No Evolutionary Reason To Become Healthy – Particularly As We Get Older

Because of our genetic code, any one who wishes to improve their health as they get older will need to spend a lot of time doing things that run against that programming. This is not an easy task because the behaviours that are required to cause this change have little or no history in our ancestral past. This is not impossible and is in fact rather simple – although it is very hard – consistent attention, practice, and recovery over time.

As a personal trainer I found that there were two groups of people who were extremely easy to train and who were almost certain to get good results. The first group was competitive athletes. These individuals were unstoppable, self-motivated and relentless. They did what they were asked to do, as hard as they could, and paid very close attention to their actions. They ALWAYS improved and most of them probably achieved their physical potential in terms of movement proficiency, explosive speed and strength. If you want to feel capable, train these people. They will improve and you will feel like you can do no wrong.

The next group of people who were great to train were women, usually parents of 2 or more children. These individuals acted like athletes – the followed instructions perfectly, paid attention when they worked, and were highly motivated to get the best possible results out of the limited time they had to spend training. They also improved, although not necessarily as quickly as their potential would allow because balancing being a mother with training is tough and their workouts were always going to be secondary to their family responsibilities.

Everyone else was a crap shoot. As a general rule, younger people do better than older people. Single men up until age 40 do better than their their female cohorts. Single women who do not like working out, married men in general, and older people all fair equally poorly.

I’m not certain why this is, but I have a few guesses. First off, working out to improve any goal is tough. If someone likes working out, they’ll deal with this toughness and do what is asked of them. But learning how to like working out is a skill that must be learned and mastered through practice. If that practice hasn’t been put in when the person is younger, it may already be too late as the toughness can simply be too much to overcome. They may go to the gym or work out, but they don’t do everything they need to make gains – they don’t work hard enough, they don’t eat appropriate amounts of food, and they don’t replace bad habits with good ones.

Next, there is a lot biological programming that is geared towards keeping things as they are. Body fat is store energy, traditionally used during a famine. This is an evolutionary proven method formed during a time when food scarcity was a reality that it isn’t today. Becoming lean makes no survival sense according to our genetic code; fine so long as there is a constant and stable supply of food and when it is interrupted, a life threatening problem. Eating high calorie foods is also intrinsically rewarding. Most human being release dopamine in response to fat and sugar combinations specifically and fat or sugar in general, so we are motivated to seek out and consume foods containing these macro-nutrients. Green leafy vegetables offer very little in terms of intrinsic reward. While it is true that we can teach ourselves to find these food rewarding, that is a skill and must be practice in order to cultivate it. Generally speaking this won’t happen, and if it does, it is more likely to occur in the younger population.

The final reason why I would say it’s very tough for people who are older than 30-35 years of age to get into better shape is that there is no evolutionary reason to do it. Becoming a parent gets tougher as we age and while those who are older may be in a better financial position to be raise children and have a better temperament as parents, the statistics on positive reproductive outcomes reduce as both sexes age. These negative outcomes may actually provide a disincentive in terms of improving body composition.

Consider the fact that, generally speaking, women allow men to determine who the best mates are – given that men work it out themselves who is at the top of any dominance hierarchy, the best potential mates for women have in actuality been select by other men. At the top of these dominance hierarchies tend to be strong men with good posture, two characteristics that are linked to higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone. Without an exogenous supply of these hormones, men who are in the late teens to late 20s will have the highest levels. The statistics reveal that reproductive success and outcome is greatest for men in this age range.

Men select reproductive partners because of factors embodied by the women themselves. These tend to be waist to hip ratios, body fat levels and posture. Social norms not withstanding, this excludes younger women, and women over the age of 30. An examination of the hormonal averages for women indicate a bell curve distribution with a peak for women in their early 20. Reproductive success and outcomes are also bell curve shaped and map almost identically onto the hormonal averages.

For women and men, the story is the same. When the hormone levels are lowest, reproductive success is lowest. When hormonal levels are highest, reproductive success levels are highest. When hormonal levels are highest, desirability to the opposite sex is also highest. Women and men tend to desire reproductive partners who represent the greatest likelihood of reproductive success. This means high testosterone and GH for men, and higher estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and GH for women. It is not surprising that when people who belong within these groups workout, they change body composition very quickly. The opposite fact is also not surprising, when those who fall outside of these groups workout, the changes in body composition take a lot longer, and may not happen at all in-spite of the fact that fitness levels improve as do a number of other health markers.

There is no evolutionary reason for people to get into better shape, particularly when they have moved past the peak of their hormonal profile. Reproductive outcomes are worse – pregnancy success rates are lower, birth defects and developmental challenges are higher. Given these facts, a narrative justification can be given to the difficulties in changing body composition as people age – for the betterment / fitness of the species, the things that make an individual attractive to the opposite sex evaporate and are harder to achieve when the risks of pregnancy begin to increase.

So what?

Learning how to like working out is a skill that must be learned and mastered through practice. While some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to find it more pleasurable or easier to like than the bulk of the population, activity is still required to trigger the expression of this increased potential.

It is easier for younger people to teach themselves to enjoy exercise than it is for other people for a few critical reasons. First off, they haven’t spent nearly as long learning what other non-movement activities can be rewarding therefore they are more inclined to put the time and effort into lifting something heavy in an earnest attempt to trigger a dopamine release. Second, they have a more favourable hormone profile that improves the rate of result acquisition; this reinforces the actions they are taking and, while “liking” exercise is not the same thing as being rewarded, it’s a distinction without much of a practical difference. Finally, younger people usually have way more opportunity to exercises, which will make them better at it. Proficiency, particularly when compared to others, does tend to result in a greater sense of satisfaction.

Gene expression and any learning will have much larger impact the earlier in life they occur. A child who learns to associated movement with the sensation of feeling good or who conditions their brain to release reward chemicals in response to movement will, on average, be more active throughout the entirety of their life and will enjoy the benefits associated with an active lifestyle. Similarly, a child who takes advantage of the time and the opportunity to discover many of the different foods that trigger the release of reward chemicals will, on average, consume more of these specific foods over the course of their life. They will, as a consequence, experience sub optimal health outcomes and may increase their risk of disease when compared to those who do not eat a lot of these foods or those who consume them in moderation while engaging in a more active lifestyle. We can therefore conclude that gene expression and learning have compounding effects over time, good or bad.

Unless you like working out because you are genetically predisposed to or you find it to be rewarding because you put the effort into teaching your brain to release reward chemicals when you do, you are NEVER going to feel like getting into great shape, and even less so as you get older. Our genes exist as they do because they gave our ancestors a survival and reproductive advantage. They were shaped by mutations and in response to the various environments over millions of years, but at no point during this time was there ever a long lasting abundance of food. Those species that survived were able to handle intermittent periods of food scarcity because they would over eat when they could in order to store energy as body fat, move as little as necessary, and down regulate their metabolic rate when calorie consumption would drop. Genetically speaking then, we are programmed to be fat, lazy, and to seek out and gorge on high calorie low nutrient foods. These three tendencies are never a part of any weight loss, health or body composition improvement plan.

Because of our genetic code, any one who wishes to improve their health as they get older will need to spend a lot of time doing things that run against that programming. This is not an easy task because the behaviours that are required to cause this change have little or no history in our ancestral past. This is not impossible and is in fact rather simple – although it is very hard – consistent attention, practice, and recovery over time.

Want People In STEM Fields – Make Sure They Want To Be There

I have a lot to gain from having more women working in STEM but not if any of them are being forced into doing it. If the cost of the next cool device or medical cure is some women being forced to become an engineer or researcher against her will, that is too high a price to pay.

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STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. When I first heard it used in this way, probably more than ten years ago, I didn’t know or even care what it meant. I was too busy doing something to even give it a moment’s consideration. But as is the case with life and the important things, STEM was something that mattered and it started to matter more and more.

My educational background is in psychology and physical education. I did take some science classes in high school but the only STEM university placement courses I took were biology, “algebra and geometry” and kinesiology. I took about 2 weeks of calculus before calling it right in the middle of the first test. The rest of my placement classes were social science and arts (not fine). My marks were sufficient for me to get into university and I more or less stayed in the arts / humanities lane taking one biology course, a biological psychology course, and a few economics courses as electives. This meant that I read more than I did, and my degree doesn’t exactly have deep roots in the pure or empirical sciences. This is something I am fine with.

While I would do it differently if the opportunity was presented, this statement is based solely on the wisdom that the world today is very different from the world of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The truth is that I didn’t really enjoy science as much as I enjoyed other things and at the time, an enjoyment of other things was sufficient to justify going to university and getting a degree in social science or the arts / humanities. STEM was much less important thirty years ago because people still got high paying jobs that they would work for their entire life before retiring with a full pension that allowed them to travel and live a life of leisure.

I am lucky because I have a decent brain and I enjoy learning. For one reason or another, I am curious about how things work and I find the moments of realization to be exceptionally rewarding. The notion that people will have four or five careers in their working life is not a daunting task. In fact, I’m happy about it because it has forced me to reinvent my professional self a few times already. The thing is that I will never have a career that is purely in the STEM field. While I do not rule out a consulting, training or a management role in one of these industries, I am never going to be an engineer, work with complex math or to be a scientist in the lab coat sense of the word. I believe that I will be able to learn enough about any of these things to communicate effectively with my staff and coworkers should I end up in this area, but I am not going back to school to learn to be an engineer or anything like that. Those people have a skill set that I do not have and am content to never acquire.

I am a male, so my decision to take psychology in university was one that moved me into a field that was and remains majority female – the ratio of women to men is about 2:1. This did not bother me and I do not remember thinking, at least in a bad way, that I was outnumbered or that I didn’t belong. I was just getting a degree and since I didn’t have any intention of getting a masters or PhD I wasn’t competition or a threat to anyone. Towards the end of it, I was just happy that it was almost over and was more interested in moving on to the next phase of life. And when I graduated, my brother gave me a job working for an IT company that he had started and that was the beginning of my exposure to anything that was STEM in terms of a career.

