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Let’s start with the word itself. “Supplement”. Something you add, to enhance – not so much to complete, or it would be a “component.” Supplementation is what you do, after you’ve done everything that should be done. Point is, nutritional supplements are useful when the diet is inadequate.  In a society as affluent as ours, nobody has any business having an inadequate diet. Broccoli and potatoes, and the like, are cheap and highly nutritious. Wheat is easy to sprout. Carrot juice. All, cheap and easy.

 But let’s be real. Not potatoes: potato chips. Not carrot juice: cola drink. Cauliflower? What’s that?   And even given an attempt at a responsible diet, well, food isn’t what it used to be. We don’t need to distress ourselves about “organic” produce, to understand that commercial foods have been bred for appearance, taste and shelf-life, rather than for nutritional content.

 So supplements can be useful. No guarantees. Who knows what some particular individual needs. This is not about function or theory, not about the details of how things work or why they are necessary; just a list of good practices, that have been demonstrated to help some people some times. So, here follows a brief list of recommendations, always bearing in mind the practicalities of cost-benefits.

Almost all of our aches and pains are due to systemic inflammation. A healthy inflammatory response is necessary: it brings bloodflow, heat, nutrients, to local damage. Sadly, most folks have an unhealthy inflammatory response ... hysterical. Most of the over-the-counter painkillers are anti-inflammatory: NSAIDs = non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

 OMEGA 3 FISH OIL is the most potent nutritional anti-inflammatory around. Not the pills – all that surface area makes them rancid. Liquid, in a pint bottle, kept sealed in the refrigerator. Any healthfood store will have it, or shop around online. Mega dose: one or two or three tablespoons, in your morning berry smoothie, maybe? Neutral lemon flavor: does not taste fishy – if it does, it’s rancid. The results are, not infrequently, dramatic.

 Other easy-to-find herbal supplements, either highly anti-inflammatory or generally salubrious, are: turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, devils claw, cats claw, boswellia, feverfew.

Joint health
The anti-inflammatories are a big part of relieving joint pain, but more specifically, hyaluronic acid, which aids with regard to the gooey fluid that should be lubricating your hinges.  It's the biochmical that gives a rooster's comb its pert upthrust!  A good general supplement is "Joint Support" from Trader Joe's --  with glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.  As with almost all supplements, the data are ambiguous regarding efficaciousness.  Maybe it's all snake oil.  But maybe not.

Digestive aids 
There’s hardly any point in eating, if you are not extracting meaningful nutrients from the effort. Anyone over a certain age will not be digesting their food properly. Sometimes the deadly aroma of what is left in the commode is just the result of an exotic side dish. Most frequently, it’s because food has not been digested and absorbed, but rather it has been chewed and then held inside your 98.6 degree intestinal tract for a day or two or three, rotting, putrefying, going rancid, fermenting, incubating hostile microbes, building up a stank like you're working for al-Qaeda. So ... digest your food.

 For any protein meal, HYDROCHLORIC ACID tablets may work wonders. Take one at the end of the meal, or more until you get an acid stomach, then one less. Pay the capitalists to do the work that your stomach refuses to do.

 For any cooked meal, take one or more DIGESTIVE ENZYME tablets at the beginning of the meal.  All foods contain their own enzymes, because all living things require enzymes, which do not die when the organism dies. Enzymes function as, uh, robot housekeepers – maintaining living things, breaking dead things down. Inside our bellies, that breaking-down is called digestion. When you cook the food you kill the enzymes. So what, you wonder? You make your own enzymes! Indeed you do, at the cost of having a pancreas three times larger than it should be. A theoretical reason why calorie-restriction is the ONLY proven method to extend longevity is that with fewer calories there is less of a digestive strain on the metabolism. An engine that runs cooler is more efficient. Point is, food without enzymes is indigestible. You can eat raw food, cook it and over-tax your pancreas, or pay the capitalists to make enzymes for you.

Other good practices 
PGX is a soluble fiber that mixes in with the bad carbs you've eaten and turns them into medium carbs.  Like oatmeal.  Doesn't add any nutrition, but it slows absorption down and avoids the insulin spike that is what makes bad carbs bad.  Take with a glass of water -- it's going to get gooey, and will take fluid from your tissue if not from the glass.

PROBIOTICS: something is going to live inside you. A statistic that’s common enough to be taken as true is that 90% of the DNA inside you is not human DNA. Microbes are orders of magnitude smaller than your own cells, and populate your gut, inevitably. Something IS going to live inside you. Do you want it to be, say, yeast and putrefactive bacteria, and suchlike enemies of humanity? – or beneficial symbiotes. It answers itself.  Best practice, store in refrigerator; take before bed on an empty stomach.

CHELATED MINERALS: “chelated” means the mineral is bonded to another molecule and is bio-available, rather than just a rock dug out of the ground. If we could thrive on dirt, we’d be plants.

VITAMINS: we all know it, but it bears repeating. Dead, cooked, processed food is dead. Sure, they put back some of the vitamins, but maybe their eye to quality isn’t that trustworthy? So take charge. Vitamins B, C and D suggest themselves as needing emphasis. Lots of controversy about dosages, which we need not enter into here. Just an interesting factoid: humans have the gene to make vitamin C, but that gene is mutated, broken, silent (also in all anthropoid primates, guinea pigs, some birds, some bats). The amount of vitamin C that animals daily make for themselves corresponds to about 8 grams, for humans. We don’t argue by analogy, but that doesn’t make analogies wrong.

 Weeping bitter tears of regret, after it’s too late, avails us nothing. We understand that there are no guarantees. Sometimes the best possible outcome is pretty bad. But it’s still the best. What, you want worse? So best practice will lead to best results, regardless of what the result is. A less-horrible disease? Good! I’ll take it! We don’t need perfection. We need diligence, which in the case of nutrition means responsible choices, with some supplementation.

 Be excellent.



Any food that has ever been a powder is a processed food. It's not just things that come in boxes. Bread, the staff of life, is a processed food, and depending on the artificiality of the ingredients, it can be more or less toxic. But it is processed, which means a great deal of the digesting has already been done, and all those calories are ready to flood into your bloodstream all at once, rather than trickle in, as chewing the grains would allow for. You see the point -- there can be a big hypoglycemic effect, sugar high and low, for anyone who has any sort of a weight issue.

Now hear this: PROCESSED FOODS ARE PRE-DIGESTED, AND AMOUNT TO INSTANT BLOOD SUGAR, WHICH TURNS INTO FAT. They're more than refined. We call them industrial carbs.

There is a way to unprocess the food. It is a cheat. It does not add nutrients, which should be the major reason for eating -- so the theory goes.  But reality is what it is, and sometimes we need to undo some of the folly we've indulged in.

Glucomannan is a vegetable fiber derived from konjac root, native to Asia. It does not dissolve in water, but rather forms a thick gooey gel. Konjac is sold as capsules under various product names, and expands to perhaps 100 times its original mass -- a gram (about the size of a vitamin pill) grows to the size of, um, a hamburger paddy.  Pretty amazing. This creates a sensation of fullness, but much more important in terms of health is that it regulates insulin.

There are two sorts of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. The insoluble kind adds bulk and roughage, which is necessary for healthy elimination. And there actually is a nutritional element, in providing energy to the cells of the colon -- but that's pretty obscure. Soluble fiber absorbs water inside the digestive tract, and becomes, as it were, sticky. The benefit of this is that the gel mixes with processed foods and slows down the absorption of sugar. See?

