Hypothermia: The Best Way to Activate Brown Adipose Tissue

So among the many adventures in bizarre fitness/health rituals I have embarked upon in my time is the idea of dousing. That is to say: get in your trunks first thing in the morning, take nearly freezing water and dump it on your head. You have to (HAVE TO, so say the gurus) be standing on Terra Firma or the ghosts of Czars will haunt you for all eternity. Once you do this, go inside and take a shower. The shivering effect achieved is the body reminding you how tremendously stupid you are…but it is great for brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation.

I have also come to understand that a cold bath before bed is like “elephant tranquilizer.” I love a deep, decadent sleep so I thought it a good idea to try swimming in Barton Springs before bed last night. Barton Springs is a natural spring in Austin that naturally maintains a temperature of 68-71*F throughout the year and is a very popular spot when the surface of the sun has taken residence in our fair city…naturally. The fact that most people go there during the day is important and I’ll get to that in a minute.

So Barton Springs is ~10 miles from my house. After 9pm it is free admission so I get there around 9:10. I scale a fence, ninja-boulderer style to get in as I forgot that only one entrance is open after 9, and I proceed on my mission: dive in, swim back and forth across the width of the pool, go dive in at the gnarly diving board, swim back, get out, go home. After doing all of these things I realize that I am very dazed, my head hurt, tachypnea had set in, I felt obliquely pukey. This is surely the start of the elephant tranquilizer effect.

I head back to my car, get out on the road, realize that I’m extremely disoriented, pull over, get out, almost puke and after a few minutes start to feel better (only later did I realize that the warm air was the reason). I get back in my car and start to make my way through downtown Austin via Barton Springs road. If you’re not from around here, Barton Springs road is a very busy street filled with nightlife, traffic, and Tex Mex. That is to say, having my window rolled down increased my disorientation but kept me distracted from how god-awful I was feeling. Somewhere along the way, a shirtless bearded man road his bike up next to my car and informed me that my towel was hanging off the back of my car. Amazing. I channeled my inner Hulk Hogan and told him “Thanks Brother.”

I get on IH-35 shortly afterward, a notorious cluster-fuck of trucks and terrible on/off ramps. Austin was once meant to be a holding pen for smelly dirty hippies and other weirdos; little did it know that NAFTA would bring a metric ton of truck traffic our way straight up the 35. At this point my entire body is tingling and the noxious fumes of truck traffic was great at distracting me from my own disorientation. Somewhere on the upper deck I call my wife and calmly ask her to draw me a warm bath. Her response is, “I’m kind of busy…you can do it yourself.” In hindsight my voice and demeanor must have been cool to the point of relaxing. I hang up and try not to fly off the upper deck and  crash into a Baby A’s tex-mex restaurant.

When I get home I half park my car up on the curb before getting it parked correctly. I’m amazed I didn’t take out the mailbox as I was only vaguely aware of my limbs at this point. My face and jaw had begun to tingle, as had my ribs. While “tingly ribs” might be something that can be sold at a BBQ joint (Really, just inject a couple CO2 cartridges into some homemade BBQ sauce), it wasn’t very tasty for me at that moment. So I stumble into the house and my wife explains that she was sorry for being short with me and that she really had to get whatever she had to get done…done. It was a bill I think, I don’t know, I handed all of the finances off to her. That and I’m a grown-ass man who can draw his own bath.  She looks at me quizzically, states “You look pale. Go lay down.” I take a look in the mirror, marvel at my powder-like complexion, and proceed to strip off my wet clothes and lay down under multiple quilts and blankets. At this point my wife tells me “Put on some underwear; you lose a lot of heat through your balls.” This is technically correct methodology for rewarming after hypothermia though I’m sure EMS isn’t on the scene yelling, “SIR! YOUR BALLS ARE IN NEED OF RAPID REWARMING!” I’d be happy to increase my tax rate if they were going to do that as protocol permanently .

After some restless tossing and turning, I take a warm shower, feel life rush back into me, crack some jokes about how that was a “Great idea” inspired by Tim Ferriss and Richard Nikoley. The thing I didn’t take into account is that they could, at any moment, get out and take a hot shower. The moral of the story? If you’re going to try this, don’t do it 10 miles from the nearest shower should things suddenly go wrong…and if you do, please tell us all about it.

My Achin’ Wrist

So on June 3rd my dogs decided it was a good idea to try and kill one another. In the process of showing them how this is a bad idea, I caught a Beagle canine right in the back of my hand (the middle, proximal metacarpals if we’re specific). After 2 weeks of triple antibiotics, my hand returned to its normal size. Fast forward to July 4th: I workout and include wrist supination/pronation exercises in addition to my (somewhat regular) wrist extension exercises. I wake up sometime in the middle of the night unable to sleep because my wrist hurts like mad. I’ve had my share of soft tissue injuries from basketball but this was really gnarly. One week later I still have a nice fat lump near the point of the injury:

Digit extension is still tender but improving. The ol’ rest/ice/compression/elevation had been helping, though I’d really like to get my hands (haha!) on an ultrasound device to speed up recovery. Seems (seems) to be a course of treatment like any other tendonitis. Onward.

 

You have limits…what will you do when you reach them?

Steve Prefontaine was an obscure distance runner made famous by Jared Leto…

Even this surprises Jared Leto.

Actually “Pre” was a record-setting distance runner that is cemented is mythology by tragically dying in a car crash. “Pre” believed that there was no such thing as talent: it was a myth and he was merely willing to suffer more than anybody else. He was great at suffering but as it turns out he was very talented. His VO2 max was 84.4 ml/kg/min, which to put in perspective is higher than Lance Armstrong’s VO2 max. To further put in perspective VO2 max, you can very nearly maximize whatever your lot is in ~ 6 weeks of very dedicated VO2 max training. And Pre smoking weed on his couch for 6 weeks would likely still have a higher VO2 max (I don’t know if he in fact did smoke marijuana but I’m using it to make a point about the lack of train-ability of something like VO2 max).

While there are a host of things that can be trained and substantially improved, and you have to go out and really try to find them in order to see what the limits are, the fact remains that we have limits. When you reach that limit, how will your training change over the course of your life as a result?

The 21 Convention

 

As previously mentioned, I’ll be speaking at the 21 convention next Thursday. The topic of my talk is “Great Expectations: Training over a Lifetime.” I’m going to mostly be doing a live version of my “manifesto” regarding training, defining your own goals, being smart, science of achievement, talent, and limits. People don’t like talking about inbuilt limits; hell there has been a slew of books recently about talent being a overrated (even the aptly titled “Talent Is  Overrated“). Especially in our cozy puritanical society, it is comforting to believe that with just a little hard work anybody can be the best at anything. This is in fact false and I’m going to discuss much of this at the conference, not to dishearten people, but to put control in perspective (some of which I discussed in my “Trichotomy of Control” post). Make no mistake hard work is required but no amount of hard work is going to push you passed the ceiling of your talent; some people win with more practice because they’ve realized their potential versus a person who, while having a high potential, has not worked hard enough to realize their potential. You can work 20,000 hours and still lose to someone with a higher talent who has worked just as hard.

The rest of the talk is going to be about clients I have over the course of their training careers, basically finding new challenges that they don’t have control of (age) and some that they do (picking new activities/sports to work toward personal bests in). It’s going to be personal experience meets standing on the shoulders of giants; I cannot wait.