I bring this up because all of this was my choice. My parents wanted their children to go to university because our brains were fast enough to make it through and because Canada provides people with opportunities that were not so readily available to my parents when they were that age and living in Ireland. But there wasn’t much pressure on us to do anything specific. My brother has a good brain for science and was considering taking a music degree towards the end of high school. Our folks didn’t care about it all that much so long as he took advantage of the chance to go to university. He’s a good writer and could have excelled at English, he could have excelled in medicine, neuroscience, whatever, and our parents would have been happy. The key was that we honor their sacrifice and go to university to take what we wanted to take. While we didn’t really have a choice about going, we were free to pursue whatever we wanted so long as we went. He earned a science degree and I earned a psychology degree and our parents were happy.

I don’t know what I would have done if my parents had told me that I NEEDED to become an engineer or a doctor. First off, medical school is really competitive and I’m not certain that I have the intellectual horsepower to gain entrance. But assuming that I do, I would have had to take a lot of science courses that did not, at the time, interest me. While engineering is less competitive and my brain is probably fast enough for it, there is still the problem of all of the prerequisite math and science courses. I did very well in year two statistics which was heavy on the math at the time, so math wasn’t necessarily out of my wheelhouse, it just wasn’t a part of my high school academic plan. I’m fairly confident that IF my parents had forced the issue early on, I could have earned an engineering degree, but it would have come at the cost of studying things that didn’t interest me and would have included a heavy serving of contempt for them.

In the last ten to fifteen years there has been a push towards generating more diversity in the STEM fields, and this push had gained a lot of force over the last five or so. On the face of it, this seems like a good idea. There is ample evidence that when the population as a whole is given access to education, the entire society benefits. And the opposite is equally true, when segments of the population are denied the opportunity for education, the standard of living and the average level of life satisfaction plummets. Brains are very useful and when they are filled with information and mental processes, the outcomes they can generate will shift the course of our entire species. This cannot happen when education is made available to only white men or to men in general. The moment all races and women are given access to a high quality education is a turning point for a society. It can take a few years for the benefits to surface, but they are inevitable and once they take hold, there is no turning back.

In fact, countries that do not offer government funded access to high quality education to all of the citizens contain a lot of people who WISH they could attend school because they are very aware of the value it has and the power it affords someone in shaping the direction and quality of their life. Women and girls are willing to risk death to go to school because they know full well how it is going to help them in the future.

So the notion that women and minorities should have access to a high quality education and the opportunity to pursue whatever field their academic interests and abilities make available to them is something that I fully support. I do not, however, believe that there needs to be more women in STEM fields or that the percentages of women and men in these fields should be equal to the population distribution of women and men – 50.4% of the population are women therefore 50.4% of the engineers should be women. Be clear, I am not suggesting that the current employment make-up is appropriate, nor am I suggesting that there is nothing to be done to ensure that women take advantage of the opportunities to pursue STEM. I am simply suggesting that there is not necessarily a “need” for more women in these fields.

This topic is radioactive and it does not need to be. For some reason it is emotionally charged in a way that gets people to put words into other people’s mouths, interpret things in the least charitable way, and to assume that any position that is counter to the “everyone is exactly the same” view as a statement that one group is inferior. It is an exhausting exercise for all parties – one group gets exhausted jumping to conclusions while the other group gets exhausted trying to clean-up a deliberate misunderstanding and walking back things they never said.

At the core of this topic is an untested assumption that there are not enough women in STEM. I happen to believe that the number of women in STEM is not as high as it should be, and I also believe that the number of men in STEM is higher than is should be – here I am talking about real numbers and NOT percentages nor am I assuming that this is a zero sum situation. For example, assume that there are 1000 STEM jobs right now and that 200 of them are held by women. The proper numbers should be 312 women and a total of 1067 jobs; meaning that 45 men left the field. Of course, these numbers are illustrative only, I have no idea what the actual numbers are.

This is actually the point, no one knows the numbers.

Which is the source of the problems when trying to have a conversation about it. People feel very strongly that the numbers are not correct, which would be fine if they just had a feeling about it, except they take action based on this feeling. The first action they take is to create a long list of reasons WHY women avoid STEM and the second action is to set about addressing all of these reasons. The irony about this is not lost on me, and I hope it isn’t lost on you either.

This is NOT how science works. Science works using evidence and facts and the moment something is shown to not be a fact, it is eliminated from both the consideration and the statistical analysis to ensure the data is not corrupted. While assumptions will be made, they are made only so they can be tested. And when they are proven wrong, they are discarded. What comes out the other end is a theory. There is a common and incorrect notion that a theory is a guess and is just something that is waiting to be proven false. It is so much more than that. A theory is an assumption that has not been proven false after countless tests and experiments to prove that it is false. In fact, scientists KNOW that if they are able to prove a well-established theory to be wrong, they are well on their way to academic legend status and possibly a Nobel Prize. Of course, the error in believing that a theory is just a guess or an assumption is based on the non-science understanding of science and is likely the result of someone mistaking hypothesis with theory. A hypothesis gets tested, a theory has been tested hundreds or thousands of time and is supported by mountains of evidence.

The whole thing about STEM starts with a conclusion and works backward to get the evidence that will support the conclusion. It isn’t an operation that pure scientists have undertaken because they would not approach the subject in this way. This is exactly why conversations about women and men in STEM fields turn into dogmatic battles about equality, power and privilege.

The scientific approach would have all of the stake holders get very clear on whether or not there is a problem and if there is, what exactly the problem is. The hypothesis that there are not enough women in STEM is not the same thing as a factual statement that there are not enough women in STEM. The moment this hypothesis is accepted as true, we have made a turn toward the unknown and are resting our foot on the accelerator. We haven’t journeyed into the realm of science fiction YET, because the hypothesis might actually be true, but we are about a moment away from leaving the truth seeking lane.

Before I go any further, it makes sense to talk about what the numbers actually say because they do not support the prevailing narrative that it is an irrefutable fact that there are not enough women in STEM.

First off, girls and boys do not differ in their abilities in STEM areas in primary and high school. The abilities of each group are statistically equal – this means that they are not necessarily identical but there is almost nothing between them. Girls however ARE better at language than boys. The difference isn’t much, but girls and boys are NOT statistically equal in terms of ability in this area. You need to let that sink in and allow the ramifications to start to surface.

The next thing to consider is that in egalitarian societies, more girls choose to NOT pursue STEM when compared to less egalitarian societies. This is something called the “Gender-Equality Paradox” because the person who labeled it was not a scientist – it is only a paradox when the premise is true, that the ratio of women and men in STEM should be the same as the ratio of women and men. If the premise is not true, the finding that a higher percentage of women will choose things OTHER than STEM when given more complete freedom to choose their course is something other than a paradox.

Also, in societies with fewer social welfare programs, more women choose to work in STEM fields. Now there is a correlations between how egalitarian a society is and the level of social welfare programs, so it is difficult to pull these factors apart. But it is worth considering that when people in modern society need security or safety, so money, more women will work in STEM. This could be due to the fact that these jobs pay more than jobs outside of the STEM fields although no one is sure.

Throw all of this together and the picture begins to become cloudy.

If it was true that women and men were the same, there wouldn’t be any difference between them on their abilities in any area. But women are better than men at language therefore women and men are not the same. Neither is better (except of course if you are talking about language abilities at which point women are). Language isn’t just one thing in the way multiplication is one thing, nor is it one thing in the way that mathematics is one thing. Language is in fact a part of EVERYTHING. While addition is a thing that exists independent of anyone knowing how to add numbers together, it is only something that we all know about because of language. The same applies to gravity, acceleration and momentum, so every aspect of physics. And everything else there is to learn. Without language, our ability to know things would be severely limited because we could only learn through direct experience.

The fact that women and men are equal in terms of STEM abilities has everything OR nothing to do with language. Everything because anything that is known and taught is taught with language and nothing because without language each individual person would have to learn everything through experience meaning that neither group would know very much about anything STEM. This is very important because language came before STEM and without language statistically NOTHING STEM would have been discovered.

So given that women are better at language and that language plays a critical role in everything, how might an enhanced language ability alter the decisions that a person makes? There are two things that need to be said about this. The first is a matter of competition and the second is a matter of choice.

Dealing with competition, if a man wants to be the best at something, they will need to do something that women are not better than men at or something that men are better than women at. This means something that isn’t very dependent upon language abilities or does rely on physical strength. If a woman wants to be the best at something they will need to choose something that men are not better than them at – physical strength – AND something that women are better than men at. The first assumption, the one that assumes equality between women and men, creates the situation that the individual MIGHT be better than everyone else (or is at least potentially as good as the other gender). The second assumption is purely about reducing competition. If there are 100 people, fifty women and fifty men, a woman who sets out to be the best are something that women and men are equal at will have to compete against 99 other people. But if they select something that women are better than men at they will only have to compete against 49 other people; this is cutting the competition pool in half, which is always a very good first step when trying to become the best at something.

This begs the questions – why would this matter and why would anyone want to be the best at anything? It matters because resources are scarce and a disproportionate share of the resources go to those who hold the top spots. Even if we do not like them, hierarchies exists and there is a certain amount of wisdom coded into our DNA that has us being operationally aware that the top is better than anywhere else on the scale so it is worth trying to reach the top. Our evolutionary history has written this fact into our genes so human beings will automatically engage in hierarchical determining behavior very early in their life. Our advanced mental functioning has allowed our species to move away from dominance and focus instead on prestige, intelligence, social status and other ways to compare ourselves to other people.

Women want their share of the resources and are willing to go after getting them by utilizing an intelligent strategy that maximizes their possibility of success. It makes complete sense, when you look at the math, that women would choose to do things that are NOT in the STEM field because those areas are hyper competitive and they do not have an innate advantage over men in this area – both are equal in terms of ability. They choose to pursue excellence in areas that offer them the best advantage, which just happen to be areas in which language plays a much larger role.