Adding soluble fiber somewhat undoes the hypoglycemic effect. Birthday boy still ate all that cake with no meaningful nutrients and all those calories, but if he supplements some soluble fiber the industrial carbs  won't go racing into his bloodsteam causing a hysterical insulin response. It's as if he ate little pieces of cake, over five hours, rather than a big piece all at once. He won't be burning the fat he already has, but he won't be adding new fat either, the way he would have without the fiber.

It's a cheat.  He should have eaten nutritious food. Why didn't he? Shame! For shame! But he already knew that. Once the blame is out of the way, and the guilt, and the self-loathing and defensiveness, we can get practical. Take a soluble fiber pill -- there's one marketed under the name PGX. It doesn't make a bad diet good, but it makes it less damaging. That's a sort of good.  Because it makes a very real difference.  Real fat loss of about a pound a week occurs, making no lifestyle changes at all, save a pill before each meal.

It's not a good thing to eat poorly and then try to undo the damage. Eat properly. Nutrient-dense, calorie-poor foods. But we do live in the real world. So if you cheat on your diet, cheat again. Two wrongs don't make it right, but the second makes the first less wrong.

Another soluble fiber is psyllium, the active ingredient of Metamucil. Yes, it makes you go to the toilet. You can pick it up as Psyllium at Trader Joe's, cheap, and scoop it over your Lucky Charms. It's not as thick and gooey as konjac, and doesn't come in capsules, and it's less expansive.  But it has the same healthful benefit as konjac.

The solid research is pretty interesting. Supplementing with these soluble fibers can have positive effects on constipation, intestinal gas, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, ahem, anal fissures, Crohn's disease (inflamed bowel), IBS and colon cancer. It's all so very excretory, true. It has a beneficial effect on hyperglycemia (pre-diabetes), obesity, cholesterol levels, and it inhibits dietary fat from being absorbed. Digestion is more complicated than thinking. Entertain your bowels, the way you do your mind.

The other cheat we'll mention is Omega-3. We've already looked at it in depth. Here, enough to note that it undoes some of the poisonous effects of a diet high in inflammatory fats -- which is the standard American diet.  SAD.  Point is, when wrong foods have been indulged in, do what you can to undo the damage.

Adolescents are idealistic. They still believe in perfection, as small children believe in Santa Claus. When we become mature, we put away childish things and try to see the world as it is. Not dark, not cynical. Realistic. Pragmatic. Within which worldview, there is ample room for optimism.

Consider the myth of Pandora's Box. A superficial understanding would see the tale as teaching the folly of curiosity, or the foolishness and primal guilt of women, or the inevitable doom that justifies our darkest forebodings. Misses the point. The point is thisafter every evil thing had spilled like shards of glass from that Box -- pestilence and catastrophe and atrocity -- the last thing to emerge was something wonderful.


Perfection? Please. Perfection is static, and we are always changing. We don't trouble ourselves with perfection, but we strive for excellence. Such a great difference, in such a small shift in outlook. It makes us smile.

We strive then to be beautiful, in our character and our actions and in our health. If you have remained too long, sitting -- if you've remained too long, sitting at the dinner table ... well? Have hope. Take heart. Take heart by taking action.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

More Endless Harping On and On about Diet Again

 It's not a health kick. It's not kicks with us, hepcat. We just roll with health. Like about How Things Work, or about how wrong Conventional Wisdom is.

It appears that there's some controversy re diet among medical professionals. Hm. That says it right there. Medical -- as in medicine. What does medicine have to do with health? It has to do with sickness. The disease care system. Once you're sick, well, something to do with barn doors and horses. When you're way sick, medicines are good. Why did you get sick though? Because you failed to realize that you are made out of what you eat. If you're sick, non-infectious sick, it may have something to do with the fact that you've used substandard material in the manufacture, construction and/or assembly of your body.

A simple observation: There are three macronutrients -- proteins, fats and carbs. Your body never has needed and never will need, or use, dietary protein; it needs amino acids, essential amino acids, which you must get through diet.

Your body absolutely needs fat, certain kinds of fats -- the essential fatty acids, most notably omega 3. Other forms of fat are 1) beneficial nutrients (say, oleic acid), or neutral concentrated energy -- and this includes saturated fats, even from animal sources -- or 2) flatout poisons, like transfats, or omega 6 in too high amounts.

Likewise with carbs. There is no essential carbohydrate. All carbs break down into glucose. You must have glucose -- it's brain and organ food -- but you can make it out of protein. On the other hand, the plant nutrients that come along with carbs (plants) ... the phytonutrients ... you must must must eat these. Which ones? That's a judgment call. But eating too few plant-based nutrients is called malnutrition.

There are essential amino acids, but no essential proteins. You digest proteins into amino acids, which you build up into proteins. Sadly, there are poisonous proteins, commonly eaten -- those of animal origin, per The China Study. In moderation, they are unlikely to be dangerous, and even less likely if they are thoroughly digested, via properly produced stomach HCl. In excess and improperly digested, animal proteins can aggravate an auto-immune response, where your body designs antibodies to destroy any partially or non-digested alien proteins that have leaked into your bloodstream; consequently your immune system may learn to attack your own, similar (animal) proteins. A theory, but one that makes a lot of sense.

Likewise, there are essential fats. You must eat them. But when eaten in disproportionate, unnatural amounts, they become toxic. We've looked at this before. Too many vegetable oils and you get a hysterical inflammation response. It is the scourge of the American diet. Poisonous.

As for carbs, there is no essential carb. What is essential in this case is moderation. Because an excess of factory carbs, industrial carbs -- that is, sugars and refined grains ... concentrated and instant carbs -- wreaks havoc with insulin, which is a master hormone.

Hormones are involved in one or more of four bodily functions: maintaining homeostasis; producing, utilizing or storing energy; reproduction; growth and development. Remember it as HERG, but that is neither here nor there. What is here and there is that insulin is involved in all of these, and too many carbs really, really really mess insulin up.

Which is the worst? Animal proteins that putrefy in your gut and can get into your bloodsteam, not so very different than viruses and bacteria? Fats that can inflame you or, as transfats, take the place of good fats but do a worse than useless job? Carbs, that in excess will cause diabetes and heart disease and virtually all of the modern black death of diseases associated with the Western and American diet? Well, choose your poison. It hardly matters. Most toxic, it seems, is carbs, though. Sweet poison.

We don't have to be perfect. We should be sensible. In the Old Testament the Divine Architect of the Universe and Most High Lord God Almighty appointed seven (7) annual feasts unto the Hebrews. Maybe that's how often we should indulge in these common dietary poisons. Just a ballpark estimate. That seems like moderation. Meantime, call to mind the thing that you don't want to live without. That thick bloody slab of steak, or the heaping mounds of ice cream, or the delectable sponginess of your cakes and pastries.

Whatever it is, that's your addiction. Do you like being an addict? Does that make you feel good? Are you happy about that? Shame! Shame!!! 


 You know the course it takes. Increasing abuse, then death. Would you like an intervention? Beats a funeral.

