The Simply Human Lifestyle

What is the Simply Human Lifestyle?

The Simply Human Lifestyle (SHL) is human beings being human. It is a way to try and get people to think on their own about how we, as humans, are designed to function. My goal for creating the SHL is to try and help anyone who is not happy with the way they look, feel, and/or perform. My goal is to get information out there that will help people regain their health and wellness -- if they want to be healthy.

It is not a quick fix or a 30-day plan. There are no supplements you MUST take. There are no gimmicks. It is not a cut and dry rule book. It requires personal experimentation, research and seeking. What is being sought after are the ways to eat, move and sleep that are the most human. The four main categories of the SHL are

  • Eating human food in ways humans are supposed to eat
  • Moving in ways that humans are supposed to move
  • Sleeping like humans are supposed to sleep
  • Enjoying life like humans are supposed to enjoy life.

I believe humans, in our best intentions, have let technology and innovation get in the way of human beings being human. Technology and innovation have done great things for commerce, information sharing, science, education, and world affairs. But the human himself (or herself) has paid the price.

Examples of these negative effects are

  • Synthetic foods
  • Fortified foods
  • Most supplementation
  • Expensive and hi-tech running shoes
  • Prime Time TV
  • Most pharmaceuticals  
  • Food scales
  • Counting calories

The Simply Human Lifestyle (SHL) tries to mitigate the negative effects that modern technology and civilization/domestication have placed on our health. The SHL is NOT against advances in modern medicine that deal with communicable diseases and sewing limbs back on. It is against the "pill for every ill" system that has been set up. It is for prevention and against defaulting to treatment plans only.

**[The creator of the SHL would not  want to live in prehistoric times. He wants to live now...just for the record. He is not a caveman wannabe...although at the time of this writing he has a pretty gnarly beard.]

The SHL wants health care providers to think about the person who has the illness not just the illness the person has.

The SHL is not concerned with weight or other health markers. Those things will all take care of themselves if HEALTH is the goal. The SHL wants humans to ask themselves why they make choices they make and do things that they do. The SHL wants humans to understand that it is OK to change and evolve because as soon as you stop changing, you start dying. 

The Simply Human Lifestyle -- Moving

An easy way to remember the philosophy for moving is -- Move slow a lot. Lift heavy things correctly. Work on mobility.  The SHL wants humans to try and use self-propulsion as much as humanly possible. The SHL is not opposed to endurance training or events but it does want humans to understand the serious effects of chronic exercise/cardio and oxidative stress.

The SHL does not believe an hour of cardio a day is necessary for human health. The SHL believes that running on a treadmill will get you exactly where the treadmill will -- nowhere. Walking is the most important form of movement to the SHL. 

The Simply Human Lifestyle -- Sleep

The SHL is a proponent of regular sleeping patterns and getting as much sleep as possible before midnight, and an opponent of ramming artificial lights into your eyes after the sun goes down.  The SHL is a fan of wearing orange-tinted glasses after the sunset that block out blue light and in favor of sleep masks to attain complete darkness while sleeping. The SHL believes that circadian rhythms are hugely important and largely ignored in today's society.

The Simply Human Lifestyle -- Food

What is human-food? is a volatile question and very confusing to some. I believe we have overcomplicated food and that food choices should be simple, wholesome, delicious and satiating -- NOT void of nutritional value and density. The SHL is a proponent of a 'no sugars, no grains' approach and advises to avoid legumes and vegetable oils. The SHL believes in letting animals be animals and is strongly against feed lots, chicken factories and pig crates. Grass fed meats, pastured pigs and chickens, wild caught seafood and dairy from grass-fed cows are all good things in the eyes of the SHL.

The SHL loves bone broth and marrow. The SHL also loves organ meats such as liver, tongue, kidney and heart. 

The Simply Human Lifestyle -- Shopping List

 there are obviously hundreds more foods out there that the SHL would consider real, human food, this is just a starting point

extra virgin coconut oil* 

MCT oil

unsalted, organic butter*

Extra Virgin Olive Oil* this brand is my favorite

heavy whipping cream*

lard or tallow

free range eggs*

veggie or beef bouillon cubes (not the low sodium)

variety of grass-fed or wild caught meat sources (fat cuts -- not lean or “skinless”)

  • beef

  • tuna steak

  • salmon

  • sardines

  • herring

  • pork

  • chicken

Veggies and Fruits*

  • broccoli

  • asparagus

  • spinach

  • romaine

  • mustard greens

  • collard greens

  • kale

  • cucumbers

  • mushrooms

  • squash

  • berries (all kinds)*

  • tomatoes

Raw, Unsalted and Unshelled Nuts

    • macadamia
    • almonds
    • brazil nuts
    • pecans
    • filberts
  • coffee*

    *denotes that organic is important

    The Simply Human Lifestyle -- Getting Started : Nutrition

    Begin to Eliminate or Completely Eliminate:

    • sugars (any form or anything ending in “ose” [dextrose, maltose, fructose] except what is naturally in foods listed above)
    • grains (wheat, bread, corn, soy, rye, barley, oats, etc...)
    • artificial sweeteners (half and half, aspartame, etc...)
    • polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils [corn, soy, cottonseed], hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, margarine)
    • part-skim milk and/or pastuerized cheese, or yogurt (full fat, organic, raw of these are OK)

    Protein:

    The SHL is not a fan of super specific macro-nutrient portioning -- but to get started, here is an idea of what you could do:

    • take ideal weight and divide it by1.5 and 2, that’s roughly your ideal protein intake range (ex: 180 lbs / 2 = 90, 180 lbs / 1.5 = 120. Range of 90-120 for 180 pound weight goal)
    • take that number and divide by 7 (or just divide your ideal weight by 14), that’s how many blocks of protein you should aim for per day -- give or take a few grams
    • 1 block of protein = 1 oz meat or cheese, 1 egg, 2 oz nuts
      So if ideal weight is 180, divided by 2 is 90, divided by 7 is 12.8 so shoot for 13 blocks give or take a few. That's easier than having to calculate calories for every little thing you eat
    • Example: 3 eggs for breakfast, 4 ounce steak at lunch, 5 oz tuna steak at dinner (I would do all that at dinner since I usually only eat one large meal per day -- which makes an incredibly satisfying dinner...a feast if you will)

    limit nuts to no more than 2 oz, 3-4 days per week (if any at all -- I've figured out that I just have to stay away from nuts for the most part)

    Carbs:

    no more than 100g per day -- I feel best when I'm getting around 50g per day

    Here are some examples of amounts of veggies equaling 25g of carbs:

    • 13 oz of broccoli (almost a pound of broccoli)
    • 9 oz kale
    • 22 oz asparagus (almost 1.5 pounds of asparagus)
    • 24 oz spinach
    • 26 oz romaine
    • 40 oz cucumbers w/o peel (2.5 POUNDS!!)
    • 26 oz mushrooms
    • 25 oz zucchini

    so there should be no shortage of veggies on this life-style

    Fats:

    • eat fats from top of shopping list until sated/full
    • cook with butter, extra virgin olive oil, lard, tallow and coconut oil
    Miscellaneous

    :

    • full fat, plain yogurt is OK as long as it doesn't cause gastric stress
    • eat whole, real human foods
    • don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients
    • majority of foods should come from refrigerator or freezer not a box
    • eat food that will eventually spoil in a short time

    The SHL does not recommend a "cheat" or "treat" day. Eat fatty, delicious, yummy, human food all the time and you won't have to reward yourself after a week of restriction. The SHL believes that system is not sustainable.

     

     

    Whoa...Slow Down! Fasting is Fine.

    Intermittent fasting is a term you may have seen or heard in the last couple of years. Books like Ori Hofmekler's Warrior Diet and Jimmy Moore's podcast and blog are two big reasons why.

    If you had asked me two years ago to make a list of all the words I thought of when I heard the word ‘fasting’ -- it would have looked like this:

    • Bible
    • Prayer
    • Monk
    • Hunger
    • Miserable
    • Gaunt
    • Crazy

    Today, that list looks like this:

    • Energy
    • Fat-Adaptation
    • Autophagy
    • Healthy
    • Restorative
    • Wonderful
    • Immune-Booster

    That’s a pretty big difference. Let’s explore the reasons my thoughts changed, shall we?

    First, we’ll start with a look at the OPPOSITE of fasting: snacking. You hear the word “snack” and, if you’re anything like me, you have visions of grabbing a bag of Gushers or M&M’s and running back outside to play.

    Those were my early years, and not to say my parents didn't have good snack options around because we always had fruit and veggies, but like many kids do, I chose the "other" stuff. As I got older -- into the late 1990s -- I was told that I needed to keep my metabolism going by eating 34 small meals throughout the day. I exaggerate but not by much.

    I was playing college football and trying to keep lots of muscle mass on so my “small meals” were actually huge meals -- six times a day -- eat until you gag -- very low fat. 

    The idea of fasting at that time would have been absolutely absurd. Nonsense. The thought was (and still is for the most part) that if you skip breakfast or go for several hours without eating that you slow down your metabolism and will get fat super easy.

    So people are always asking me what they should snack on -- what they should eat that will keep their “fire” going. Fruit and nuts are probably the most common snack items for those who are trying to make good choices. And those are two choices that are much healthier than Gushers or Mars bars.

    But I’m here to argue that eating every two hours isn’t necessary and that three square meals a day doesn’t really jive with the Simply Human lifestyle.

    Let’s imagine pre-historic man. A man that doesn’t have a car or statins or TV. A man that lives in a world where fruits, veggies and grains have not been domesticated. A wild man. Wild Thing. He makes my heart sing.

    Do you think that man (or woman -- or child) woke up with the sunrise, ate a big breakfast of pancakes and waffles, downed a glass of OJ, went foraging around for food, stopped to eat a turkey sandwich with a glass of sweet tea and some cheesecake for lunch, sat on a tree stump all afternoon, then ate a huge dinner. Oh and all throughout the day, this man would stop and eat nuts or fruit or some baby carrots he stumbled upon?

    Not very realistic.

    Fast forward several thousand years and imagine a man from Greece. A Greek man. You know, like the statues in the museums? The images of lean men with large muscles? Do you think those guys took a lunch break during a battle with the Spartans? Or took baggies of snacks with them to the battlefield?

    “Zebulonecles!! I have forgotten my baggie of raisins and Cheerios!!! I must return to the village and …. [arrow enters the chest of Zebulonecles and he dies].

    No.

    Our bodies were designed to deal with times of scarcity and famine. Back before the days of Wal-Mart, food wasn’t as easy to get as picking up your phone and paying someone to bring it to you.

    No. Food scarcity and famine was part of the deal. There were times of plenty -- like maybe after a big kill. And there were times of scarcity -- like during the winter. Our brains are designed to deal with that kind of swing in inventory.

    When times were tough and food was scarce, do you think people just sat around and waited for the end? No! They went out and hunted and foraged and their brains, knowing that there was no gas in the tank, would get energy from one of the best fuel sources they had supplied for themselves -- the bodies attached to them.

    I can’t think of a time to be at your best than when your life is on the line. I don’t think our brains would malfunction or set up a system where they would be malnourished in times of scarcity when being creative, alert and quick-thinking would be vital for survival.

    According to Paul Jaminet in his book “The Perfect Health Diet”, in times of fasting

    the ability to hunt, gather, fight, and survive infection … would have been strongly favored by evolutionary selection.

    That makes sense to me.

