Thursday, December 23, 2010

Apparently, I Am Brainwashing You

This week's Friday psyche stays home as The Straight Dope was named as one of the 50 most influential blogs in the sports industry.

Top 50 Blogs Covering the Sports Industry

Okay, so it’s last on the list. Still, there are millions of blogs out there and this one’s pretty much done it via word of mouth. It’s never been promoted. Has no PR team and, in fact, no team at all. It’s pretty much spread through my friends in the outdoor sports world and the Beachbody community. So here’s a big thank you to all of my readers. But, really, I prefer the title of educator to influencer, please. I swear I’m not trying to brainwash anyone.

Enjoy your holidays. We at TSD (me, Romney, and the vermin) will be heading out to California to see family and friends and put the finishing touches on my rest phase. When we get back training will begin in earnest. Now it’s off for a quick ski to keep us all placated before sitting in the car for 9 hours.

Cheers to you are yours, and may you all have a very Patrick Swayze Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It’s My Party And I’ll Play If I Want To

Since I’m getting a lot of questions about what I do during a rest phase I will explain. Since these questions are mainly from our customers, who do home fitness programs, I’ll work this into my answer even though most of my goals for the year will happen outside.

The main objective of a rest phase is to take a break from targeted regimentation. No one can stay focused all the time and hoards of studies show that it’s better if we don’t try. So my primary goal during this time is to force myself not be think about my goals, future, or current state of fitness. This is fairly difficult and takes constant attention because we’re all creatures of habit and my daily existence is filled with concerns over fitness. No matter how I try these remain in my head but I force my actions to be contrary to my habits.

This will scare those of you who once were unfit and had to fight to get to where you are today. While natural, you should look at my advice as prescient because I’ve been dealing with this most of my life. Pushing your motivation too far will lead to a breakdown. 100%. Backing off before the lull will have you both physically and mentally reading to see your next challenge through to its end. Your main concern, I find, is that reverting back to your “old” habits will lead you back to your old un-healthy agenda. It won’t, however, because you should plan your break so that your next training cycle begins before these old habits have a chance to take hold. View it as that your training programs are your real life and your recovery phase is a vacation.

Also, as you’ll see from my example, you needn’t waste away on vacation. I ‘m probably spending as much time being active as normal. The only difference is that it’s not targeted; merely play.

Because I’ve got two furry maniacs dependent upon me for their exercise I spend between 45m and 2 hours each day outside running around, often with my wife or friends. This can be hiking, running, skiing, or biking. Mostly I’m going at an aerobic pace but I’ll vary it without any plan. If I feel like doing intervals I will but mainly it’s steady and slow. My scientific view of this is that’s its building base aerobic conditioning that is varied enough to work a lot of difference muscle sets. I’d say my average outing is about 1:15-1:30.

I also go into the gym but my workouts are short: 10 – 20 minutes. Because I know I need to improve both mobility and joint stability that’s all I’m doing. I’m experimenting with this shoulder joint stabilization workout and doing 50 reps of different types of stability squats/hip mobilization and balance exercises. Some days I do the rice bucket workout to keep my finger/hand/forearm/elbow connection balanced. For mobility I’ve been using the foam roller at lot. While this can take some time I do it watching movies, which I’d be doing anyway. I also do some ab stuff in front of the tele. If the mood strikes I’ll do some yoga or take a Bikram class.

So, as you see, I’m not exactly inactive. I’m just playing, not training. I do the same thing with diet. If I want fries, dessert, cocktails, whatever, it’s on. No zigging. No zagging. No real thought about diet. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I’m hitting happy hour followed by all-you-can-eat rib night either. I feel like ass when I eat or drink too much. And I don’t like feeling like ass. It makes me surly. So my diet is still decent; just a lot worse than normal.

The lesson here is that your breaks in your training program should end up not only letting your mind and body recover but validate your healthy lifestyle. As much as you try to be like you were pre-90X (or whatever) you are no longer that person. You feel better when you’re healthy. You like it better when you look good. Life is better when you’re active. And the more you believe it, the more motivation you’ll have during your next training program.

pics: speed bartending at my own party with ex-world’s fastest climber hans florine, making plans to get rid of the ex (more on this later), and playing with the family in the uintas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Cool 2 Mil

Since it’s winter it seemed like a good time to mix a little skiing into the Friday Psyche. Hmm, make that a lot of skiing. 2 million vertical feet, both climbed and skied, in one year to be exact. Woah.

Thus is the challenge set forth upon by Canadian badass Greg Hill last January. As of today he’s just at 1,840,019. This means he’s got to average just shy of 10,000 per day for the rest of the year to make it, which is IN-sane! Of course, if you do the math his challenge consists of 200 10,000’ days over the course of the year so it’s not like big days are new to him. How do you even find that much snow?

He's been blogging all along and you can scroll back and get his perspective. As with most challenges, it's not all gravy. There have been plenty of up, downs, moments of doubt along the way.

As a novice sucky skier than only aspires to do a bit of ski mountaineering I probably shouldn’t care. But I do. A lot. It’s like climbing Mt Everest, from sea level, 69 times and skiing back down. It makes me want to grab my skis, strap on a headlamp, and head outside right now. 2-fucking-million feet of skiing in a year, all earned. It’s just soooo cool.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Travels With Tuco

Everyone’s favorite canine, Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (known as The Rat... and Kailo) passed on recently. Tuco lived an envied life and saw more of the western US than 99.9% of the population. This slide show is my homage to a life well lived. Buddy, you will be missed by many.

Bob also posted a slide show that can be found at:

King Dino

And Romney wrote a beautiful blog about him:

Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez otherwise known as, The Rat. 16 of the most solid years ever lived and sad only for the ones he left behind

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Party Time!

“After his last race of the season,” says my friend Spencer, “he puts him bike in the garage and refuses to even look at it until his legs hairs (which are shaved, of course) grow to an inch and a half.”

We all need rest, both physically and mentally, and this is my favorite off-season recovery story. I like it because it’s simple, clear-cut, and 100% non-scientific. Rest is something where not only is science un-necessary, it’s debilitating. Rest should be both physical and mental. Sports—and exercise—are both physically and mentally addicting. Therefore, breaks should cut you off from both angles so that you come back both physically and mentally fresh.

This is much easier said than done. Vonn (husband of ski superstar Lindsey who is generally referred to by his surname) references the challenge as thus,

“She is extremely diligent,” he said, rolling his eyes. “That’s Lindsey, though. Even when she was supposed to be relaxing and resting her body in April, I would catch her sneaking into the gym. I’d have to drag her out.”

Dragging your spouse out of the gym is certainly counter-intuitive to some of you but, if you’re addicted to a sport or style of training (Xers, yes, I mean you too) there will always be a time where it takes discipline to shut things down.

The reason you want to force is break can best be described as human. Due to a combination of factors no one can stay on top of their game at all times. And if you don’t force rest on yourself then you’re leaving it up to your body to decide when it needs it. While this is obviously dangerous for athletes who need to perform on a schedule it’s better for the rest of us, too. Because we all have times when we would prefer to be at our best, so why leave it up to chance if we don’t have to?

Since my bike’s had plenty of off time this last couple of years I’ve shut down climbing until after New Year. This means no climbing, no training for climbing, no climbing news or scanning the net for videos. It’s a complete forced break that will not only allow microtrauma to heal but will also re-set my daily habits and focus.