Ah well. It's all just so interesting. Knowledge is power. In this case, the power to reclaim your body away from illness, snatched from the Jaws of Death, and lead it into the Glorious Light of Vibrant Health! Exclamation point! Well, at least into feeling better. That's a good thing. Start with moderation. Develop common sense.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank


There is nothing more emotional than food. It is the first comfort. We come crying from the womb, and whatever sensual pleasure there may be in nursing, it is overwhelmed by the confounding pleasure of nourishment -- the sweet warm flow of milk, it soothes our natal tears. And when we cry as children, we are silenced with a cookie. And we have, with every Christmas memory, every Thanksgiving memory, or Halloween, or Easter or Passover, the inseparable associations of food. Their smells make our mouths water. It is hospitality. It is celebration. No wedding, no birthday, without cake. Midnight pizza, when sleep won't come. Midnight ice cream, to comfort our broken hearts. Thus, a necessity is a compulsion. No wonder two thirds of Americans are overweight.

To change your diet is to change your self. Not an easy thing. Take obesity. It's a tough thing for a lot of reasons, but most obviously because it speaks so publicly of a vice. We all have secret indulgences. They do not however hang from our ribs in billowing folds. If we lust, or rage, or inject heroin into our veins, we can often keep it secret. You can't, however, hide 100 extra pounds.

But to call yourself back from that extreme -- to face the problem and find the courage and integrity to fight it, and prevail -- this is honorable. It is a kind of redemption. Someone let himself go, he's damaged his health, he's borne the judgment and mockery of those whose vices are not so obvious. But now he's started the long, the grueling climb back to where he wants to be. Sensible diet, sensible exercise. Maybe he won't get all the way. But he's moving. Godspeed.

How to do it? Let's not say dieting, but rather nutriating. The idea is to look for nutrient-dense food. Some foods have lots of calories and hardly anything else. Grains, believe it or not. Mostly calories. A bit of nutrition in the bran, in the germ, but the body is just nothing but calories. Which is great, if you live in a Neolithic village. On the other hand, berries are just little nutrition troves. We should eat them even if they tasted like sawdust. They're that necessary. And we know, we know that some cancers are deficiency diseases. Berri berri, rickets, scurvy -- banished, because there is a vitamin to take. It's so easy.

Upshot is, it is a wonderful thing, the way we turn food not just into energy, but health. Or sickness. Look up "enteric system." Here, say. The whole complex digestive system. Your brain is made up of neurons. There are as many neurons associated with the enteric system as with the brain. A trillion, each. Ever wonder about butterflies in the stomach? It has to do with the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Your gut uses more serotonin than your brain. How odd. No, not just wonderful, this process. More than that.

But sometimes appetite gets to us. And you eat some cookies. A whole bag of cookies. All at once. One after the other. They are delicious. Large and moist, with chocolate chips. Delicious. So sweet and so tasty. Mmm. Vegan cookies. All natural. No sucrose. No harsh or caustic chemicals. Earth friendly, to help Save the Planet. And the next day you wake up with a slightly sore throat. A little shaky. A little mucusy. Kind of weak. So you take the day off. But the cookies. The cookies. They were so tasty. So sweet.

You do not regret it. You'd do it again.

Ach. Humans. Those guys. Gotta love 'em.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Your Colon & YOU!!

It's hard know how to begin. The subject is rather delicate. Sort of a private thing. Almost taboo. No, actually taboo. But that doesn't mean it should be ignored. The usual Youtube field just won't do. No, you can copy and paste the links. That way it's entirely on you. The management and stockholders of the FitWorks Corporation, International can take no responsibility for any potential untoward emotional or aesthetic consequences.  On the other hand, never mind ... cut and paste is too much hassle.

So HERE is a colonoscopy vid, of various patients.  Some healthy, some pathological. It doesn't seem to be impacted fecal matter, "like spackle or paste" to quote a common radio commercial, but it's slimed on there in a manner and to a degree that is clearly desperately unhealthy. Diet diet diet.

The woman at 3:35 pretty much clinches the case: the colon is highly correlated to overall health. Did that incredible mess of a bowel cause her cancer? That would be overextending the evidence. But it's obvious that her colon is utterly toxic. The product ads for fibers and herbs and cleansers and hoses have a marketing agenda. The research seems not to have been done, regarding toxins absorbed to cause disease. But a sick colon is symptomatic of a sick diet, which is, frankly, the cause of virtually every lifestyle disease. It's shortsighted to address the symptom, be it either colon or cancer, without addressing the cause -- diet.

On the other hand, the colon of someone with a healthful diet is a veritable garden of delights. That's an article of faith, for most people, but it must be so. A high percentage of plant-based foods is colo-riffic! Animal cells, you see, have a membrane, whereas plant cells have a wall. The membrane is just fat, and dissolves when digested into something like, well, lard, providing no roughage, as grandma used to called it -- nothing for peristaltic motion to act effectively upon; the wall is cellulose, undigestible, and gives rocket power to all your elimination needs! It's the difference between scrubbing on the one hand, and on the other constantly slathering the lumen with fetid slime.

Something is indeed going on, with the large intestine. Take this guy for instance: just a little freaky, wanting to share what he shares, but illustrative.

Hey, you were warned.

A mass of algae-looking mucus in his toiletbowl after a six day fast. But, if it's true, we really should know about it, in a general sense. It's just the specifics that are sickening. So you just hurry out right now and buy some fiber, eh? Please? And drink water, like a lot.

As for worms, unless it's some sort of CGI effect, behold.  And behold again.

Now, hospitality is a very fine thing. Good old-fashioned values. And didn't St Francis teach us to be kind to animals? But this is going a bit too far past the extra mile. No matter how moonbeam someone might be, loving the earth and being kind to all the growing things and all that hippie stuff, uh, KILL THEM!!!

Upshot: John Wayne did not have 20 pounds of impacted fecal matter in his colon. Well, maybe he did, but we don't know about it. No autopsy. Lies lies lies. Elvis on the other hand did have a desperately sick colon: fully half of it was "jam-packed" with dried chalky feces. The drugs did that, and his bloat-making diet. So we know crud gets stuck, in a more than constipational way. There are autopsy colons of incredible size and weight. These are pathological, of course, and turning on an internal firehose might have done some good, but so would surgery. Neither would be a cure, for a poisonous lifestyle. But the first would certainly be an easy way to buy some time -- like draining a boil. Doesn't really matter if a boil is poisoning the body -- it just needs to go.

As for those hideous colonoscopy vids, this is what we've suspected all along. It's not brittle, not dry, this fecal mucous or mucosal feces. But it is stuck. Like cheese, then. You are just chock-o-block full of cheese. And algae. And worms. Why do you do this to yourself. So sad.

Well, a certain silliness of tone is not entirely amiss. It's an uncomfortable topic. Colons. Yick. But we are made out of what we eat. How is this relevant to fitness? Well, duh. FitWorks has a primary focus on increasing health and functionality through exercise, which is, after all, far more manageable and rational than diet. But you are made out of food, and diet is at least as important as exercise. Look at it this way: a city is only as healthy as its sewers.  If you've ever used a Tijuana outhouse, you know it's true.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank


This royal shape of kings, this scepter'd trunk,
This bodiment of majesty, this form of Mars,
This other ecstasy, demi-delight,
This figure built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of time,
This happy sight of men, this total world,
This precious sinew set in a tonéd build,
Proof against the envy of less happier men,
This blessed form, this flesh, this frame, this Body.

 -- Dick the Second, Act II, scene I (Shakeboody)

So?  Be excellent!