    There’s another thing the brain has done which I think is pretty cool -- the human brain (which in most cases is the most intelligent type of brain on the planet...not mentioned any brains in particular Rick Bentley...ahem) has surrounded itself with an energy source which will keep it going when times get tough -- a human body.

    Therefore, it makes sense that what the brain prefers to maintain a high level of efficiency and health all the time, would be fuel that is similar in makeup to the body it has surrounded itself with.

    A few examples --

    • Think of an engineer who is out in the oil field all day every day. He drives a truck everywhere he goes and where he goes is the middle of nowhere. He stocks up on extra cans of gas and takes them with him in case he were to run out of gas. He wouldn’t take marbles or sand. On board with him would be the stuff that would keep him going which, oddly enough, is the same thing that his truck is designed to run on in the first place.
    • Think of a skyscraper that has hundreds of tenants and runs primarily on electricity. I would guess that the reserve energy system would be electricity, right? Like if lightning struck and the main power source was disconnected, the building wouldn’t all of the sudden start using Popsicle sticks to keep the lights on and flush the automatic toilets.
    • Think of an army that is in the heat of battle. When preparing to travel to the front, the supplies (other than food) would be other weapons and ammunition in the case that their supply line was cut and things were scarce, right? They wouldn’t take extra remote controls for their TVs or coffee mugs.

    I hope that makes sense.

    The brain has surrounded itself with material which will keep it running smoothly in the case that its energy source is cut off. In the examples, those energy sources are gas, electricity and weapons.

    The brain didn’t get to the top of the food chain by surrounding itself with an energy supply that wasn’t efficient or with material it would have to take time and effort to adapt to in the case of emergency. So if that makes sense, the next logical step is to analyze what exactly the brain has surrounded itself with -- what is the reserve energy source for times of scarcity: the composition of the human body.

    A pretty typical, healthy, NORMAL, human body (from an energy standpoint) is made up of around 65% fat, 23% protein and 12% carbohydrate. I say “energy standpoint” because if you break down actual fat, protein and glycogen/carbs in a healthy human body it’s more like 73% fat, 25% protein and 2% glycogen -- but there is SOME carbohydrate in both fat and protein.

    I mean, the human brain itself is around 65% fat, so doesn’t it make sense that fat would be good for the brain?

    If the brain has supplied itself with an energy source (the human body) that is around 65% fat, 23% protein and 12% carbs, in my opinion, that’s what the human diet should come close to resembling.

    The way Jaminet puts it is “eat what you are.”

    He also says that in the case of obesity

    whatever factors may contribute to a weight problem, eating macronutrients in the proportions found in useful tissue will make weight loss easier.

    In other words, eating fat, protein and carbohydrates in the ratio that the brain/body USES is most efficient.

    You could skew this thought process up real quick if you took the energy makeup of a really unhealthy person and relied on THAT as your guideline. That would seem to have the opposite effect on health and what the brain is trying to accomplish in its quest for survival.

    It would be something like 65-70% carbs/glycogen, 20% protein and 10-15% fat -- oh wait -- those are the GOVERNMENT guidelines for the last 35 years [insert violent eyeroll here].

    Here’s another thing that happens when you fast: autophagy -- or “self-eating”. What? Gross! That sounds horrible!

    But wait! It’s not horrible...it’s great!

    When you eat and after you eat, your immune system is not killing germs, it is dealing with the food and the digestion process (I’m ginormously paraphrasing here). Only in the absence of food do cells begin to hunt for germs and bad stuff and use them for cellular food.

    Could this be a reason that appetite is suppressed during most sicknesses? Hmmm...interesting thought. Another thing that happens when you give your digestive system a break is that important enzymes in your gut are allowed to repopulate whereas eating every 30 minutes exhausts these resources and leads to a myriad of GI and digestion problems.

    Jaminet talks about autophagy in more detail in his book -- it’s pretty cool.

    Here’s the bottom line: fasting is good for you once you’re in a healthy metabolic state, aren't totally stressed out mentally, aren’t stressing your system out with way too much exercise (which would mean you’d need to eat more to fuel your activity level), and are getting good and regular sleep.

    I fast just about everyday for anywhere from 16 to 23 hours. Some days, I eat a lunch then an early dinner and I’m good. Other days I don’t eat breakfast or lunch and eat dinner anywhere from 5-6 PM and I’m good.

    In those 16 to 23 hours of fasting I’m not keeping my system running on purely air and smog. Good, quality fat sources in moderate amounts won’t turn off the autophagy or the repopulating of digestive enzymes I mentioned earlier. The fats I use during my fasting period are grass-fed butter, MCT oil, extra vigrin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. I also drink bone broth at some point during the day nearly every day -- another item that won’t “break the fast.”(I just had some...just now).

    I did not wake up one day and start doing that. It was a process. I feel better now when I fast during the day so I keep doing it.

    Back to snacking -- so when someone asks me what they can have for a snack, my initial thought is that snacking isn’t necessary and may be doing more harm than good (even if you’re eating good, healthy, human food), but I know that it’s not wise to advise people to start fasting immediately, too.

    OK, Mark, you’re confusing us. What the heck am I supposed to do? Snack? Fast? Work on my Halloween costume?

    Here are some things I would tell people to get to a point of fasting:

    • cut out grains, sugars, legumes and vegetable oils
    • go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and night (as often as humanly possible)
    • focus on eating fat in the same percentage that your brain wants (aka eat lots of good fat)
    • eat around a pound of protein from quality sources per day

    Once you do those things and start becoming more Simply Human, then you won’t have to force the fasting. You will just one day not eat breakfast and it will be lunchtime before you realize it. Then you know you are in a place to start fasting for health and wellness.

    I have great energy during the day. I never get that afternoon slump. I have coffee most every morning but I don’t NEED it to function. I don’t have cravings for non-human food. And I sleep great.

    Our bodies are designed to fast. It is good for us, and we shouldn't be scared of it. Hopefully now when the topic of fasting comes up, it won't scare you off. Hopefully, you will not just believe what I'm saying and go out and find out for yourself, which is what I did.

    And I'm grateful that I did.

    Salt, Sugar, Football and Lady Gaga

    How in the world could all of those things be related? Easy. 

    This is an article about rewards. We all love them. Babies will do anything for a smile. Kids will do anything for a stamp or some type of sticker. Teenagers will do anything. Adults will do anything for a monetary raise or bonus. Elderly folk will do anything for an extra bowl of peaches and cottage cheese...you get the idea. 

    There are different types of rewards: Extrinsic (which I've listed above) and Intrinsic (which are things like feeling good when you give up your peaches & cottage cheese bowl for your elderly neighbor).  

    Enter Lady Gaga. According to her latest hit, Applause (which is another highly sought after reward), she lives for the applause-plause, lives for the applause-plause, lives for the way that you cheer and scream for me, the applause applause applause.

    Applause and other rewards make us feel good. Psychologically, emotionally, and definitely physically.

    Enter the Food Reward System which is defined by Paul Jaminet in his book The Perfect Health Diet as --

    the evolutionary selected part of the brain that guides us toward healthful eating. It teaches us to like and want foods that are good for us.

    According to Jaminet, the pleasure (or like) is the reward, and the want drives us to get the reward.

    Enter football. I think if you ask any NFL player what his or her (no, definitely not 'her')  motivation is for destroying his body, and (other than bling and ka-ching) he will tell you it's the crowd going wild when he's part of scoring a touchdown or doing something amazing on the field.  

    Here's how the NFL player to crowd relationship works: the offense takes the field and goes to battle against the defense. It's hard. The defense is big. Blood is spilled. Fingers are jammed and broken. Grown men make weird grunting noises. Then after a 13-play, 7.5 minute drive, they cross the plane of the endzone and the crowd goes absolutely ape crazy.

    The player who then gets to jump into the stands and do a little dance worked hard for that applause/reward. Hold that thought... 

    Others may have differing opinions, but I think most will agree that the two most popular cravings among humans are sweet and salty foods.

    Why is that?  

    Again, according to Jaminet (and many, many others), sodium and sweet, carbohydrates were pretty hard to come by back before civilization and domestication of plants, animals and humans -- back when humans were more likely to die from falling out of a tree trying to get some food than from a heart attack or stroke.

    Sodium (salt) used to be a valuable resource -- think Spanish conquistadors -- in fact, many a person over the years has died because of the value of salt.

    It was valuable because the body really, really needs it -- just less than half of the brain's energy is dedicated to dealing with sodium -- and it was hard to come by. Sodium deficiency is a major problem in mammals.  

    Sugary, sweet carbohydrate was also not abundant for our pre-civilization brethren either, and the body needs some glucose for some brain function, mucus development and a few other things. Just a side note -- the body needs much FEWER carbs than what the mainstream "wisdom" of today believes, but it does need SOME.

    Another reason the body wants us to like sweets is that, originally, sweet stuff was most sweet in late summer and early fall. So humans would eat the sweet stuff which would drive insulin secretion which would drive fat storage which would be needed in preparation for a scarce, cold winter -- something that not many are really in danger of anymore. 

    Therefore, the brain developed to give wonderful, feel-good rewards for going to the effort of finding sugar/carbs and salt/sodium since it was harder to find. It's sort of like when girls play hard to get -- things you have to work harder for, generally give a better feeling of satisfaction and pleasure.

    Or in my case, girls would play hard to get not to motivate me to work harder to "get" them, but to get me to please leave them the heck alone and stop writing me poems and I don't care if you play the guitar and sing, and why are you throwing rocks at my window and OK I'm going to get my dad.......deep breath. And moving on ...

    The stuff that was easier to come by and more plentiful back then were green leafy veggies/grass, animal products (fats and proteins), and maybe some berries (all things that aren't necessarily described as being "sweet" or "salty").

    Just go out into nature and look around. It's mostly green stuff and meat. There aren't just piles of genetically modified, sweet apples, pastas, breads, cookies, cakes, candy bars, bottles of syrup, packets of Sweet n' Low, rivers of orange juice and pineapples just laying around everywhere you look.

    In other words, the brain had a need that required some work to fulfill so it developed a reward system to motivate its body to go out there and get it. There is no great reward for things that are easy to come by.

    The reward system is complicated but, in a nutshell, it involves yummy tastes and make-you-feel-good chemicals being released into the brain -- mainly dopamine.  

    Today -- those two things (salty and sweet) aren't so tough to get. In fact, they're the most abundant tastes in most modern cultures. But the food reward system is the same system it's been since we were fueling cars with the bottoms of our feet. 

    OK...now let's combine our two thoughts. Back to the NFL players who score a touchdown after a long, hard drive and reap the reward of 90,000 crazy, idiots going crazy!

    That's how it's SUPPOSED to work. It's necessary for the offense to score to win the game (aka the body to be healthy) but it's not supposed to happen very much -- which is why the reward system is there in the first place.

    But let's take the defense away. Let's make it where it would be really easy to score a touchdown. Where all the offense would have to do is snap the ball and walk down the field and cross the goal line -- but the crowd still goes crazy and the players still get the pleasure or reward of the applause.

    What would the offense do -- fall down and make it harder on itself? No -- it would score as many touchdowns as possible. It would score every play of the game. The score would be 7,000 to nothing! It would be. AWESOME!!!!!!

    But what happens to the crowd (or source of the reward) in that scenario? Yeah, not a very entertaining game. Some of the crowd becomes disinterested. Some leave. 