That’s the game theory piece of it. The experiential part of it is also a factor. Many women report having more satisfaction with the academic pursuit of subjects that are not included in STEM. They are good at both, they just happen to enjoy one more than the other. And remember that, all things being equal, people tend to repeat the actions for which they get rewarded. If everyone went after STEM, the doubling of the population pool would translate into a dilution of the rewards as they would be spread out over more people.

So you need to ask yourself a few questions – is the goal of having more women in STEM fields a noble one? Is making sure the percentage of women pursuing and working in STEM is equal to the percentage of women in the population a problem that we should be trying to solve? Phrased another way, if two female babies are born tomorrow morning and you had to choose between making sure that one of them ends up in STEM while the other ends up outside of STEM OR making sure they were free to choose their own path, which is the more noble goal?

It is not an easy thing to consider – well, it is, but it isn’t an easy thing to say that answer out loud because the answer is so obvious that it feels like something is being missed AND, more importantly, there is a very real sense that simply saying that you support equality of opportunity and are against forcing people into jobs that do not interest them have a quality of being trigger points to a vocal and hyper aggressive segment of the population.

But this is what it has come to for some crazy reason.

For thousands of years, women and men have been working together to manufacture knowledge, discover the nature of the world, and to keep the species going. Each did the role they were best at and while there have always been outliers, individuals who were better or more interested in the things the other side was doing, things did not break down. In fact, life was for the overwhelming majority of people and for almost the entirety of human history, nasty, brutish, and short. It was absolutely awful. Food scarcity, disease, infant mortality, death during childbirth, infection and the fact that our teeth cannot repair themselves meant an existence that was basically one insult after another.

The richest person and anyone else who was talented and hardworking enough to find themselves at the top of any hierarchy would have only a slightly better go of it. Make no mistake about it, life was dreadful by today’s standards for absolutely everyone up until the last 150 years. It got marginally better when William Thomas Green Morton discovered anesthesia in 1846, in 1847 when Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis discovered that hand washing was an effective way to prevent the spread of infection, and transformed in 1928 when Alexander Fleming discovered what would be called penicillin. This gave our species the upper hand in terms of reducing physical suffering and it began to dramatically reduce the overall mortality rates around the world. And thanks to STEM and other fields, things have been improving rapidly since.

But it wasn’t until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that birth control became completely legal, a moment that marked the beginning of the social period we are currently navigating our way through. Giving women near total control over their family planning transformed the well-established and traditional cycle of life. Starting a family could be predictably delayed until the time was “right” for all of the involved parties. This advancement, when combined with the dramatic improvements in health care and the significant reduction in infant mortality, translated into fewer children who were being born to older mothers. This means that women were taking advantage of improved access to education AND they were remaining in the work force for longer before starting their families, returning to the work force after having their children, and were spending less time being pregnant.

This changed the workforce dynamic in such a profound way that it is hard to overstate the ramification. The workforce did not necessarily double, but it did potentially double, meaning that jobs for all of these new workers were needed or else there was going to be some very severe consequences based on macroeconomic principles. The increase in supply would trigger a decrease in the demand, which tends to lower the wages. Over time, this can be managed, but when it occurs in the matter of a few years, things do not go so smoothly.

Two other factors come into play that tend to diminish the impact the role of women choosing to enter the work force in large numbers plays – civil rights and automation. All of these things are related – the civil rights movement and the women’s liberation movement had effectively the same goal – and when they are successful in even a small way, they have the same impact on the economy. There is an increase supply in workers in ALL levels of ability and the notion of gender and race specific jobs begins to evaporate. Then it is mostly a matter of time before everything normalizes UNLESS another significant factor begins to manipulate some of the variables. Which is exactly what automation did and continues to do.

This should not have been a surprise to anyone, considering that it is what always happens when more people start to work in an industry. More minds working a problem results in greater productivity, more complete knowledge growth and faster solutions. These translate in to quicker progress, which will lead to more automation. More automation means lay offs, leading to an increase in the supply of workers, which triggers a decrease in wages for less skilled jobs.

Most of this is great – equal rights for all people is perfectly fine. Universal access to a high quality education is an ideal situation. The freedom to choose how one exercises their liberty is very important. BUT there are going to be consequences to all of these things, and this is what is becoming very clear. People choose to do the things that they like, want, believe they need or actually need to do. And that is the beginning and end of it. Each individual only has control or impact over their own actions which means they are not in a position to make an accurate guess of what other people may choose to do. The consequence to this is that while many people have worked hard and sacrificed in order to make sure there is equality of opportunity, there is no reason to believe that anyone will take advantage of it in a way that makes sense or in a way that was predicted by those who made it all possible.

This is where we find ourselves right now and it’s a very challenging place to be. To recap:

  • Universal K to 12 education is available and mandated for ALL young people in North America and many western societies – for all races and all gender identities. This has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people who are low skilled or semi-skilled, which will reduce the rate of pay for these jobs.
  • A dramatic increase in the availability of disposable income stemming from changes in the banking regulations, leading to a big boost in the number of people who attend post-secondary education – this results in a dramatic increase in the number of moderately skilled, which will reduce the rate of pay for these jobs.
  • A transition towards automation of low skill high labor jobs, causing a big reduction in the number and rate of pay for these jobs.
  • Strong social programs, such as government health care, social security, government pension, and welfare, ensure that people will be able to maintain a minimum standard of living REGARDLESS of how they choose to spend their time working.
  • A movement towards a more egalitarian culture / society gives people the opportunity to do what they want to do as opposed to doing what they have to do in order to get by.

These five variables interact and lead us to experience what we are experiencing now – an overall reduction in full time high paying jobs, the elimination of low skill full time high paying jobs, the creation of large numbers of low pay low skill part time jobs, the creation of modest numbers of high skill and emergent technology jobs, a work force that is bloated at the low skill area as all citizens graduate high school with this skill level, a level of equality of opportunity that has never existed before, and the prevailing belief that people should pursue what they are interested in vs. what pays well or will lead to something greater down the road.

Hindsight is always much more accurate than foresight, but in this area, I do not think it would have taken much for the thought leaders at the time to have an honest and frank discussion about what were the most likely outcomes of automation, universal education, a dramatic increase in the amount of money available, and the efforts to make sure all doors are open for all people. As I mentioned before, one of these things could probably have been weathered without any difficulty, but the collection of them is a lot more to handle and what things will look like when we come out the other side is going to be very different from how things looked when it began.

And this is the problem with the push to get more women into STEM fields. There was a time when this was possible, but that time has long since passed. The moment “choice” is given to people, they will exercise it and do what they want to do as opposed to doing what they have to do or are told to do. So while we cannot make any prediction about the gender or ethnic characteristics of any single person in STEM, given that women and men score effectively the same and that all people have about the same chances of having the intellectual horsepower to become a scientist, engineer or doctor, we do know that women and men do not share preferences and that some cultures value STEM more than others, meaning getting more women into STEM may not even be something that is desirable, let alone possible.

When people do not have a choice and need to make as much money as possible, they are more inclined to pursue STEM because these jobs pay more. But when people have the choice and live in a society that has social safety nets, they are going to choose the things they like or are good at. So unless women like STEM more than any of the other fields, they are less likely to choose STEM because it doesn’t interest them as much and because they are slightly better than men at the other things meaning less competition for the top jobs in those areas. If this is the case, the efforts that are being made to move women into STEM will not be successful and may actually hurt the field by causing the displacement of potential people who are not accepted into the field because of their gender.

The goal is misdirected and based on an assumption that the way things have been traditionally was a result of a desire to keep women out of STEM and not a consequence of anything else. This assumption does not stand-up to scrutiny. STEM is relatively new when compared to other fields and most other jobs. Many of the jobs that exist in STEM did not exist until the last 50 years and did not exist in the numbers they do now until recently. The end result here is that while women were not a big part of the work force for most of human history, neither were men. Most of the time has been spend with women and men doing whatever tasks were needed to keep the family fed, safe, and secure. Having a job that allows people to trade time for money to spend later is at best, a few thousand years old. Before then, people did what they had to do to survive, and getting their needs met was the only form of payment they would receive.

Yes, men have been a formal part of the work force for much longer than women, but neither has been a part of it for very long. This is mostly irrelevant to STEM because these jobs require a decent brain and a lot of education. Since universal schooling is a recent addition to society, the number of those who are educated enough for STEM was limited until recently. The statement that in 1950 there should have been more women in STEM is a reflection of the fact that there were not a lot of people in general who worked in STEM as opposed to there being a deliberate push to keep women out of these fields. There probably could and should have been more of them, it is reasonable to believe that had they learned the foundation skills to be an engineer, they would have been able to make some very meaningful contribution to engineering. HOWEVER, this is a far cry from saying that there should be equal number of women in STEM as there are men.

The problem that needs to be solved is one of access vs. participation, because it is inappropriate to force people to work jobs that they do not want. I want to live in a world that grants people the opportunity to pursue what interests them and not one that forces them to do a specific job because someone has made the decision that the gender breakdown is not appropriate. A male should be as free to pursue nursing, teaching or psychology as a female should be free to pursue surgery, coding, coaching, or engineering. And males should be free to pursue surgery, coding, coaching, or engineering while females are free to pursue nursing, teaching and psychology. If you like it and someone is willing to pay you to do it, you should be free to do what you want with you time and with your life.

And this is what I think we are in the middle of right now. We’re leveling-up the education of everyone, and making sure that people have the same opportunities. Once these things have been achieved, the people will make the call on what they are going to do with their time, even if that means choosing to do something other than what the progressives think they should do or choosing to do what they have traditionally done. Time will tell what is going on and until then, we’re all just making some guesses about it.

This brings us to the end of this post. Hopefully I can leave you with a rhetorical question to always keep in mind when you are living your life and happen across a group of people who have good intentions but little evidence to suggest that their interventions are 1) going to do anything and 2) there is actually a need to do something. When there is no clear problem to be solved or the problem that they are working to fix exists solely as proof or evidence that there is a systemic problem, there may not be anything to do at all; meaning all of their actions are a complete waste of time.