Rest has another up side; it’s fun. Historically it’s often been too fun. We only need to peruse the sports headlines to find examples where one athlete or another has gotten in trouble in the off-season. Cyclists are one of the worst offenders. Because it’s such a weight-dependant sport you almost always gain weight you stop racing. Therefore, how much damage was done over the winter has always been headline news in the cycling press.

Jan Ullrich anecdotes aside, just because you’re not focused doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise. In fact you should stay active. The only rule should be that you do something different than normal, with no regiment, no coaching (including Tony, Chalene, Shaun, et al), and no goal except to sustain it for a prescribed period of time. All very calculatedly un-scientific.

It’s hard to force yourself into some down time, especially if you feel as though you’re getting close to your potential. But if you take the initiative you’ll find that you’ll end up with more control over both your performance and your life.

Part II, what I'm doing as "rest", is here.

pics: curious goings on in the off-season: der kaiser obviously not worrying about his weight, party night in italy (“last blowout before training camp”) featuring some of the world’s best cyclists, and mrs. vonn decidedly not wasting her time off.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Winter 2011 Training Program

Big Wall Cribs with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on El Capitan from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

It’s the time of year, again, when I re-tool for a new training program. I think I learned more in 2010 than I have in a given 12-month period in ages. Thus, I’m thinking this may be my most complete training program yet. Of course—as is my M.O.—it’s going to be experimental. In fact, you’ll see these elements in our upcoming P90X mc2 program but only after they’ve been thoroughly tested on me first.

As it’s a 50-themed year, my off-season conditioning program is going to be in three 50 day training phases that will mimic what we’re doing with mc2. These will be coined foundation, strength, and performance.

Goal: since all training plans must have one, is to build a huge fitness base that will see me through an epic year of adventures.

Phase I: Foundation (Nov 18 to Jan 6)

Here we’re going to get more literal with terminology, as we’re referencing our foundation, or base, as in the thing that roots our bodies to the ground as opposed to its usually meaning of any requisite fitness conditioning that readies you for further training. The goal of this phase is to build a physique that is structurally sound and in balance in order to handle the rigors of athletics without breaking down.

Most athletic programs only pay lip service to this phase, instead of making it a priority to the point where actually sports-specific training is put on the backburner until the body is ready for it. P90x did a better job than most, which is why it’s so popular among athletes. This time around we’re targeting it with laser-like focus. This phase will target completely revamping weak areas. Granted, you can’t offset 50 years in 50 days but I’m going to do the best I can.

I’ve been talking about this for a long time but the training is ever evolving. What were once a lot of boring rehab-style exercises are gradually getting more fun, and more like normal exercise.

Key words: balls (balance, physio, medicine, massage), foam roller, instability (not just in the gym as it’s snow season, which is like one big stability ball), kettle bells, yoga, rice bucket.

Phase II: Strength (Jan 7 to Feb 25)

There‘s a fair amount of wiggle room under the strength moniker. In mc2 we’ll focus on hypertrophy for most people. Since I’m not looking for much size increase this is where I plan to build my strength to weight ratio in a non-targeted sense.

Why I say non-targeted is because the sports themselves—and the next phase—will target my training. Here, especially because I train for sports that are not complimentary (climbing and biking/running), my goal is to build a very strong overall base. But instead of base as in phase I (the human kinetic chain), it’s a solid base of performance-oriented muscle mass.

This means both hypertrophy (as needed) and power (for all muscles) in a foundation format (generic strength tests, like the 90x or mc2 fit tests).

Key words: static strength, lock-off strength, wattage, form.

Phase III: Performance (Feb 28 to April 19)

Here I’ll try and put my winter fitness to use towards some goals. Specifically, the Duathlon Nationals at the end of April and some targeted climbing goals (short powerful routes) before that. This phase will feature a lot of sports specific training, postactivation potentiation, and neuro-integrated stretching to bring my power base into focus for the season ahead. After these tests I plan to roll this fitness over towards endurance based activities for the long days of summer.

Key words: speed, power, explosiveness, PAP.

So that’s the overall structure. Of course there’s a lot of fill in, including the sub structure of each phase, which will bring up words that should be familiar to Xers, such as blocks, transitions, adaptation, and mastery. By following along you’ll get a preview of why P90X mc2 is what it is, and also get a feel for ways to incorporate P90X and our other programs into your own active lifestyle plans.

vid: since i didn’t have anything fun of my own to post enjoy this clip of life on el cap. the captain's got to be on a list for this year somewhere, right?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Fitness Nerd’s News Cavalcade!

In the Ying and Yang that is life, my writing has tailed off recent while my colleague over at The Real Fitness Nerd has been hittin’ it out of the park. So while I await the return of my creative juices (or perhaps just a bit more free time) I’m going to point you toward Denis’ reviews of the latest health news.

To get a feeling for what’s in store at the Nerd, I submit yesterday's into paragraph:

Before everyone starts throwing bacon parties over the new study in the New England Journal of Medicine touting the benefits of high-protein diets for maintaining weight loss, there's one thing y'all need to keep in mind: The study is completely ridiculous.

With all due respect, of course.

And even if you’ve already chucked “high protein diet” out of your vernacular the post is worth reading just to see how research can be spun when it’s not conclusive. Last week he also took a little dig at the FDA:

Everyone's favorite flaccid watchdog, the Food and Drug Administration, made a pathetic swing at doing their job this week by banning caffeinated alcoholic drinks.

And while, sure, they’re an easy target he uses some entertaining prose to get down to the real nitty gritty about why our government can’t do the job we’ve hired them to do.

But it’s not all shooting fish in a barrel. In his post Salted Youth, Denis analyzes an important study that dispels the “baby fat” myth on kids being fat. Turns out fat kids become fat adults. “Duh,” you say? So does he. But wait, there’s more!

As I said, there's a bit of a "Duh! Really?" factor there, but this next study uncovers a more insidious long-term affliction. The American Heart Association this week used computer modeling to illustrate that by lowering a teenager's sodium intake, you can potentially reduce their chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke in adulthood.

So while I’m busy being inspired by others’ birthday challenges, training dogs, and figuring out the best possible structure we can use for MC2, bookmark the Nerd (or like 'em on Facebook). It might make you smarter but, at a minimum, it will arm you with some snarky commentary to make you look cooler at your next hipster gathering.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Very Good Year

It’s going to take me a number of days to get through all of the challenges done in my honor. Given there are nearly 70 I can’t highlight each one, so I’ve been thinking about a plan that pays homage to each challenge individually. Essentially, I’ll take at least one element from each challenge and fold it into my own. Then I’ll highlight the challenges with Friday psyche posts that are grouped into categories so that they don’t take up the entire year.

As to what this means for my fitness, I see a year ahead that’s going to challenge me to a whole new level. The sacrifice and commitment on many of these is huge. Todd’s training schedule/diet is absolutely brutal and Bob’s battle with the elements is something I’ll refer to any day I’m balking about heading out in a storm. And that’s after reading just the first two. Scanning the list I see things like personal records for performance, weight, productivity, etc to a point that’s somewhat intimidating. But, as the saying goes, it’s not birthday pretty hard....