    It becomes harder and harder for the team to get the same level of applause. They start scoring more and more and doing front flips and juggling lawnmowers and players start dying and it turns into a pretty huge and ugly mess.  

    So when the system (or ANY system) doesn't function in ways it is SUPPOSED to function -- we have a problem. 

    People eat sweet or salty things all day every day and are rewarded by dopamine responses and being able to say "yum" (that's a line straight from Jason Seib and the Paleo Coach). Then as their crowd of 90,000 starts to get disinterested and falls asleep or goes and  does something else, they have to keep eating more and more sweet and salty stuff to get that same response. 

    And today's sweet and salty stuff has been stripped of all nutritional value so your brain is never sated even though it THINKS it should be rewarding its body. And because its not sated it sends a signal to eat more. And the body eats more. And then insulin gets all jacked up and cells start trying to juggle lawnmowers and you can guess what happens next.  

    Rewards are good. The food reward system is a great thing that got humans to where we are today. But the innovation and misguided advice we've all been given the last 60 years has only turned that system against itself and ultimately against us -- and we're paying a huge price.  

    Messing with the food reward system is just another way that modern innovation and technology has moved humans away from being Simply Human.

    High Heels....seriously?

    Women have been wearing high heels because of fashion trends on and off for about 60 years, and whenever they're in style, podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons oddly start going on more and longer luxurious vacations.

    High heels are an indication of how messed up things are from a health and wellness perspective in our society. 

    So where did high heels come from anyway? Who was the genius who came up with them?

    Well, it actually was an innovative person solving a problem: feet slipping out of stirrups while horse back riding. Back in Medieval times, horses were a main source of transportation. Stirrups were a main component. Feet slipping out of stirrups was a problem.

    Enter? Heels on shoes that kept the foot from slipping out. Works great for the problem they were designed to solve.  Cowboy boots have the same design for the same reason.

    But that's for HORSE BACK RIDING -- not WALKING! 

    Then along with advances in technology and fashion came the thought that certain parts of human bodies could be compromised in order to look better. 

    High heels make legs look longer. It also puts the leg in a position that mimics how a leg looks when putting on lingerie, which is seen as a "sexy" thing. You know, like when razor commercials have video of a leg with pointed-toe and, other than a few bubbles, is completely naked. It sells. 

    But what do heels do to women's (and some men's I guess) foot structure? Ask any woman who wears them and I will assure you they will say how uncomfortable they are. 

    Bunions. Blisters. Hammer toes. Plantar fasciitis. And that's just on the foot itself.

    Wear them long enough and get used to ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain.  

    But, boy, you sure do LOOK great! (insert violent eyeroll here).  

    How impractical is something like a high heel? Think about a human female ancestor living in a forest, picking berries with her youngens, enjoying the day. Then a bear surprises the small contingent from around a bush. Now imagine the human female ancestor trying to get away.  

    It's pretty humorous to think about, until you get to the part where the human female ancestor is eaten alive.  

    But, Mark, that doesn't make sense because women today don't ever have to run from a bear while holding a large leaf full of berries.  

    Right -- beside the point. The point is it's not what a human was designed to do, therefore, it leads to inefficiency, pain, discomfort, and a lessening of overall health. 

    So no practical purpose, just an aesthetic and fashion statement. It's a small example of how humans today have kept everything BUT health and wellness from being their #1 goal...for the most part.

    It seems like a pretty silly thing when compared with feeling good and being able to walk around without pain. But so does being able to say "man, that sure tasted good" when compared with battling obesity, heart disease, and a host of other chronic diseases so prevalent in today's culture. 

    Here's an interesting article from ABC news on this issue. 

    With corresponding video --

    Specialists at England's Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital use new scanner to view the foot and ankle.

    Bone Broth - Ultimate Nutrition

    Most people scoff at the idea of drinking bone broth. Or they say I'm "bizarre". That's cool...if you want to miss out on some of the most incredibly nutritious food on the planet.  

    Here's why it's good: 

    • Collagen. This is what connective tissue and some other body parts (ligaments, tendons, skin, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, eyeballs, etc) are made of. It's what gelatin is derived from. And despite its use in jello and other poisonous treats, gelatin is a vital resource in the body that keeps your intestinal lining healthy and connective tissue strong. It is used in plastic surgery. It was the world's first glue. It is used as a supplement by many people for hair and fingernail health. It is used by many as a supplement for skin rejuvenation. It is rich in the amino acid glycine. Basically, it's really good for you and the best way to get is in the form of REAL FOOD. Not a supplement.
    • GAGs. Yes yes...haha. Spare me the joke "yeah, GAG is what you do when you drink it!!" No. GAG stands for glycosaminoglycan and the stuff is very important. There are several different types of GAGs and the body uses them in cellular adhesion, growth, and repair (think wound healing). Healthy eyes have plenty of the stuff. Glucosamine - that supplement people take for joint pain - is a GAG. Chondriotin Sulfate - another well known arthritis "healer" - is a GAG. If you have joint pain and are OK with treating it with a reductionist approach, that's totally cool. But bone broth has both of those things, plus a BAJILLION more things that would probably also be top sellers if they were reduced down to one molecule and sold at a vitamin store for a ton of money.
    • Glycine. This aforementioned amino acid is made by your body (thus non-essential) and is abundant in bone broth and helps the liver to detox your system.
    • Bone Marrow. Another super nutritious food. Mark Sisson has a great article about the benefits of the stuff here. In a nutshell, all carnivorous animals go to great lengths to get bone marrow into their systems. It's nutrient dense, high in essential vitamins and minerals...and tastes amazing.
    • There are many, many more incredibly amazing things about bone broth. Just search "bone broth" on the Interweb if you don't believe me. 

    There is a great article on the Weston A. Price website about broth and its benefits. Turn the clock back a ways, back when communities still had butchers, before technology was able to make supplements and synthesize things in a lab -- back when things were more SIMPLE -- and you'll find that broth made from animal parts was used as medicine.

    That's what I use it for now. Medicine. Except that it's medicine that tastes amazing and is unbelievably cheap. 

    How to Make It

    Step 1 - get high quality bones. Not the garbage from the poor, unhealthy animals fed grains and not allowed to live a natural, animal life.

    I get my bones from either Slankers Ranch in Powderly, Texas or Burgundy Pasture Beef in Grandview, Texas. The soup bones are the cheapest thing at either place. We're talking like 3 or 4 dollars a pound.

    Step 2 - cook it. Fill a slow cooker (I have a 6-quart crock pot) to the top with a variety of bones. Sometimes I'll add in some cow tongue or organ meats to the pot. Adds to the broth and gets my "weird" meat cooked. We're talking neck bones, knuckles, whole chicken carcasses, chicken feet...any bone is a good bone.

    I fill it to the top with filtered (reverse osmosis) water then put in about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar -- this leeches the really good minerals out of the bones and marrow. 

    I made the mistake early on of trying to ration my bones and only using a few. This made for a watery broth. Now I fill the thing to the top. Another mistake I made one time was using only chicken carcasses. I did this once and it was very watery. It's fine to use chicken carcasses but just make sure it's in there with some meaty cow/bison bones or chicken feet, which are loaded with collagen (aka gelatin).

    Step 3 - after letting soak for 30 minutes, turn it on LOW and cook for 24 hours. That's it.

    Some people go to a lot of trouble straining the broth so only the liquid is remaining. Not me.

    I get the bones out and leave all the marrow and little chunks of nutrition still floating around.  

    I put the crock pot down in the sink and -- after getting bones out with tongs -- ladle the broth into quart size mason jars using a, you guessed it, ladle and a funnel.  

    After it cools a bit, I'll drink some because what's better than fresh, hot-out-of-the-crock-pot-bone-broth? Then I'll put it in the fridge. 

    A good broth will become gelatinous when cold and have a layer of fat on the top. I've been skimming that part off after it cools and use it to cook. 

    Every day around lunchtime, I put half of the quart in a coffee mug, a tsp of sea salt, and warm it up for 2 minutes. Not necessarily because I'm hungry at lunchtime, which I hardly ever am -- a topic for another day, but it's just when I like to get my dose in. Timing does not matter -- just that you get it in your belly.

    Doing what I've described above usually yields just under 3 quarts which normally lasts me about 6 days.  

    It's incredible. And I feel great after I have it. 

    Check out this YouTube video I made during the harvest of my latest batch...one of my favorite times of the week!! My YouTube channel is here.

     

    Sleep, Precious Sleep

    Everyone sleeps. It is the foundation of just about everything else we do from a purely raw, human perspective.  Sleep and water.

    We can go weeks without food. You can survive for years and years........and years..........without exercise. You can go quite a long time with no sun exposure. You get the idea. 

    But, if you're so inclined, try going 24 or 48 hours without sleeping and see how well you think and perform. Some of you have probably done that studying for a test or you're a doctor and you know how much it stinks.

    It doesn't take long to become a complete and total mess of a human being.
    You can't concentrate. You can't focus. You become irritable. If you're driving a tractor, you run it into a Wendy's. If you're Christian Bale, you lose like 150 pounds.

    Many people in my phase of life are dealing with sleep deprivation of the worst kind --- infants and toddlers. If you're not (and by "you're" I mean "she") getting up every 3-4 hours with a newborn, then you're dealing with sleepwalking or elbows in your face after your kids crawl into bed with you and feel like they need to establish some sort of huge geographical space with their tiny limbs.  

    When I talk about sleep to my peers, I usually get the ole "well I'm not getting good sleep anyway, so what's the point in trying to make it better?" 

    Well, I'll tell you. Once and for all... 

    Not trying to get the best possible sleep you can possibly get when you get it, is like competing in a 12 mile open water swim and not doing EVERYTHING you can possibly do to make it EASIER.  Like doing something really tough and only making it TOUGHER on you.

    Let me explain.

    Let's go back to a time before technology. A time where children played with sticks and rocks and men wooed their women by hitting them with a club. We there? Good.  I wish.

    In those days, the sun came up, people woke up. Good morning. It's like the most extreme form of your dad coming in the room when you're in high school and turning the lights on. Except instead of a 60 watt light bulb...it's the SUN.  Wake up.

    You go about your day. Live life. Hit women with clubs. Play with sticks. The sun is high in the sky and the blue light wave is rampant. But after a while the sun starts to head to the horizon. 

    What happens to the light in the sky when the sun goes down (barring a hurricane or other natural phenomenon which blots out the sun)? It turns red and orange...amber(ish) if you will. 

    That is nature's way of telling humans that the sun is about to go bye-bye, so get whatever it is you're working on done because the lights are about to be turned OFF.  

    This change in light tells the brain to start shutting down the "fully awake" system and start to rev up the "time to hit the sack" system.

    Sleep is an amazing thing. That's where kids grow the most. It's where your body repairs and restores damaged cells. It's when insulin is supposed to be gone and you're supposed to be in a catabolic, fat-burning mode. It's literally like re-charging the batteries.  

    But it doesn't just happen. You don't just get up to use the restroom and the next thing you know, you're asleep...well, I guess that happens to some people, but that's not ordinary. 

    It's a process. And the start of that process is your brain determining that it's about to be night-time. And your brain does that  based on the light that enters into your eyeballs. 

    So when there's lots of blue light whizzing by all around during the day, your brain is awake and alert (or it's SUPPOSED to be). 

    And when the amber light starts to hit the brain...initiate the sleepy time process! Melatonin is released, other bodily functions are shut down. Full restorative sleep mode is about to begin. 