I have a lot to gain from having more women working in STEM but not if any of them are being forced into doing it. If the cost of the next cool device or medical cure is some woman being forced to become an engineer or researcher against her will, that is too high a price to pay. Frankly, I’m sick of forced labor and all of the ways that human beings have been taking advantage of other human beings since someone invented exploitation. While it has been responsible for a lot of the amazing things that our species has created or built, it’s just a dreadful way to behave and it needs to stop. So while I am not implying that trying to get more women into STEM is the same thing as the labor that built the pyramids, FORCING them into these fields is. Which would make it a bigger problem than the one that they are trying to solve. So while women can do almost all of the same things that men can do, this does not mean that they will want to do these things. Time and the opportunity to do them will shine a light on what is the appropriate gender breakdown in terms of STEM field employment. Until we have proof that there is a problem to be solved, any solution actions that are taken are most likely going to achieve nothing of value and will never deliver us to a world that is in anyway more ideal than the one we inhabit today.

The “New” Canada’s Food Guide – A Brief History and What Is Missing – Part Two

It is not the sweetness that we find rewarding, it is the reward chemicals that we find rewarding and we learn that sweet things cause a release of these reward chemicals. The same applies to things that are high in fat and sugar. While these foods serve a survival function given that they promote body fat storage, this is not the reason why we eat them. We seek them out because they cause a massive release of reward chemicals and not because we enjoy them directly. These reward chemicals serve as the motivation to take specific actions, actions that played a role in ensuring that our ancestors survived while those who did not seek out high calorie food did not.

This is the second part of this post. If you have not already read or listened to The “New” Canada’s Food Guide – A Brief History and What Is Missing Part One, check it out as this one is simply a continuation of that post

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The next version of the guide was released in 2007 as Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and it did contain most of the information that wasn’t included in the 1992 guide. The number of servings of grain products was reduced in general. However, the guide serving recommendations are broken-out by age and gender. This change gave the guide more prescriptive power that reflected the specific and changing needs of each gender throughout the course of their life. In general, males burn more calories and, as a result, their need for vitamins and minerals is slightly higher.

This guide is also more detailed, 6 pages vs. 2, and includes a lot more online features. It is clear that it is an attempt to create something that is more useful and that will appeal to a much wider audience. It includes more information about exercise, both in terms of frequency and intensity, along with the potential outcomes you might experience as a result of engaging in an exercise program.

The 2007 guide represents the first real steps towards “mindful” eating. For example, it invites people to limit certain foods that are high calories, sugar and fat, along with limiting trans-fat. It asks people to “read the label” in order to become aware of what is in the food they are selecting to eat. While these are important steps in the right direction, they are too late for a lot of people given the poor advice that was provided 15 years before. People had free reign for a decade and a half to eat too many servings of grain products and would now find themselves in a less than ideal place as a result of it. Worse still would be the lasting consequence on any of the children who had been subjected to this bad advice – primarily higher levels of body fat and the deeply stored incorrect wisdom inside their brain caused by 15 years of conditioning.

Here’s the problem, while human beings are genetically coded to find certain things rewarding, they are born without any knowledge of just what there things are. Over time they learn how to trigger the reward chemicals and with enough practice and exposure they will develop the exact behaviors needed to release these chemicals. However, if they never get exposed to the things that cause the release or if their exposure is limited or conditional, they will never cultivate the level of refinement that is required to develop compulsive overeating.

It important to step out of this conversation at this point to consider why human beings find sweet things to be enjoyable and why they find fat and sweet combination irresistible. At first thought the answer seems obvious, we like sweet things because they are sweet and we seek out and over-eat food that are high in fat and sugar because they are high in calories. But these explanation are not accurate, or at least, they are incomplete. We enjoy sweet things because our brains release reward chemicals in response to consuming them and with enough practice, we learn that we will release reward chemicals in response to eating sweet things. It is not the sweetness that we find rewarding, it is the reward chemicals that we find rewarding and we learn that sweet things cause a release of these reward chemicals. The same applies to things that are high in fat and sugar. While these foods serve a survival function given that they promote body fat storage, this is not the reason why we eat them. We seek them out because they cause a massive release of reward chemicals and not because we enjoy them directly. These reward chemicals serve as the motivation to take specific actions, actions that played a role in ensuring that our ancestors survived while those who did not seek out high calorie food did not.

Let this sink in.

Now consider the fact that drugs like cocaine and amphetamine do exactly the same thing. When we consume these types of drugs, our brain responds by releasing the same reward chemicals that are released when we eat sugar and sugar and fat combinations.

Now we move on to the 2019 version of Canada’s Food Guide. This version is very different from any that came before it in that it makes no recommendation about number of servings. It is, in fact, a guide in the purest sense of the word. While each of the previous versions doled out recommendation about how much food a person should eat, 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruit in the 1992 guide for example, this version does not. The quantities approach that was taken by all that came before has been replaced with a qualitative method that satisfies a need to educate. For this reason it is better and worse.

It continues to build upon the mindful eating approach that was launched in 2007 and encourages people to prepare more of the meals and to eat with other people more often. It invites people to consider the experience of eating in terms of pace, fullness of flavors, smells, and textures, the amount of chewing a food requires, and their motivation or reasons for eating, etc. All are important considerations in generating any level of awareness about ones eating habits and behavior. However it doesn’t ask people to reflect on how the food made them feel, which is arguably the most important aspect of mindful eating. For example, if someone eats 4 cookies after eating a large dinner and upon reflection realizes that they were not actually hungry for the cookies and did not find eating them to be satiating, it may raise the questions about the function of the cookies and the person’s relationship with ending a meal with something that is excessively sweet. Once asked, it isn’t a very big step from there to realizing that a lot of their food choices have nothing to do with immediate necessity and everything to do with preparing for a time when the food supply is cut off.

The guide is better and worse for the same reason. It’s better because it tells people how to eat and how to approach their food and worse because it doesn’t tell them what or how much of it to eat. It starts off with the assumption that people will do the right thing if they know what that is, and then sets off to tell them what the right thing is. While this is a noble goal, it is based on a mostly false assumption. Most people already have a very good idea what they should and shouldn’t be eating. Almost everyone knows that vegetables are better for you than cookies or chips will choose the cookies or chips over the vegetables. Sure, there are some outlier who do not know the difference between these types of food and will, upon receiving the education that the 2019 guide offers, stop eating cookies and chips and start eating vegetables, and there are people who choose to eat more vegetables while avoiding the other things, but most people are not outliers. Most people have a very good idea and still choose to eat too much of the things they shouldn’t and not enough of the things they should. The guide does not address the fact that knowledge is not sufficient because gaining it does not consistently or predictably change behavior.

The 2019 guide is a step in the right direction in terms of shifting the focus onto food as a thing that is more than just a source of nutrition and energy. The efforts to point out that it is also a source of many different experiences is helpful. While this has always been the case, it didn’t really need to be said before because people spend more time preparing food and eating meals with other people. 50 years ago, a nightly family meal was the norm, with the adults preparing it and the children cleaning up afterwards. Going out for a meal was rare because it was expensive and there wasn’t as much money being earned. Adequate amounts of high quality and highly nutritious food were available. These foods were effectively straight from the farm to the store and did not go through much processing. Things spoiled quickly so people bought only as much as they needed and they had relationships with the people who sold them the food. There was a community aspect to the entire food chain because things were smaller in scale with many local suppliers.

This is not how it is today. My local grocery market just finished renovating the store to add 4 different meal replacement sections to the front portion of the store and these tend to be much busier than the produce section. In fact, many of the people who “shop” at the store only make use of the first 15 meters. While this initially reduced the flow of people though the rest of the store and made the check-out lines run faster, they have reduced the number of cashiers in response to the decrease flow so it now actually takes longer to checkout. It is clear that the changes have increased profits because they charge a premium on the meal replacement items and these sections are always busy; I’m sure that it is only a matter of time before they begin to remove the other sections of the store to replace them with more profitable offerings. I’m not suggesting that the food is bad, it is very tasty. They use high quality ingredients, their recipes are good and it is well prepared. But it isn’t the same experience as selecting the raw ingredients for a meal, buying them, and bringing everything home to prepare. The premiums you are paying for are the convenience of having someone else prepare the meal and the time saving the service provides. So, depending upon the value of your time, it may actually work out to be cheaper to buy it from them as opposed to taking the old-school route.

It doesn’t matter how accurate the information is in the 2019 Canada food guide, a lack of knowledge is not the reason why people choose to eat in a way that does not serve their best long term interests. This occurs because we now have the choice to eat effectively or to eat conveniently. And this brings us to the final thing that needs to be discussed.

Remember that we have the genetic programming to seek out, consume and over-eat high calorie foods in an effort to store energy. Now consider what else we might be programmed to do / not do in order to ensure that there is energy for use later. If you spend the time to consider the possible answers to this statement you’ll notice the irony. If you didn’t take the time and spend the mental effort to generate the answers, you’ve actually modeled the answer perfectly. We are genetically programmed to avoid spending energy doing things that are unnecessary. This includes but is not limited to choosing to avoid thinking about things that do not pose an immediate survival threat and to avoid doing things that will cause us to take physical and mental action whenever possible. Human beings are not lazy per say, we are just not motivated to burn off energy for no reason. When faced with the choice of taking action or not taking action, we’ll favor doing nothing, and when we are faced with two possible actions, we’ll tend to choose the one that has us spend the least amount of energy.

The narrative truth is the human beings are programmed to seek out and consume as much energy as they can and to do this as efficiently as possible with the goal of storing energy for use at some point in the future when food is not available. When we walk into a store, possibly hungry, and are faced with the choice between buying a ready-made meal or buying the items we need to make a meal at home, our programmed desire to save energy will probably kick in and have us standing in line to pick up our meal replacement, one that is larger than what we need and contains more sugar and fat than is necessary. And we’ll go home and eat the entire thing and feel good physically because our brains will release the reward chemicals that come from a good gorge.

