Just a quicky, heck it was a blog comment I made, but I think it sums up a thought about how we tend to want to go about things in diet and exercise:
In every other avenue of life we choose the path of least resistance to reach our goal…the path that will get us where we need to go without too many bumps. But when it comes to diet and exercise, for some reason we choose the most difficult, arduous, painful path and beat ourselves up when we don’t follow through on a nearly impossible plan. Pick the low-hanging fruit until it stops working. Pick the next lowest fruit and so on.
The tricky part is identifying *your* unique low-hanging fruit, but that should still be your goal. Instead of counting your carbs, how about trying to add 1 or 2 more servings of vegetables each day? Instead of blowing up your training routine with conjugated mumbo-jumbo from some meathead, why not try to add 1 more pound to the bar than you used last week? Low. Hanging. Fruit.
Eventually, all that fruit ends up being a bounty if you keep at it long enough.
It’s become the quasi-popular thing to “break up” with a “paleo diet.”
Or the multitudes of “me too!”-types in the comment threads that follow said posts.
My knee-jerk response to all of this:
If you have to “break-up” with a diet or exercise regimen, you were entirely too emotionally invested in the first place.
Perhaps I’m fortunate to be surrounded by people who are keen on saying things like, “That works…and so does this.”
Perhaps I’ve read too much Williams James in my lifetime.
But here’s the rub: the great thing about science is that it is true whether or not you believe it. However you are still the expert of your own body and of your own psyche. If a diet, no matter how perfect it may be scientifically/religiously/dogmatically/conceptually, is making you feel bad, STOP DOING IT! When a food gives you explosive shitstorms on a regular basis, you’d be wise to not eat it no matter what your just-so belief in Grok/Jesus/Guru Jones would urge you to do. How you feel is the ultimate equalizer. If you can’t answer the question “How’s that working for you?” with “Fucking fantastic!” then it’s time to change something until you can.
I’m a fan of evidence-based training and here’s what I’m proposing: live a selfishly evidence-based life. If what you’re doing isn’t making you and only you feel better/look better/perform better, change it until it does. Make this the go-to for everything in your life, even. It’s up to you to find the recipe that cooks up the best you possible. If you can do this, you can stop writing breakup blog posts and get on with being awesome. And that’s ultimately the goal, isn’t it?
But if you ask me, a diet of meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds, tubers, and real fats is a really good place to start.
My talk from last summer has been featured on Dr. Mercola’s “Peak Fitness” blog. Now I can look official with a “Featured on…” note on my “About” page. Anyway here’s the link:
This past weekend I presented my talk “Aging With Strength,” which was both a tightening and an expansion of my “Biomarkers of Aging” talk from last year. For my next blog post, I’ll explore a question I received from an OB/GYN whose name I forgot (Sorry!): how effective strength training can be in middle-aged women with and without hormone replacement.
In the meantime, here are my references:
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- Rhodes, E., Martin, A., Taunton, J., Donnelly, M., Warren, J., Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 18-22.
- Lemmer, J., Hurlbut, D., Martel, G., Tracy, B., Ivey, F., Metter, E., Fozard, J., Fleg, J., Hurley, B. (2000). Age and gender response to strength training and detraining. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 32(8), 1505-1512.
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- Rhodes, E., Martin, A., Taunton, J., Donnelly, M., Warren, J. Elliot, J. (2000). Effects of one year of resistance training on the relation between muscular strength and bone density in elderly women. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 18-22.
- Vincent, K., Braith, R. (2002). Resistance exercise and bone turnover in elderly men and women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(1), 17-23.
- Courtney, A., Wachtel, E., Myers, E., Hayes, W. (1994). Effects of Loading Rate on Strength of the Proximal Femur. Calcified Tissue International, 55(1), 53-58.
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- Tambalis K, et al. (2009). Responses of blood lipids to aerobic, resistance, and combined aerobic with resistance exercise training: a systematic review of current evidence. Angiology, 60(5), 614-632.