    But then after the sun goes down and sleep is about to begin??  -- artificial blue light from TV, phone, computer, lights, etc...hits the brain and he says "oh wait! I was preparing for sleep mode. My apologies! It is obviously still awake time. I will shut down the sleep cycle process. Forgive me, sir." 

    And we wonder why we can't go to sleep, and when we do (after four Ambien), we toss and turn and wake up to pee 10 times and in the morning we feel like garbage. So weird!

    In an ideal world, the sun goes down, sleep cycle begins, sun disappears, sleep is deep and restorative, we wake up in the morning with the sun. In the summer we go to sleep later, in the winter we go to sleep earlier. It's all part of a perfect cycle. A process. 

    But let's be real...unless you're living in Brady, Texas...that ain't gonna happen. 

    So what do we do? How do we make that swim AS EASY AS POSSIBLE? 

    Exhibits A and B: 

     

    sleep.JPG

    Ladies and gentlemen -- may I present???? 

    Everyday, ordinary, sporting clay/shooting glasses? And the MindFold. Why? Because they block out the blue light and all light, respectively. 

    I'm not going to get all scientific on you, but if you want better sleep, here's what you do: 

    When the sun goes down -- IF you're going to watch TV or look at a computer -- put on the glasses. It will keep your brain from thinking it's daytime.

    Then I would guess that all bedrooms out there have SOME light in them. A smoke detector light, baby monitor light, street light...ANY light will be enough to mess you up. 

    I recently read a study where even a light as thin as a tiny laser had negative effects on sleep cycles if picked up by the brain. Your eyelids are permeable. That's why when you get Vidal Sassoon in your eyes you can run your CLOSED eyelids under the water and it will feel better.

    With the mindfold, a nuclear explosion won't be noticed if you're wearing them. If that happens, other things are obviously going on making sleep cycles obsolete, but still... 

    So back to the swimming thing and the argument that "hey, I haven't slept good in five years thanks to kids, so what's the point?"

    The POINT is to get the most out of the sleep you DO get by mitigating the effects of natural, artificial light. 

    Like jumping in the water for a 12 mile swim. That's tough. You know that. You KNOW that with kids or other issues in your life you're not going to get ideal sleep. So you're not going to tie your hands behind your back, right?

    No. You'll put on paddles and fins and wear a snorkel to make a tough thing as easy as you possibly can.  

    That's what the glasses and mindfold do...it makes a tough situation a little easier. And if you DON'T have kids waking up at all hours, then you're getting superior sleep (aka the sleep that humans are SUPPOSED to get in the FIRST place...imagine that.) 

    Don't believe me? Try it out and see for yourself. Be an independent mind that experiments and researches and questions. Don't settle for an answer you THINK is true because you have a FEELING or so-and-so told you. 

    Get the glasses at any sporting goods store or on Amazon. Get the mindfold at mindfold.com.  There are other things you can do - like getting to sleep not too far after sunset, not eating too close to bedtime, internal silence practices, etc... -- but these are two things you can do for that little extra boost.

    Enzo the Insulin and How He Makes you Fat

    I might have tried too hard to simplify this, thus making it way too complicated. That happens sometimes, right?

    Enzo the Insulin is an insulin molecule. He works for Paul the Pancreas. Paul's job is to dispatch his insulin workers into the city whenever there are glucose packages present on the streets and make sure that the packages get to where they're supposed to go. These glucose packages contain energy that can either be used immediately or stored for future use -- they have no expiration date. 

    In healthy bodies, Paul's job is relaxing and fun. Paul loves his job. In unhealthy bodies, Paul is Bobby Knight in the 70s.

    Enzo knows his job well. He's good at it. Paul gives him the signal and, like a firefighter or EMT, he puts on his special uniform and sets out. Enzo finds the package of energy and takes it to the customer that has ordered it. Ideally, Enzo's day is pretty relaxing. A few easy drop-offs, a leisurely bite to eat, picks up his kid from day care...home by 5.

    When he arrives at a drop-off, he knocks on the door. The first customers on the list are those that use the glucose packages immediately for energy like gas stations and battery outlet stores. But when those customers have filled their inventories, Enzo has to do something with the packages because too many packages in the city streets is no good. People will start dying or being sliced open from neck to ankle...it gets ugly.

    Enzo knows that when the energy customers have met their needs for inventory, he is supposed to take any remaining packages to the city storage facility to deposit for future use. Then Enzo goes back to the pancreas to rest for a while, or he goes back into the streets to deal with more glucose packages.

    Stefan is a customer and also has a job. He is supposed to open the door of his shop and sign for the package. Enzo and Stefan give each other a nod and Enzo goes on about his business. 

    In healthy cities, Enzo comes around every so often. He knocks, and Stefan answers happily since he hasn't seen Enzo in a while. He is sensitive to Enzo's call. It's like when a package comes in the mail that you've been expecting -- not a whole lot better than that in life. In fact, it happened to me this morning (got my new BlueTooth HR monitor!).

    However, when Enzo is CONSTANTLY in the streets and knocking on the door, Stefan becomes used to his constant knocking. Kind of like how a native New Yorker doesn't ever hear the subway train rattling by his house...or when a husband becomes deaf to his wife's nagging because it never stops. Stefan has become resistant to Enzo. He's like, "Enzo again? uuuhhh!! Go away, you were JUST HERE!!"

    So when Stefan becomes resistant  to Enzo the Insulin, Enzo knocks on Stefan's door and this is what happens... Stefan owns Winkler Brothers Gas Station by the way.

    ENZO: Special delivery! [silence]

    [Enzo clears his throat] ahem.....SPECIAL DELIVERY!! [nothing....Enzo knocks....still nothing] HEY! OPEN UP!!!! I GOT PLACES TO BE!!!! I know you're in there Stefan!! This thing is HEAVY! [still nothing...Enzo is angry]

    STEFAN: [internal monologue] -- I'm not answering the door right now. I'm tired and I JUST signed for a package 2 hours ago. I don't NEED any more glucose packages!

    ENZO: [on his cell phone] HEY PAUL! THIS GUY'S NOT ANSWERING!!!" SECOND TIME THIS WEEK!

    PAUL: What?! How DARE he not answer....HEY! Martin! Jones! Smith! Get your buns over to Winkler's and get that door open!!

    [Martin, Jones and Smith were watching Real Housewives of Atlanta, they're not happy about being disturbed]

    So now four insulin workers start pounding on Stefan's door and he is forced to come answer to sign for the glucose package because his 2 year old has just fallen asleep and he wants to get rid of the nuisance. The other scenario is that Stefan continues to refuse so, despite the gang of knockers' vigorous attempts, they are forced to take the package down the street to be stored for later.

    All is good, but wait, now there are four insulin molecules instead of just one. And when Enzo, Martin, Jones and Smith are out and about, that means that Hector Simon Landry (HSL or hormone sensitive lipase) has to stay inside his office. He's scared of the insulin molecules. There's really nothing to be scared of, he's just been taught his whole life that insulin molecules will eat him...regardless of the reason, Hector stays inside when the insulin are working. 

    The problem with Hector staying inside the office is that Hector's job is to dismantle packages stored in the city's storage facility that have grouped together in threes and release them back out into the street where they can be delivered to the gas stations and battery stores instead of taking up space inside the storage facility.  The grouped-together packages are bigger than the storage unit doors so without Hector's wrench and scissors, they have to stay put.

    It's a vicious cycle for all involved.

    Stefan doesn't want to hear any more from Enzo because he's ALWAYS out there -- Enzo has to call some buddies to get Stefan's attention -- when there are lots of insulin workers in the streets, they efficiently do their jobs of putting glucose where it needs to go and if there are lots of glucose packages this means that the storage facility is staying very busy (you see, the energy shops have a limit to how much glucose they need but the storage facility can take a TON of packages, its capacity is nearly unlimited --- literally). 

    To fix this problem, all that would need to happen would be for Hector (HSL) to go into the storage units and start dismantling the grouped-together packages and, thereby, shrinking the inventory which would allow Hector to sell off some storage buildings and reduce his overall square footage -- but he can't as long as the insulin workers are out doing their duty. Remember, he thinks they will eat him like cannibals or something. Totally baseless, but that's what he thinks. He's so gullible.

    So Enzo and his buddies fill the storage facility to the brim, Hector never does what he's supposed to do and, before too long, the storage facility gets way too big, it starts gobbling up electricity from the rest of the city, it sends out poisonous toxins and pollutants and residents start asphyxiating, it's out of control and failing and eventually explodes and everyone dies in a fiery blaze of screaming and insanity. 

    It's much more complicated than that, but that's the nutshell.  

    Now let's leave Analogy Land for a bit and explain what all that means.

    When insulin levels are low in the blood stream, your body uses energy for fuel because the enzyme HSL is allowed to do its job and breakdown triglycerides (three fat cells and a glycerol -- the "grouped-together packages").

    When insulin levels are high in the blood stream, your body stores energy as fat, because A) the energy has to go somewhere and B) HSL is inactivated so the triglycerides are too big to get out of the fat cells (the "storage facility"). In our analogy, the packages come directly from things we put in our mouths.

    And don't think that insulin levels are only affected by how much you eat. It's more of what you eat. For instance, one bite of a chocolate chip cookie or eating 3 whole cookies may cause a commensurate spike in insulin in some people...everybody's different.

    So when insulin is spiked (regardless of how it gets spiked because it's all the same once it's spiked), everything you eat until it goes back down is put into the storage facility as fat. This is also why some have trouble losing weight on a calorie deficit -- because even if 1,000 calories a day are ingested, if they are calorie sources that cause an insulin spike, that energy just gets stored as fat. That goes for ALL forms of calorie restriction, including the kind created by lots and lots and lots of exercise.

    Many obese people are quite literally starving themselves but staying fat because fat cells are robbing all the energy because of insulin's presence.   

    On one extreme, cells are super sensitive to insulin. These are the people you all hate that can eat anything they want and never gain a pound.

    On the other extreme, cells are super resistant to insulin. For the most part, these are the people with pre-diabetes, Type II diabetes, and who are suffering from obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, auto-immune disorders, etc... 

    Here are some things that cause Enzo and his buddies to be dispatched by Paul the Pancreas in MOST people (in some lucky, insulin-sensitive individuals out there, Enzo can carry 100 packages all by himself, thus eliminating the need for any of his buddies to assist so insulin levels stay constantly low no matter what):

    • eating grains (any grains including corn, soy, quinoa, oats, and we'll include legumes in here as well since they do much of the same things to your system that grains do)
    • eatings sugars (artificial and "natural" sweeteners fall into this category, too) 
    • eating right before you go to bed
    • eating really sweet fruits* (like bananas and apples)
    • eating starchy veggies* (potatoes or rice -- which is actually an aquatic grass) 
    • eating too much protein (because in excess, amino acids are turned into glucose by the liver) 
    • not sleeping well (i.e. disrupting circacdian rhythms via artificial light, irresponsible caffeine use, or sometimes unavoidable "graveyard shifts")
    • not moving around a lot (exercise helps reduce insulin spikes) 
    • high stress levels

     *One quick caveat -- if you are a highly active person and use up a lot of glucose in your "energy" cells, then some fruit or starchy veggies are perfectly fine and won't cause a big increase in serum insulin levels. Also, the affect of some starchy vegetables can be mitigated if consumed with good fat and protein.