Knowing that eating too much will make us gain weight will not change our nature because it IS out nature. Getting fat IS the goal. The genes that would have coded for a different outcome did not get passed along because those who had them died during one of the thousands of famines that hammered our ancestors throughout history.

As well intentioned as the 2019 version of Canada’s Food Guide is, it cannot do very much to overcome millions of years of evolution and “selective breeding” that food scarcity shaped. At best, and it seems like it hit the mark, it can encourage people to take a moment before eating something to consider their motivations for doing what they are about to do. And to maybe, in a moment of mindfulness, make a different choice, one that will ensure a better future, even though it causes the brain to rebel and trigger the negatives emotions associated with the historic and antiquated concern about an impending famine. Will-power and mindful effort towards doing something other than the automatic, something that doesn’t feel as good, but is a step towards full nourishment and sustaining a dietary energy balance.

While it doesn’t come out right and say it, being healthy isn’t natural. It may be somewhat automatic for younger people but it is something that we grow out of as we age. What is natural for us is to sit as still as we can and stuff down our throats as much as we possibly can. This is where the guide comes-up short, and this is understandable because it’s a hard fact to wrap your head around. The fact that it doesn’t even try is what I find so problematic. When this is paired with the fact that guide has a history of offering up bad advice or stating things that are completely wrong, my skeptical nature comes out to play.

Here’s my thinking about the topic of advising an entire population on how to eat:

The Food Guide is doing its intended job at a better than average level. By knocking on the door of mindfulness, it is suggesting that there might be a lot more going on than just what we have been paying attention to.

Crappy food advice and education and going along with the demands of the food industry has created a situation in which only those with money and free time or those who do not have enough money get to remain lean and healthy looking – those with money and free time get to buy the best food and spend time working out / exercising to create a false famine while those who do not have enough money loss weight simply because they are enduring a real famine. The poor do not have a voice and are effectively ignored; which is a shame because the strategy of remaining hungry for longer periods of time is very effective. A voice is given to those in power, the very people who have both money and time, and they get to do the very things that are needed to actually be healthy. Then they get onto their high horse and judge the rest of us for being lazy, which we are, and for overeating, which we do. We are fat and unhealthy because we make bad choices while they are lean that healthy because they make good ones. Surely if we weren’t so flawed we’d say no to the junk food, yes to the vegetables and be moving around more.

But this is nonsense. We are not flawed. We are perfect. We over eat and under-move because our genes motivate us to over-eat and under-move. We don’t think much about it and when we do, we don’t really know why we ate two servings of dessert and didn’t feel like getting onto the rowing machine for a 2000m workout. The fact is eating shittie food is rewarding because our brain rewards it. Burning off extra calories isn’t immediately rewarding and it takes the body a while to learn how to notice that it can feel good. The only thing that we have going for us, when it comes to eating more healthfully and exercising an appropriate amount, is the vision to see it happen and the willpower to do it. But until we understand and realize that eating right and moving more are not a part of our code, we’ll continue to wonder what is wrong with us when we don’t find it easy to live better.

It isn’t easy because it is hard. It burns energy that our body does not want to burn, we have to eat things that offer no immediate release of reward chemicals while avoid eating the things DO cause the instant release of these chemicals. It is suffering and sacrifice and there is almost nothing we can do to have it be anything but that. However, it is only suffering and sacrifice, it is not pain or death. We go without a little reward and overtime we teach our brains how to reward other actions. Asparagus or broccoli will never cause the release of dopamine but the thoughts we have after eating them can cause the release. Walking 10000 steps in a day is not the most effective way to cause the body to release reward chemicals, but the knowing that you walked 10000 steps can become a reason for releasing them.

Mindfulness is the tool we can use to identify and understand the problem and it is the tool we will use to the quickly create the new processes that are needed to actually make living better something that feels better. With sufficient training and practice, you can teach your brain to reward the very things that right now feel like suffering and sacrifice and you can become a person who is chemically motivated to eat right and move more.

Your nature is only your nature when you allow it to remain so. When you pay attention to it and take an active role in shaping who you are, what you do and the choices you make, you will create a new nature. The old one will remain, it’s been shaped over millions of years, but there is plenty of room in your brain to create a second way of operating. It takes effort and practice, but fortunately not the millions of years that the unmoving overeating baselines took. Use your brain, pay attention, be curious and accept the cost and spend the energy, and you are bound to be successful.

The “New” Canada’s Food Guide – A Brief History and What Is Missing – Part One

Body fat is stored energy and the process of storing it when we eat too much and burning it when consumption drops below the levels needed for maintenance represents livings beings best efforts at dealing with periodic food scarcity.

This is the first installment of a post that talks about the new Canada’s Food Guide, its history, and some interesting facts about human beings that make us resistant to the efforts of the government to nudge our eating habits in a more positive direction.

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A few months ago the government released the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide. This is something that they do every decade or so with the goal of helping to further educate the public about what they should and should not be eating. It’s the government so it’s important to take their advice with a grain of salt because, in spite of their best intentions, they have a country to run so there is a big disincentive to making a very specific claim about the healthfulness or its direct opposite about any particular product given their reliance on the tax revenue generated by Canadian businesses – it would be very unwise to state that “meat is bad for people and should be avoided” even if it is true, which it isn’t, because the meat industry in Canada is huge. This means that the guide is going to be a combination of facts, some speculation based on science and marketing based on the needs of special interest groups and industry lobbyists.

When we look at the first version of the food guide – the Official Food Rules released in 1942 – we notice a single serving of potatoes per day as the recommendation as was a serving of whole grain products along with 4-6 slices of Canada Approved Bread. Milk was recommended for everyone with children drinking twice as much. It appears below:

These are the health protective foods. Be sure to eat them every day in at least these amounts (use more if you can).

MILK- Adults- 1/2 pint. Children- more than 1 pint. And some cheese as available.
FRUITS- One serving of tomatoes daily, or of a citrus fruit, or of tomato or citrus fruit juices, and one serving of other fruits, fresh, canned or dried.
VEGETABLES- (In addition to potatoes of which you need one serving daily) – Two servings daily of vegetables, preferably leafy green or yellow and frequently raw.
CEREALS AND BREADS- one serving of a whole grain cereal and four to six slices of Canada Approved Bread, brown or white.
MEAT, FISH, etc. – One serving a day of meat, fish, or meat substitutes. Liver, heart or kidney once a week.
EGGS- at least 3 or 4 eggs weekly

Eat these foods first, then add these and other foods you wish.

Some source of vitamin D such as fish liver oils, is essential for children, and may be advisable for adults.

It’s important to keep in mind that this was released during the WW2 and while food scarcity wasn’t necessarily a problem in Canada, it was not a time of plenty for most Canadians and the primary reason why organ meat was recommended. Plus, it was also 70 years ago meaning that the availability of particular types of foods was seasonal. Canada is large and it has definite seasons meaning that very little grows in most of the country for 6 months of the year. The robust transportation systems we enjoy presently did not exist meaning that fresh or fresh-ish vegetables from South America or California were simply not available. Flash frozen or canned vegetables were about the only types of garden vegetables that would be available for a large portion of the year.

The food supply chain was very different and much of what we presently have access to did not exist. Sugar was glucose from tropical sources and not sucrose, which is a combination of glucose and fructose, which is primarily sourced from corn. And it was very expensive so it wasn’t used very much. Boxed cereals and boxed anything were not as abundantly available as they are now and the chemical industry, while it did exist, was not such an integral part of what we consider the food industry. It was a simpler time, with fewer choices and with local foods contributing to the overwhelming majority of what was available to buy.

This is not good or bad, just different. The eating habits of people had less to do with food preferences and more to do with what was actually there to be eaten. People would go hungry because of a lack of availability and would find that what they ate would be more connected to the time of year or the seasons than anything else.

The Food Guide was the government’s effort to ensure that the people would receive adequate nutrition, and it didn’t have a lot to do with big business because big business wasn’t really a thing that had much of a foot hold in the food supply chain. Potatoes were recommended because they store well, so Canada had a lot of them. They didn’t grow nearly as much corn or grain as they do now and many of the things that flour allows us to make spoil very quickly without the chemical preservatives that presently exist, so these things would only be made as required.

In the years and decades that followed the introduction of the Food Guide, things changed dramatically. Spoilage stopped being a concern, food processing allowed for the creation of things that would last for months or years, and the things that human beings find palatable or irresistible, became cheaper to grow and manufacture. Food science became a thing and the chemical industry contributed their part to the creation of low cost, low nutrient, high energy foods that have an extended shelf life and trigger all of the reward centers of the brain that were historically only stimulated with rare, hard to find and scarce food. For example, ripe fruit and honey were available seasonally and then not at all. Food science put an end to this scarcity meaning sweet high calorie food stuffs were available year round.

Food choice and preferences took over. We no longer needed to be content with simply satisfying hunger, we could now begin to focus on satisfying a craving for a particular thing. The canned apples or peach jam were replaces as the winter time source of sweetness with things like boxed cookies, candy, or low cost chocolate. Say what you like about the health effects of eating too much fruit, or its relatively low nutritional content, but when given a choice between preserved fruit or modern candy, our species will get more nutrition and less energy out of things that grow than things that are manufactured. Again, this is not good or bad, it is just a thing that is true. Small amounts of manufactured and boxed candy is fine for healthy people, it just isn’t as beneficial as a similar amount of grown food.

The reasons for this are very straight forward. In order to put something in a box for consumption at some point in the future it cannot spoil and it cannot change form. Spoilage is prevented by adding things that prevent it or by removing the things that cause it meaning that preservatives are added or minerals are removed which result in novel combinations of chemicals that have never existed in nature before, let alone been consumed as food by anyone. These products maintain their form though the creative use of stabilizing agents that were discovered by the chemical industry. The traditional oils that were used to make things like bread and cookies were replaced with chemically altered oils that are solid at room temperature meaning the bread and cookies look and taste the same for months. These solid oils or fats are man-made creations and completely new to human beings – we have no evolutionary history with them meaning we have no idea how they will impact our bodies or what role they will play in gene expression.

