronger–to feel them move. I’d give anything to have the CHOICE that you have–to move, to lift, to run…but I don’t have that choice. If you won’t do it for yourself, Jamie, do it for me.’ Jamie was speechless. He told me he never felt so selfish in his life. How could he complain to his brother, who can’t even raise his hand, that exercising is an inconvenience, that moving the body is a ‘pain’? Jamie told me that was the turning point for him, and he has never missed a workout since.”

If we are lucky to have the choice to do it, what are we when me make the choice not to?

Emotions Are Not Thoughts

I spent a lot of my life miserable until my dad told me to stop mistaking my emotions for thinking. 10 years later I had no difficultly accepting Des’ claim that spontaneous emotions exist to let us know that something significant is happening, that we’ve picked up on something important or that our conscious attention is needed on something. Emotions are a window into our the unconscious mind and what they bring forth in our awareness is the immediate representation of the quality of dissonance between the world we are perceiving and the world we are predicting.

The human brain is very effective at processing and storing information. This processing capacity allows it to compare present sensory and perceptive input against years of stored experience. Any input that matches a stored memory can trigger an emotional release and what that release is depends on your emotional state when the initial memory was encoded and stored – matching on a negative experience will mostly likely trigger a negative emotional response. It is very effective at bringing forward distant memories and aiding in our survival; given we are still alive, doing what we did last time will likely result in the same thing.

This useful system that has one major draw back, it is also triggered by the perception of something not just the sensation of it – those with a fear of clowns can trigger an anxiety attack by just thinking about clowns. This characteristic of emotions makes it very easy to create a feedback loop and when paired with the belief that emotions are thinking, led to a lot of my misery. Imagine you think about a clown and start to get a little anxious. If you tend to mistake emotions as thoughts, you will believe that there is an actual physical reason to feel anxious. As you look for the reason why, you will undoubtedly think about clowns which will cause more anxiety. The cycle will continue until the anxiety dissipates.

The realization that feelings are not thoughts stops this cycle because it gives us a chance to engage or talk back to the emotion. Once we are able to figure out where the emotion came from we are then able to determine the true value of the information that it is giving us. In the case of the clown loop, we’d be able to say I feel anxious because I am thinking about a clown instead of believing that I feel anxious because there is a good reason to feel anxious.

Emotions are not thoughts, they are real and they contain valuable information but they are not the same thing as thinking.

I Didn’t Earn This Privilege

The world can be a hard and tough place, but not so much here. There’s a good chance that if you are reading this you are one of the lucky few on the planet who have it good, who have it really good. Look around you and consider all that you have. You’re sitting on a chair in a room in front of your computer. You have enough time to be on the Internet reading NON-ESSENTIAL information, you’re not stuck working in a factory, living in a slum eating barely enough food to keep your body going and drinking water that comes from a stream that doubles as a toilet.

You have it really good by virtue of where you were born. Even the poorest person in your region has it better than most of the worlds population because social services exist to ensure that those born in a privileged country do not go hungry, without clothes or without human rights. And if you are willing to work, you have the opportunity to do really well and make enough money to buy nice things and improve your standard of living. All because of where you were born.

I forget this often and my brother is very good at reminding me that most of the opportunities I have living in Canada are a result of living in Canada and have very little to do with me as a person. I am not innately deserving of privilege, I was born into it; or more accurately, I wasn’t born into poverty and a complete lack of opportunity. It didn’t have anything to do with me. I am no more deserving of anything than anyone else on the planet yet I get to eat good food and sleep soundly while billions of others go without because of where they were born.

I didn’t earn any of it.

Out Of Body Experiences Induced By VR

Studies Report Inducing Out-of-Body Experience by SANDRA BLAKESLEE of the New York Times gets me thinking about how we manufacture our experience of reality.

Using virtual-reality goggles, a camera and a stick, scientists have induced out-of-body experiences — the sensation of drifting outside of one’s own body — in ordinary, healthy people, according to studies being published today in the journal Science.

The research reveals that “the sense of having a body, of being in a bodily self,” is actually constructed from multiple sensory streams, said one expert on body and mind, Dr. Matthew M. Botvinick, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Princeton University.

Usually these sensory streams, which include vision, touch, balance and the sense of where one’s body is positioned in space, work together seamlessly, Dr. Botvinick said. But when the information coming from the sensory sources does not match up, the sense of being embodied as a whole comes apart.

The brain, which abhors ambiguity, then forces a decision that can, as the new experiments show, involve the sense of being in a different body.