This, of course, will all be done as a build up to my 11/11/11 challenge. Over the next month I’ll come up with a list. If somehow I manage the list, or even the final challenge, I’ll cap it off with a rendition of The Shat’s rendition of It’s A Very Good Year at the party. Feel free to beam me up anytime, Scotty.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I awoke today to something amazing. Well, actually, I woke up and did 50 minutes of yoga before discovering it but that’s another storyline. So somehow, someway, Romney got about 70 of my friends to do birthday challenges in my honor and recorded them all here:


I’m honored, humbled, inspired, entertained, and absolutely baffled at how she pulled this off without me catching even the slightest drift about what she was up to. Most of these people are pretty close friends, whom I talk to regularly, and I never had the slightest clue that it’s been happening for months. I never doubt my wife’s talents. She’s shockingly proficient at everything she tries (except mtn biking, for some reason, but she doesn’t really try). But until today I would have been skeptical if the Vice President leaked a Plame-gate story about her longtime covert activities with foreign governments. Not so much anymore.

if i'm "the climbing james bond" could romney be the climbing maria freudenstein?

50 is shaping up to be quite an adventure. And today I’m now adding a lot of reading to its kick-off, which also includes work and a fair amount of exercise. I'm so motivated that I'm going to highlight these challenges individually at TSD and add many of their elements into the upcoming year. But enough of my yappin’. This post is simply here to yield the floor. As Bob said in his book’s acknowledgements, “Everyone has friends. Mine are better.” Enjoy.

To all my frieeeeeeeeends!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Asian Awesomeness

Friday’s are psyche day so, instead of continuing with people behaving badly week, I’m going to take on a bad subject, junk food, but flip the theme to people behaving super awesomely. Today I present the Snackmaster 2000.

I read Eric Gutoski’s piece when it was first published and, unfortunately, that magazine no longer exists and all that’s left is the original text. But that is plenty. Comments on yesterday’s McRib post made it clear that I needed to take on something called the “Junk Food Diet” that is, apparently, some kind of sham. But as I began my research I stumbled upon this old article where some guys decided it would be cool to taste as many Asian snack foods as they could round up or, as their subtitle puts it: “We sampled $50 worth of Asian Snack foods so you wouldn't have to.”

For those of you whom are unaware of the challenge Asian snacks can present, let me just say that this was an incredible sacrifice for humanity. My brother, who lived in Japan for seven years, says “most Japanese are convinced that the entire snack food industry is some kind of inside joke designed to see what they can trick people into eating.” And Japan might have the least offensive snacks in Asia. For example:

Item Name: Prepared Poly Fish
Country of Origin: China
Fish Based: Hell yes!
Inscrutability Quotient: Quite suspicious
Looks Like: Sesame fish cracker
Tastes Like: Satan's wrath
Fear Factor: This terrorized our minds.
Research Comments: Gaze not into the abyss, lest the abyss gaze into thee. Nothing could prepare you for prepared poly fish. Stay away.

Without further ado, I submit the entire review. Drum roll please...

Snackmaster 2000
We sampled $50 worth of Asian Snack foods so you wouldn't have to.
by Eric Gutoski

Not convinced yet? Consider the closing remarks.

Most of the things we ate were god awful. All of us got sick, some of us worse than others. Through these shared hardships, friendships were damaged, probably irreparably. But friendships come and go. The saddest thing is that as Ambassadors of Snack, we ultimately failed. We had set out to achieve greater cultural understanding, peace and harmony through snack. In the end, we merely confirmed whatever snack prejudices we already secretly held.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Curious Case of McRib & Men’s Health

“As much as I love ribs there is one part that I hate: the ribs,” jokes Stephen Colbert while lambasting one of the more curious eating phenomenons’s in US history. Apparently in some areas folks have lined up around the block for this odd food item that more resembles something you’d see in one of those old toy ovens that served plastic food than, well, anything that we might eat that comes from nature.

How McDonald’s gets people to buy this is a marvel, but to make it into bad behavior week you’ve got to do more than peddle a suspect product. So today’s example of people behaving badly goes to Men’s Health magazine for their article titled:

McRib’s Return: Go Ahead, Have One

I might let this slide if this were, say, Smoke Signals or Gourmet (though I’m sure their editors wouldn’t), or pretty anything down at the corner newsstand. But Men’s Health, seriously?! They—which I say because the piece has no author—even take an uppity tone with The View’s Joy Behar for panning it,

Joy Behar makes a big point about the McRib having a lot of fat. Really? The first rule of fat loss is to not overeat, and a 500-calorie sandwich isn’t a waist-expanding indulgence, no matter how many of its calories come from fat.

Um, really?! How many readers does this magazine have? This is their editorial staff‘s “first rule of fat loss”. Let me borrow a phrase from my buddy Jack LaLanne about charlatans, “these people should be in jail.”

Not overeating is not a rule of fat loss. It’s a concept that has a few hooks on it, namely that you need to make a nutrient swap. Using their example you’d be well off on a diet of gummy candies and Diet Coke just so long as you didn’t overeat. I submit that you’d be dead within a month.

Our society is fat because we eat too many calories and too few nutrients. The first rule of weight loss (fat loss is a silly term—the goal is body composition change that comes from lifestyle) is the change the nutrient ratios of the foods you eat so that you get more nutrients per calorie. Dropping calories without assessing the nutrients that you are consuming will lead to nutrient deficiencies and other assorted health problems.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at the health costs of the McRib:

First off, we don’t really know what this food is. As Colbert points out, it’s not a rib. It smells and tastes like ribs but McDonald’s artificially flavors all of their foods to taste like anything it wants, in this case an actual pork rib that’s been cooked on a BBQ. Fast food chemists could make newspaper taste like ribs, too. Unlike natural foods, the way fast food tastes has absolutely no relationship to what is in the actual food.

If you’ve read any number of books on the subject you will know that animal raising practices of the fast food companies is abysmal. Dennis Miller once had a routine where he said something like, “39 cents for a burger. That’s less than what it costs to feed my dog. What’s in that stuff?” And, sure enough, many dog food companies have better animal raising practices than McDonald’s. All you know for sure is that it’s pork of some kind, and it’s most likely along the lines of pork by-products.

Labeling practices are lobbied heavily by, well, everyone but the meat industry draws a lot of water in this area. Independent studies all show that organically raised animals have a higher nutrient ratio than those that are mass produced but labels, by law (or lobbyists) can’t reflect this. Still we see that about half the McRib calories come from fat. Given that it includes a high calorie bun and condiments, which contain very little fat, we know that the meat contains an absurdly high ratio of saturated fat to protein.

So the small amount of nutritional information that we know is already bad, which doesn’t factor in that you’re eating an animal that is basically a toxin waste bin by the time it’s slaughtered. These animals are raised on mass amounts of antibiotics to keep it living in horrendous conditions, fed basically junk foods, and injected with any number of hormones to increase the size of various body parts and speed at which it grows.

Then you must add the rest of the ingredients, most of which are “convenience” foods that are fortified (with a few lobbied-for vitamins) by-products of genetically modified soy and corn production. These processed foods are bleached, so they all of their natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes, bacteria, and other phytonutrients that are essential for life to the point where, basically, you’d do better nutritionally to dumpster dive for 500 calories because it at least might have picked up some living matter.