- Hagberg JM, Ferrell RE, Katzel LI, Dengel DR, Sorkin JD, Goldberg AP (2000). Apolipoprotein E genotype and exercise training-induced increases in plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL)- and HDL2-cholesterol levels in overweight men. Metabolism, 48: 943-945
- Kaplan N. (1990). Clinical hypertension. 5th ed. Baltimore (MD): Williams and Wilkins
- Cornelissen VA, Fagard RH (2005). Effects of endurance training on blood pressure, blood pressure-regulating mechanisms, and cardiovascular risk factors. Hypertension. 46 (4), 667-675.
- Taaffe DR, et al. (2007). Reduced central blood pressure in older adults following progressive resistance training. Journal of Human Hypertension. 23(2), 1-9.
- Lovell DI, et al. (2009). Resistance training reduces the blood pressure response of older men during submaximum aerobic exercise. Blood Pressure Monitoring, 14 (4), 137-144.
- Martel GF, Hurlbut DE, Lott ME, Lemmer JT, Ivey FM, …Hurley BF. (1999). Strength training normalizes resting blood pressure in 65 to 73 year-old men and women with high normal blood pressure. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 47, 1215-1221
- Cortez-Cooper MY, et al. (2005). Effects of high intensity resistance training on arterial stiffness and wave reflection in women. American Journal of Hypertension, 18(7), 930-934.
- Kawano H, et al. (2008). Resistance training in men is associated with increased arterial stiffness and blood pressure but does not adversely affect endothelial function as measured by arterial reactivity to the cold pressor test. Experimental Physiology, 93 (2), 296-302.
- Collier SR, et al (2008). Effect of 4 weeks of aerobic or resistance exercise training on arterial stiffness, blood flow, and blood pressure in pre- and stage-1 hypertensives. Journal of Human Hypertension, 22 (10), 678-686.
- Meyer K, Hajric R, Westbrook S, Haag-Wildi S, Holtkamp R, Leyk D, Schnellbacher K. (1999). Hemodynamic responses during leg press exercise in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. American Journal of Cardiology, 83 (11), 1537-1543.
- Dubach, P., Myers, J., Dziekan, G., Goebbels, U., Reinhart, W., Muller, P., … & Ratti, R. (1997). Effect of high intensity exercise training on central hemodynamic responses to exercise in men with reduced left ventricular function. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 29(7), 1591-1598.
- Palevo, G., Keteyian, S. J., Kang, M., & Caputo, J. L. (2009). Resistance exercise training improves heart function and physical fitness in stable patients with heart failure. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, 29(5), 294.
- Levinger, I., Bronks, R., Cody, D. V., Linton, I., & Davie, A. (2005). The effect of resistance training on left ventricular function and structure of patients with chronic heart failure. International journal of cardiology, 105(2), 159-163.
- Feiereisen, P., Delagardelle, C., Vaillant, M., Lasar, Y., & Beissel, J. (2007). Is Strength Training the More Efficient Training Modality in Chronic Heart Failure?. Medicine & Science in Sports & exercise: Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, 39(11), 1910-1917.
- Copeland, S. R., Mills, M. C., Lerner, J. L., Crizer, M. F., Thompson, C. W., & Sullivan, J. M. (1996). Hemodynamic effects of aerobic vs resistance exercise. Journal of human hypertension, 10(11), 747-753.
- Nathan DM, Cleary PA, Backlund JY, et al. (2005). Intensive diabetes treatment and cardiovascular disease in patients with type 1 diabetes. New England Journal of Medicine, 353 (25), 2643-2653.
- Bweir S, Al-Jarrah M, Almalty AM, Maayah M, Smirnova IV, Novikova L, Stehno-Bittel L. (2009). Resistance exercise training lowers HbA1c more than aerobic training in adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 1 (1), 27.
- Irvine C, Taylor NF (2009) Progressive resistance exercise improves glycaemic control in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 55(4), 237-246.
- Strasser B, Siebert U, Schobersberger W. (2010). Resistance training in the treatment of the metabolic syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of resistance training on metabolic clustering in patients with abnormal glucose metabolism. Sports Medicine, 40 (5), 39.