Stretching isn’t about being able to do splits. It’s about avoiding chronic and/or acute pain.

 Skeletal muscles can do only one thing -- contract. Well, relax too, but that’s just part of the one thing. Every muscle attaches at each end to a different bone, across a joint. A muscle cell, a fiber, sort of reels one end of itself in toward the other, the opposite of a rubberband -- it’s a sort of hand over hand tug-of-war process, as if two caterpillars met head to head and then walked along each other’s belly. Confusing, eh? Point is, the ends get closer together.

 We get stiff, inflexible, muscle bound, stooped, when muscles reset themselves into a contracted position, so that too-short becomes the new norm. Spend 8 hours working at a desk, or 12 hours watching a Twilight Zone marathon, or 16 hours playing, um, Tetris, and you’re teaching your hamstrings that short is the healthy way to be. When we try to pull them out again into a longer, healthier full-range position -- what we’d call stretched but which is really just relaxed--this is perceived as an abnormal stress on a joint, perhaps even dangerous. Joints are higher than muscles on your brain’s list of things to protect, so there is automatic resistance to any stretch beyond the habitual. And what you do for 8 hours straight, your body considers the norm.

That’s the stiffness -- a signal from your muscles to you that you’re getting dangerously ambitious, what with your bending over to tie your shoe like that. How dare you disrespect your body so flagrantly. Back off, sweet child, you’re flying too close to the sun. Stiffness. The reaction may be violent, in fact, if the danger seems grave, and the muscle reacts like a finger flinching from fire -- spasms, pulls, tears. Better a torn muscle than a damaged joint. Problem is, there was no danger. You just haven’t been doing your stretching, your relaxing. Your body is a domesticated animal: you may think it’s a fierce boar, but it’s a pig … that may be an unflattering analogy. You think it’s a wolf but it’s a dog, and it learns what you train it to do. Teach muscles to stay contracted, hour after hour, and they will obey, and enforce the lesson with stiffness. Or with rips. Or with atrophying rigidity.

 So. Functionality functions most functionally when fully elastic muscles operate joints that are properly aligned. Your body is in its groove. Lots of body parts can slip out of their groove. Slumped shoulders, drooping head and neck, pelvis tilted forward or back (which rounds or sways the lower back), knees and feet pointed out or in (duckfeet or pigeon toes).

 These are all significant problems, which may never actually cause pain for some lucky folks, but will always increase the risk of injury. Consider: if a rubber band is already fully stretched, and then pulled even more ... injury. Whereas: if a muscle-tendon unit has sufficient and healthy range of motion, a fall or blow need not over-stress it -- there’s enough give and take to avert trauma. Thus: we want to preserve and recover healthy flexibility as a matter of prudence and responsibility. We don’t stretch so we can show off our splits; we stretch so we don’t have debilitating pain come out of nowhere and ruin our lives and destroy our optimism and transform us into bitter joyless recluses just waiting for the onerous burden of life to finally, at long and agonizing last, pass.

 Ideal skeletal structure is symmetrical to such a degree that it can only be called elegant. Like Leonardo designed it. Brilliant, actually. The shoulder joints, hips, knees and soles are all equidistant, one from the next. Proper posture has ankles, knees, hips and (depending on body-type) shoulders all precisely parallel.

 From such a pinnacle, it’s all downhill. Splayed feet, which turns walking into a sort of skating.
 Only a moment’s thought will demonstrate the problem, the inordinate and chronic stress on the ankles. We don’t want to skate. We want to ski. And observe the knees -- pointing outward, which is what splays the feet. And the knees are just revealing the displacement of the hips. An obvious issue then, but not a simple one.

Again, slouching shoulders.
 The shoulder blades aren’t doing their job. The resulting pain need not be restricted to the logical places, neck and back. Pain migrates.

 The most common cause of posture-induced pain is a downward tilted pelvis.
 If everything is thrown out of balance, forced to realign, sacrificing proper function for simple balance, then muscles will of necessity be forced to do work they can but were not designed to do. Prime-movers become postural, and visa versa. It’s madness.

 The upward tilting pelvis looks as degenerative as it is. You’re old before your time.

And so on.   Listing

 … yawing
 … just ready to capsize, keel over, break in two and sink to the crab-scuttled floors of silent seas.

These oddities of posture are the virtually universal norm. All those computer games have twisted our bones as well as our minds, and souls.   Repent! With maintenance stretching, your bones don’t have a choice but to fall into healthy alignment. It’s not bogus. It’s excellent.
Seems like a smart thing to do.

Be excellent.

CrossFit Burbank

Hey dude,

like I was totally waiting for you.
You said we were gonna work out together, do some CrossFit. Got my workout log, headphones, brought a kettlebell. But you never showed. What’s up with that? You are a total hoser, man. You should try  a lot harder to

be excellent.


Recipes --

-- by which is meant the things you should do to increase the rationality, quality and/or hygiene of your life:

1. Never pet a stray cat with a wet tail.

2. If you shave your head, be sure to shave your back too.

3. Eat properly.

Okay, maybe those first two aren't all that universally practical. But eating properly is always a good idea. Eat good meals. By meals, we mean meals of excellent nutrition. Not just food. Nutrition. Anything you can eat -- that is, anything you can fit into your mouth might be called food. Yuck. By meals, we also mean meals of an appropriate quantity. Never eat more than you can carry. Never swallow anything bigger than your head.

So. A truly excellent breakfast is a berry-fruit smoothie. Very easy, and superb nutrition. Take a handful (as it were) each of frozen blueberries, mixed raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, etc, cherries, mixed mango, pineapple and kiwi -- whatever is convenient -- and blend it with however much of water will give you the consistency you prefer. Add some protein powder, some coconut oil, some flax seed oil or Omega-3, some aloe vera juice, anything else you think is good. It's all to taste. A blender-full makes four or five glasses. One every few hours is ideal.

The ORAC value is off the charts (google "orac antioxidant"). Amazingly low in calories -- the oils bring it up, but they are essential too. Flax seed oil is a precursor to the Omega-3 EFAs (google "efa epa dha", or just look at Wikipedia). Coconut oil is indeed a saturated fat, but it's a medium chain fatty acid, which metabolizes more like a carb -- it has 7 rather than the usual 9 calories per gram of fat, and it's thermogenic (makes you burn more calories than it contributes), and, weirdly, it's highly antiviral. There are satiation receptors in the brain that monitor for fats, and by adding a small amount you'll help yourself figure out that you're not hungry.

Another meal, as often as you like, is a simple vegetable stew. Frozen broccoli, cauliflower, mixed peppers, corn and peas and green beans and string beans and carrots, and whatever else catches your eye at the store. Bring it to a boil, chop in a tomato and some extra-firm tofu or cooked free-range lean meat.

Pretty boring and not all that flavorful. So add seasonings. Apple cider vinegar (google it), a splash of extra-virgin olive oil, turmeric (anti-inflammatory), cayenne pepper (trust us, it's good for you ... but watch out, hot), cinnamon (weirdly, it increases your insulin receptivity -- a very good thing), basil, oregano, parsley, any other herbs or spices that catch your eye, and something called Bragg Liquid Aminos -- very savory and makes all the difference ... really tasty, at any healthfood store.