In this case, this is bad, and for a few different reasons. The first is that adding hydrogen molecules to fat to make it more stable is, in essence, the creation of a new chemical. While it is safe to say that swallowing an individual hydrogen molecule or a few thousand of them along with each mouthful of food will be harmless to human beings, when these molecules are joined to other molecules to form a solid, they are no longer the same thing. Hydrogen is an element and an important gas that becomes a solid at -260 degrees C.

But when combined with other elements, it will help the resulting compound to form a solid at higher temperatures. Our species and anything that is alive on the planet now, only has an evolutionary history with hydrogen containing solids that exist in nature and only in the amounts that occur in nature. The manufacturing of trans-fats to create more stable oils artificially manipulates the ratio of their availability and it makes it available in a way that does not exist in nature – dairy and meat does have some trans-fat, but it also has other things that manufactured trans-fat does not, things that might work synergistically with the trans-fat to reduce or eliminate its harmful effects. The fact is that we KNOW the impact of too much trans-fat on human health, it is bad.

The second reason why adding hydrogen molecules to fat to create a more stable fat can be bad is because of how it will impact the brain. Fat is high energy (calorie) so our species has developed a taste for it because any members of our species that were motivated to eat it would seek it out and consume it whenever they could. This would mean they were consuming more energy than they were burning, and would lead to weight gain in terms of increased body fat. This extra body fat would be used when food was scarce giving these individuals a better chance of surviving a famine. Over time this survival advantage would be passed onto the following generations resulting in the tendency for human beings to find eating fat to be rewarding. By the same token and method, we also find eating sweet things to be rewarding and in a way that is proportional to the level of sweetness. When paired together, sweet things that are high in fat are almost completely irresistible to human beings. We learn very quickly that high fat sweet things give us a reward and we begin to seek out and consume these things. Sweet and fat have existed for as long as there have been people, but the combination of them, or the ease of access to things that contain a combination of them, is much more recent. Manufacture fats ensured that the food industry could supply these types of foods, in a stable form that will not spoil, in a constant and uninterrupted supply.

The food scientists have used our genes against us and created a food that we are almost powerless to say no to. Factor in the health damage that the manufacture fat causes to us and the size of the problem becomes evident. Narrative speaking, we are programmed to seek out and over eat the very things that will, in the long term, destroy our health and hurt our well-being.

For the sake of keeping this on track and because it isn’t entirely clear that GMOs and fertilizers are harmful to us, or as harmful as overeating trans-fat and sucrose, I’m going to return to the topic of the most recent version of the Canada Food Guide after stating that today, thanks to technology and the development associated with corporations and capitalism, we have access to an abundance of food, and year round access to almost everything that we are able to eat. Seasonal eating is no longer a thing that we have to stick to. While local foods will be cheaper at certain parts of the year, these food will be available year round if we have the money to buy them. This means that a lack of availability can no longer be cited as the reason why someone does not follow the Canada Food Guide – a lack of money to buy imported fruits and vegetables remains a reason but, as I will outline, it isn’t a valid reason for most of Canada’s population that live in larger and more populated areas.

A big change with the most recent version of the Guide is the elimination of a recommended number of servings. The previous version still provided a number of servings of each of the 4 food groups broken down by sex and age and it seemed to be geared towards getting adequate nutrition and adequate energy. Be aware, these two things are not the same. Nutrition is the vitamins, minerals and protein a food provides while energy is the stuff that the body will metabolize as fuel to power all of the physiological processes required to sustain life. For example, the body needs a certain amount of vitamin B12 to function optimally and it will get most of this vitamin from the meat you eat. Without the B12, things begin to breakdown and the body will start to direct any available B12 to the most critical processes. This means that a deficiency in a vitamin leads to reduced functioning of specific processes and not a global failure; this is a very good survival approach and is one that is used by most living things because it sustains life giving the organism the opportunity to seek out and consume the missing molecules. Your hair may fall out or your digestive system may become less effective, but you are still able to think and move – to hunt – and find some meat to replenish the B12 levels.

Energy is different from nutrition because it is the fuel for the metabolism. You need to consume energy fairly consistently to keep things going. When your food does not provide sufficient energy, your metabolic rate will begin to slow down and certain physiologically processes will begin to go off line. Non-essential processes will be first to drop off, things like hair and nail growth, followed by muscle repair and replacement of dead cells. Given long enough, the body will begin to consume its own tissues for energy – wasting diseases like AIDS and various late stage cancers are examples of this. However, unlike disease, if someone finds and starts to eat food, the body will start-up these processes and attempt to repair whatever damage was done and take care of whatever needs to be taken care of.

Body fat is stored energy and the process of storing it when we eat too much and burning it when consumption drops below the levels needed for maintenance represents livings beings best efforts at dealing with periodic food scarcity. You can be sure that within the genetic material of all people are combinations of DNA that code for this process and, as a result of the natural selective breeding that periodic famines caused, all of us are exceptionally good at storing body fat. Our potential ancestors who did not have the good genes for storing body fat died off during times of food scarcity leaving nothing but people who were uniquely coded to store fat.

The distinction between nutrition and energy is important because allows for a clear understand for the existence of malnourished people who are obese. The opposite can also be true although much less common given the huge difference between energy and vitamin requirements; one group of people who have a tendency towards adequate nourishment but insufficient energy consumption are those who are trying to extend their life through intense calorie reduction. This group eats large amounts of garden vegetables while refraining from foods that contain carbohydrate, fat and excessive protein. They will still desire to eat more as they will be hungry, they will just choose to not eat and, over time, learn to ignore food cravings and become accustomed to being hungry.

For everyone else hunger serves to motivate us to eat and it does not necessarily reflect our actual needs. It serves our survival needs.

Think about it this way: our genes have coded over-eating into our operating system because historically, those who over ate survived to reproduce. This means that we are coded to do the very thing that causes an increase in body fat. This tendency manifest itself in many different ways, or exists for a few different reasons, one of which is a latency between the time when we have eaten enough in terms of food volume and when the stomach sends the signals telling the brain that it is adequately filled. Rough estimates put this latency period at between 10 and 15 minutes; the exact length of time is less important than understanding the consequences to this phenomenon. The outcome is that we continue to eat past the point at which we should stop if replenishing our energy was our actual goal. This only makes sense IF overeating was in fact the goal for human beings.

Another powerful mechanism, one that I have already mentioned above, has to do with motivation. Human beings will have a tendency to do things that they find rewarding, and we find eating sweet or fat foods rewarding and find eating things that are a combination of sweet & fat to be incredibly rewarding. And it doesn’t take very long for us to figure out what we like and then to go after consuming it. Once we have uncovered it, we will over eat it at any opportunity and will often find ourselves continuing to eat it will after any reasonable amount of calories have been consumed. Some of us will, in fact, ignore the body’s “I am full” signal and continue to eat, and eat, and eat.

This makes sense given the relative scarcity of sweet and fat things in our ancestral past. It was better to gorge when the opportunity presented itself because it would usually only happen during the harvest season when fruit would fully ripen and when animals had enjoyed an abundance of food throughout the summer. Remember, all mammals have a significant amount of their genes in common, so they share the mechanism of storing body fat through over eating with us. Animals have more body fat at the end of fall / beginning of winter than they do at any other time, so they will contain more of the stuff we have learned to crave at this time of year. Coupled with an abundance of ripe fruit, we are going to be highly motivated to eat as much as we possibly can and to overeat, during harvest feasts. This allowed our ancestors to store the maximum amount of energy in the shortest period of time, which helped them get through the winter when food was scarce.

All of this worked perfectly, as evident by our species survival. Historically, we were able to get through the tough time because we over ate during the good times. Those who didn’t over eat, didn’t survive long enough to pass along their genes. While we rarely sat down to eating massive amounts of highly nutritious food, we were probably adequately nourished because the large amounts of higher energy food we did eat contained enough vitamins, minerals and protein for our bodies to function effectively. And it is worth considering the slow burn that nutrient deficiencies have on our ability to function, particularly when compared to the rapid onset of the negative consequences associated with a deficiency in energy consumption.

However, it works too well and it is now a major problem for modern people simply because we are running the identical code that we were 15000 years ago before farming of any type afforded us the freedoms associated with the elimination of food security.

Take a moment to consider what life would have been like before farming. We would exist in small groups and would have to follow the food. We’d eat as much as we could whenever we could, and then go periods of time when there wasn’t enough to eat. We’d live off of our body fat and we wandered around looking for animals to hunt and collecting whatever plant stuff we could that would provide us with anything useful. Life would be hard, a lot of our energy would go towards generating heat to maintain an appropriate body temperature and most of the rest would go toward finding our next meal. There would be very little specialization of labor because there wouldn’t be enough food to free some-up anyone from having to hunt or gather. There would be constant hunger separated by the occasional moments of gorging.

In a world were this was the norm, the ability to store energy when possible and the motivation to do the very thing that was needed to create a caloric surplus that storing energy required were essential.

Fast forward to 1942 when the first Canada Food Guide known as the Official Food Rules came out. Sure, we were running the same code that had us seek out and overeat high calorie foods and to overeat whatever food we had available, but we were not living in an environment of abundance. While it wasn’t necessarily a place of constant scarcity, given that farming existed and we had learned how to preserve enough things to make them available during the winter when nothing grew, it was not a place where there was unlimited food available to everyone. The more affluent did have improved access and they had higher body fat levels as a result, but in general, people looked more or less the same as they had for thousands of years; although there is some evidence to suggest that we were slightly taller and slightly bigger in terms of muscle and bone structure. Obesity was a very, very rare thing and being undernourished in terms of a deficiency of vitamins or minerals was more of a problem.

There was enough energy to go around but there would be seasonal droughts in terms of nutrients. This was not great, but it was a much smaller problem than having your population starving. So the government set out to solve this smaller problem and created the Official Food Rules in an effort to combat it.