The bottom line is that the McRib is 500 calories, with 22 grams (88 calories) of protein. The remaining 420 calories are void of anything helpful for your body. Eating foods like this is exactly why we have an obesity epidemic and, as a nutritionist, this is exactly the kind of thing that I recommend cutting out of your diet as step one. That something calling itself “Men’s Health” is recommending it should be a crime, and is certainly reason to gain entry into the people behaving badly club.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

White Coat Syndrome

“Drug companies say they hire the most-respected doctors in their fields for the critical task of teaching about the benefits and risks of their drugs,” begins an article at Pro Publica that is the highlight of the second installment of bad behavior week.

“But an investigation by ProPublica uncovered hundreds of doctors on company payrolls who had been accused of professional misconduct, were disciplined by state boards or lacked credentials as researchers or specialists.”

Maybe I was a cynical little kid but I can clearly remember the first time I saw a TV doctor pitching a medical product. He was that guy from the show Emergency and, even though I was a little kid, I turned to my sister and said, “That’s guy’s not a real doctor. Who would believe this?” But as the years rolled by my wide-eyed wonder turned to pure cynicism as someone in a white coat would inevitably turn up whenever something of perceived medicinal value was being peddled on the telie. Apparently, if one donned a white coat they were immediately exalted as experts in, well, whatever happened to be the subject matter at hand—you know, like the Professor on Gilligan’s Island.

But then something weird happened. These hucksters stopped looking like Kelly Lynch in Road House and began to resemble the people I’d see down at the medical clinic. Were REAL doctors actually doing ads for products ranging from cold medicines, to gum, to cigarettes? And, if so, why? I’d always thought doctors made enough money that if you wanted an appointment on Thursday you needed to secure an early tee time.

As it turns out, not surprisingly given they are human, not all doctors are good at their jobs. But instead of failure leading to finding a new career path that better suits them, doctors can now parlay their vocational failure into sometimes even more lucrative: careers as spokespeople.

A review of physician licensing records in the 15 most-populous states and three others found sanctions against more than 250 speakers, including some of the highest paid. Their misconduct included inappropriately prescribing drugs, providing poor care or having sex with patients. Some of the doctors had even lost their licenses.

Yes, today’s bad behavior post is about doctors, but the real people behaving badly are those who are doing the hiring; in this case the Pharmaceutical companies. Perhaps instead of revoking their medical licenses the AMA should forbid bad doctors from wearing white coats in public.

In the case of Big Pharma, I suppose it’s easier to coerce a disgraced doctor to pitch your product, especially if it’s for something that’s ethically on the fence.

For example,

In 2001, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered [2] Pennsylvania doctor James I. McMillen to stop “false or misleading” promotions of the painkiller Celebrex, saying he minimized risks and touted it for unapproved uses.

Still, three other leading drug makers paid the rheumatologist $224,163 over 18 months to deliver talks to other physicians about their drugs.

A little ethically shady, to be sure, but hardly cause for some high scale investigative reporting. However, some Pharma’s source from grayer areas, apparently the darker the better:

And in Georgia, a state appeals court in 2004 upheld [3] a hospital’s decision to kick Dr. Donald Ray Taylor off its staff. The anesthesiologist had admitted giving young female patients rectal and vaginal exams without documenting why. He’d also been accused of exposing women’s breasts during medical procedures. When confronted by a hospital official, Taylor said, “Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don’t know,” according to the appellate court ruling.

Last year, Taylor was Cephalon's third-highest-paid speaker out of more than 900. He received $142,050 in 2009 and another $52,400 through June.

The article, part one of a series, then goes into depth about some of the seediness in the industry, including active recruiting of non-qualified doctors to “educate” or, in reality, pitch their products.

“It’s sort of like American Idol,” said sociologist Susan Chimonas, who studies doctor-pharma relationships at the Institute on Medicine as a Profession in New York City.

“Nobody will have necessarily heard of you before — but after you’ve been around the country speaking 100 times a year, people will begin to know your name and think, ‘This guy is important.’ It creates an opinion leader who wasn’t necessarily an expert before.”

And it’s all, of course, in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

"The pressure is enormous. The investment in these drugs is massive,” said Dr. David A. Kessler, who formerly served as both FDA commissioner and dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. “Are any of us surprised they’re trying to maximize their markets in almost any way they can?”

Can you blame them? Um, yes. You can. At least by nominating them people who behave badly for the day.

pic: egregious "pain don't hurt" road house shot. how can you not love a doc whose white coat covers her mini skirt, who digs ass-kicking zen bouncers, and monster trucks? god bless america. i thought you'd be bigger.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Extra Cheesy Behavior

In celebration of national people behaving badly week I’ll be posting examples of compromised human performance this week. I can think of no better place to start than with a good old fashioned American conspiracy. As Denis Faye said over at the Fitness Nerd, “Never mind JFK's assassination, or Iran-Contra, or the fake moon landing. The mainstream media has actually uncovered a giant, government cheese conspiracy. Best news day ever.”

More Faye, “ The New York Times absolutely ripped the USDA a new one this weekend with this report on, get this, an organization quietly funded by the United States government that exists entirely for the promotion of dairy, particularly cheese.”

Apparently, this is correct. The government agency WE pay to watch of backs is in bed with the folks who peddle cheese, you know the stuff that according to the USDA we should limit to less than 10 percent of our daily calories. Yet this same USDA worked with Domino’s Pizza to aid flagging sales by coming up with a campaign for extra-cheesy pizza that gives you most of your USDA limit of sat fat in a single slice. It worked, so not only did we pay for USDA to talk us into eating more cheese, we paid for Domino’s to make less healthy food (bet you didn’t think this was possible), and we’re paying on the back end as our society’s health fails.

Americans now eat an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year, nearly triple the 1970 rate. Cheese has become the largest source of saturated fat; an ounce of many cheeses contains as much saturated fat as a glass of whole milk.

It gets more insidious, as Faye so nerdily put it,

“The organization, which goes by the super-awesome, Robocopesque moniker Dairy Management Inc (funded by the USDA), worked with Domino's Pizza to help with foundering sales. The solution? More cheese! The chain followed Omni Consumer Products, I mean Dairy Management Inc's advice, packing 2/3's the RDA for saturated fat into each slice. Sales exploded.”

The example is no one off. The Times also uncovered a falsified Dairy campaign that ran for four years,

In one instance, Dairy Management spent millions of dollars on research to support a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy products, records and interviews show. The campaign went on for four years, ending in 2007, even though other researchers — one paid by Dairy Management itself — found no such weight-loss benefits.

This one I know about, and wrote about years ago, because I worked with one of the researched who told me how they had skewed the research. No surprise it couldn’t be replicated, even by the dairy industry. Since this is basically Denis’ post I’ll let him sum it up.


It's a long news article, but it's well worth the read. The hypocrisy is just absurd. I understand that the USDA is a slave to many masters, including the farming lobby and, apparently, crappy fast food chains, but really? More cheese? Come on, guys. Grow a pair."

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Need For Speed

As November rolls around most of the climbing world starts to shut down and prep for winter. This isn’t as true as it once was. Climbing is now a specified and world-wide sport, and opportunities exist for perfect conditions on every single day of the year if you’re willing to travel. But the majority of the world’s most famous climbs are still in the mountains of the northern hemisphere, where the onset of winter changes the game. But as the prime venues empty out a small crew of dedicated specialists remain. This Friday’s psyche post is about a tiny portion of the crew: the speed climbers.