    However, if insulin is absent or only present in small amounts, HSL goes to work, we use fat for fuel, we don't get cravings, we don't get hungry 10 times a day, and we maintain our ideal body mass.

    This can be done by eating the way humans are SUPPOSED to eat, sleeping well, keeping stress levels low, getting adequate sunlight exposure, and a forest of other things --- keep in mind, it's not just one tree that's the culprit OR the fix. It's a lifestyle.

    Not a single trick or supplement is your answer (i.e. "Take supplement X for fat loss and watch the pounds melt away!" or "Sprinkle X on your food and don't change anything else and you'll be skinny!" or "Do X amount of cardio exercise per day and eat whatever you want!")

    Stress, sunlight and sleep are all pretty much agreed upon by everybody. No one out there believes that you don't need to sleep or that you can stay in an adrenaline & cortisol heavy state for a lifetime (it would be a very short lifetime). But the nutrition thing is a Hodge-podge of passionate beliefs and not unlike a religious crusade.

    I believe humans were designed to eat lots of high quality mono-unsaturated and saturated fats, a moderate amount of protein in the form of grass-fed, humanely-raised, "organic" meats (fish, beef, fowl, eggs, bison, goat), and enough carbohydrates to fuel those "energy" cells to meet their quota for the day and have a full inventory, which is different for every body type and activity level. And the carbohydrates that have the smallest affect on insulin levels are most veggies and all berries...and the trace amounts found in protein sources and nut & seeds.

    To recap -- Enzo is not a bad guy, he just has a job to do. The key is keeping his job to a normal, 8-hour work day and letting Hector get in there when he goes to bed and start taking apart fat to be used as fuel.  

    Let me know if that makes sense.... 

    What's Your Motivation?

    What's your motivation? ... A question I've had to ask myself and wrestle with quite a bit over the last couple of months.  

    It was a tough question for me to answer honestly.  

    Here's what I've come up with -- my motivation is to be healthy. Period. Seems like a reasonable motivation. One that is shared by millions of people living today.

    Now let's figure out what that means.  

    I had always thought that I wanted to be the 65 year old beast out there beating up the younger guys on a triathlon or marathon course. To me, that was the epitome of health. You want health personified? Look at the older people lining up at the start of an endurance race -- THAT'S healthy!

    I have an "end" in mind that I want to reach -- I want to dance at my grandkids weddings. I want to go on hiking trips with my GREAT grandkids. I want people to whisper behind my back -- "that guy is EIGHTY? He looks SIXTY!" I want to roll around in the flowers with puppies in 2081. OK...taking it a little too far, but you get the idea.

    I had the "end" down...but I now believe that my "means" to that end were way, way off.  

    What answering the question of motivation has taught me is that those "old" people doing endurance races aren't necessarily healthy -- they're either lucky OR they got a late start and haven't been doing endurance races since they were in their 20s (that's more likely the case).

    They're some of the few humans on Earth who have a chassis and motor built to last much longer than the average bear's.  Just like there are some people who can eat 10 donuts and keep their blood sugar low and stay thin, unlike people like me who smell brownies and get an insulin spike (haha...oh wait, no, I'm serious, that actually happens to me, I've checked). But that's a different article.

    Back to the "old" people. They are an extremely rare breed -- the ones who start at a young age, never rest, and are still competing into their 60s.

    I've realized that the last seven years of never taking significant time to rest, and ALWAYS having a race (or five) on the schedule had completely run me into the ground -- physically, metabolically, mentally.  

    So what was my motivation for doing endurance training and races? 

    The motivation for doing my first event (Dallas Marathon '06)  was because a friend asked me to do it. I had just lost a bunch of weight after hovering around 205 pounds for 6 years (post-college football days in which I topped out at 230) and was working out 6 days a week (strength training and short, intense intervals on the track). I was down around 175.

    Looking back, I was almost healthy. I say 'almost' because I was still eating grains every day and many, horrifyingly terrible pounds of sugar on my "cheat" day once a week. (I would wake myself up from my Sunday afternoon nap to eat a Snickers...true story)

    After that first marathon experience, my motivation was not health -- it was finishing a marathon in under 3:20. A completely valid goal which stoked the competitive fire within me. Then, when I failed the next year to break 3:20, I needed something to get my "mind right" so I did an Olympic Triathlon in 2008.  

    I loved that experience and signed up for another one that year, which led me into the triathlon world, which led me to put Ironman on my radar, which led to more triathlons, more training, longer training...and no rest.  

    I can say that, looking back, health was absolutely not my goal. To me, health was the byproduct of all the training I was doing.  

    So -- my motivation was twofold: LOVE of the sport & competing and the feeling of strength that comes from knowing not very many people were doing what I was doing on Saturday morning...which was typically riding my bike or running for hours and hours.  

    (As I sit here on a Saturday morning writing this, I'm realizing it's the first Saturday morning during football season that I haven't been out running or riding since 2005).  

    Now, is there anything wrong with the two motivations that fueled my training and race schedule? Absolutely not.  

    As Jason Seib (my new mentor and role model -- he is the knight, I am yon squire) likes to say, there's nothing wrong with playing in the NFL -- but the motivation for playing is NOT health. It's love of the game and/or money. NOT health. Don't believe him? Just watch a game this Sunday or ask any NFL player you hang out with, whichever is easier.

    Same goes for endurance training/races. I'm not saying that endurance events are the devil or that they should be banned for all eternity. I'm also not saying I will never compete in another distance event (my bike is too stinkin' expensive for me to completely give it up -- correction...BIKES are too expensive).  

    I'm just saying that as long as health is my #1 priority, I will focus on being healthy and not running myself quite literally into the ground training and racing.  And when I do another endurance event, it will be an isolated event with LOTS of rest and recovery afterwards because now I know what that kind of training does to my body. Like Jim Laird says, running for an hour for your health is basically like running from a bear for an hour -- don't think that stresses your body out???

    Read the last few posts before this one and you'll get an idea of what I was going through back in June. I was advised (by Seib) to do NOTHING for 2 months and to "call him in the morning."  

    The end of my two months is today. 

    I like to read books and listen to podcasts. I HIGHLY recommend Seib and Sarah Fragoso's podcast .

    Two books I've read during the last two months are Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint and Seib's The Paleo Coach.

    Sisson's book is based on the 10 laws of being as healthy a human being as you can possibly be.  

    The 10 Primal Blueprint laws are:
    1. Eat Plants and Animals
    2. Avoid Poisonous Things
    3. Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
    4. Lift Heavy Things
    5. Sprint Once in a While
    6. Get Adequate Sleep
    7. Play
    8. Get Adequate Sunlight
    9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes
    10. Use Your Brain  

    I don't want to put words in his mouth, but Seib's "commandments" are a bit more direct: move slow, lift heavy things, get mobile (as in stretching and flexibility).  

    That's what I plan to do to get healthy. Over the course of the next few days/weeks, I will break down exactly what each of those things mean and how I will implement them into my daily life.

    I'll also talk about how people can train for a marathon or Ironman and still have weight to lose, why calories-in calories-out is complete garbage, why dietary fat will NOT make you fat, and how you can get better sleep.

    As a disclaimer, if you want to know what I believe about fitness, nutrition, meditation, etc...just go read The Paleo Coach and listen to Seib's podcast. He's way smarter than me anyway.  

    I don't do the Paleo "diet" and I'm not out to find the ONE THING that will make me healthy.

    This is a journey. And part of my journey was 7 years doing non-stop endurance training and races (33 to be exact). That part of my journey is over. I'm a better person because of that phase. I learned a lot - just like I learned a lot through my 18-month vegan experiment. But now it's on to find the way to get to the "end" that I have imagined for myself for as long as I've cared about the future.

    And I thank Mark Sisson, Jason Seib, Jim Laird, Robb Wolf, and many others in that "camp" for helping me figure out what it means to answer this question: 

    How can I be the healthiest human being I can possibly be?  

    And isn't it funny that the now large group of people who know how to be truly healthy is considered a "camp" and the men and women preaching what I have accepted as truth are "outcasts" to the eyes of conventional thinking?

    Hopefully that will change soon... 

    So ... what's your motivation?

    Intermittent Fasting -- aka the Warrior Diet

    I didn't know it was called Intermittent Fasting when I read the Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler back in September of 2011. When I first heard about just eating one meal a day, I honestly thought it was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. Then I tried it.

    It may not work for everyone, but I feel better and perform better when I only eat one big meal per day.  

    And I never really thought about until yesterday, but I keep myself in a state of fast for about 23 hours of every day and eat for 1 hour. I've read that a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating period is ideal -- but that's too long for me.  

    Before I was fully fat adapted (meaning when I was eating dinner, I was still eating lots of carbohydrate in the form of plants and beans and fruit so I wasn't in a fully ketogenic state), I would get hungry midday and have to "struggle" through the hunger pains which would eventually disappear in about five minutes.

    But now that I'm in full ketosis, I don't even get the hunger pains anymore.  

    The benefits of the Warrior Diet - or IF (intermittent fasting) - are many. For one thing, you give your body a chance to replenish enzymes and other bacteria in your digestive system. You give your kidneys and liver and break from digestion. You also help your body get into a state of autophagy or "self-eating" which sounds horrible but according to Paul Jaminet in the Perfect Human Diet is a "main killing mechanism for intracellular pathogens" -- meaning, it can help keep you healthy and robust.

    The idea of the Warrior Diet is that Greek and Roman warriors would fight all day, then eat a big meal at night. They wouldn't stop the battle and eat a big lunch midday. And all you have to do to see what one of those guys looked like is to check out the sculptures from that era.  

    Lean and mean.

    Lean and mean.

    There are many other health benefits to periodic IF. It may not be something you do everyday like me -- and I may not even do it everyday forever -- but that's when I'm at my best.  

    I never run out of energy. I sleep great. I never get the mid-afternoon drowsies. I have full and functional brain awareness all day. I love it.  

    And when I do eat food or anything other than coconut or MCT oil in the 23 hour fasting period, I just don't feel as good. Maybe it's mental, I don't know. But that doesn't matter. If I'm feeling good at an efficient body mass, then I won't fix it if it ain't broke.  

    Why We Get Fat -- And What to Do About it

    Gary Taubes book I read the past 2 days...it has changed the way I think about fat regulation and weight loss.

    To sum up --- people don't gain weight because they overeat, they overeat because they're gaining weight. Crazy right? Yes. Read that book and you will understand. It's totally sensical.

    So here's my thought. Since just after reading Wheat Belly a few weeks ago -- I had very little animal products from June 1, 2011 until November of this year. I trained and completed an Ironman in that time. Did not get sick at all. Completed two 1/2 marathons, a full marathon, 2 sprints triathlons, 2 olympic triathlons, a 52 mile bike race, and felt great while doing it. My diet consisted of lots of fruits and veggies, beans, nuts, seeds and the occasional wheat product (almond butter sandwich, crackers)...and an even more occasional sweet treat (usually in the form of cake or some type of carob). It's been a great year.

    Despite all that training, there is still a small layer of fat around my midsection and chest that won't go away...and has appeared more prominently since June 1 of last year. Nothing major, but just a few extra pounds that are going to make a big different as I train for a half IM in April and a 50 mile run in October.

    Taubes' book opened my eyes to a lot of things about fat burning, fat regulation, and insulin resistance and sensitivity.