Take a look again at these rules and notice how little food is actually being recommended in terms of servings, the language “when available” with reference to cheese and “at least these amounts” and the second last line “eat these foods first, then add these and other foods you wish.”

In my life time, I do not recall there ever bring a shortage of cheese, it has ALWAYS been available as far as I can tell. Regardless, they wanted to make sure everyone got enough calcium and believed that dairy was the best source of it. Next, they believed that if you were able to consume ONLY the outlined food that you would receive adequate nutrition in terms of vitamin and minerals. Finally, you had free range over what you ate AFTER you consumed the outlined food. You were fine to eat other things, like cookies or chocolate, and probably beer, but to do so only after you had eaten the other prescribed items. They are not limiting what you eat, they are saying eat at least these things before you eat other stuff. This form of languaging paints a picture that, as they viewed it at the time, did not include a significant number of people who were eating way too much. Obesity statistics are hard to find for this period of time and, while not statistically sound to say this, the lack of easily available statistics coupled with the available statistics of ~10% 1970, it is probably safe to conclude that obesity wasn’t much of a consideration let alone a problem.

The guide continued along in this fashion for about 3 decades until the 1977 Canada’s Food Guide when it began to take on a more graphical / metaphoric form. There are a few reasons why a flat text list of rules was no longer deemed sufficient enough to capture and maintain the attention of the population, like the availability of colour television, leading to a need to make things entertaining. The colour wheel that featured a smiling sun that was licking its lips is more playful and has pictures of specific food items of each type or category. It is easier to look at and is presented as two sided with more specific textual information on the back.

The name and number of recommended servings per day for two of the categories changed between the 1982 Canada’s Food Guide and the 1992 Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. “Breads and cereals” was changed to “grain products” and the recommended servings increased from 4-5 to 5-12 as “fruits and vegetables” was changed to “vegetables and fruit” and the number of servings increased from 4-5 to 5-10. These changes reflect an increase in the availability of both grain and fruit along with a refocus on the importance of getting enough vitamins and minerals as indicated by the re-ordering of vegetables before fruits.

I remember this guide very well. It came out the year I graduated high school and it was what was in use when I took a nutrition class at university. It was also what was around when I first got exposed to the Atkins diet – an extremely low carbohydrate eating approach that causes people to enter a state called Ketosis meaning they are burning fat for energy vs. sugar. According to the recommendation in 1992 Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, it would be impossible for someone get into ketosis if they followed it, even if they only consumed the lowest number of recommended grain servings. We were taught, and I believed, that ketosis was a dangerous state to be in and that it should be avoided at all costs. What wasn’t clear to me at the time was that ketosis was a completely natural state to get into and it was, in fact, the very state that we used to go into every time our food supply was reduced and we began to burn body fat for energy.

For what it worth, 5 servings of grain is a considerable amount of carbohydrate, while 12 servings is a massive amount and much more than most people should be consuming. According to the guide, one serving is 30 grams of cereal which has an average of 20 grams of carbohydrate, or 80 calories. This means that they recommend people eat between 100 and 240 grams of carbohydrate per day or 400 to 960 calories of carbs per day. Eating this amount of well above the threshold for ketosis. While ketosis is not the only way people will burn body fat, it is the most effective way, and the way in which our ancestors would have gone about it given that is what happens when the food supply is interpreted.

While there had been a trend of an increased number of servings of grain products in the newer versions of the guides, 1992 marks a huge increase from a max of 5 to a max of 12, while offering very little in terms of justification for eating more or less of them other than suggesting that teenagers should eat more while adults should eat somewhere in the middle.

The significance of this is very important and it has had a big impact on the number of people who are considered obese in the country. The early guides offered minimums and a suggestion that you could eat more AFTER you ate all of the recommended food, the 1992 guide gives vague advice and doesn’t explain the consequences of eating too many serving. This is a problem because there was no longer any food scarcity. There was an abundance of food, particularly grain products, which are high energy, and a massive selection of refined or processed grain products, which have a lower amount of fiber and therefore a higher percentage of calories that the body will metabolize for energy. Without clear instructions, with a higher recommended number of servings and a lack of food scarcity, people would just eat more because the guide said that they could or should.

More Questions To Ask Your Future Personal Trainers

I get questions from people who wonder how they would go about finding a good personal trainer. In the post Fitness Professional Smell I outlined a few important considerations. I have been asked to create a more refined list for people who may not have the experience in the industry or with people who stand to benefit from selling you something to put those tips to work.

The goal of this post is to help you interview your future trainer to unpack what they are all about and how they might be able to help you if there is agreement that you’ll work together. The tips will be broke down in two ways. The first is a list of things to ignore the second is a list of things to consider or ask. The ignore list is more important because the things that appear on the list take advantage of shortcuts we’ve created to help with problem solving or decision making. The term heuristic is used to describe these rules of thumb and they leave us vulnerable when someone uses one of them to circumvent logical thought. The list of things to consider or ask is only possible when we are thinking logically, or at all, so triggering a heuristics will fire an automatic response that will see us respond in a way that doesn’t necessarily represent our best interests or desires.

Things to ignore:

Social proof in terms of positive recommendations – how often do we see bad recommendations or testimonials? It is very rare that we’d read a testimonial that says “trainer was constantly late, and didn’t seem to value my time” or “trainer was verbally abusive, but there was an element of truth in what they said” or “coach knew everything and responded poorly to feedback. Their painful insecurity prevented them for hearing my questions as anything other than a personal criticism” or “I trained with them for 2 years and nothing ever happened. Apparently it’s my thyroid although my doctor says the blood tests show levels in normal ranges.” People who are seeking to grow their business will not use these types of customer testimonials to help enroll new clients. They use good or glowing ones so they are for all intents and purposes meaningless. You can put them to use for you by asking specific questions about about the person who gave the testimonial and then connect with them to find out if what was said by the trainer was true.

Beautiful things in the office or gym. This one is a little tougher to overlook. Multiple studies have drawn the conclusion that “what is beautiful is good.” Blond pretty women will get more tips than women who are less striking with darker coloured hair when the level of service rendered is controlled for. More attractive defendants will receive shorter prison sentence and those with greater physical beauty will be automatically viewed as having higher skill levels in other areas even before there is any information to judge. The two barbers puzzle is an example of the beautiful is good heuristic can lead us to the wrong conclusion. This doesn’t mean that you should seek out gyms with nothing but unhealthy people, but you should be aware that you’ll form an impression in the first 15 feet of a building and within 10 seconds of meeting someone and that this impression can be easily influenced. I suggest you ignore the first impression because sellers know how to manipulate it.

Things to ask:

  • If you are having a consultation with a company, ask about the turn over rate for their trainers. Good trainers tend to stay with good companies and they tend to work for good leaders. If the staff are relatively new and no one has worked there for longer than a couple of years there may be a problem.
  • Ask the seller, if they are not the person doing the training, why people leave the company and how many of them are still working as trainers. Negative experiences with a company are a key reason why people leave the fitness industry. If the leadership of a company doesn’t know what the people are doing now, that is also a big red flag that the workers left on bad terms. This does not mean that they are not skilled trainers, they just may not be very good at relationships with their staff.
  • Ask how much the trainer will get paid if someone other than the trainer is selling you the sessions. Good trainers know their value and will seek out and stay working for companies that pay them what they are worth. If you are paying $75 per session and the trainer isn’t getting $45 to $50 of that, you are not likely to get full value for your money. A company does have a right to profit from the labour of their staff BUT the payment needs to be fair. If it isn’t, the staff will do sub par work.
  • Ask the seller about the some of the mistakes they have made in the past and what they would do differently now. Intelligent people know that they are fallible and will readily admit these mistakes. They’ll accept that they know very little in the grand scheme of things and will rely on evidence to move their understandings forward. Be very aware of the trainers who know too much or lack the humility to learn from their mistakes.
  • Ask the seller about the other ways they make an income, ask them if they recommend supplements and, if the answer is “yes”, ask directly do they sell supplements? ANYONE who sells the things they recommend CANNOT be trusted to offer objective advice about those things. Evidence based practitioners know about this conflict of interest and take appropriate steps to avoid it.

Do not be afraid to be very blunt or to challenge people about what they know and what they believe. Effective trainers know that there are a lot of under-qualified people in the industry and accept that potential clients should be skeptical. They’ll rise to occasion and give concise and honest answers to your questions. IF anything you say does the relationship in, it wasn’t going to be much of a relationship anyway.

Regression To The Mean – How to Sell BullShit

A few years ago I was getting a cold, or at least I had some of the symptoms that I thought were indicative of getting a cold. And it was a reasonable conclusion because I hadn’t been sleeping very well and was working a lot. I mentioned that I though I was getting sick to a peer and he asked “do you have a cold now or do you think you might be getting one?”

I replied with “I think I might be getting one.”

“Okay, take this” and he handed me a small bottle of pills, 15 of them with the instructions take 2 now and 2 every 2 hours until they are gone. I wondered why there was an odd number of pills but did as he instructed. And they worked. I never got a cold. This was amazing, I didn’t get sick and it only cost me $16 – I got the friend price, other people were buying the cold prevent for $26.

The next day I asked him what he would have recommended had a cold already taken hold and he showed me a different pill bottle. It was the same size and had the same instructions but a different name. This was a cold cure.

You can imagine just how grateful I was, a month later, when I started to feel sick again, that he was willing to sell me more. This time the cold took hold in-spite of me consuming another bottle of the cold prevent. So I bought a bottle of the cold cure, it was more expensive but I got the friend price. I remained sick. The $16 prevent and the $20 cure didn’t do anything.

So what had happened, why did it work the first time and nothing worked the second time?

The explanation is very interesting and it reveals as much about human psychology and as it does about the tricks charlatans use to take your money.

