You Can’t Get Fit Laying On The Couch All Week, Apparently.

When I was younger, I had no problem leaping onto the nearest soapbox or eviscerating people who didn’t agree with my point of view. Girlfriends (and especially my wife) and years have mellowed me a bit, as I now pick my battles. This is such an occasion.

I was alerted to a local column called “Fit City” in the Austin-American Statesman. This column features “fit” Austinites and they were in need of some younger folks for future postings. Channeling my inner Tim Ferriss, I saw this as an opportunity to pimp Efficient Exercise, since it’s still January and people are out there thinking they have to train 6 days a week with most of that being long drawn out cardio. I wanted to show how little activity, combined with a real food diet, could yield great results, so I sent this:


My name is Skyler Tanner and I think I fit the bill for young at 27 years. Regarding how I stay fit, I keep it simple with 2 high intensity training sessions per week and intermittent fasting combined with a real food diet (sometimes referred to as paleo/primal/evolutionary). I maintain the condition you see in the photo on less than an hour a week of exercise. I hope this fits what you are looking for.

If it’s relevant, I also teach proper exercise at Efficient Exercise here in Austin but that is instructing with little to no training along.


With the above I included this photo:

It’s a total myspace angle shot but it gets the point across. Again, I was hoping to show that people need not exercise themselves to death to gain strength, vitality, and leanness. This was the response I received:

Thanks for sending this in! You are definitely young at 27. Do you have another photo that shows you doing a training session, perhaps? I’d rather run that then the one you sent. And you do no other activities besides the two training sessions? Any running or walking or basketball or hiking or something else we can mention?

I really don’t do much else, so I elaborated:

What’s the time limit on this? I’ll be having another training session this Saturday so I could take a less “bodybuilder-esque” shot then.

Really, I’m fairly lazy away from the gym. I walk my dogs, which is really a leisure activity for me, and maybe play basketball a few times a year. I’m typically up at 5am to teach clients starting at 6, so I’m on my feet all day. It’s not a workout but it’s certainly not sedentary.

I feel that pretty well clarified my situation: I train 2x per week and my job has me on my feet all day. However, I do no other forms of “exercise” during the week. It’s similar to what Nassim Taleb would say: I either do too little or too much. Of course, this isn’t sufficient and I received this in return:

Hi Skyler,
There’s no time limit at all. I just run them as I get them.Since I posted the call for new entries I’ve gotten a flurry of submissions, so there’s a lag of a couple months now.
I’d suggest rewriting your entry a little to include the dog walking, which is a great form of exercise (emphasis mine), and maybe mention the working on your feet. I don’t want people to get the idea that laying around on the couch the rest of the week is a good way to stay fit. So, just resubmit when you have a new photo and a few minutes to rewrite your paragraph.

What. The. Fuck? This person wants me to “beef up” my activity resume so that nobody “assumes” that I just work out twice a week and keep the level of fitness. In fact, that’s exactly what I’m saying: I train hard twice a week and do fuck-all the rest of the time. While it would behoove people to be on their feet more, it’s not exercise. While going out for a walk with the mutts is a peaceful moving meditation that lets my wife and I enjoy each others company and conversation, it’s not exercise (unless you’re sedentary, 95 [and not Jack Lalanne], and/or have recently had your hip replaced). Walking is human, it’s something we should all be capable of without attaching any sort of “exercise” tag to it.

It’s this type of OCD tomfuckery that keeps people fat year after year. People who write fitness columns in newspapers tend to be those spastic type-A people who absolute HAVE TO GET THEIR WORKOUT IN! In this city that almost surely means running and/or biking at Town Lake. Fine. Great. Awesome. But when these people start believe that their way is the only way, that everyone needs (NEEDS!) that level of activity to get in that great a shape. False. I’m in good shape but if you want to see someone in really great shape on minimal activity, look at Martin Berkhan. He spends more time drinking and fluffing protein in a given week than he does working out.

My point is this: You can get in great shape spending a lot of time on the couch IF you’re not eating shit (or eating way too much real food), making your workouts count, and being consistent. So no, I’m not going to claim “dog walking” as exercise because that type of nonsense is what keeps people thinking they’re “on the road to fitness” only to end up just as fat (or likely fatter) than they were the year prior. I’m not going to beef up my activity levels to meet some predetermined “necessary” activity level to be in great shape. It’s bullshit.

How Do We “Improve” Blood Donations?

I’ve not had much of a writing mojo lately, as my keen readers might note. However, I’ve been busy with work, school, and graduate school application preparation. In the meantime, I’ve been reading a large variety of books, all of which will be reviewed at some point. One that has already been reviewed to death is the “4 Hour Body.” One of the concepts that Tim Ferriss references is life extension by way of blood donation.

Prior to being notified of the possible benefits of enhanced longevity offered by blood donation, I had not put much thought into the process other than saving a couple (or more) lives. In further researching the benefits (possible cancer/all-cause death reduction), the effect seems to be the reduction of blood ferritin. Tim Ferriss mentions in the 4-hour body that caffeine before a double portion of plasma donation could possibly reduce toxins in the system by encouraging their release from adipose tissue prior to donation.