    I have discovered over the last few years that I am extremely insulin sensitive. This means that a banana, date, or candy bar effects my blood sugar much more drastically than someone who is not very insulin sensitive. This makes sense because all 4 of my grandparents had Type II diabetes and my mom does as well. People that seem like they can eat whatever they want and not gain weight are not insulin sensitive. They store fat in their muscle cells which allows them to burn the fat while creating excess energy (which begs the question, are marathon runners lean because they run? or do they run because they're lean?).

    Someone like me will store fat in fat cells which does nothing but build more fat. I believe there are many, many people out there more insulin sensitive than I am, but I would say I'm somewhere in the moderate range -- which is not in line with my body fat and fitness goals combined with where the majority of my fuel is currently coming from.

    With that knowledge -- I am going to cut carbohydrate intake down to almost nothing for the foreseeable future (anywhere from 20-50g a day for 6 days a week and maybe a few more on Sundays).  

    This will be nearly impossible to do on plants alone so I will be incorporating farm raised eggs, organic/grass fed full-fat cheese, organic/grass fed butter, coconut oil, wild-caught salmon and sardines, and the occasional grass fed beef or chicken that I will buy from a grass fed ranch in northeast Texas -- where I used to buy meat from on a monthly basis.

    I will only eat organic or grass fed meat and will not eat meat from restaurants or grocery stores (unless it's grass fed or organic). This past year has taught me a lot about meat production, so I will continue to keep my dollars from "voting" for those practices to continue. I will also eat meat from wild game that I (or a friend) kill(s).

    A typical day will start out with some eggs or THUNDER COFFEE (the best thing ever...high quality coffee mixed with butter and coconut oil), nothing during the day unless I get hungry in which case I'll eat some nuts or cheese or olives, and dinner will be a large salad with an emphasis on low glycemic veggies, concentrating on avocado, nuts, and seeds, and either sardines, salmon, eggs, or some other type of high protein, low carbohydrate food source. There is basically no restriction on veggies or the aforementioned protein/fat sources. 

    Fruit (except for maybe 1/2 a grapefruit or an apple or some berries) will only be eaten on Sundays. Grains, cow's milk, high glycemic veggies (carrots, potatoes), will be avoided always. Processed sugar will also be a rarity...only on Sundays and not even every Sunday.

    The purpose of this is to keep my insulin levels in check so I don't store fat. I could (and probably will) write an entire article on that book, but in the meantime, if you're interested...read that book. I've read dozens and dozens of nutrition books and this one is probably the best most interesting one I've ever read.

    I'm not saying that this is the perfect diet for everyone. After doing some self-discovery and gaining some new information, I am going to experiment to see how I respond to this. Taubes book has taught me that everyone handles insulin differently and an individuals diet should be specific to that sensitivity.

    That's why I think someone like Rich Roll can have almost no body fat on all plants. He's not as insulin sensitive as some others.

    Anyway...a new experiment begins. Always exciting......love continuing to change and evolve and try new things in the pursuit of overall health and wellness.

    Wheaties...Breakfast of Redundancy Breakfast

    OK...this is hilarious. The second ingredient-breakdown of the blog, and one of the most ridiculous health claims of ALL TIME.

    Wheaties - breakfast of champions. 

    Look at the health claim - "More Whole Grain than

    any other

     ingredient!"

    Does that strike anyone else as being a bit silly? You're WHEATies...should you be bragging that WHOLE GRAIN (aka Wheat!) is your #1 ingredient???!!! That reminds me of a time in the film room in high school that I made a tackle in a game and bragged to the coach. He whacked me on the head with his pointer and said, "Hey, Rogers?! That's what you were SUPPOSED to do. You didn't do anything spectacular...you did your job...now shut your mouth."

    That health claim is like the Dallas Cowboys bragging "The 2012 Dallas Cowboys...more football players on our team than ANY OTHER type of athlete!" Yes...you're a FOOTBALL TEAM. Of COURSE football players are the most prevalent athlete on the roster. 

    Or Gap Kids saying "Gap Kids - with more kids clothing than any other type of clothing!" Yes...of course!

    Or a taxi cab driver jumping out of the cab and screaming out "I GOT MY FARE TO THE RIGHT DESTINATION!" Yes...you did...that's what you were SUPPOSED to do.

    You're WHEATIES for crying out loud!!! 

    How can that be a health claim???!!!

    I am minor-ly outraged by this. Hilarious, yet also frustratingly maddening. 

    Let's take a look at the ingredients.

    There are six.

    1 - whole grain wheat...good! Yes! WHEATies!

    2 - sugar...hmmmm. Why is that needed in the Breakfast of Champions?

    3 - salt...unnecessary.

    4 - Corn syrup...more sugar? Really? What kind of Champions is Wheaties trying to make? Pre-Diabetic ones?

    5 - Trisodium phosphate - cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover, and degreaser....good (sarcasm).

    6 - BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) - preservative, fat-soluble organic compound, controversy surrounded this compound in the 70s as it was thought to be linked to child hyperactivity and cancer.

    So you may want to rethink the ole Wheaties as a champions breakfast and use it more in the realm of Lucky Charms or Cocoa Puffs. Good, yummy cereal...just not what's going to make champions of the kind normally pictured on the box.

    DIRTY TRICKS

    OK...I'm going to start trying to shed some light on all the ridiculous food and nutrition claims that food manufacturers use to scam the masses. 

    When in doubt, follow the rule "If it can make a food claim, it's probably not healthy" because that means it's in a box and probably not real, whole food.

    So let's take a look at the left pic --- Made with Real Fruit//Whole Grains//Wholesome Fiber

    Now the top pic (front of box) --- No High Fructose Corn Syrup//Made with Real Fruit and Whole Grains

    Sounds good, right? A single mom with three kids in tow may look at that and think, "wow, that looks pretty good, real fruit, my kids could use real fruit...that's healthy right?" So she buys it, it becomes a staple in the pantry, and the kids eat it everyday. 

    Now let's breakdown that ingredients list:

    1 - whole grain oats...questionable since oats are probably packaged on the same belts that gluten-containing products are and gluten is evil

    2 - Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, folic acid)...OK, flour doesn't seem so bad, but it has a bunch of stuff "enriching" it. My advice is to get all of that enrichment in its natural state...aka in foods that actually have those things in them...NATURALLY.

    3 - whole wheat flour...gluten = bad.

    4 - soybean and/or canola oil...vegetable oils are not good. Super inflammatory and loaded with Omega 6

    5 - soluble corn fiber - this is a trick, straight up. Manufactures put this term but what it really is is corn syrup...a sweetener. But man doesn't that sound great? soluble corn fiber...HAS to be healthy.

    6 - sugar...no comment needed

    7 - dextrose...another way they try and trick you. Dextrose is another term for glucose, which is sugar.

    8 - fructose...another term for sugar

    9 - calcium carbonate...a compound found in rocks, it's what causes "hard water" and is used MEDICINALLY as a calcium supplement. I use it in my homemade toothpaste.

    10 - whey...animal protein, it's what's left after milk has been curdled, the liquid on top of the yogurt when you open the package

    11 - wheat bran...gluten = no bueno

    12 - salt...not good.

    13 - cellulose...the structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, well THAT sounds good, but wait - it's also the major constituent of paper, paperboard, card stock and textiles made from cotton and linen...and it's in your food.

    14 - potassium bicarbonate...a colorless, odorless, "safe" (per the FDA) substance. It is also the only dry chemical fire suppression agent recognized by the National Fire Protection Association. Can also be used as a fungicide in farming.

    15 - "natural" and artificial flavors...not food or anything you were ever meant to eat

    16 - soy lecithin...an additive, it also helps as a rust inhibitor in your paint

    17 - wheat gluten...protein found in wheat  = bad

    18 - niacinamide...part of the vitamin B group

    19 - vitamin A

    20 - carrageenan...thickening and stabilizing agent, extracted from red seaweed

    21 - zinc oxide...additive...also found in plastics, ceramics, glass, cement, lubricants, paints, ointments, adhesives, and sealants

    22 - reduced iron...reduced iron

    23 - guar gum...ground endosperm of guar beans, thickening agent

    24 - vitamin b6

    25 - vitamin b1

    26 - vitamin b2

    AND THAT'S JUST THE CRUST...

    now to the "real fruit" filling...this is great

    27 - invert sugar...sugar, it's a mixture of glucose and fructose

    28 - corn syrup...sugar

    29 - raspberry puree concentrate...the stripped down sugar of the fruit, it's another name for straight up sugar

    30 - glycerin...filler and sweetener...aka sugar, also widely used in pharmaceutical formulations

    31 - sugar...well, there it is...

    32 - modified corn starch...thickening agent

    33 - natural flavor...not natural at all, not a real food, chemical

    34 - sodium alginate...salty substance that makes the "real fruit filling" feel like gel

    35 - citric acid...chemical, preservative

    36 - methylcellulose...chemical used as thickening agent

    37 - dicalcium phosphate...chemical

    38 - malic acid...food additive, to make the "raspberry fruit" taste tart

    39 - caramel color...something you were never intended to eat

    40 - red 40...chemical that you were never intended to eat

    So...where's the "real" fruit? There is none!! 

    The first five ingredients of the fruit filling are sugar! 

    Manufacturers can put all these different names on sugar and trick you into thinking there's not much sugar in it because it only says sugar once in the crust and once in the filling.

    And there are 40 INGREDIENTS. 

    NEWSFLASH: THAT'S NOT FOOD!!!!!

    Ok...if you found this eye-opening or helpful, pass it on.

    What I Learned from Ironman

    Last May on the front sidewalk of Natural Grocers in Abilene, I registered for Ironman Texas on my brother's smart phone. It was a Sunday right after church. Registration opened at noon. I was registered at 12:01 PM.

    The frenzy of getting registered took control of my mind that morning, then when I was registered...it hit me.

    2.4 mile swim

    112 mile bike

    26.2 mile run

    What am I nuts??

    I didn't know how to train for that distance, how my body would respond to training, how I could train and take the last three courses of my MBA at the same time, while Jenn added a class to her teaching load, with a 2 year old, and a 1 year old...yeah, I must be nuts.

    I still had some races to finish up that year. I did an Olympic triathlon in Austin on Memorial Day, then was registered for another Olympic and Half Ironman in October, and the Whiterock (now "Dallas") marathon in December.

    Little did I know that the Memorial Day triathlon (Capital of Texas Tri) would be my last triathlon until the Ironman.

    Check the archives of this blog for the story about me getting run over on my Specialized Transition about a month before the Half Ironman.

    At that point not only did I not have my training specifics figured out for the Ironman, but I had to wonder whether or not I was even going to be healthy or strong enough to DO an Ironman at all.

    To make a long story short, I nearly PRed the half marathon at Whiterock in  December and recovered from that injury extremely fast with no lasting side effects save for a big U-shaped scar on my left quad.

    I decided to go with no animal products in my diet for the 16 weeks to show that it could be done. That you don't need animal products to fuel your system in preparation for one of the most physically challenging feats there is. That if you eat a nutritionally excellent diet, you can finish an Ironman with energy to burn, feeling absolutely great (I didn't sign up for the Memorial Day tri because I figured I would be too wiped after the IM, but I should have signed up because I felt great three days after the race).

    I found a training plan that I thought looked good and made my Ironman training "binder" in late December. I'm very structured and have to know exactly what I'm doing, when I'm doing it, how hard I'm doing it, and where I'm doing it far in advance.

    The 16-week plan began on January 30. It ended on May 19.