Cold weather produces what climbers call “sending temps”, where the skin/friction co-efficient improves and muscular breakdown is slowed. It’s an obvious time for the sport climbers and boulderers, whose ascents take mere minutes, to excel. But today there’s a new breed of big wall climber—the speed climber—who has reduced the game of big wall climbing to that of running a marathon—who also looks at the frigid November air as an opportunity for one last shot of adrenaline.

I blogged on the history of speed climbing on Yosemite’s El Capitan a couple of years back when my friend Hans was coming out of retirement in an attempt to regain a speed record he’d held for years. Essentially, major walls that once took weeks, and even months, to climb have been whittled down to the point where well conditioned climbers often do them in a day. And at the pinnacle of the sport are a handful of superstars who train like Olympians and can fly up a few thousand feet of supremely technical rock in a few hours.

Below is a comment Hans added to my blog on the anniversary of their record. Looks like his old “rival” Dean Potter is after it again. Unfortunately, since the El Cap report has packed it in for the season we can no longer follow, we’ll have to settle for this preview of the Huber Bros film. Get after it, lads!

Hey, we got the record on July 2nd 2008 at 2:43:33. Not to settle for "just beating the Hubers" we went back in October and dropped it down to 2:37:05 . Today is two years to the day since we got the record. It still stands as far as I know. I heard Sean Leary and Dean Potter are working on breaking it, with their best time down around 3 hours. Go Sean and Dean!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Dude Abides

Do what you love. Love what you do.

This is the mantra of climber Sonnie Trotter’s web site. Because of this attitude I make it a stop whenever I’m trying to catch up on news in the sport. Trotter is one of the better climbers in the world but that’s not why I’m a fan. Instead I’m there to remind myself what’s really important in life, which is whatever we happen to be doing right this minute, and Sonnie’s site exudes that.

Sometimes, especially when work is hectic, I get sucked into the “big picture” world of accomplishment. And while goals and objectives are vital for motivation they are ultimately just tools. If used wrong they will create distraction from your daily life. And if your daily life sucks than your life sucks. Period. Sometimes I need a reminder, especially when things aren’t going as planned.

A successful life is one in which meaning is found in day to day existence. There is no way to know when it will end so you’d better find a reason to enjoy today, no matter what’s on the agenda. I’ve read and heard many stories of people who have survived gruesome situations, such as long stints in concentration or refugee camps, and most of them echo the same sentiment. The key to surviving is to find meaning and love in your daily life, no matter how bad it may seem. And if that’s the key to survival when life gets tough, I try and keep it in mind when it’s not so hard.

“If all you cared about was success climbing would be the worst sport you could do,” said my friend Jeff yesterday as we greased off our projects. True enough, it was hard to lament “failure” on a gorgeous afternoon in a mountains hanging out on a ledge with a billion-dollar view in the warm November sun. Climbing is a sadistic sport for the ego. Dale Goddard once said, “Sometimes you go a whole season, or whole year, without climbing anything (meaning goals).” But that’s also the beauty of climbing; on its worst days you’re getting exercise out in nature. Who cares about ego when you’ve got stoke?!

October didn’t turn out as planned. I trained essentially the entire year for this peak period of climbing and then life happened and I hardly got outside. We had a family tragedy and work decided—for the first time in a decade (fitness is a New Year’s game)—to get super busy in the fall. We’re still dealing with the old man at the end of his days and, in order to help him get through his loss, we rescued a couple of maniacs. So while life may be a series of strikes and gutters, all I can say is The Dude Abides.

As a man much wiser than myself once put it, “I guess that’s the way the whole darn human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself. Down through the generations. Westward with the wagons. Across the sands of time until we…. Ah, look at me. I’m ramblin’ again. Well, I hope you folks enjoyed yourselves. Catch ya later on down the trail.”

pics: trotter: work may not pay much but you can't beat the surroundings. the big man and his new version of stoke. two maniacs to ensure adequate aerobic fitness this winter.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Applied Sports Science Blog

You’ve heard a lot about Dr. Marcus Elliott and the Peak Performance Project (P3) here lately, especially PAP training. They’ve just launched a blog and, I’m quite certain, is going to be state-of-the-art reading once they’ve found their legs. Shoot, after four posts they’ve already got more superstar references than my blog’s had in five years. Follow it now so you can say you’ve been a fan since their first post. There’s also a pretty reasonable chance that you’ll learn something that helps your body perform better.

In fact, you’ll likely start learning immediately. The current post is about a long term study on hamstring injuries in NFL players. You don’t have to be a football player to benefit from the study’s findings, which include a protocol to reduce injury.

Based on these findings and others, Dr. Elliott introduced a football specific injury prevention and performance programs to the New England Patriots.

The Intervention involved the medical and athletic training staff, conditioning and speed coaches. The intervention focused on 4 conditioning factors: 1) Correct specific muscle imbalances. 2) Train nervous system activation of hamstring with specific eccentric loading (including plyometrics). 3) Train CNS relaxation. 4) Progressive increase in sprinting intensity/volume for speed positions.

Oddly enough, now that Dr. Elliott is involved with us this sounds similar to the logic we’re using on our newest training programs. P3 is slating two to four posts per month and promises to be well worth reading.

"Ronnie Brewer and I were the first Jazz Players to work with Dr. Elliott and P3 three seasons ago. I’ve improved my athleticism after every visit, and learned how my body works, how to take care of it, and the best routes for making it better."
--Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz, who went for 30(points) and 16(rebounds) against Oklahoma City last night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Return of Gadfly: The Inside Dope at Beachbody

We used to have a gossip column in our newsletters, written under the pseudonym of Gadfly. While I can’t promise to be bringing him (or her/it) back here at TSD my insanely busy schedule has dictated that I explain some of what’s been going on around the office because I’ve been too busy to write about anything else.

Let’s start with Asylum, which is on the top of the list because I’m going over the cueing on the final (yes, should be soon) round of edits. As soon as I check this off we’ll officially be on the final road to release. For you folks who just can’t get enough of Insanity I’ll just say this: that program is like a warm-up for Asylum.

And speaking of upping the ante, we’re into the nitty gritty of the Tony Horton One on One previews for MC2 (if you’re not getting these you might want to start now). Why I say this is that we’ve got a host of outside experts pushing Tony out of his comfort zone. Since Tony’s always pushing you out of yours it’s probably nice to hear that he’s human. What we’ve got on tap—all shooting in November—are three workouts that are far different than what you’ve seen before from Tony.

First we have a new Core/Synergistics where Tony teams up with his ski buddy/trainer extraordinaire Steve Holmsen. Tony’s been training with Steve for years for you’ve seen some of his handy work already but we’re looking at this one as the next level.

Next, we’ve taken a huge step in upgrading Kenpo X by signing on with some of the biggest names in martial arts to create what we’re calling MMX. I’ll wait to reveal the names but Tony’s actually nervous about working with them, and he’s not exactly the nervous type. Wow (inside joke on P90x development).

Finally we have PAP, which you’ve been hearing plenty about here. And while the real expert is Dr. Marcus Elliott I’ll be filling in for One on One since I’m the one who’s been working on transitioning this elite-level training to the masses.

Conversely, success of both Body Gospel and Brazil Butt Lift have starting to bring our old core (non X/Insanity/hard core) audience back and we’re making plans to offer more intro programs, including a revamped Power 90 (our first hit program) and a simple Debbie Siebers IPhone app program that should be out fairly soon.