We always have some level of junk in the blood, so to speak. From the book:

“Donated blood will always have such toxins, so you are not being a bad citizen by temporarily increasing their excretion.”

As far as ferritin, the Eades suggest aiming for 50 mg/dl blood ferritin level for maximum protection. It has also been suggested to me that, in addition to taking caffeine prior to a donation, one might also take DMSA to further release metals from your body for extraction.

So team, does anyone out there have any idea about further “improving” blood donations for the sake of health and longevity? Let’s brainstorm this and see if we can’t find some things out.

So This Is The New Year

I’m a married man now and I don’t feel any different. That’s a good thing, mind you.

Long time, no post. I’ve been getting all of my wedding bits in order in addition to finishing the semester. I’ve also figured out where I’m going to apply to grad school. Once I confirm that I’ve been accepted I’ll let everyone know.

The big announcement is that we at Efficient Exercise are going to engage in what we’re loosely calling “Project Transformation”

We’re going to see what happens when you combine approximately 30-minutes worth of CZT-based workouts per week with the implementation of a Paleo diet.  If you live in the Austin area, and want to take part in Project Transformation: the Efficient Exercise Solution, leave a comment or email me and I’ll get you on the mailing list.  We’ll be choosing our 20 “subjects” soon, so don’t delay in getting in your request.  And once this “study” gets underway, you’ll be able to follow along on our Facebook page, as our subjects and trainers will be journaling about their experience there.  This will be a fun — and hopefully, enlightening — project to follow.  Give us a “Like” and follow along – we’re out to show that a properly designed, minimal investment can produce some stunning and healthy results.

Real World Applications of Diet and Fitness Know-How, for Busy, Intelligent People.

Mindfulness, Pre-Conditioning, and the Psychology of Possibility

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Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

– Rumi

What in the hell does a Franciscan Friar (Father Richard Rohr, author of The Naked Now) have in common with Physical Culture (writ large), and with the Paleo/EvFit/Ancestral movement specifically?  Plenty, my friend; plenty.  And that association has everything to do with the dissolution of preconceived biases, culturalization, mental conditioning/imprinting.  Now you’d think this topic would be as far removed from the wheelhouse of anyone with a stiff Catholic (or any religious) underpinning as could be; not so, however, in the case of Father Rohr — the Catholic equivalent to the Protestant emerging  church’s Rob Bell.

The interconnectedness of all things.  The fractal nature of life…and of lives.  The questioning of supposed “authority”, and the removal of blinders.  Again, not the kind of thing you expect to come from the religious community.  The times, though, they are a changn’…albeit slowly…but they are changin’, nonetheless.  All things — including, if this emerging Physical Culture renaissance movement has anything to say about it (and we most assuredly do!) — nothing less than the revamping of the entire thought process related to disease, healthcare, and the nature of health maintenance and the health delivery system.

Not convinced that any theologian — much less a Catholic theologian — can be so progressive?  Check-out this podcast interview of Father Rohr by Tapestry host Mary Hynes; fantastic stuff indeed.  Or, skim the pages of The Naked Now.  Learn to separate the teacher’s message from the teacher’s associations, and your preconceived notions of those associations.  If you can do that, you’ll avail yourself to a multitude of new learning opportunities, and avoid spiraling into that dreaded vortex of dogma .  Then take the added step by applying that openness to your exercise protocol selection.  The only question in your mind should be this: is this the best protocol for me, at this juncture in my life and given my goals.  Don’t allow yourself to be yoked to a tribe, protocol or guru just for the sake of belonging to a certain “community”.  Be a Physical Culture free agent, my friend, and prosper.

Theme of the week – Serendipity:

Funny how face-to-face conversations can, in ways not enabled otherwise, help drop the veil (or illusion) of separateness between entities.  Case in point: I had the pleasure of visiting (coffee at Austin’s own Epoch Coffee — one of my away-from-the-studio offices) and sharing a CZT-based workout with TTP reader Bill Fairchild.  During our conversation, I related how that, as a teen-ager growing up in San Antonio (and lucky enough to live in close proximity to the mecca of the San Antonio Physical Culture scene at the time, Powerhouse Gym), I was exposed first-hand to the dramatic effects of, what was an essentially a Paleo diet, could have on an athlete’s (and bodybuilder’s) physique.  Need to drop fat, really gain and maintain muscularity and athleticism?  Shift from eating crap to eating meat, eggs, and veggies — and lots of ‘em.  Why didn’t I make the connection back in the 80s that this type diet was preferable, year-’round (not just for contest/competition prep) to all the high carb/low fat crap that was being perpetuated?  Simply this: I wasn’t ready yet to think on my own, still thought “authority” ascended to the position of authority by virtue of having the “right” answers — in short, my thinking was, for the most part, mainstream; I’d been blinkered, culturalized, imprinted…conditioned.  For as radical as I thought I was at that time, I was really no more than a chick that had just begun to emerge from the shell.  And what I know now is that the shell of self-disillusion is the toughest of all to crack.