This is another example of how the brain can interpret information and perceive something that doesn’t exist. Not necessarily a big deal but if it can make these types of mistakes with sensory stream information, what is the error potential for thought stream information?

Eat Your Way To A Better Life

Eight foods you should eat every day by
David Zinczenko
lists the reasons why you should eat spinach, tomatoes, blueberries, yogurt, carrots, black beans, walnuts, and oats as often as possible {link has been updated to a more current one}.

I was happy to see oats on the list given that oats make up about 25% of my diet. Also nice is that none of the foods on the list are particularly expensive or hard to eat. Spinach is about the worst of them and even it is only mushy and slightly bitter.

Improve your health and boost the colour of your meals (and maybe your teeth so don’t forget to brush your teeth after eating).

Deconstructing Paul Chek – T-nation Article

Deconstructing Paul Chek by t-nations by Chris Shugart is a bullet point recap of a 4 hour conversation with the therapist / trainer / coach. He has been at it for a very long time and remains in the best shape of his life.

Personally I like the holistic nature of his approach; even though I’m not religious, I can see the value of including all aspects on ones identity into their health and fitness development plan. He draws a distinction between the different religious views that people hold but only in so far as to say that each is a very important aspect of the individual.

• It’s only through a healthy body that you can have a functional, rational mind. Aristotle made his philosophy students workout with the Olympic wresting team. One of the main reasons I train my body is so that my mind works effectively.

• Toxicity means you’re bringing in more toxins from the outside than you can release. You can’t have a functional detoxification system unless you have a functional digestive system. Anyone who’s eating cheap food is likely to have a digestive system that isn’t working.

• If you don’t want to have problems, eat real food. Stop eating all this cheap crap. I’ve had multi-millionaires and world-class professional athletes in my office tell me that organic food is too expensive.I walk them to the window and point to their $140,000 sports car and say, “Eat that fu#ker then! Because when you die they aren’t going to bury that son of a bitch with you!” It’s just a matter of getting your priorities right. The more toxic your body is, the lower your quality of life is.

• We have a tremendous dehydration problem today. The only thing that substitutes for water is water. When you’re drinking water you’re actually drinking nature’s most powerful detoxification agent. The best solution for pollution is dilution. And that means water, not tea, not soda pop, not orange juice… water!

It will probably take a few reads for everything to sink in. Even if you don’t agree with all that he says, try and let his words impact you if for no other reason than he’s 44 and still stronger than everyone you know.

Anti-aging Drugs And Performance

Drug Test – A Cautionary Tale is a first hand account to see the impact that taking anti-aging drugs has on long distance cycling and performance. Over an 8 month period, and a price tag of over $7000, the author uses a combination of human growth hormone, EPO, deca and testosterone and finds the boost he was looking for.

The entire experience was done under doctor supervision and is completely legal in the US.

… I remained skeptical about all the drugs until March 29, when I rode an event along the central coast of California, the Solvang Double Century, at what for me was a fast and hard pace, finishing in around 11.5 hours. About ten hours in, it dawned on me that something was definitely happening. Sure, I’d been training hard, but I’d done enough of that to know what to expect. All around me were riders—good, strong riders—who looked as worn out as you’d expect after ten hours in the saddle. I was tired, but I felt curiously strong, annoyingly talkative and fresh, eager to hammer the last 40 miles.

The last time I’d ridden 200 miles, I felt awful the next day, like I’d been hit by a truck. After the Solvang race I woke up and felt hardly a touch of soreness. I also felt like I could easily ride another 200, and I realized that I’d entered another world, the realm of instant recovery. I’ll be frank: It was a reassuring kind of world, and I could see why people might want to stay there.

When I checked in with the good doctor soon after the race, he wasn’t surprised about what I’d experienced. “With your hematocrit levels higher, you don’t produce as much lactic acid, which means you can ride harder, longer, with less stress. The growth hormone and testosterone help you recover faster, since you’re stronger to start with and recover more quickly. All those little muscle tears repair much more quickly.”

My Thoughts On Facebook

I signed up for a Facebook account in May and I deleted it last Thursday. I had it for about 12 weeks although I didn’t log into it in July or August other than to delete it. The site is fantastic; it’s very easy to use and offers a lot of features to make the experience simple and straightforward.

What it is good for:

1) Social networking
for people who like being online. If you are one of these people you will really enjoy it because a lot of your present and past peers are on there.

2) Helping to remember your past. Initially my brain came alive because I saw the names and faces of so many people I used to go to school with. Given that I didn’t keep in contact with many of my high school friends, I haven’t had the chance to reminisce these memories into my long-term conscious awareness. At the beginning, it was fun to remember the parties, trips and random acts of my youth.

3) Reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances. Being able to exchange emails with people I used to know was fun. Seeing how their lives have evolved and what they have become was eye opening. It was shocking to see just how few of them DIDN’T end up doing what you thought they’d be doing – it seems that people don’t change, even as they continue into their mid 30’s they remain very much the same.

4) Creating a visual and interactive time line
of your past through life experience mapping. Probably the best thing about facebook was the ability to look at your social time line and see how you knew the people you did. It was particularly good to see when and where I worked, whom I lived with and how and when someone came into my life.

Why I deleted my account:

1) It is time consuming. They call it “facebook crack” because it is so easy to lose yourself in it. When you are engaging the site, it feels like you are doing something important because your brain is very active. While not real work it does have the feeling that it is improving the quality of your life. After a while I started to become aware that it was taking up more of my time than I had really intended to give it. After that, I stopped logging in.

2) It fosters a sense of obligation to people who I may never come in contact with otherwise. I’m used to getting email from people I know or work with, so I’m used to spending time replying to them because there is a pre-existing relationship that needs to be maintained or because my job depends on it. I had fewer interactions with my close friends on facebook than I did with people I hadn’t seen in years. While I have implicitly agreed to engage my friends and co-workers, I never agreed to engage strangers. When I began for feel a sense of obligation to interact with people I haven’t known for more than a decade, I made the call that it was time to eliminate this potential source of stress from my life.

3) I stopped enjoying it
. The shine wore off very quickly. As cool as it was to see how my old peers were doing, voyeuristic glancing at their life has a short shelf life. In fact, after I recreated my life time line, I got very little else out of the experience. I am not a facebook pro and I’m not particularly social. My best and most rewarding interactions are face-to-face conversations, usually one on one and about something that requires a lot more communication than a 5-line message. They tend also to rely heavily on non-verbal communication and immediate feedback. For these reasons, I wasn’t going to enjoy facebook for every long.

An interview with Dr. Jeff Volek – The New Low-Carb Guru

A fantastic read on t-nation has Dr. Jeff Volek talking about low carb dieting.

Basic biochemistry and metabolism would predict that carbs have a dominate effect on metabolism due to the close connection with insulin. Building on this notion, our research points to the idea that dietary fat plays a relatively passive role, and detrimental effects of fat will generally be seen only in the presence of high carbohydrate which, via insulin, determines the metabolic fate of ingested fat.Again, in the real world, some people will need to restrict carbs more than others to kick into fat burning mode, and others will be able to tolerate more carbs without observing adverse effects.

In the absence of insulin, dietary fat doesn’t necessarily become body fat. In fact, without insulin, your body will use fat for energy. Insulin is released when the blood sugar level rises above a certain threshold. Given that fat doesn’t increase blood sugar level, keeping sugar out of your diet is going to mean your body uses fat for energy.

I’ve been screamed at for suggesting this before and I’m sure I’ll get screamed at again in the future. But the science is starting to pile-up that both confirms and explains the observation that limiting carbs will cause your body fat level to drop.

How Much Exercise Should You Be Doing?

This is a question I get a lot and my answer of “it depends” leaves a lot of people a little disappointed because they are looking for a quick answer.

Why it depends?

How much exercise a person needs ranges none to +60 minutes per day and the amount depends on a number of factors. The following is a guide to help you determine how much exercise you should be doing based on some variables.

Do you smoke? If you do, it’s time to start exercising about 20-30 minutes a day. This will not cut the risks associated with smoking but it will help to slow the decline of your body. Make no mistake about it, smoking is killing you and it is ruining your health.

Have you maintained your weight over the last few years? If you have, your need for exercise is low – about 5 minutes per day – and is aimed at maintaining your cardiovascular health. Your goal will be to increase you heart rate in response to movement.

Do you want to decrease your weight? If you do, you should be exercising 30-60 minutes per day. The more you do, the faster you will see the weight drop, but 30 – 60 minutes of exercise should be enough to help anyone jump start their weight loss efforts.

Do you tire easily or have low energy? If you do, you need to do 20-30 minutes of moderately intense exercise per day to increase your cardiovascular health. A healthier heart and lungs will allow your body to deliver blood more efficiently increasing your energy levels.

Do you have any specific training requirements? If you do, you need to exercise enough to address these needs but not so much as to become over trained. This occurs when your body does not have enough resources to recover from the last bout of exercise. The most common cause of over training is too much exercise, but it can also be caused by not eating enough.

There are very few people who would not benefit from exercising a little more. Determine the amount you need and do it every day. It is going to improve the quality of your life.