Feb 25, 2011

A great new game for keeping the kids busy on the highway....

Who remembers either as a parent, or even when you were a kid, playing a game in the car on long trips to keep occupied, called "Geography"?

The idea is that you name a city, province, state, country or continent, and the next person has to name another using the last letter of the place named by the preceding player as the first letter of their choice. If you get stuck, you're out....

Well here's a twist on that.... let's play "Gratitude"

Here's how it could go: First of all, let's forget about the last letter thing.... (hey, this is my game, and I'm grateful that I can make it easy!!!) The only criteria, is that there has to be some link between the words that follow, and I'm not too strict about that... the fact that one makes you think of the other is close enough for me...

Safe Food supply...
Safe drinking water...
Hot showers and baths...
Sanitary indoor plumbing...
Gifted medical personnel...
Your children....(and their health)...
Nutritious vegetables and fruit all year long... (even if you live in Canada)
Great Literature to read....
Excellent music to listen to...
Shelter from the elements...
Reliable transportation...
Power brakes....
Power steering....
Car heaters and air conditioning...
Car audio including ipods...
GPS in cars...
Opportunities to see the world.... (when our ancestors may have lived their whole life in a 50 mile radius)
Internet... (where I can see the world virtually, and have relationships with people all over the world....)
Virtually unlimited access to information...
Diversity of ideas...
New technology every single day...
Opportunity to earn my living by socializing and thinking rather than with my back and muscles...
Fitness technology allowing me to stay fit in 10 minutes a week... (really! read other blog entries)
Dance lessons...
Leisure time to maximize relationships with loved ones thanks to technology...
Face time and video skype to see grandchildren...
Prime movers who think all this stuff up...
Toilet paper.... (don't laugh, imagine life without it...)
Toothpaste, dental care, all hygiene...
Sense of touch...
Human beings.....

In the movie "White Christmas", Bing Crosby sings a song called "Count your blessings".... (ironically a Christmas movie where all the Christmas songs were written by a person who never celebrated Christmas, Irving Berlin). Bing tells us to do that if we can't sleep at night, and I've tried it.... way better than counting sheep... may or may not work, but instead of being frustrated with not being able to sleep, you'll soon feel grateful instead.

I have to add, in conclusion that virtually all of the blessings named above (which is only a very partial list) are made possible directly or indirectly, by the concepts of freedom and individual rights. These concepts unleash the most powerful force on earth... human ingenuity and creativity, and that is the seed of everything, but as with all seeds, it needs the proper conditions to flourish, which is impossible without liberty.

No coincidence that the degree of the quality of life in any place on earth is in direct proportion to the degree to which these concepts are understood, respected, cherished and protected....

So while at the same time that we need to feel grateful, we must also remember, as Tom Petty says, "Ain't no easy way to be free" and remain vigilant to protect our quality of life by defending it against those (usually our own government, but sometimes others) who would take it away.

All for now.... thanks for reading...

Feb 19, 2011

I won the lottery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe my luck.... I know they always say the odds against it are astronomical, but I realize that I've actually won!!

I'm rich beyond belief!!! How did I ever get so lucky???

Which one? Well, actually it's one that has, amazingly enough many winners, who unfortunately don't realize they've won yet, and so are missing out on celebrating their amazing luck.

First off, I'm talking about wining the odds of being here at all. Scientists tell us that the odds against intelligent human life on planet earth developing were "one out of an unimaginable number".

I'm pretty fond of being alive, so already, I realize I'm way ahead of the game.

Next, I realize that for most of recorded history, the principle of individual rights has not been recognized, much less protected. So if man has been around for a few million years, I've hit the jackpot in being born at the right time. (not even mentioning that even in modern times, I'm one of very few generations of young men who have not gone off to war, being a Canadian baby boomer).

And even though I was born at the right time to enjoy freedoms, I also had to have the incredible luck to be born in the right country, because freedom is not something most people can take for granted. (ours is not full by any stretch and we need to be vigilant to maintain and improve it, but that's a subject for another blog entry).

As a result of these freedoms, the incredible potential of human creativity and innovation was permitted to flourish producing a standard of living unheard of in history, including, plentiful and safe food, shelter, health care, access to heat in winter, air conditioning in summer, clothing, indoor plumbing and clean water. Due to this technology, I have access to the greatest talents of today and of history, through literature, music, theater arts, sports and all forms of entertainment. I'm also connected to the world community in a way even my own father only one generation back, could not have imagined.

Now, if that isn't enough of a lottery win, I had the amazing good fortune to being born to great loving parents, and wonderful siblings, so that my formative years are full of great memories and great role models.