There's the hunger of an empty belly, which isn't hunger at all.  There's the hunger from an energy-depleted bloodsteam, no matter how much you eat, because of an insulin imbalance -- we'll look at that some other time. Then there's the hunger from not getting enough nutrients -- biochems that your body needs to build and repair itself. The standard American diet -- SAD -- is really good at causing high-calorie malnutrition. Empty calories.

Calories, from a responsible perspective, are not the defining characteristic of food. Nutrients are. It's the difference between eating, say, just sugar (ALL carbs break down into glucose) on the one hand, or (complex) veggies and fruits and berries, on the other. One will, eventually, make you sick and kill you. Literally. The other will bring optimal health. Empty calories, opposed to nutrient-dense calories.

There are plenty of easy-to-read books on intelligent nutrition. SuperFoods Rx, for example. Not moonbeam, not vegetarian. You don't have to be vegetarian. The point is, health is not magic. We build it, out of food. Health has to do with prudence. Food can kill you, and it can, really it can, make you well. Be moderate, which means be responsible. When you notice results, it gets easier. Then it becomes the only way to be.

At FitWorks, we focus on diet and exercise. We supervise the exercise, because we're right there. Diet is on you. It's like solitaire. You can cheat. Well ... go ahead. But play fair, too, most of the time. These are the compromises people have to make. It seems like a good thing to make as  few  as possible.

4. Never reply to an email from an exiled Nigerian bank president.

5. Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Lower Body

A meaningful exercise program will exploit the fact, even if it's not consciously understood, that the body can be divided into three large functional units: the upper, pushing-pulling structure of the arms and shoulders; the middle, bending-twisting structure of the trunk; and the lower, standing-stepping structure of the legs and hips. It's a FitWorks organizing principle -- a little thought should reveal its truth and usefulness.

Just a few words on the lower body. It steps and it stands. That's it, in terms of major functioning. By stand, we mean vertical movement -- standing, sitting, jumping, and anything else of this sort you can think of. By step, we mean horizontal movement -- walking, running, lunging and so on.

In terms of exercise, the simplest effective movements would be the squat and the lunge. These two functional motions address it all. How very very simple. Do these two things, and you're about 98% done with it -- using the tried and true proof of instant phony statistics. But it's only the stat that's phony. The overwhelming effectiveness is real. So what about toe-raises and calf-raises and heel raises and, uh, leg presses and donkey kicks and ham curls and all those other fancy machines we see in the chrome and glass gyms? Aren't they ever so useful and necessary too?

Yes, if you're undergoing physical rehab for an injury. Yes, if you're a professional bodybuilder looking to isolate that one odd little muscle in your posterior chain that hardly anyone knows the name of but the judges look at. Yes, if you're running a Curves gym and want to make a lot of money by luring people in with your glitz and manifest overhead costs.

But no, in terms of fitness and athleticism and functional movements and feeling and performing better -- no, they are not necessary. What's necessary is doing with purpose and directed intelligence what the human body wants to do because of the way joints move bones. So, squats and lunges. That's what the body does, and that's what you should exercise. Not only these, but these. And these, only safely.

There is a difference, almost never noticed, between kneeling and squatting. Kneeling is knees-forward -- you're going to land on your knees if you go far enough. Nothing wrong with that, per se. But it's not a squat. Squatting is behind-backward -- if you go far enough, you land on your bottom. So what? When we say squat, that's what we mean.

There is no power in kneeling -- it is, after all, the position we beg from. Whereas all the upward power of your posterior chain is accessed, in the squat. Again, kneeling bends the foot -- squatting grinds the heel. The ball of your foot is for transferring power forward -- the heel is for focusing power upwards.

Thus, a distinction between squatting and lunging, upward and forward, heel and toe, backside and knees. Different emphasis because of different purpose and function. This has practical importance because of safety issues. If you lift things upward (squat) while using a forward movement (lunge) -- well, it's hard on the knees. Injury. So that's why training properly is important.

No need to go into how the isolation machines place unnatural constrictions on the joints. We all follow a similar human pattern, but our joints have a lot of idiosyncratic variability in them, which the machines don't accommodate. They are pretty much a one-size fits all sort of thing, for all that there is a little bit of adjustability. No need, again, to go into that. Why would you use a machine? All strapped in and ready to let it do the work, battling alien giants maybe? Hm. Seems so scientific, if this were 1963.

So that's a general rundown on the lower body. Very simple, and yet sort of complex. Understand though how important it is. Two-thirds of most people's muscle mass is below the waist. We burn fat by using muscle. That's why they're always trying to get you to do cardio. You don't really care that you might be able to run a 5K. You just want to burn the calories. It's those big weight-bearing muscles that do it. But using them is only part of the picture -- the other part is building them. Strength training. Necessary. Safely.

Does any of it matter? Yes and no. Depends on how rigorous a steward we want to be, how faithful a custodian of the particular temple God has given us. Sometimes temples lapse into ruins in a single generation. Sometimes they endure through the centuries. Why? Because someone has demonstrated resolved stewardship, or its lack.  There really are so many responsibilities, so easy to ignore, to be ignorant of, and the consequences take so long to show up.  We can forgive ourselves of our guilt feelings.  But physics, and physiology, are unforgiving.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Dances with Polar Bears

There is no difference between animal and plant fat. At pharmaceutically refined levels, pure, the oleic or palmeic acid in pork is the same as that in olive or coconut oil. They are chemically identical. No difference. So the willowy vegetarians don’t have that particular high horse to look down their long noses from. If there is any meaningful health problem with meat, it isn’t the fat content. Which it isn’t.

The problem with meat must lie in one or both of two areas. The first problem is in the gut: as the effect of noxious corpse-eating bacteria and all their ghastly toxic waste products; and as the lack of fiber, which clogs you up and lets the putrifiers have an extended two-day fiesta cruise down your alimentary canal. The other problem is in the bloodstream -- the toxic effect of undigested animal proteins that leak  through the gut wall. In the blood they are treated as invaders, attacked with antigens, which may learn to attack one’s own proteins, leading to autoimmune disorders. To be fair, the leaky gut is caused by refined carbs -- yeast infestation.

There are other problems, not controversial. Meat is the end of the food chain, and therefore it is the garbage dump of every environmental pollutant in the system -- strontium and pesticides and dioxins and bovine spongiforms. And then there’s the byproducts of the animal’s metabolism itself -- urea and feminizing hormones and adrenalin and so on. No one can think these are good. Almost no one.

But Eskimos don't get scurvy. The claim that they eat no plant products, in their traditional diet, seems unlikely. One of the thing vegetarians think they know is that the first thing Eskimos eat when they kill an animal is the contents of the stomach and intestinal tract. Plants, don't you know. Organs too. They throw the meat to the dogs. So the story goes. The other story, though, is that they eat no plant material. Let's just accept the fact that both are true, and not argue.

The fact that the Kenyan Maasai eat very much dairy and hunted meats, and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world may be due to dirty drinking water. That their life expectancy for men is 42 years could be due to the fact that they live in, well, Africa. That they have had, historically, less than a 50% chance of living past 60 is, um, racist. Blood diamonds.

Let's not trouble ourselves with having to defend or attack bigtime meat-eating. Because the issue is not whether or not humans can eat a lot of meat, or solely meat. The issue is, what is optimal.

Let's grant that meat provides every known necessary nutrient, including Vitamin C and glucose (via muscular glycogen). How about the unnecessary ones? Does meat have any meaningful antioxidants? Because meat makes them more necessary. Heat is generated just because digestion occurs. It's called diet induced thermogenesis, DIT. Protein is most wasteful in this regard. It's fuel to the flames, and where there's fire there's smoke, and, uh, smoke is pollution.