- Blair SN, Kohl HW 3rd, Paffenbarger RS Jr, Clark DG, Cooper KH, Gibbons LW. (1989). Physical fitness and all-cause mortality: a prospective study of healthy men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association, 262, 2395-2401
- Ades PA, Ballor DL, Ashikaga T, Utton JL, Nair KS. (1996).Weight training improves walking endurance in healthy elderly persons. Annals of Internal Medicine, 124: 568-572
- Frontera WR, Meredith CN, O’Reilly KP, Evans WJ. (1990). Strength training and the determinants of VO2max in older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 68 (1), 329-333.
- Steele J, Fisher J, McGuff D, Stewart B, Smith D. (2012). Resistance Training To Momentary Muscular Failure Improves Cardiovascular Fitness In Humans: A Review Of Chronic Physiological Responses And Chronic Physiological Adaptations. Journal Of Exercise Physiology, 15 (3), 53-80.
- Roth SM, Martel GF, Ferrell RE, Metter EJ, Hurley BF, Rogers MA. (2003). Myostatin gene expression is reduced in humans with heavy-resistance strength training: a brief communication. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 228 (6), 706-709.
- Melov S, Tarnopolsky MA, Beckman K, Felkey K, Hubbard A. (2007). Resistance exercise reverses aging in human skeletal muscle. PLOS One, 2 (5), e465.
- Tyler, L. K., Shafto, M. A., Randall, B., Wright, P., Marslen-Wilson, W. D., & Stamatakis, E. A. (2010). Preserving syntactic processing across the adult life span: the modulation of the frontotemporal language system in the context of age-related atrophy. Cerebral Cortex, 20(2), 352-364.
- Erickson et al (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108 (7), 3017-3022.
- Griffin et al (2011). Aerobic exercise improves hippocampal function and increases BDNF in the serum of young adult males. Physiology & Behavior. 104 (5), 934-941.
- Erickson, K. I., Raji, C. A., Lopez, O. L., Becker, J. T., Rosano, C., Newman, A. B., … & Kuller, L. H. (2010). Physical activity predicts gray matter volume in late adulthood The Cardiovascular Health Study. Neurology, 75(16), 1415-1422.
- Nagamatsu, L. S., Handy, T. C., Hsu, C. L., Voss, M., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2012). Resistance Training Promotes Cognitive and Functional Brain Plasticity in Seniors With Probable Mild Cognitive Impairment. Archives of internal medicine, 172(8), 666-668.
I’m a fan of systems, or at least systems thinking. Organizing ideas into a cohesive structure makes the application of the ideas more targeted and appropriate, especially when exercise and health are the goal. Having said that, I think that we’re a long way off from a total understanding of the nuances of anatomy, physiology, neuromuscular physiology, etc. to be able to determine the “best” system (though evidence points us in the right direction).
I often demonstrate this notion by stating that the only undefeated team in the history of the NFL used the Nautilus system of training, ergo Nautilus is the best training system for football teams that want to win. This isn’t true necessarily but it demonstrates how much such declarative statements are at least inaccurate.
An extension of any training program is the regenerative components of the program. At EE Westlake, I use a sufficient volume of soft tissue work, the Med-X Super Stretch, and the Back Revolution to help clients feel their best. I’ve found good success with this but I’m not convinced it is because of any “magic” in my system; rather I think it’s just the fact that I am paying attention to these at all.
Example: Dr. Craig Bueller, founding of Advanced Muscle Integration Techniques, claims that during his tenure at the Utah Jazz, his teams had “lowest ‘Player Missed Games due to Injury Rate’ of any team in the NBA for 25 years.” Juxtapose that with Gray Cook, PT who is one of the developers of the Functional Movement Screen. The Atlanta Falcons claim that their reduced injury rate has been a direct result of using the Functional Movement Screen to assess the body before an injury can occur.
So if one system is better than the other, why do both produce a result of reduced injuries? It could be the luck of the draw: some seasons have less injuries no matter the system. However, I think it is the fact that there is someone paying attention to trying to heal you as a human.