Today I find myself in a challenging and rewarding career that I lliterally stumbled on, meeting someone in a mall who I knew, and who told me about an opportunity I had never considered previously.

I also have 4 wonderful children, and 3 grandsons, all of whom I am very proudl of and who enjoy their health for which I cannot be more thankful.

Last but not least, I met and married the greatest woman on earth, who cares for me, and supports me in every way, so that I share every success and every challenge, and look forward to going home to every single day, and miss when I'm not with her.

Lorraine told me today, she bought a lottery ticket because the current prize is up to forty million. OK, whatever, I won't lie, if that ever happened, that would be great, but let's face it, I"m already rich beyond belief.....and now all I have to do is do my best each day, so that in some small way, I can try to do the impossible, show that I in some way deserve all that I have.

I can't see myself ever accomplishing that, but I will die trying!!!

Feb 12, 2011

Today's weekly 10 minute workout

Trap bar deadlift
Nautilus pullover ultimate rep
nautilus torso arm
155*55 seconds

Feb 6, 2011

Feedback recently given

Someone recently asked me for feedback and after replying I thought perhaps my response
summarized some of
my current thinking on exercise and nutrition fairly well so...


Even though part of me knows that my genetics/age are limiting factors for gaining significant size, I am not going down without a fight. 

If I was wealthy and didn't need to work, my first change would be to sleep 9 or 10 hours per day. I suspect very strongly that this would be significant and I've often thought that many debates about recovery in exercise are akin to straightening chairs on the titanic as 90% of the population is by definition sleep deprived. 

Note that people who are in prison often display incredible physiques despite daily marathon training and less than optimum nutrition. 

That could also be explained by higher testosterone levels in an agressive population coupled with higher motivation. (being considered weak in that society is a distinct disadvantage ) but I think the opportunity to train, eat and sleep lots must be a significant contributor. 

I feel lucky to get 7 to 8.5. 

For sheer size, I believe an emphasis on exercises like the trap bar deadlift, leg press and squat are essential. The combination I'm currently cycling is
Leg presses continuous 2 min or less to failure
Tbdl doing sets of 5 and 3 working up to a max weight for 3 reps
Lp using a 20 rep breathing squat/rest pause method*
Tbdl using a similar 20 rep method**

These are staples of weekly "big 3" which also include nautilus pullover (jreps and ult rep) dips, chins, nautilus decline press, torso arm and low back. 

For eating, I like Kurt harris' "get started" section on paleonu.com with an accent on getting more calories from fat to help with growth. Check this link often as Kurt updates continually as he does more research.  

My current strategy that I'm just starting is non workout days

Max 100 g carbs (if you go over do so with tubers)
Max 120 g protein
No limit fat (raw cream, coconut oil, raw eggs)

Workout day
Max 100g fat
No limit protein and carbs (though I will not eat junk) fruits, vegetables, tubers, raw honey, raw milk are preferred carb sources

I am trying this exercise and diet combination recently so cannot make any claims to effectiveness. Just my current attempt to go down fighting. 

Other sources for diet that you could check out are leangains and dipasquale's anabolic diet. I don't fully agree with details but some good info.

I do like Chris masterjohn. (google or look for on facebook) 

As for getting lean for competition, the "how to lose fat" link at the bottom of forementioned "getting started" link has good ideas   I might go with more protein. 

How lean?  The mirror is the best indicator and odds are it is leaner than you think, significantly. 

Truth be told, the current emphasis on extreme leanness as a judging criteria IMO is not "natural". I've read that our bodyfat serves a purpose in storing toxins, which in absence go to our organs. I cannot vouch for scientific validity of this but food for thought. 

In the last week to 10 days before a competition there is also a manipulation of water retention that takes place by using various tactics of water intake (drink lots), sodium and pottAssiun and carb intake. 

A bodybuilder who is not holding enough water will look small and stringy, just enough will show vascularity and muscle fullness and too much will make the person appear smooth or even bloated. 

Much of bodybuiding is illusionary and good posing which is a lot harder than it looks can serve to make a lesser physique win over a better one by emphasizing strengths and hiding weaknesses. Finally, judging is extremely subjective depending on what judge shows up. 

* first 10 reps with 5 second pause with knees just short of locked followed by 10 second pauses for next 5 reps and 15 second pauses for last 5. If that is not failure then do as many additional continuous reps over 20 and raise weight next time. 

