Monday, August 31, 2009

Does Exercise Matter For Weight Loss?

Here's my published rebuttal to Time Magazine's cover story from a few weeks ago:

Does Exercise Matter For Weight Loss?

I deconstruct the Time article piece by piece, like this:

"Some of us can will ourselves to overcome our basic psychology, but most of us won't be very successful. 'The most powerful determinant of your dietary intake is your energy expenditure,' says Steven Gortmaker, who heads Harvard's Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity. 'If you're more physically active, you're going to get hungry and eat more.'"

True, you will be hungry and might eat more. What he leaves out is that not only can you eat more, but at some point, you need to eat more to lose weight. At Beachbody, this is one of the most difficult principles we have to teach our customers. At the beginning of an exercise-induced weight loss program, we restrict calories. As a person's body composition changes, so does that person's need for caloric consumption. It's not uncommon for our customers to double the amount of food they need to eat to keep their weight loss moving once they get into good shape. This simple physiological fact renders Cloud's argument moot.

If you've found your way to my page it's likely this isn't shocking information. I'm still just soooo miffed at how such drivel made the cover of a magazine like Time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tale Of A Backcountry Accident

For your weekend entertainment, here's a fantastic account of the sort of thing that can happen when you're playing in the backcountry. As a warning, this is not pleasurable reading if you're squeamish. It bothered me, and I'd already heard the story from both parties. Beyond that and it's a great read from the author of Ocean's Eleven.

Micah And Bob Go Bouldering - A Quick Journey To Hell

If you'd like to follow Micah's recovery, befriend Micah ElLameleg on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Has Been

With my usual menu of epic fare reduced to training and my comments on the latest health news being posted at The Nerd, there hasn’t been much to blog about here at The Straight Dope. To keep the entertainment coming, I’ve made a new silly video of yet another traverse.

It’s not like I only traverse. It’s generally saved for days when I don’t have much time or a partner. This traverse, which tackles the base of the Hell wall at American Fork, is unique because you can link it into a bunch of routes. A couple of these are projects for this fall, while a couple others are going to require me to get a lot fitter. But the first bit of business is wiring the base. Its tenuous movement featuring small, hard-to-use hand holds and slick tiny feet that Ben calls “don’t breathe” climbing. It’s also overhanging and pumpy. Currently, I can’t recover too well on the one flat jug, which is going to have to change if I want to complete any of the harder routes. As is the case with all the climbing in the Hell area, it’s not much to look at but the moves grow on you. The Ruckman guide calls this V8. It’s definitely harder than V5S1 in Deaf Smith and much easier than the G-Spot, giving me a perfect trifecta of traversing options for training near my home.

I’ve gotta say, despite being a self proclaimed has been, I don’t feel as though I’m fading into the sunset. I’m not as strong as I was 10 years ago, but I’m probably technically climbing as well as ever. Motivation is high and I’m finding that working through my injuries is rewarding in itself. While I’ll never be as prolific as I was when I was climbing full time, I still harbor thoughts of strategizing well enough to do the hardest climbs of my life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Remaking The Body

“You’re talkin’ about the Body, Jerry. That’s a fight you can’t win.”-Kramer

There are many clich├ęs about how you’re not able to change the talent you’re born with but, in my latest round of self experimentation, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. With my epic endeavors on hold for a time, my focus is on attempting to extend my flexibility and range-of-motion beyond where they’ve ever been.

This isn’t exactly an attempt to discredit sports science. It’s not like I’m trying to increase my VO2/max from 60 to 80 or do any number of things that are, indeed, impossible. But there are those who believe that you can’t alter your body type at all, especially as you age. Since I’ve already trained people to do this (myself included) I know that they’re wrong. But I’ve never trained anyone my age or older to do it, so I’m using my forced down time to challenge another human performance theory.

It’s not exactly down time, mind you. I can do plenty of exercise. But with my back still recovering I can’t push my envelope the way in which I’m accustomed. In order to keep my body calm and under control I need a new test to focus on. Increasing flexibility requires elongating muscle fibers, pulling the actin and myosin filaments apart. Contracting the muscles, especially over the time it takes to cover ultra distances (my thing) bunches them together. With no (or at least less) mega distance endeavors on my plate it’s a good time to work on flexibility training to the point that I can finally push beyond the usual goal, which is just to get my muscles back to normal.