Tests show that fat digestion wastes only 0 to 3% of its calories as heat; carbs waste 5 to 10%; protein wastes 20 to 30%; alcohol wastes 10 to 30%. Healthy subjects with a mixed diet burn about 10% of their calories as heat. Protein and fat are most closely linked to satiety -- knowing when to stop. For fat, this would be because FFAs in the bloodstream create a buffer, that allows the body to know there's no famine. It's safe to stop. For protein, perhaps that the sheer amount of work it takes to digest these most difficult molecules creates a signal to stop eating -- enough already -- perhaps through the excess waste heat, or perhaps through the digestive cells themselves, and their depletion of energy.

So, back to what is optimal. Does exhausting your digestive system seem like a good thing? Does making more pollution in your body? -- via the free radicals produced by wasted effort? Does it seem wise to increase the need for the antioxidants that damp down this pollution, while at the same time refusing to eat the plant sources that are so rich in these nutrients? Does it make sense to be the carrion eater? The best place on the food chain to be is the place where you don't get eaten, not where you eat all the other animals. The best place is where you can choose wisely, apart from appetite.

It's bad to eat refined, industrial carbs because they cause a hysterical and eventually pathological insulin response. It's also bad because glucose results in glycerol, which is the glue that holds blubber together. But blubber isn't everone's problem. Should they then eat more meat? Or any at all? Clearly, clearly, an Atkins-like diet will almost always result in the loss of from one to three pounds a week of fat. Calorie restriction, semi-starvation, diets with "carbs" result in hunger, lethargy, fatigue, muscle wasting, depression, self loathing, guilt, futility, failure, etc. But even so, Atkins and his ilk are wrong.

Wrong because it isn't carbs that's the problem. It's nutritionless, fiberless carbs. Most especially, such carbs poured into an already disrupted bloodstream. In extreme and very rare cases, a meat-only diet is  supportable -- if the whole foods vegan diet somehow fails. But that must be a small fraction of a small percent of the human population. Anyone that sick is close to terminal. Short of that point, however, a healthful diet should be rich rich rich with "carbs" -- not starches, not refined grains, nothing powdered. All of that is either predigested, or almost digested. Might as well open a vein and sprinkle in sugar. Real food. Like what Adam would have eaten. You remember Adam? He's the guy God made to live in and tend a Garden, with associated trees.

Why so extreme. Everybody needs glucose, and glycerol, and triglycerides. Everyone needs as many antioxidants as they can get. Nobody needs refined carbs, and hardly anyone needs meat. Because it's not about what we can get away with. It's not about the absence of actual disease in Eskimos or their Caucasian Dances with Polar Bears interlopers. It's about longevity accompanied intimately by vitality. Eskimos are not noted for the number of their centenarians. Maybe it has something to do with unnecessary nutrients.

So much about diet, here, now. What about exercise? Both matter. Diet is about health. Exercise is about fitness. Both matter. There's a great deal of overlap. And both, really are easy. What's hard about being sensible? Hardly anything. It's just that emotion and ignorance get in the way. Rationality helps with both.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Carbs, Inc, Etc.

Food as medicine. We already know it's a drug, but how about its ability to actually make us well? What does a lifetime of having gooey putrefaction oozing sluggishly through your digestive tract do? -- feeding and breeding toxic bacteria so you can absorb their waste products. Brr.

Consider, N, a very serious athlete, working toward world-class status. He understands that diet is utterly pivotal. He's eating far fewer carbs -- by which we mean, mostly, grains. The math of his diet works out to 430 calories from carbs (almost all from fruits and vegetables) -- 22%; 500 from protein -- 28%; 970 from fat -- 50%. Total calories, 1900. Aprox.

That's A LOT of fat. A lot of protein too. And yet. And yet it's working very well. "All of my fats,” he says, “are derived from nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados and occasionally flax or organic butter in smaller quantities. I don't count fish oil supplementation into my daily fat intake. If I drop my fat, I immediately feel it and am hungry. I find it impossible to eat any more carbs unless I eat a lot of fruit." Don't you wish you had that problem?

"I've been doing it for 3 weeks and have leaned out more, increased my output and my heart rate has steadily dropped. I weigh in consistently at about 183 but am as strong (actually stronger) as I was at 203. I have very strong mental clarity and focus."

Other athletes, less cognizant of diet, wake up feeling like they've slept in a cement mixer.

"I think post-workout nutrition is way overlooked in terms of recovery. When my PW nutrition is solid, I never get sore. My PW meal doesn't count towards my day blocks."

See? It's rational. It's purposeful. And most of all, it's effective. The way doctors fiddle with a patient's medication dosages? The same thing is possible with food. It's just a matter of being methodical. Problem is, nothing is as emotional as food. Might as well tell an addict to be methodical with his heroin injections. They're not called dope fiends for nothing. They are still called dope fiends, right? Donut fiends.

"Right now I have one cheat meal a week on Thursday nights. I have everything dialed in so specifically it's ridiculous; but it's so easy now -- second nature. After I eat my one little cheat meal my veins stick out like crazy. Also, since I don't binge on my cheat meals anymore, I don't have a noticeable increase in morning heart rate or the bodyweight fluctuations anymore."

Veins sticking out is a sign of metabolic stress. Why would eating stress you that much? Imbalance, of course.

N mentions a supplement called Resveretrol. It "activates the same genes that calorie restriction does [which increases longevity], only without the calorie restriction. It's taken from stressed grapes that fight off molds and fungus. In eating the stressed grape skins, we activate the genes that are responsible for survival, mimicking the benefits of calorie restriction." Could be. Calorie restriction is the only proven method of vastly increasing vital longevity. There must be genes responsible for that.

Here's the things. Animal proteins are sort of poisonous. If there is such a thing as auto-immune disease, animal products are a major factor. And they are very hard to digest -- like using your gas just to make your motor hot, rather than make it go. Indeed, we do not need protein at all. We need amino acids, the building blocks of protein. We don't need them just to make tissues -- we need them as peptides, as hormones, as neurotransmitters. If we could get that ratio right, well, it would be ideal, the way right things are ideal.

Same with carbs. All carbs break down into glucose. That's a lot of eating, just for the sugar. A lot of health problems, too. It's not the carbs. That's the wrong emphasis. It's the phytonutrients, the chemicals in plants that do all that protecting against mold and bugs and viruses and, uh, cosmic rays. Get those in the right amount, and you will be sure to get all the carbs, the glucose that you need.

Same with fats. Fats are just calories, which is just heat. Heat is, usually, the enemy of an engine. It's not about the calories. Calories are not a problem in our society -- not too few calories, anyway. It's the kind of fat. Point is, there are essential fatty acids from which your body makes hormones. If we get too much of one sort of fat, we get too much of certain kinds of hormones. We get too much omega 6 -- substrate of the inflammatory hormones. So use no vegetable oils unless you think inflammation is a really good thing for you, and use much much more omega 3 -- because anti-inflammatory hormones make you feel so good.

See? We've been propagandized, or at least miseducated, into thinking in terms of proteins and carbs and fat, when it should be amino acids and phytonutrients and omega 3. We think about calories instead of nutrients. If we think of nutrients at all, it's only as vitamins and minerals -- the stuff you can get in superscientifical formulas from the futuristic Atomic Age of the ultra modern Nineteen Fifties, when nutrition was invented and all our food was pills!