**5 reps and 25 second break putting trap bar down then 5 reps and 30 second break then 3 reps and 35 seconds, 3 more and 40, 2 and and 45 and then final 2. If I can do more in good form then I keep going. With deadlift, failure is when form suffers. Take time to learn this exercise properly
-butt down
-eyes up
-hand position in line with ankles
-think pushing feet through floor rather than lifting with back

Part of the reason for pauses is to give yourself a chance to reposition for perfect form. I start to do this while there is still 10 seconds left in planned break. 

Feb 2, 2011

Can you do things wrong, and still get results?


As much as we all buy into the idea of success being linked to hard work and the proper application of sound principles, there is also an unquestionable amount of luck, or perhaps a better word would be randomness.

Hard work and the proper application of sound principles, increase the probability of success, but randomness can create challenges even in these instances, especially if the expectation is unrealistic. What I mean by an unrealistic expectation, usually has to do with comparing your results to someone else's, particularly someone who has achieved very significant results, but who you may perceive is not applying sound principles.

Your expectation then may be that your sound approach will yield vastly superior results.

A prime example of this is exercise, in which the variance in results varies dramatically between different individuals.

The randomness of genetic potential is immense, and some people are very muscular who don't even do exercise, or who perform exercise which is sub optimal, or even counterproductive.

Arthur Jones, the inventor of Nautilus strength training machines said something to the effect that a true ectomorph will not appear muscular even with 20 years of training, and that a true mesomorph will appear muscular even if totally untrained.

Genetics however, can seem like a bit too much of a convenient explanation (albeit accurate in most cases) for why someone achieves enviable results despite what appear to be sub optimal methods.

Results come from progressively overloading muscles, proper nutrition and adequate rest and recovery.

Another aspect of proper exercise is safety meaning that it should not produce either an acute injury or long term wear and tear to joints, ligaments, tendons, or even hurt someone's overall health in the long term by over stressing the body repeatedly over time.

However, another aspect of randomness other than genetics is survivor bias. In other words, the Olympic gold medallist who appears to have done everything right, (he won the gold medal!) may be one of a thousand people who followed similar methods, and the only one who did not suffer a career ending injury as a result, either through sheer luck or again, being genetically gifted to take on the abuse. (Although many athletes pay a high price later in life because of the very methods that allegedly helped them to achieve their peak performance.)

The science suggests strongly that most athletes do far too much overall exercise than what is needed or optimal. (note here, that I'm referring to conditioning, not skill mastery, which inevitably does require hours upon hours of proper practice)

However, when someone does a large volume of exercise, much of it, is by necessity, going to be of low intensity. So critics of high volume will cite overtraining as a likely result, but in fact, if the volume exerciser is doing most of his exercise at a low intensity then he may not be taxing his recovery ability enough to make a significant difference.

Assuming that on occasion, that person attempts a maximum or near maximum effort, then from the sheer volume of exericse, he happens by chance to actually stimulate his muscles to grow, and because he does it only occasionally, he does in fact avoid overtraining.

He will then conclude that his results are due to the many hours he spends exercising, when in fact, his results may only come from less than 5% of what he is doing, and the other 95% is irrelevant or may be even holding him back from getting even better results, but obviously the other 95% is not enough to actually prevent the results.

I'm using exercise as an example, but in fact the oft quoted Pareto's rule (the 20/80 rule) is at work here, and in fact probably in many cases is more of a 5/95 rule, where a very small part of what we do in any endeavour is responsible for the vast majority of our results.

Interestingly, sometimes the perfect can be the enemy of the good. Other people refine the adatation stimulus to such potency that there may be very little margin for error in the proper dosage. Intensity in exercise is akin to the potency of a drug. If a drug's potency is relatively low, then whether you take 30 or 45 ml of a cold remedy may be fairly irrelevant, but if the potency is high, then the diffence between optimum and toxic may be very small. So going back to the 5/95 principle, if you discover the 5% that is most effective, and you choose to focus primarily if not exclusively on that 5%, you may achieve amazing results but if you are overly zealous, you may do more harm than good, and be left wondering why your optimal methods did not produce the superior results to the individual who appears to you to be wasting countless hours of irrelevant or counterproductive effort.

Sometimes, you are just at the right place at the right time, or born to the right parents, or try so many things, that sooner or later, you stumble on something that works...(the harder I work, the luckier I get?)...

In the end, the point of this blog, is that we should be weary of "learning from other people's success" or comparing ourselves to others in general. We need to consider anecdotal evidence, but we need to consider it very critically and jump to conclusions very slowly. We also need to always think for ourselves, and not give undue credit to "experts".

Remember, exercise, in this case is being used to exemplify principles that apply to all natural systems, whether it be having a successful harvest, having a strong relationship or building a successful business.

Best to all, and thanks for reading!