A great article out of Wired magazine discusses this phenomena. Titled “Dr. Feelgood” in the mag but “Forget the Placebo Effect: It’s the ‘Care Effect’ That Matters” on the internet, Nathanael Johnson discusses a sham acupuncture treatment creating results:
We’ve known for decades that when sick people are given a treatment, even if it’s just a sugar pill, their condition often improves. But that can’t be the whole story, if only because the size of the effect varies wildly from one study to the next. One clue to a better answer is found in research led by Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School: Patients with irritable bowel syndrome were told they’d be participating in a study of the benefits of acupuncture — and one group, which received the treatment from a warm, friendly researcher who asked detailed questions about their lives, did report a marked reduction in symptoms, equivalent to what might result from any drug on the market. Unbeknownst to them, the researchers used trick needles that didn’t pierce the skin.
Now here’s the interesting part: The same sham treatment was given to another group of subjects — but performed brusquely, without conversation. The benefits largely disappeared. It was the empathetic exchange between practitioner and patient, Kaptchuk concluded, that made the difference.
What Kaptchuk demonstrated is what some medical thinkers have begun to call the “care effect” — the idea that the opportunity for patients to feel heard and cared for can improve their health.
Clients who don’t have a doctor ask me if I know any good ones. I know of one or two but none locally who are primary care. I tell them, “Find a DO; at least they’re good at touching and figuring out what is wrong.” This healing touch of the physician, the laying of the hands, is a lost art. There are far more sophisticated tests, but the touch was only part of the diagnosis; it was a reminder that someone was there for you, caring for you. Dr. Abraham Verghese of Stanford University agrees, which is why he’s trying to bring back the lost art of the physical:
He came to know many of his patients and their families. He visited their homes, attended their deaths and their funerals. One patient, near death, awoke when Dr. Verghese arrived, and opened his shirt to be examined one last time.
“It was like an offering,” Dr. Verghese said, with tears in his eyes. “To preside over the bed of a dying man in his last few hours. I listen, I thump, I don’t even know what I’m listening for. But doing it says: ‘I will never leave you. I will not let you die in pain or alone.’ There’s not a test you can offer that does that.”
So my point is this: care is part of treatment, not only in medicine, but in exercise, health, and longevity. Some call it the placebo effect, but we’re fantastically adaptable creatures…maybe the fact that someone is caring (and not doing something that can hurt you in the process) is enough to help supercharge healing and recovery. Readers, it would behoove you to take advantage of this whenever you’re in need.
Part of the reason I turned off comments on this blog is to reduce spam, but most of the reason is to insulate my mind space from distracting information. Brad Pilon summed this up in a recent facebook post beautifully.
Guys and girls as a reminder: It would be greatly appreciated if you would not post links to other people’s blog posts, articles, youtube videos etc on my facebook page. I do my best to not read or view that stuff, and I do it on purpose.
I appreciate and am humbled that you’d like my input or thoughts, but many of these writings are things I’m trying to protect my mind-space from, and I suggest you do the same.
To some extent we all learn and absorb passively, and some of this stuff I simply do not want in my head.
I promise when I find things worthy of writing about I will do my best to get that information to you, but please let me do my best to prioritize that information.
Again, I really appreciate that you value my opinion, but I simply do not have any interest in he said / she said type discussions.
I also see little value in “connecting” as defined by the Internet definition. It waters down relationships, removes context, and (for me anyway) creates the dopamine-fueled hunting drive that can never be satisfied by another click of the mouse on another hyperlink to another rewording of another blog post about another opinion regarding the next magic bullet. I really try and make sure that if I’m posting something that’s not Folly, it comes with references filled with mechanisms and decent science. I’ve got textbooks full of the stuff, believe me.
This is my brand of training and diet advice; if you find use from it, great! If you don’t, good luck on your path! If you want to link me to what someone else says that disagrees me, well I’ve turned off comments for this very reason.
Texas, on the balance, is pretty damn flat. Save for the Big Bend Region, there really aren’t much in the way of mountains like the ones I grew up with in Arizona. That said, Austin is effectively the start of the Hill Country here in Texas where it starts looking like this:
And possibly the most visited area of the hill country is Enchanted Rock, where we went for a hike yesterday:
And a panorama from the top:
While note quite the majestic hillwalks that my friend Chris often gets chances to do, the point of training, for most of us anyway, is not to achieve some sort of sporting end: it is to make life richer through unique experiences with family and friends. Muscle and strength WILL decline; if you’ve not used it for something other than an end in itself, what was the point?