It just seems a bit unthoughtful, though, doesn't it? Think of it this way. Almost all of the nutrients that a cow eats are not available to you by eating its flesh. Yes, some of the vitamins and probably more of the minerals are transferred to you through the bloodburger, but all, all, all of the phytonutrients have been used up, burned up, by the cow to make its own flesh. Nothing left for you but the flesh, and you can't build out of ashes, if you get the point.

It’s not about being vegetarian. That’s not for everyone. Be happy. But be sensible too. A big heaping plate of spaghetti -- does this seem sensible? A thick slab of beef meat -- does this seem wise on a daily basis? It’s about the nutrients. You are made out of what you eat. If you’d like some help, getting things in order -- well, no one else can change your diet. No one can do the exercise for you. But if you’d like the information and the expertise, that’s what we do.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Wrong Theories

The Good Thing About Damage...

Gym coaches are still telling their students that the way muscles grow is that first muscles get torn down by exercise, damaged, and then they build up again, repair, only stronger. Yep. Damaging something makes it stronger. Like mutations and Evolution. Uh huh. Cuz that’s what the body does, y’see, when it gets big muscles. Something to do maybe with scar tissue.

No. It isn’t the damage that makes us stronger. The damage comes not from doing enough, or from being effective. Damage comes from doing too much, from overtraining, and from foolishness. Yes, it can accompany muscle growth, the way busted gaskets can accompany reckless driving. But jumbled in with all such associations is a profound tendency toward the post hoc logical fallacy. Correlation does not support causation. No duh.

The actual “cause” of muscle growth is hormones -- not movement, not exercise, not sets and reps and routines. None of these things could have any beneficial effect, without the hormonal signal to add protein to muscle cells -- whereas new size can be added if the hormones are there, with only a token amount of exercise. Effort stimulates hormones, but effort does not build muscle -- hormones do. Keeping it simple, of course. Steroids? The needle replaces the effort, so the same amount of work produces much bigger muscles. Smaller testicles though. An acceptable tradeoff, one must suppose.

The point is, how do we stimulate the clearest hormonal signal? Intensity. Major muscle mass engaged in powerful effort. The brain reads this as a call for more strength, and provides it. Damage? The brain reads this too, and sends out reparative hormones, to clean up the mess. The mess, however, does not make you stronger. It’s there because the workout was foolish. Coach was wrong.

So that’s one sort of wrong theory, arising from the wrong theory of isolation exercises, where doing bodybuilding, which is entirely about appearance, is supposed to make people more fit. Fit for what? In actuality, fit for standing on a stage in a thong, chemically bronzed, slathered with baby oil, glinting in the spotlight. Oooooh. The correct theory, we modestly asseverate, regarding how one might attain fitness, is that it is achieved by treating the whole body as a unit, rather than as a collection of mostly independent parts.

There's more to say of course, and perhaps it will be said. The future is such a hypothetical thing. What is certain is that under normal circumstances sensible exercise and sensible diet bring reasonable results. And who would want unreasonable results? Reasonable fitness goals, of energy and strength and weight and appearance, are not just honorable.  They're intrinsically rewarding. And personal excellence is a reasonable goal.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

GI Tractate

This is just some basic stuff. The glycemic index, GI, tells how fast a given food turns into bloodsugar, on a scale of 0 to 100. Lower is slower, which is better. It's like octane for fuel. Higher is hotter. The raw score however doesn't tell us much of practical value. How much after all of the food, or fuel, do we have? No info. GI tells you about how fast a carb turns into bloodsugar, whether a gram or a pound, not about how much of that carb -- how many calories -- you've eaten.

So the practical approach involves glycemic load, which calculates the bloodsugar effect of a carb serving you actually might use. Honey, for example, has a fairly low glycemic index, but if you eat a bowl of it, it's not so good -- the load would be very high indeed. The index is an unchanged absolute, a constant; the load varies with appetite.

Glycemic load then, GL, takes into account serving sizes, the same way gallons count when we talk about fuel. In thinking about miles per gallon, both miles and gallons matter. Each GL point corresponds to the body's response to one gram of glucose. A typical diet includes about a hundred GL points each day, ranging between 60 and 180. Lower is better. For an individual food, a score of  under 10 is low, good, between 10 and 20 is moderate, and over 20 is high, bad.

Spaghetti has a GL value of 21 (GI of about 50). Brown rice 16 (≈ 70 GI), white rice 30 (≈ 75). You can see that rice white or brown looks pretty much the same from a GI POV, but it's twice as bad in its actual effect on insulin, for amounts you are likely to eat. A "serving." Carrots, grapes, 7 (and both about 45 GI). A donut, 17 (≈ 75). Do you eat just one donut? Three donuts is a GL of 50, and the GI is still 17.

Raisins 28 (≈ 65). Strawberries 1 (≈ 40). Brocolli, califlower, peppers, nuts -- zero.

Here is an index for GL values. This is a site that gives GI values. This is a site that lists too many values for GI and GL. Just more foods than most of the world has ever even heard of. This is that same info, in spreadsheet form. Most of the world don't know nothing about no spreadsheet, but some people seem to think it's useful.

They're crazy of course, but it takes a village.  Don't be crazy.  Be civilized.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank


They say some large percentage of communication is nonverbal. Indeed, even some small percentage of this, written communication, is purely visual. Length of sentence and of paragraph. Typoes and missplelings. Letters that rise above or do not fall below the median. Abbrs. How much more, the ideographic scripts. As for face to face, doesn't that rather depend on line of sight? But even, say, perceived proximity carries its own subtle meaning -- a sort of silent body language, affirming the powerful fact, someone is near someone else.

It's words, though. Not that words are what they mean. Hysteria: the wandering of the womb throughout the body -- cf hysterectomy. And then it took on other meanings. Well might Freud have wondered, 'what do women want' ... he clearly didn't have a clue. But womb-wandering has a male counterpart in East Asia and in Africa: koro, Buginese for "wrinkled", and more felicitously, Malaysian for "turtle-head" -- the belief (hysterical) that one's penis is shrinking into the body. Fertility, male and female, depends so much on bloodflow. Of course we have a word for eating your own hair -- trichophagia. It only sounds Greek. So there you go then.

Words shape perception. We all know of the dozens of words the ice-dwellers have for snow. Albanians have 54 words, equally divided, meaning mustache or eyebrows. Vietnamese has 18 words for 'you,' yet we had to get rid of thou. Japanese marks the gradations of bowing, from the reserved 15 degree nod of eshaku to the epileptic groveling of pekopeko. On the other hand, a Liberian language has only ziza for red/orange/yellow, and hui for green/blue/indigo/violet. That's a pretty narrow rainbow.

Some of it just makes you laugh. The French coined ordinateur to spare their lips from the vulgarity of "computer": con is slang for "vagina" and pute is slang for "prostitute". Talk about your Xbox. Bakku-shan is Japanese for a girl you think will be pretty when you see her from behind, but in front, not so much.

The tune that you can't forget: in German, ohrwurm, "ear worm". Scratching your head to remember: pana po'o, in Hawaiian. Words, like the predictability of the human form, remind us that we are all the same. We count our babies' fingers and toes, and are relieved.