Now, of course, I question my own assumptions and “knowledge” relentlessly; Every.  Fracking.  Thing.  What things do I feel as sure of now, at this stage in my life,  that may just be the result of conditioning?  Hopefully, my epistemocratic leanings can save me from that kind of tunnel vision now; constant vigilance, though, is key.

Serendipity, part II:

I found out last week that the most knowledgeable man on the history of Physical Culture, Ken O’Neil, lives in Wimberley Texas, not 15 minutes from me.  Holy wealth-of-go-to-knowledge, batman.  The man is a walking encyclopedia of Physical Culture — past, present…and future!  More, much more, on Ken in the near future.  You’ll see his name here in TTP quite often from here on out I assure you.

In all things, Mindfulness:

Couple of great reads from Harvard magazine here.  Check out The Mindfulness Chronicles: On “the psychology of possibility”, and learn to tap into the possibility (the reality!) of you creating your own reality.  Dramatic changes begin in the mind.  Just as epigenetics can alter gene expression, so too can you significantly “alter” your reality.  There is no try, there is only do. 

And this is cool: Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and nutritionist Lilian Cheung, a lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health, apply ancient Buddhist mindfulness techniques to eating in the modern world. “It is not just what we consume, but how we eat, when we eat, why we eat, and whom we eat with that makes a difference,” says Cheung, who grew up in a Buddhist home in Hong Kong.  And I would add that the same mindfulness applies when lifting a weight, or otherwise engaged in an athletic effort.  Don’t just lift and/or mindlessly, but strive to make that mind-muscle connection.  This is the first step to becoming truly adept in the art of Physical Culture.  Other steps follow, of course — but not before mastery of this.  My own workouts, truthfully, are my meditations.

The workout front:

Monday, 12/27/10 –

A good deal of fixie huckin’ preceded this workout, so the old legs weren’t exactly fresh at the onset of the lifts.  Nothing to be worried over, though, within my grand scheme.  The key is Autoregulation and adequate intensity.

(A1) front squats (hierarchical): 135 x 15; 185 x 6; 235 x 3

(B1) high-catch power cleans: 135 x 10; 155 x 7; 175 x 5; 185 x 3; 195 x 2, 2, 2

(B2) Russian leg curl: x 5 each round (5010 tempo)

Wednesday, 12/29/10 –

(A1) Tru Squat: 160 # (no counter weight) x 7,  3, 3, 3, 3, 3 (rest pause, 30×0 tempo)

(A2) leg press: 400 x 15 (30×0 tempo)

(B1) Nautilus pec dec: 110 x 13, 2, 2, 2, 2 (rest-pause, 40×0 tempo)

(B2) Xccentric seated military: (no counter weight, no added weight) x 6 (at 30×0 tempo), then 12 rest-pause singles at an 80×1 tempo

I followed this up with a (painfully) long stretch in the full ROM flye position, utilizing blast-straps and bodyweight.

Thursday, 12/30/10 –

(A1) kettlebell swings: 45 lbs x 50, 50, 50, 50

(A2) single-arm bent-over row (Oly bar): 95 x 12; 115 x 12, 12, 12,

(A3) Oly bar “shovel”: bar x 15; 65 x 12, 10, 9

(A4) Oly bar bi curl: 95 x 12; 115 x 12, 10, 8

(B1) “ski jump” cable shrugs: 4 sets of 200 x15

The “shovel” is simply an underhand (think bicep curl grip) straight bar front raise.  This hits the front delts in a unique way, and has the added benefit of engaging the lats from a rather unique angle as well.  For “ski jump” shrugs, I load-up a cable pulley (or pair of pulleys, as I have access to a Nautilus Free Trainer cable system), position the hold (either a single bar, or, in my case dual handles) behind my back, take a step or two forward and really lean into the weight such that I’m now at a hard angle away from the machine — a “ski jumper in flight” angle.  Now you can really torch the traps with some higher-rep sets.  And why a single-arm bent-over row with an Oly bar?  Try it, and let me know what kind of core strength is required to pull it off.  That’s why  :)

Announcements?  Oh Yeah, I got a couple:

Check out what we at Efficient Exercise have on tap beginning this month:

What happens to a relatively untrained body when we combine approximately 30-minutes worth of CZT-based workouts per week with the implementation of a Paleo diet?   Well, beginning later this month, we at Efficient Exercise are going to find out.  If you live in the Austin area, and want to take part in Project Transformation: the Efficient Exercise Solution, give me a shout and I’ll get you on the mailing list.  We’ll be choosing our 20 “subjects” soon, so don’t delay in getting in your request.  And once this “study” gets kicked-off, you’ll be able to follow along on our Facebook page, as our subjects and trainers will be journaling about their experience there.  This will be a fun — and hopefully, enlightening — project to follow.  So “like us up”, and follow along — we’re out to show that a properly designed minimal investment can produce some stunning and healthy results.