    During those 16 weeks I felt great. I felt terrible. I slept great. I tossed and turned. I sat up all night with a puking baby. I sat in cold tubs. I got a deep tissue massage. I ran in rain. I trained in the freezing cold. I trained in sweltering heat. I rode my bike to Cross Plains, Merkel, Winters, Tuscola, Clyde, Baird, Stamford, Buffalo Gap, Hawley and Albany. I was chased by dogs. I ran intervals. I ran long distance. I biked for hours inside while watching non-fiction shows on Netflix. I biked in hotels. I got sunburn. I got stung by a bumblebee. I ran on my treadmill while listening to ColdPlay, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Jimmie Hendrix, and the Beatles. I ran through some tar. I trained in the dark. I trained at dawn. I trained at dusk. I trained all day. I left my running shoes in a hotel. I trained in Midland, Amarillo, Lubbock, Arlington, Georgetown, Las Vegas, Plano, and of course, Abilene. I only missed one scheduled work out. I swam. I swam. I swam some more. 116,000 yards in the water. I swam in pools and in open water. I swam in cold water and in warm water. I rested. I did Crossfit WODs. I ate vegetables. I ate legumes. I ate fruits and nuts and seeds. My treats were LARA bars, Nikki's yogurt, and bean burritos. I trained in wind. I trained on the most incredibly still day I've ever experienced. I produced buckets of sweat. I woke up at 4:30 AM. I went to bed at 9 PM. I was in the thoughts of my family and friends...all the time. I was motivated by my three girls, my parents, my brothers (including Ryan), my in-laws, my close friends, my heroes, and my God. I day dreamed about crossing the finish line. I day dreamed about failing. I worried. I prayed. I finished.

    I posted a few days ago my total training volume for the entire 16 weeks. But that was just the physical training. There's no telling how many hours I spent thinking about the race, my nutrition, my training plan, how I was going to fit in my workouts for the week, how I was still going to get quality time with my girls, how I was going to fit in training on the road, and how I was going to finish my Master's work. I would guess it was somewhere in the hundreds of hours.

    I learned some things from this process as well.

    I learned that you don't conquer the Ironman. There is no mastery that is gained of the 140.6 mile behemoth. Ironman doesn't change. It is constant.

    YOU change. You master YOURSELF. You conquer YOURSELF, and by doing so you complete the task at hand. It is an amazing feeling to be in the kind of physical shape that Ironman requires. There is a unique sense of strength and confidence about it. It's probably the reason 2,500 people signed up for Ironman Texas.

    I learned a bit more about what the human body is capable of. I believe that most people are capable of doing something like an Ironman. Most of us have it in us, we just never try to find out if the ability is there...or not.

    I'm not anything special. I don't have great genes (sorry mom and dad). I can't eat whatever I want and thrive like some people seem to do. I don't have a butler or a chef or a nanny or a chauffeur. I'm a regular guy that wanted to do something challenging, I made the sacrifices, changed myself through a long and daunting process, and got it done.

    You can, too.

    All you have to do is come to the realization that it will never be the right time to do anything monumental in life. You just have to make the sacrifices, change yourself and get it done.

    Take your brother's smart phone and register for that next big challenge that's calling out to you.

    IRONMAN Stream of Consciousness

    Bed at midnight. Woke at 4 AM.
    Made a "pudding" at 4 AM (frozen blueberries, oatmeal, lemon juice, almonds, hemp protein, flaxseed, carob powder, banana)
    Made all bottles and made sure bags were packed. Made blended salad (romaine, spinach, avocado, dates, banana)...put it in a tupperware to eat before swim. Sipped on water with Nuun tablets.
    Read Psalm 40. Prayed on my knees.
    JB got up at 4:50. We left at 5 AM. Stopped at gas station and got coffee.
    Made it to transition at 5:30 AM. Bike was damp from morning dew/humidity. Taped gels to frame. Wiped off handle bars with paper towels. Put computer on bike. Borrowed a pump from a dude and aired up tires. During this time (before sun came up...total darkness), we heard a tire blow out while someone was pumping up and a collective "oooohhhh" /groan went up from the masses in transition.
    John also borrowed a pump and aired his tires up.
    We left transition and started the long walk to the swim start with thousands of other people.
    About 3/4 of the way there I decided the lines to the porta potty would be too long so I walked a few feet into the woods and relieved myself (1 and 2). Par for the course.
    I dropped my special needs bags off and we found a place to sit and relax for a few minutes. I ate my blended salad at 6:15. Put sunscreen on.
    We decided to just sit until the pros started at 6:50. Peed one more time in the trees.
    Some guy came up to us and borrowed my Body Glide...he called us "boys" twice. That was weird.
    Non wetsuits started at 7 AM. We put our wetsuits on and went into the water about 7:02.
    Gun went off at 7:10.
    My right calf was twinging from about the halfway point to the end of the swim. I swam very relaxed. Very steady...smooth...straight. Never even felt like I even worked on the swim. Mentality was that we were at a park, our bikes were in transition, and we just needed to get over to our bikes for the ride.
    200 yards into the swim I felt my chip start coming loose on my leg. I had just gotten clear of some slower swimmers. I grabbed it right before it came off and went over to a kayak. The guy couldn't help me. The velcro wouldn't stick so I stuck the dang chip down the front of my wetsuit and continued. Every 40 strokes or so I would feel to make sure it was still there. Loved swimming down that canal. Felt like the lazy river with so many people swimming the same direction.
    Water was calm. That wetsuit is awesome (TYR Hurricane).
    Goggles never fogged or got water in them...good goggles.
    Checked my watch a few times.
    Scared that my calf was going to cramp when I took a step up the stairs out of the water but it didn't. Came out of drink and started yelling that my chip wasn't staying on. Had to go over to a table and get another strap deal.
    Wetsuit strippers got my suit off and I WALKED to the bag area. People were running...that just didn't make sense to me.
    I found my bag easily and went into the tent.
    The best way to describe inside the tent at that time is a busy bus station/chicken coop in India. Naked people, screaming, stuff flying everywhere...it was insane.
    I found a seat and very calmly got all my bike stuff on (helmet, glasses, HR monitor, sox, cleats). Drank some water. Drank some accelerate. Sat back and ate my LARA bar. Peed in porta potty right outside tent.
    Walked to my bike. Foot felt OK...relieved.
    Walked bike to mounting area. Hopped on and said "here we go."
    Saw at least 20 bikes stopped on side of road. Prayed every time that it wouldn't happen to me or John.
    Saw one guy laid out on the road with blood covering his face.
    A couple of spots there were the remnants of a wreck: bottles and gels scattered all over the road.
    Traffic on the two lane hiways was backed up for MILES.
    I tried to thank every police officer and volunteer I passed. There were lots of them.
    Kept my watts in the 150s for the first 50 miles. Had the wind at my back. Taking it really easy. Ended up 158 watts for the whole ride ... my normal average is 190ish.
    Calf was twinging again so I would stretch it about every 30 miles.
    Stopped at special needs bags at mile 60. Got off bike. Taped more gels to frame. New bottle of accelerade. Peed...good sign. Ate a LARA bar. Saw parents at mile 28...gave me a boost.
    Saw parents at mile 61...stopped and chatted a second. They went back and got my tube and CO2 cartridge.
    Nearly hit a guy with a full water bottle. Just needed one swig of it and threw it back towards the trash area as I passed and he barely dodged it. I apologized profusely. He laughed.
    Ride was beautiful in most areas. Roads were good.
    Nutrition strategy was followed perfectly the whole time. Gel at 2 hours. Sipped water for 3 straight five minute intervals, then had accelerade the 4th interval. Drank about 20 ounces of water in between aid stations, squeeze top bottles were easy to empty into my bike bladder.
    One person said "nice bike" and I said "yeah I had to wait five months to get it" ... he laughed. I didn't see many shivs out there.
    Gel every hour. I started singing to myself late on the bike. Sang "I walked today where Jesus walked", "the Lord's prayer", "Who'll take my place when I'm gone"...all Vocal Majority songs.
    Rode around and with the same group for most of the ride.
    A guy sprayed me with a hose at mile 102 so I couldn't see anything for the last 10 miles looking through the water spots on my glasses.
    Off the bike, left shoes on clips.
    WALKED to bag area. On they way I used a volunteers shirt to wipe my glasses off.
    Found bag easily and made it inside tent. Not as hectic at this point. Put my helmet in the bag. Peed...good sign. Ate LARA bar. Shoes on. Visor on. Race belt with bottles on. Took two Advil.
    Walked out of tent and the run start snuck up on me...said "here we go." And started running.
    Ran 9 minute miles for first 8.5. Felt like I was barely moving.
    Signs said:
    don't you wish you had your bike back
    you should've taken a dump when you had a chance
    worst parade ever

    Stopped to #2 at mile 6. Can't believe I didn't pass out in there. So hot and stuffy. Terrible experience...but felt much better afterward.
    Saw my family as I ran by on the other side of canal. That gave me a boost. Saw them when I went by on their side. Stopped and chatted. Great seeing everyone.
    Felt good on second loop, too. Ran that one slower. Got my special needs bag but didn't eat the LARA bar...stomach was feeling full.
    Lost my nutrition strategy somewhere on the run. It would've been too much.
    Had some of the Ironman drink or my drink and water every aid station. Walked through end of every aid station for a few steps.
    Dropped ice down front or back of my jersey at every stop too. Poured cold water over head every chance I got. Never felt like I got overheated. HR was in the 130s for most of the run. Ended up averaging 133 during bike and run which is low.
    Got passed by the first place female. Said "it's an honor getting passed by you." and she never even looked at me or said anything...ha!
    Peed at mile 16....good sign.
    One part of the run loop was slightly uphill into the sun. I would start to get hot, HR would go up, calf would start twinging...but it was followed by downhill through a wooded trail and I would recover immediately.
    I honestly never felt like it wasn't even hard until mile 22...then it all came at me at once.
    I picked it up on the last loop. Risky...HR up in the 140s. Advil started to wear off. Inside of ankles began hurting. Foot pain from yesterday never came up. Knees never started hurting...or hips, or back or anything. I'm serious, up until mile 22 I was thinking "this is going to be too easy"...but then mile 22 came. So really I was only in dire straits/pain for about 1.5 miles.
    Three times I was expecting a certain mile marker to come up and the NEXT one did. Like I was thinking mile 15 would be the next sign I saw, and it was actually 16...that is a great feeling and it happened three times.
    From mile 16-22 felt great, fast. Mile 22 was bad...hurting. But then I caught John and we ran together for a while which gave me a boost.
    It was the slowest marathon I've ever run but it went by the fastest. Really picked it up last two miles. Started passing people.
    Adrenaline rush the last half mile.
    Banshee screamed when I crossed the line.
    Tons of energy...felt great. Others were collapsing into wheelchairs.
    Saw one guy laying in the woods with an IV during the run.
    Saw a lady cramping and crying on a curb.
    On the bike I was shocked at some of the people I was passing late in the ride. People that LOOKED like they had no business doing an IM had stayed ahead of me for the whole swim and most of the bike. Incredible. The human body is incredible.
    Several people commented on the mohawk.
    Lots of people gave encouragement. Running down canal lined with spectators was a boost, too...all yelling at you, clapping.
    Seeing my family was a huge boost every time too.
    You're supposed to answer the question "why am I doing this?" so when your tired body asks you that towards the end of the run, you have an answer, cuz if you don't, you'll be like "yeah, why the heck AM i doing this?" and it makes it harder to finish.
    My answer was "for my girls." So it made it easy. I was running faster so I could see them.
    Didn't get as emotional as I thought I would at finish. Was more amped up than anything. Mom and Jenn were crying hard. OK I cried a little. Whatever. Didn't want or need water or food right afterward...good sign that I nailed my race day nutrition.
    This morning I feel like I was either thrown in a cage with a gorilla or put inside a large tire and rolled down a hill. EVERYTHING is hurting. But that's OK.
    Planning on getting an IM tattoo on Tuesday afternoon.
    Saw lots of IM logo tattoos all day.
    Saw a couple of guys on the run that had to have weighed 270+. Crazy that they can do stuff like that.
    Talked to a few people on run. One guy from Mobile. A girl who was only getting to run first loop cuz she had a flight to catch to Oregon cuz her g-ma just died. She said "thanks for listening" as I ran off.
    Volunteers during the race were ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. The help they gave and confidence they gave you was staggering. At aid stations, on bike, everything.
    Cops that I would thank were very upbeat and happy towards start of race...by the end I would say thanks to some, and they would just ignore me or give me a dirty look...can't blame 'em.
    When ankles started hurting I just thought, "i'm taking two weeks off, who cares???"
    Not working out again until June 5 or 6. Doing a 15-day juice fast starting Wednesday, can't wait actually.
    Might swim some this week just to help recover...but I won't be "working out" just doing very easy movements.
    Can't believe it's over.
    Oklahoma City in 2014???
    Doing Half IM in Austin in October and Half IM in Galveston in April of next year.
    Still have my mohawk.
    Ok...what am I leaving out......
    thought i was going to have to change or wring out sox towards start of run cuz they were soaked and squishy, but that somehow went away.
    Wind was never an issue.
    Heat never an issue.
    Didn't even feel humid to me.
    counted strokes on swim for a long time
    counted steps on run
    thought about all the places I'd trained during last 16 weeks throughout the day (Midland, Lubbock, in Abilene towards lake - towards ACU/town, Las Vegas, Georgetown, Arlington, Amarillo)
    spit up stuff out of my chest all day, blew snot out all day, started coughing towards end of run.
    other signs:
    my mascara runs faster than you
    marathon = cooldown in Ironman language
    Pain is temporary, being an IM is forever
    Don't stop and walk, people are watching