Three things were at play. First off, I trusted my friend. We had been friends for more than 10 years and I believed that he knew things. Even though I know better, I valued his opinion and believed that he wouldn’t take advantage of our friendship to help sell supplements. Next, I saw a pattern between taking the cold prevent pills and getting better. Human beings evolved to notice patterns and well find them even when they do not exist. Considering that I did other things on the same day that I took the first bottle of cold prevent pills that may have impacted my internal environment – ate more vegetables, ate more fruit, went to bed earlier, watched some funny cat videos on YouTube, etc…. – I made a conscious decision to link the pills with the outcome. Finally, maybe I wasn’t getting a cold in the first place. Maybe I was having an allergic reaction to something in the air, maybe I ate some food that caused cold like symptoms. Or maybe my body was able to fight off the cold on its own and I wasn’t ever going to get sick.

It’s the final thing that is most important here. The human body is an amazing thing and it is fantastic at fighting off infections, illness and the things that cause disease. We’ve evolved to be self healers and our immune system just does its job, without us asking it to do so and without much outside influence. In most cases and with most people, the body fights off illness / sickness and disease and returns to normal. The further away your state happens to be from your normal state, the more likely it is to return to its normal state in the near and immediate future.

This tendency for things to return to normal is called regression to the mean, when paired with our tendency to see patterns that don’t exist, contributes to the formation of erroneous connection between two unrelated things. The cure my friend sold me was worthless. I was going to feel better the following day anyway. I could have taken sugar pills or nothing at all and the impact would have been the same. I know this because the cure didn’t work the second time and in the months that followed, many of the other people who were sold the cold prevent got sick.

Just because two things happen around the same time does not mean that they are connected in any way whatsoever. The people were going to get better anyway, that is the nature of a regression towards the mean. And it is why anecdotal reports are not considered evidence.

They Sell What They Have To Sell

I’m finding it harder and harder to not be cynical when I talk to new people these days because everyone seems to be selling something. The collection of stuff they are selling ranges from the extremely useful to the useless to the dangerous. I don’t remember it being this way before; although that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been this way all along. It could just be that I’ve woken-up after indulging myself in the Landmark philosophy of infinite possibility and collective synergy once I began to experience what was being sold by some of their leadership people.

I suppose it isn’t anyone’s fault. Be it ourselves, our story, our skills, our companies products or the latest MLM supplement, we’re all selling something. I have less of an issue when it is ourselves that we are selling – it’s nice to be liked, you could say that it is a social imperative, and being lonely or hated isn’t much fun. And when it comes to ourselves, we generally have a good idea of what we are all about. Others may know more about us than we know ourselves, but we’ve spend enough time being ourselves to we are kind of experts on it. Generally speaking, we know what we bring to the table.

The challenge I’m having is with the stuff people are selling as most people seem to be clueless about it. At best they are honestly ignorant but more and more common are they actively ignorant who are selling out to make a buck. They deliberately avoid objective information about their products and instead focus on the anecdotal stories as evidence or proof.

For example, MLM products tend to be of very low quality and sell that a highly inflated process. True, the business model needs to be this way – revenue needs to be handed off to those who are higher-up in the company – but those caught-up in the collective delusion tend to be very irresponsible when it comes to the claims they make about the product line. Very few of the people involved with selling MLM supplements know anything about what they are selling. They present themselves as knowing, their products as a God send for whatever ails you and are eager to enroll you as a reseller but will always defer to a website or their company expert for the hard questions. Evidence comes from in-house sources and objective scientific evidence does not gain entry into their collective consciousness.

This is EVERYWHERE! Go to a dentist, let them know that you have benefits and notice just how bad your teeth are. Call them up later and say that you don’t have coverage and only want the necessary work done, notice the change in recommendation. There are a bunch of “concerns” in my mouth that haven’t turned into the cavities the dentist said were coming.

Take your car to the dealership for some repairs, then take it to your brother-in-law and notice the difference in what needs to be fixed. When someone is getting paid $110 / hour for labor, there’s going to be more wrong with your car than when they are already married to your sister.

Go to a chiropractor and then go to an osteopath and then to an athletic therapist. Notice how the duration for your treatment will differ and how there is little consensus on what is wrong with you. Although the treatment plan will be different, all three should make the same diagnosis.

Make no mistake about it, if someone is selling something their product / service is for you. It doesn’t need to be surreptitious, many peoples have such positive experiences with something that they believe that everyone will benefit from it.

I used to believe that everyone would benefit from personal training, taking-up cycling or eating well. While there are undeniable benefits from exercising properly and eating appropriate amounts of good quality whole foods, I no longer believe that everyone should do this. Once I realized that some people identify themselves as inactive, unhealthy and over weight, I stopped believing that active and healthy was a natural state for them. In fact, I believe intervening in these cases is wrong. Selling fitness improvement services, and active lifestyle and dietary habits is NOT in the best interests of people who do not identify themselves as worthy of that way of being.

How do you avoid being sold to?

Assume that people are always selling and observe them objectively or critically as though they are a teacher. Their sincerity and honesty may be real and they may believe that they are simply distributing advice – it may not be their fault that what they are selling is garbage.

Keep your money in your wallet / pocket and don’t buy from them when on the first encounter. If what they are selling is of high quality, it’ll still be available is a day or week or month when you have made an educated decision to buy.

Ask a lot of questions and get the people to explain their answers. Avoid buying from people who get defensive when you ask product knowledge questions or question their authority. Experts know their subject matter and, when money is on the line, they expect people to question their authority.

Know as much as you can about the thing you are inquiring about BEFORE you engage the seller. The more you know, the less of an expert the other person becomes.

Ask the question “who would not benefit from your service or product?” and then ask “why would they not benefit?” Experts will know who their services / products are not suitable for. E.g when I asked an exceptional personal trainer friend who would not want to buy their training services they replied with “people who don’t mind risking getting injured when they workout, those who don’t want to learn how to train more effectively and those who aren’t interested in transforming their body and life.” Someone who has less skill would have replied “everyone would want to buy my services” which is false.

100 Tips To Have An Extraordinary Life

I found this list of 100 tips to live an extraordinary life by Dr. Sukhi and felt it was worth sharing.

4. Develop a Routine and Rituals.

5. Exercise Everyday.

6. Start Your Day With Visualization.

7. Laugh and Play.

8. Create Short and Long Term Goals.

18. See Challenges as Opportunities.

19. Get a Mentor.

20. Know What You Value.

21. Be Somebody Others Respect.

29. Be Enthusiastic.

30. Plan Your Days, Weeks and Months.

31. Create Extraordinary Experiences for Those You Love.

32. Cultivate the Kid in You.

54. Always Tell the Truth.

55. Be Persistent and Patient.

56. Don’t Judge Others.

There are a number of things on the list that have been posted on this blog before, some that are part of the common experience of our culture and others that are new, uncomfortable and outside the normal way of being. But always keep in mind that an extraordinary life requires extraordinary actions so don’t count on remaining comfortable as being one of those things.

Distance from the consequences

I don’t know were my food comes from other than the store, and before that a factory or a farm. Some of the food I eat is pretty good quality, some of it is nominal and the rest of it is “food like products”. From a geographic point of view, there is a lot of distance from the consequence from how my food comes to become food.

I don’t know the impact of how my words land on others. Occasionally they’ll do what I want them to do, but a lot of the time the impact is unknown and seemingly random. From an emotional point of view, there is a lot of distance from the consequences how my words effect others.

I don’t know the impact of my destructive actions on my future. Smoking causes cancer, too much stress will diminish immune functioning and too much sugar can cause obesity, but there is a long time between the action and the disease, so the things do not seem related. From a temporal point of view, there is a lot of distance from the consequence.

Living in the here and now, it can be a real challenge to predict or see the outcome of action. Logically there is a story to tell – that this will lead to that – but emotionally that story doesn’t feel like anything – cancer, disease and obesity are words more than experiences; in-spite of my experiences with cancer and obesity, they don’t have an experiential meaning to me as I have been an observer of their ravages. There is a great distance from the consequence.

This is the biggest road block faced by most trainers and coaches and one has creativity and laser focused communication as the only real workarounds. It is also the reason why an alarmingly small number of people ever make the life transformations that they are capable of; which is sad because many people suffer needlessly for most of their adult lives with issues that would be addressed with simple behavioral changes.

It’s also why pointing out the consequences of reduced blood circulation (skin and hair problems for women, erectile issues for men, and cognitive impairments for both) often goes a lot further than discussing cancer, diabetes, or heart disease risks. Most people have some notion of what difficulties in these areas are like, or can at least consider the impact of blood circulation issues.

You Are A Tourist – Favorite Cool Down Song

You Are A Tourist by Death Cab for Cutie remains my favorite cool down song.

I’ve never been certain what it means and that doesn’t matter because I’m growing more confident that I don’t know what anything means.

For as long as I have had the ability to move along, I’ve just moved along. I don’t really see myself anywhere, my internal voice is enthusiastic about getting me going and there have been only a few moments when I actually left like I belonged where I was.

Since the beginning of March I have spend a lot of time examining my life and have a lot more clarity about it, about what I like, what I don’t like and what I’m willing to do to create the life that I want and deserve.

I am a tourist in almost everything I do. My dad hoped that I would find something that I would be able to stick at but he also knew that I am a lot like him and that digging in and setting-up life may not be what I do.

(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)

When there’s a burning in your heart
An endless fury in your heart
Build it bigger than the sun
Let it grow
Let it grow
And there’s a burning in your heart
Don’t be alarmed(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)

When there’s a doubt in your mind
‘Cause you think it all the time
Framin’ rights into wrongs
Move along
Move along
When there’s a doubt within your mind

When there’s a burning in your heart
And you think it’ll burst apart
Oh, there’s nothing to fear
Save the tears
Save the tears When there’s a burning in your heart

and if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born
Then, it’s time to go
And you find your destination with so many different places to call home
‘Cause when you find yourself a villain,
In the story you have written
It’s plain to see
That sometimes the best intentions
Are in need of redemption
Would you agree
If so, please show me
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)

When there’s a burning in your heart,
When there’s a burning in your heart, (This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
When there’s a burning in your heart, (This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
When there’s a burning in your heart, (This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
When there’s a burning in your heart.