Increased range of motion is a whole different challenge because it requires some structural change and the patience to work through physical limitations that have come about through a lifetime of athletic injuries. I was born with poor range of motion, as was my entire family. Even my brother, who has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years, only has average range of motion. So my goal with this experiment isn’t to get on stage with Cirque du Soliel. It’s to increase my range of motion beyond what it’s ever been. This will allow increases in athletic performance and give me a larger buffer against injuries, allowing me to do deeper during my epic adventures.

Two weeks of morning yoga, which has been mainly focused on back recovery, has already seen my flexibility return to where it was pre-injury. Given that I haven’t been able to fully bend forward since December, that’s two weeks to make up for seven months. And since I’ve got to lay off mega challenges until, at minimum, early next year, it should be interesting to see what I’m able to accomplish by then.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Make Them Eat Cake!

With all the debates, er, squabbles, around health care you might get the impression that the public actually understands the difference between a capitalistic and socialistic state (and how we are neither). But, today I offer an example of how it doesn’t really matter how we label ourselves, it's the corporations that run our country.

TSD isn't turning political, this is a nutrition issue. The major food companies in the US have “issued a warning that we could ‘virtually run out of sugar’.’ I have no problem with this yet; it’s is perfectly reasonable thing to do. The problem lies in that they’ve followed this with a threat, telling the government to relax tariffs on foreign sugar or else they’ll raise food prices and fire thousands of US workers.

What they’ve done is, essentially, held the government hostage. Of course they’re going to give in, but how is this good for our country? Last time I checked, we have an unemployment problem and sugar is the main ingredient responsible for an obesity epidemic that’s the root of all of these health care fisticuffs. This will hurt both national issues.

One of the main debates in the food industry is how to get sugar out of foods. The companies who’ve levied this threat, Kraft, General Mills, Hershey et al, are those who are sneaking sugar into places where no sugars have gone before. Apparently they want to continue this practice and aren’t about to take no for an answer, even if it’s beyond what the market can bear. Capitalism, bah! This is an oligarchy.

Peruse the food aisles at your local market and you’ll find sugar, as expected, in nearly every cookie, cake, and other dessert item. But you’ll also find it in bread, crackers, “natural” juices and cereals, salad dressings, condiments, sauces, soups, processed fruits and veggies, dairy products, even meat. Yes, meat... now who would want sugar in their meat?

The answer is the food companies, who regularly sneak sweet items into non-sweet foods so that we develop a palate to crave un-naturally sweet foods. As such, instead of craving an apple for dessert we’ve learned to crave the junk they want us to buy, like an apple pie--and even then, unless it’s made with apples with added sugar, it won’t do so we heap on ice cream because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to want, doubling corporate profits, along with our waistlines and health care costs.

And, hey, I am not making an argument for big government. They don’t exactly do a bang-up job with their antiquated administrative systems. But at least they’re beholden to the voter somewhat, and not a tiny group of overly rich investors who funnel their money into off-shore tax havens until they have enough to buy their own tropical island. But whether the issue is health care, food and drug safety, or Wall Street, at some point we need to create a system that at least allows the agencies the public creates to do their jobs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What If Running Was Good For Your Knees?

Great article in the NY Times today on how running can actually strengthen your knees. It's need-to-know info for all athletes. Instead of posting it twice, I'll just send you to my blog over at The 'Nerd:

What If Running Was Good For Your Knees?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Time Magazine's Lame Excuse Not to Exercise

Denis over at the Fitness Nerd wrote some good commentary on an absurd article gracing the cover of the latest issue of Time magazine. And while he's promised a major diatribe from yours truly, I'm going to let him have the stage for a while as I calm down and regain my wits.

Time Magazine's Lame Excuse Not to Exercise

I'm not sure if there's a paragraph in John Cloud's article that I don't take issue with. The number of counter points that I could make off the top of my head to his hypothesis (that you don't need to exercise) could fill a book. But what I want to know, more than anything else, is how an article making such physiological inaccuracies like "converting fat to muscle" has made the cover of Time? Have times gotten so tough that they no longer employ editors and fact checkers?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A-laugh-a While You Can, Monkey Boy!

Who needs scientific training? This guy learned to do this by mimicking monkeys. These are some of the most impressive climbing moves I've ever seen by a human. You can get video commentary at the link below:

ps - to whomever guesses where the title of this post came from, beers on me next time.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Where No Man Has Gone Before

With no time to post on the blog this week I'll turn to what's nearly always the best plan B in a time of crisis: Shatner.

I would call Bill my favorite singer but it seems wrong to pigeon hole him like that. He's he's so much more. And even if he did steal my nickname for his last album, Has Been, he's appeared--if unwittingly--in a song so obviously written just for me.

Why do I climb the mountain? Because I'm in love.