    People were literally camped out on bike route. Looked like they had spent the night out there.
    Hahahaha...OK one weird thing happened, I was riding the bike out in middle of nowhere, looked up and this guy just appeared out of nowhere, had on green long pants and long sleeved shirt, huge beard, and was just standing there. He looked like grizzly adams or something...a woodsman. Didn't give encouragement or say anything...just standing there. I thought I was seeing things. LOL.
    Thought about my brothers a lot on the bike....random stuff like when we were little and how I'm thankful of what good friends we are. Thought about my girls, Ryan, my parents, my in-laws, my cousins, aunt, uncle, niece, sisters-in-law, everybody. Would get a lump in my throat thinking about it almost being over and thinking about seeing everyone.
    I also thought about the people that follow this blog and care about me and how I was doing during the race...I wanted to do good for everyone. Everyone like that, who ever asked me about training, who ever gave the slightest care about me and this race, played a role in me finishing. I did it for everyone to some degree.
    Had a moment of inspiration about my tattoo design on the bike...it's a surprise though.
    Names I remember from bike:
    scott
    woodie
    sue
    Luz

    I can finally understand why people say they'd rather do an Ironman than just a marathon.
    For example, mile 18 of a marathon you're 68% done.
    Mile 18 of the run on Ironman you're 94% done.
    Seriously, when you get to the run you think "I'm almost done" since you ONLY have four more hours to go...and you've been going 8.

    ....what else......
    I think that's it.
    Going to write a "What I Learned from Ironman" sometime soon. 

    THOSE WHO'VE CRASHED, AND THOSE WHO WILL

    My alarm went off at 6 AM. I got out of bed, shook the sleep out of my head and walked into the living room. Laid out on the couch were my cycling bib, my water bottles, gels, sunglasses, running shoes, shorts, socks, compression sleeves and visor.

    On the schedule this morning was a 3.5 hour bike ride followed immediately by a 45 minute run. My longest training session during the 12 week Half Ironman training plan I was currently on. My good friend, John, was set to arrive at 6:45 AM and we were planning on taking off at 7 AM sharp.

    I filled up my water bottles, taped my gels to my bike frame, aired up my tires, and set up my run gear for 3.5 hours later. On the schedule for later in the day was a relaxing time with my girls and a trip to the ACU football game at 6 PM. Neither of those things ended up happening.

    I was in the garage when John pulled up. I went in to tell Jenn goodbye and make sure she had her phone on. I also grabbed my heart rate monitor which I had forgotten to put on.

    The garage shut behind us, the sun was about to peek its head over the horizon, John and I set off. It was a little after 7 AM.

    I made a joke about crashing right when we took off. We both laughed.

    It wasn't dark, but it wasn't fully light yet either. However, it would be in about 10 minutes. It was right in that gray area where some cars had their lights on and some didn't.

    We turned on to Highway 351. Just another ride.

    We began to pick up speed past Lowden street and the side entrance to Wal-Mart. Very few cars were on the road. I was riding along the outside stripe, John was on the inside. We were riding side-by-side, chatting.

    I was in my aero bars and had just looked down at my speedometer. We were going 22 mph as we approached the main entrance to Wal-Mart (the same entrance where a motorcyclist had recently died).

    I remember John saying "uh-oh". I remember seeing a car coming from the opposite direction turn left in front of us into Wal-Mart. I remember thinking there was no way I could avoid it. I remember being very scared.

    I had a split second to try and hit my brakes. As I did, while trying to stop, I laid my bike down, going down on my right side...but I was too close to the car.

    I hit hard on my right elbow as all 175 pounds of me and my bike skidded briefly along the rough pavement. My right shoulder blade down to my right hip bearing the cost of this burden, skin being ripped away as I headed for the inevitable.

    Impact.

    I heard the noise. I didn't feel anything.

    There was a moment of silence then. A brief moment in which my brain did a quick assessment of the situation. I was coherent. I was alive. All my limbs were intact.

    I looked down at my leg. What I saw didn't seem to be my leg at all. It was something from a movie or a gross website with pictures of disgusting leg injuries. I see the fleshy, white, bloodless mass of what looks like a raw steak.

    Somehow my bike frame was right beside me. I calmly opened my bike bag, grabbed my phone, and was on with 9-1-1 before John was able to reach my side - running back to me thinking the worst after hearing a horrifyingly loud impact. He was hoping it wasn't my head or back that had made that sound.

    "I'm at the entrance to the north side Wal-Mart. I was on a bike. Hit by a car. I need an ambulance here immediately."

    John showed up at my feet, and I gave him thumbs up. I told myself to try and be positive and stay calm. This is happening for a reason...and laid my head back down. All I could think about were my girls and my bike. I knew my girls were OK, asleep in their beds. I knew my bike was hurt bad, laying in pieces beside me.

    The pain starts to set in now. Throbbing louder and heavier just above my left knee. It's good to ride with your orthopedic surgeon because he was able to tell me it was more than likely not a femur fracture, but we couldn't be sure.

    Someone who had stopped to help said the words "compound fracture" and I about passed out.

    My world brightened as I saw Jenn's face appear to my right. John had called her. It had been five minutes since I said goodbye to her..."Jenn, it's John, Mark has been hit by a car, he's going to be OK, meet us in the ER." On her way to the ER she saw the ambulance, fire trucks, two police cars, and a body laying on the highway. She stopped and ran to the scene.

    With such a squeamish stomach I dared not look at my leg, so I would look at other people's reactions to looking at my leg. I wasn't getting good feedback.

    Paramedics arrived, got all my information, secured my head and neck and loaded me up. I was shaking uncontrollably from the cold and maybe a little from the shock.

    Arriving at the ER, John and Jenn quickly by my side and quickly administering my ever increasing requests for pain killers. That made it a little better, but I still didn't know if anything was broken.

    X-rays were taken. No broken bones...really? How is that possible?

    John cleaned my wound, stitched me up, and I headed home. I never do good with pain killers so I was queasy for about the next 36 hours.

    It's taken about that long to try and figure out exactly what happened on impact. And to realize just how close I was to an even greater disaster.

    There were some things that didn't make sense.
    1. Scratches and swelling on the inside of my right knee - I had gone down on my right side. Any scratches should be on the outside of my right knee.
    2. Tread marks on the compression sock on my right shin - the car had not stopped over me. It had hit and continued on. They only way tire marks could have been made were while the car was in motion.
    3. My front wheel was structurally intact. My rim was torn, but the wheel itself was unbent - had the impact been taken by that wheel, it should have been damaged more, right?

    So, after hours of deliberation and playing the scene over and over in my head (every time I shut my eyes), this is what we've put together.

    Had the car vanished before impact, I still would have fallen. The bike was already laying down so the front tire had not made the initial impact. The front tire, had gone underneath the car.

    I made impact with the lower, right, passenger door of the car. With the front tire underneath the car, the back right wheel crossed over my bike (which explains the two broken forks off the front of my bike) and over my right leg (explaining the tread marks). Had the bike not been in the perfect position over my leg, or had my leg been cleared of the bike, that car tire would have crushed my right knee and lower leg into a million pieces. I don't even want to think about what a recovery from that kind of injury would look like.

    That also explains the scratches and bruises on the inside of my right knee. That must have been where the bike was pressed up against my leg when the car passed over.

    That bike saved my leg.

    It took a few days to figure out what caused the wound above my left knee. It wasn't until Gary at Biketown was looking the bike over for damage that he noticed a broken cable near the handlebars. Tracing the cable with his fingers up to the insertion point of the aero bar, his hand suddenly snapped back. He had just noticed what was accompanying the inserted cable on the bar...hair, skin, and what looked like a glob of lard.

    So that's what had stopped my forward momentum. 22 miles an hour to zero miles an hour directly on my left quad into my handlebar....my big, round, blunt handlebar. 

    A severe injury for sure. But what if that force had hit about three inches lower...on my knee cap or lower leg bones? What if that force had hit my abdomen or head? What if the car involved had been something with more ground clearance and I had slid up to my abdomen or head and THAT's what had been run over? Scary to think about...

    If you're going to get hit with that kind of pressure, there are really only two places you want to get hit: the rear-end or the quad.

    Saying that is lucky isn't doing it any justice. That's not luck. That's providence.

    I was literally about 2 inches away from having two completely shattered legs.

    Instead, two days later, I'm able to hobble around my own house and think about going back to work in a day or two.

    My losses include non-refundable race fees, damage to my sweet, precious, beautiful bike (don't talk about it, I'm veclempt), and hospital bills.

    My gains include a really cool scar, some really gross pictures, and being able to say I didn't cry and scream like a child while laying on the highway thinking my femur was sticking out my leg.

    While I'd like to recap those losses, they're a minor price to pay for what I ultimately COULD have lost on Saturday, September 24, 2011.

    I know this incident happened for a reason. And while I didn't need any help remembering what was truly important in life (all I have to do is look at any of my three girls to do that), it sure doesn't hurt in helping me keep my priorities straight.

    And it's like they say, there are two types of cyclists in the world: those who have crashed, and those who will.