Oh, and speaking of apps I almost forgot that thing that’s taking most of my time later: our new P90x app. Deciding we were a bit late to this market we’ve contracted the best app builder team on the planet and made it our top priority. These guys really know their stuff. Prepare to be blown away soon.

There's the alarm. Don't want to get caught gossiping. Actually, it's a meeting reminder for the app. Hmm, I didn’t even get to all of our news. Maybe we’ll have to re-enlist Gadfly as a full time correspondent.

karla mohtashemi-reese's pic is so typical: me working away, tony on TV. ha! btw, the coaches beat us (in dallas) and tony summed it up nicely: "your before pictures couldn't have done that!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Final Thoughts On The Workout From Hell

I guess it’s time to wrap up The Workout From Hell. I keep amending it and now it’s just a climbing training program, so I see no further reason to evaluate it as the WFH. This confirms, as I surmised from day one, that’s it’s more of an off-season program. Whether or not it’s worth your time is up for discussion, so let’s take a look at my results. I’ll summarize at the end but will start with a review of each phase of the program.

Block One: 30 reps: I found this to be good general conditioning. Perhaps because no other training focuses on high reps to failure it seemed to stimulate a lot of new fitness. In climbing I felt as though I could hang on longer. I definitely feel it’s a benefit and will continue to incorporate 30 rep phases into at least one block of training per year—something I used to always do in the 90s.

Block Two: 15 reps: While it’s technically necessary to transition from 30 reps down to teach the muscles to recruit higher threshold muscle cell motor units I’m not sold this has to be an entire phase. This is consistent with my thoughts from the 90s.

Block Two B: 10 second reps: This was hugely helpful for hypertrophy. For gaining mass with limited means (weight) it’s the ticket. In fact, even with all the weight I could want I would use super slow reps again any time I’m looking to create hypertrophy.

Block Three: 5 reps: Again, important for recruitment but I’m not sure it needs an entire phase to create this, given so much sport specific training is recruitment based.

Block Four: PAP (postactivation potentiation) training: This I think could be a breakthrough but in the constraints of the WFH I could not test it thoroughly. I think that it could evolve into the most efficient way to increase your power base.

Block Five: Climbing training. This is not really a part of the WFH but it’s still the most effective training for climbing, using almost any of the known modalities. Climbing is too specific to jump out of the gym and kick ass, if for no other reason than that your skin needs to be conditioned no matter how strong you get.

Overall impressions on the white mouse: As I guessed earlier I didn’t get the timing right. Most climbing specific training needs to be done prior to your actual season because the specific adaptations you need to climb hard (and a lot) take some time to develop, most notably skin. While I felt that I had the fitness to throw myself at hard routes I simply didn’t have the skin condition on my hands or feet to handle it. I would say that you need at least a solid month to climb yourself into specific shape at the end of the program.

My base fitness, however, is quite good. On 10/10/10 I did 10 routes from 13a down (12d, 12c, etc) which is a very good day for me, and something that I probably haven’t been able to do in some time. However, I think I could have gotten to this point quicker using a more specific training program, or maybe even just climbing. Where the WFH should shine is over time. As my climbing specificity comes around the deep base that I have should, in theory, allow me to push harder and longer.

For this reason I would recommend the WFH as an offseason program only. I would recommend doing it alone, during a break from climbing totally. I don’t see any benefit in concurrently attempting to do both, as I did. Because your climbing must be dampened, to the point where it’s not gaining you any fitness, it is simply a diversion from your actual goals.

As a base program whether it’s better than P90x, Crossfit, or whatever is up for debate. I added a lot of outside elements (yoga, PAP) that definitely made it more effective than the traditional program. What we have outlined here is a well rounded fitness base program for anyone. As I’ve begun getting back into my mountain sports I feel much more stable, and much less apt to get injured. I began this program with a somewhat major injury and I feel I’ve got it licked.

Modification Recommendations

This winter I’m going to flip flop the structure and do this again. Since I’ll be training for climbing, cycling, and running I will be doing this will getting ready for a full endurance sports season. This is a totally different focus than last time, when it began as rehab.

First, I think the hypertrophy phase should be isolated. If you need muscular size gains make them early, as far away from competition as possible.

Next, bring in the PAP training. Power takes the longest to build, as well as to educate(neuromuscular coordination). These should be the main focus in the off season. I think you can build power in one realm while building aerobic base in another. I will be putting this to the test.

I think the muscular endurance (30 rep) phase can be done quite close to your season. The gains made here are somewhat fleeting and seem tangible to climbing. I think you could do a three week cycle where you gain a lot of endurance and lose very little power.

But no matter how you train, for climbing you need to climb. So get outside--or at least into the climbing gym--as much as possible when you’ve got a big project to send.

So that’s it. My six month travail ends with no amazing breakthroughs, though with some new light shed. And that’s always the point; to learn something new with any endeavor.

To see the entire Workout From Hell series click here.

re: what better way to wrap this up than lynnie looking marvelous? maybe the snowbird comp from '88. oh how things have changed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Shake Zag Diet

At the Beachbody Leadership conference this past weekend I got a lot of questions about the Shakeology cleanse as well as a lot of “how can I figure out how many calories I need?” Here is the answer to both: a version of the Shakeology Cleanse that you can do as often as you want and in almost any situation without risk of any performance loss.

Straight Dope followers have heard it’s my new preferred weight loss (or gain) plan. It’s not really new but just perfected (thanks to Shakeology) and is the easiest way to figure out how many calories you should be eating for performance. It’s a simple diet to follow and can be done in any situation, whether you’re sedentary or training like a White Buddhist Nun (sorry, inside joke—“your nuns into leather, Dante?”).

It’s essentially a combination of three things I’ve done in the past: the egg diet, the zig zag diet, and the Shakeology Cleanse, mainly focusing on the latter two. Here’s how it works.

It follows the principles of zig zagging: low calories two or three (sometimes four) days per week and normal calories on the others. Reverse this is you want to gain weight or suspect you’re not eating enough. The days can be consecutive or back and forth but I find that stringing them together works best.

For me, when trying to lose weight, dieting early in the week and eating what I want later and on the weekends works best, which is especially true because my weekends tend to be very active to the point where overeating is virtually impossible. This means that I get three days of zig (low cals), two days of zag (high cal), followed by two days of what works out to be zagging with a ton of exercise so that it’s still undereating.

When you zig zag your body tells you what it needs, what’s working and what isn’t, and fairly quickly you’ll know both the number of calories you should be eating for optimum performance and even how the macronutrients of those calories should be structured. By adding the Shakeology cleanse component you’ll pinpoint these things even quicker.

Zig days consist of eggs for breakfast, usually three for me with some added veggies. This is my only homage to the egg diet, which was an old school high protein diet where you eat an absurd amount of eggs. I find eggs in the AM is a good way to boost your metabolism, especially if they are not eaten with many carbs. The rest of the day consists of Shakeology. Sometimes plain and sometimes with fruit (berries, banana, whatever) and some chia seeds. An average day has one plain and one more robust shake. Dinner is a salad or veggie dish. Starches are off but I do allow legumes, quinoa (a veggie). Dinner is modest , but not small, so that the daily calorie totals are low. This varies but should be over 1000 for sure. I generally go 1200 – 1500.

I get a lot of caffeine questions and in this scenario it’s totally fine: coffee or tea. I drop caffeine when I’m cleansing because of its heightened effects when you aren’t eating much food. But this is a lifestyle and caffeine is good for exercise and coffee and tea and quite healthy if they don’t have junk added to them. I also allow wine and or beer with dinner, though I try and stick with wine because it fits the theme better. I drink plenty of water and don’t alter my supplement plan. Again, it’s a lifestyle and not a cleanse.

Zag days aren’t extravagant. I just eat normal, which generally means bread, cereal, rice etc will come back on. Portions might get bigger, but things are similar. I eat a lot of salad, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. I don’t eat much meat of any kind. Most days I drink Shakeology and if it’s more convenient I’ll sometimes drink it twice. I eat for what I’m doing and this varies massively over the year. If it’s a easy day, which say includes an hour or so of training, I might only eat 2500 cals or so. If it’s a big day out I might eat 5 or 6 thousand calories. On average I’d say I’m in the 3000 ballpark on a work day that includes a couple hours of training and an easier hour or so dog hike.

I do this until I’m at the weight that I desire. While it can be done indefinitely you’ll probably grow bored of it in time. I do a version of it somewhat regularly just to get a check on where I’m at and how I’m functioning. There never seems to be a wrong time (except any holiday where culinary experience it vital) to follow this plan.

Of course when you do this it should be set up for you personally. Caloric calculators are always wrong. All they provide you with is a ballpark figure: a starting place. No matter what you will need take this figure and tweak it because almost any two people, even who are physiologically identical, will have different metabolisms. And even compared to yourself you need to consistently alter and tweak because your metabolism changes throughout your life, depending on many factors.

When zig zagging you’ll want to pay close attention to what you are eating. My casual attitude comes with years of experience. Your body will tell you, in time, what is working and what isn’t. Performance is your gauge. When you’re killing your workouts you’ll know you’ve got it dialed. Body composition change will then, by extension, be forced to follow.

pics: shakes and coffee, the cornerstone of any comeback.

Friday, October 15, 2010

6 Minutes

“It ain’t the six minutes. It’s what happens in that six minutes.”

This week’s psyche is a continuation of the Vision Quest videos posted from a few weeks ago. It’s also a tribute to our dog Beata. B passed away this week, before her time, but lived along the lines of the message from today’s psyche. It’s not about how long we live, but what we do with the time we have. She lived each day with panache, which is something I’ll always aspire to emulate.

This video embodies not just why we engage in sport but why we attempt to do anything. To me, trying is the essence of being.

Anyway, that's why I'm getting dressed up and giving up a night's pay for this function. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bad Medicine

Here's an excerpt from a beautiful eulogy Romney wrote for Beata. I think our old dog, Tuco, might miss her more than anyone. He’s REALLY old, seems out of it a lot, but when we were going to the vet before she died he was totally engaged and has been very clingy (which is exceedingly odd and not a trait natural to “Mr. Bitter”) since she did not come home.

For the past 9 years (minus one) Beata has been my friend, family, and love. She has never judged me for my poor culinary or film choices – or even been mad when I tell her not to bury her bones in the garden (because she always did it anyway). She never wanted anything more than to be loved and not abandoned. She was the cutest, sweetest, most loving little dog. My heart aches that I will never see her wag her body at me again, or get to cuddle on the couch with her while Edwards is on business trips. Edwards and I lost a vital member of our family last night, and Tuco lost his “girlfriend” who brought him back so much “psych”.

Anyway, this is a health blog so let’s get back to business. I didn’t do my homework on the medications she was taking post surgery, and this killed her. I figured—incidentally with the same rationale I used when I hurt my back and didn’t check on that medication—how bad can a couple of weeks of anti-inflammatory meds be? Bad, as it turns out.

What we have is the Vioxx scandal for dogs. The only reason we don’t hear more about it is that it’s for dogs, though it did make the Washington Post in this article:

Vioxx Debate Echoed in Battle Over Dog Drugs

And the medication that kicked it off, Deramaxx, is like candy compared to the one that killed B, Previcox. When I Googled it on the night she died I was shocked that EVERY SINGLE WEB SITE THAT WASN’T TRYING TO SELL IT WAS A WARNING OF ITS DANGERS. The net is littered with stories exactly like ours, of healthy animals seeing a vet for an injury and dying due to complications with the medication. Some of these pages also contain angry letters from vets (or perhaps pharmaceutical PR people but that’s another story) stating that slamming the medication would only serve to hurt other dogs. Well, at least it might hurt the ones that don’t die.

Being more of the scientific type, I dug into studies. Turns out even Merial’s (maker of Previcox) own studies on the drug are highly alarming. Most that they used were done on three day post surgery groups. In these groups many small dogs died (so it shouldn’t be used on dogs under 12lbs) and many had internal bleeding. Then there were some longer 180 days studies. In these many dogs died, almost all had side effects and internal bleeding. That is the POSITIVE research.

Then there are the FDA reports on drug safety. Here we see how Previcox has become safer through the years. In 2005 and 2006 it was killing over 10% of its users. Now it’s down to just over 1%. This is not a typo. How would you feel if every time you popped some ibuprofen there was a 1 in 100 chance that you’d die?

It’s not like we’re trying to cure an aggressive form of cancer where the patient would die without the medication. We’re just reducing some swelling. So why are vets shilling something almost certain to have side effects with a high risk of death? Even more so, why aren’t there at least strong warnings given to the customers? The answer, I suppose, comes right back around to Vioxx, which doctors continued to prescribe as it was killing thousands of people even though there were plenty of safe alternatives. Okay, that’s not an answer. An answer would be speculative so I’ll let you make one up. The only fact we know for certain is that it happened with Vioxx, it’s happening now with Previcox and Deramaxx, and, for those of you who don’t have pets, it’s still happening with other medications that are killing people.

Ironically that last article showed up the night B died. I will deconstruct it later this week. The point today is to warn you against the dangers of NSAIDS for both animals and humans. NEVER TAKE (OR GIVE TO YOUR PET) ANY MEDICATION THAT YOU HAVEN’T RESEARCHED AND ASSESSED THE RISK. Not even for something that seems innocuous, and not even for one day. Those in the medical field may call you alarmist (they often use analogies like “you aren’t qualified to understand the science”) but I call it being informed. And whether or not your information is “faulty” dead is still dead. You don’t need a degree to understand that.

pics: beata and tuco and, what we thought, might be one of HIS last trips to the coffee house where they were fixtures. mr. bitter is not happy. climbing won't be the same knowing b's not watching out for me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beata Romney Edwards (2001-2010)

Our youngest child, Beata, passed away tonight. She was the epitome of her namesake, angel; a perfectly well-mannered dog with a lovely disposition. For the past few years she has been my shadow. She would do anything that I asked of her, trusted me completely, and the only time I ever saw her confused was when I couldn’t cure her at the end. I miss her terribly.

The Straight Dope will go into mourning for a period. When I return I promise you a shitstorm. B died senselessly and, ironically, for part of the same reason that our country/world is in the health epidemic we are currently facing. Changing this has been my MO from the start but I’ve never been as personally affected. I guess you see, as advertised, the uncensored Steve on this blog, as compared to my work on our guidebooks and articles, but when I return it will be with a vengeance. If I said that I was mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore it wouldn’t be a cliché. I’m just getting warmed up.

But this is not the time to go into detail. Instead, I want to reflect on a life well lived. We can’t choose how or when we will die. Our only choice is to live as well as we can while we’re here and in this Beata excelled as well as any being I’ve known. She lived for each day. Not recklessly but with abandon. All she wanted was to be loved and for the people and other creatures around her (except gophers) to be active, healthy, and happy. And, when you get right down to it, these are the only things that really matter. She was beautiful through and through and will be missed by many.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ueli Steck: The Swiss Machine

This week’s psyche was an easy choice once I saw that this video was posted. I saw the full version last week at the Reel Rock Tour and can’t recommend it high enough. Even Romney, not a fan of climbing films in general, thought it was super inspiring. There’s always someone who’s climbing at a higher level than the rest of the world in the mountains and, currently, it’s Steck.

It doesn’t really need an introduction, so I’ll leave you with: “I really like fanatical training. I’m not better than anyone else. I’m just training like hell.”


To see the entire film check out the Reel Rock Tour dates.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


I’m a doper. A cheat. An un-American scallywag who has obviously put winning ahead of the principles of our greatest athletes. You know, folks like Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wait, what?! Um, ok, never mind. Anyway, if I were subject to a drug test right now I would fail because I’ve been taking a legal substance that has recently been added to WADA’s banned list.

But here’s the rub: it does nothing. I mean, it’s complete garbage as an ergogenic aid. WADA claims it has some “anabolic properties” and, thus, they’ve banned something that’s been on the market for decades that has caused no great shakes in the performance world.

Early in the WFH I decided to dust off an old supplement strategy that I’d tried 20 years ago. It hadn’t worked then but I wanted to confirm that. One of these supps, Mesabolin, is actually a plant sterol called ecdysterone. It’s pretty common and shows up in a few plants. Anyway, I hit it hard, first with prescribed dosages and then with double that... and... nothing. Well maybe a little bit of gastric stress but not a tad of performance enhancement.

And now it’s banned, which I don’t care about at all except for the fact that it doesn’t work and I’d prefer it if WADA actually focused on things that are, well, doping and not some nutrient that you can get by eating completely natural plants.

So anyway, here’s the review of my WFH supplement strategies. Nada. I pretty well knew the argentine/pyroglutamate wouldn’t work because tests done on oral argenine have never confirmed what’s been done using injected argenine and I pretty well confirmed that. And now I've confirmed that ecdysterone does nothing, too. That is unless you are a competitive athlete. Then it will get you disgraced, turning you into a bitter scourge of society who’ll be bummed that you didn’t just suck it up and call Michele Ferrari and get on the real stuff so at least you could have gotten banned with some money in the bank.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The American Foodsaw Massacre

What if the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen was taking place in your local market with everyday shoppers as hapless victims? Well I’m no conspiracy theorist but the case against genetically modified (GMO) foods is starting to look downright bone chilling. And even if monster movies rarely affect me I can’t help but start squirming in my seat at how this story is unfolding.

The results of Pusztai’s work were supposed to become the required testing protocols for all of Europe. But when he fed supposedly harmless GM potatoes to rats, things didn’t go as planned.

Within just 10 days, the animals developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems. Moreover, the cause was almost certainly side effects from the process of genetic engineering itself. In other words, the GM foods on the market, which are created from the same process, might have similar affects on humans.

Yesterday Mercola published an article on veiled science surrounding GMO foods by Jeffery Smith, executive director of The Institute of Responsible Technology. Smith is no fan is the industry, having penned two books on the subject, Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, so one may take his views as biased. But it pretty straightforward science that he’s presented and, let’s face it, the anecdotal evidence supporting GMO foods is not good. As they’ve become a more established part of what we eat we’ve gotten fatter, less healthy, and our estimated life span has decreased for the first time in modern history, all in spite of massive improvements in medical technology.

Irina Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences, was shocked to discover that more than half of the baby rats in her experiment died within three weeks. She had fed the mothers GM soy flour purchased at a supermarket. The babies from mothers fed natural non-GMO soy, however, only suffered a 10% death rate. She repeated her experiment three times with similar results.

Dr. Ermakova reported her preliminary findings at a conference in October 2005, asking the scientific community to replicate her study. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Her boss told her to stop doing anymore GM food research. Samples were stolen from her lab, and a paper was even set fire on her desk. One of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, “Maybe the GM soy will solve the overpopulation problem.”

To conjecture further, I believe it’s possible that GMOs are, eventually, going to become linked to the myriad of food allergies that have sprung up in the past generation. Take the recent case against gluten, for instance, where an Italian study showed examples of elderly people showing no signs of gluten sensitivity a decade ago (after eating pasta their entire lives) suddenly changing. Gluten is the latest rage but we’ve seen similar patterns with peanuts and soy (legumes), as well as many nuts, prior. Since the science used to support these diseases is often shaky (gluten labeling is not government regulated), it seems possible, perhaps even likely, that it’s because we’re barking up the wrong tree. Since GMOs were able to be patented in the 1970s food allergy numbers have skyrocketed so fast we don’t even have proper stats on them.

Epidemiologist Judy Carman used to investigate outbreaks of disease for a state government in Australia. She knows that health problems associated with GM foods might be impossible to track or take decades to discover. Moreover, the superficial, short-term animal feeding studies usually do not evaluate “biochemistry, immunology, tissue pathology, gut function, liver function, and kidney function” and are too short to test for cancer or reproductive or child health.

So who, you might ask, is the axe-wielding psychopath responsible for all this? As you well know this dude is hard to find. He wears a mask and hides out in (genetically modified) corn fields so dense you can’t even hear his chain saw idling. But as the plot thickens more and more evidence leads to a popular clique of characters.

When Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow discovered problematic side effects in GM sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding GM seeds and genes.

After Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s GM soybeans, the seed seller, Hartz, told them they could no longer provide samples.

Research by a plant geneticist at a leading US university was also thwarted when two companies refused him GM corn. In fact, almost no independent studies are conducted that might find problems. According to a scathing opinion piece in an August 2009 Scientific American,

“Agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers ... Only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal.”

For example, if there was any negatives surrounding GMO production why wouldn’t it show up on foods labels? Only someone very popular would be able to stop this and Monsanto, and perhaps his good friend Dow, are pretty much the homecoming king and queen around here. Not only has Monsanto been able to keep GMO off of labels in the USA, it’s currently trying to force the European Union to eliminate it as well. If these things were ok, we must wonder, why wouldn’t they want us knowing about them? But then we find out Monsanto won’t serve GMO foods to their own executives. Lacking the charm to get us to drink their Kool-aid on our own, they’re trying to force it down our throats.

Good thing the movie’s not over. This rag-tag group of survivors has one, last, desperate plan. Unlike in a zombie armageddon, we have a choice over whether or not to have our brains eaten. As Dr. Mercola says “Together we CAN get GMOs banned from the US. Europe was able to do it over a decade ago without any government assistance. All they did was educate the consumers, and that was enough pressure on the food industry to drop their ploys.
If we band together as an effective army we will be able to do this. Please understand that the VAST majority of people in the US do not want GM foods, so this is an EASY battle to win. All we have to do is a bit of organizational work.”

So bust out your best evil-empire fightin' artillery and lock and load, or just click here for Smith’s Non GMO shopping guide. Remember the bad guys don’t always have to win.