There's the Bantu word, considered the most untranslatable in the world: ilunga -- who'll forgive anything once, tolerate it a second time, but oh, the third... There's German's torschlusspanik -- the fear of diminishing opportunity as you age; most apropos in childless premenopausal women. There's the French esprit d'escalier -- the thing you think to say, too late. There's an Inuit verb, iktsuarpok, that means "to go outside often to see if someone is coming." The sound isn't beautiful, but the meaning tears at your heart. And if you say it slowly, as three hard and lonely syllables, it sounds like what it is.

Such a history of fragility. What words do we have, that for their familiarity have lost their power or poignancy? Anguish. Rage. Loss. Lost.

That's how we communicate. With words. With our bodies. With the arrangement of images and of objects in space. And why?

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

Convergent Evolution

It's great when things say what they are. Simplicity. How refreshing.

Yes, it's true, sadly.  These cats look like Hitler.

But it's great too when things look like other things. Say what you are, but look like something else.

Sorry though. This last one is Fatler. And some of them look like Groucho.  Nevertheless, while we don't wish to be judged for our looks, we very well may be.  Hitlercats being an example.  So have a care.  Be as lean as practicality allows.  Be strong, but merciful.  Optimize.

No big point.  Nothing too preachy.  Eat right, do useful exercise.

Be excellent.

CrossFit Burbank

Everything There Is to Know about Diet, Part Two

Perhaps, as is the bias of some incomparably knowledgeable authorities, a purely vegetarian diet is likely to be optimal for some large fraction of humanity. Indeed, ideally, only nutrients that can no longer be found in plants should or could come from animals, if any. Are there any? -- any essential nutrients that can come to us only via animals? Well, vitamin B-12? But that's from a bacteria, and only secondhand through animals. Even so, if that's it, that's it. But it's in Brewers yeast. So that's it.

 Anything else supposed to be unique from animals? Omega-3? Well, yes and no. We make it ourselves. But the health benefits are very real indeed. Someone with an ideal diet, however, wouldn't need to supplement with fish oil. Anything else? Think hard.

 The rest of it, re the philosophy of diet, of functioning and performance, and common sense and ethics, well, these are easy. Whatever works.  The China Study  tells  tells us that animal products are powerfully correlated to degenerative diseases.

That's functioning. Performance is a more difficult issue -- it seems clear that protein is a performance enhancer, and animal products are an easy if not actually dense source of amino acids.

 Common sense? Ahem. Yeah, it's good to eat something that will kill you if you leave it in the sun too long. Something that stinks to make you puke is really good food. The deader the better in fact ... put thick woolly hair on your chest ... make you strong like bull! 

 Ethics? Let me kill you and eat your body because, well, because I like the way you taste. Yum.

 Is it demonstrated, conclusively or by inference, that animal flesh, its "high-quality" protein, results in better performance? One is unaware of such evidence, although the argument is common. Perhaps it's true though? Never argue with reality. The reason for such an outcome, if true, would be that subclinical putrefaction is mildly toxic, and excites a moderate stimulatory stress response in digesting organism -- which would augments performance, short-term. It would be a seasonal benefit with a delayed downside, as in precipitated degeneration in later decades. Like WWII pilots using methamphetamine on long-range bombing runs. Meth saved the world from Hitler. That doesn't make it good.

 Type two diabetes is the over-stress and eventual disruption of pancreatic function. Adrenal fatigue, likewise, of the adrenals. Digestive decline as well ... decades of abusing the enteric system with hard-to-digest consumables lead to a middle- and old-age filled with gastronomic nightmares.

 What we know is that here is a lot of nonsense involved in the whole area of nutrition. Lots of emotion, lots of extremely shoddy thinking. Diet is a profoundly religious thing. We know that disease has a number of causes -- bacterial and viral, genetic and chemical -- but that a if not the major cause of disease in our own culture comes from a diet that is nothing but slow poison. Too many carbs, and too much animal stuff.

 So, does it matter, talk about apemen or Eden? -- matter in some way other than philosopho-religio-theoretically? We want an open mind regarding what is best for our health. False assumptions might lead us to healthful conduct. True assumptions seem more likely to. But anything that closes our minds to behavior that would improve our lives, is a thing to be avoided. Track records matter; long-term results matter. Success is a convincing kind of authority. Find models of success, and copy them.

 Health and performance, and physical beauty and power, are not merely the outworking of genetic happenstance. We can't change our bones, but we can help what hangs off of them. We can't help our features, but we can preserve youth -- that is, delay decay -- with the due diligence that we owe to our progenitors who cared for us enough that we've gotten as far through life as we have, and that we owe to our offspring, who will grieve for our ill-health at least as deeply as we would grieve for ourselves. Health is a duty.

 Rule Five: "You may freely eat of every thing that you can fit into your mouth and swallow, but many of them will kill you, fast or slow." (See Rule Two.)

 Be excellent.


 FW CrossFit Burbank

Everything There Is to Know about Diet, Part One

It's not as much as one might suppose. Let's see. History, functioning, and common sense/ethics.

What is the ideal human diet. That's a history question, depending on whether we were Created by God Almighty, Divine Protoprogenitor ,  or Evolved through Random Chance from Primordial Slime which Itself Appeared from Virtual Potentialities for No Reason. That's the philosophical heart of the matter. Did we Evolve via Naturally Selected Haphazard Mutations, that whatever nutrients were available were what we adapted ourselves solipsistically  to need? -- and what wasn't available we Evolved out of a need for? Or were we Designed, as by some God, Superlative Architect of the Cosmos, to need whatever it is we need -- and sometimes we get that and sometimes we don't, but it's a fixed need, with only a fixed, genetically-determined capacity for variability?

If Evolved, then the "Paleolithic Diet" is correct or nearly so -- determined by observations of what modern but tribal, hunter-gatherer societies have access to. Because modern stone age cultures would be reasonably similar to ancient ones --  ignoring any ice ages or other actual millennia-long climate disruptions -- and from such cultures we would have Evolved. If it's true, it's true. Never argue with what's true. Is it? If so, what is the evidence, for this dietary theory? The evidence is  the fact that modernday hunter-gather cultures eat as they do. In other words, the argument begs the question, and the reasoning is circular.

Well there's hardly any other option.  What, God!? -- in a Garden!?!  LOL. We are far to sophisticated and scientifical to believe in that sort of hokus pokus.  Really.  Please.   Space aliens then -- much more logical  -- genetically manipulating us in a lab on the mother ship from behind the moon?  But, har dee har.  Um, breaking through from some other universe or dimension, uh, and somehow, er ... well, that one's not going anywhere.

Upshot is, origins are irrelevant. Philosophy is irrelevant.  Results matter, which are dependent on behavior.  But if there were an ideal diet that was meant to sustain the species, we might feel, from our modern bias and custom, that it was not a hunter-gatherer diet, of grubs and beetles, tapir, sloth and shrew --  nor was it an agricultural one of powdered grains. Something else, entirely.

If we suppose there are rules -- sort of the opposite of randomness -- that, say, the space aliens embedded in our genome, Rule One might be thus: "I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." Things that grow on the ground and have seeds; things that grow in trees and have seeds. Cucumbers; tomatoes; squash -- herbs that have seeds ... they are fruits.

Rule Two: "You may freely eat of every tree, but there is some type that will kill you." So we have free will, regarding what we may eat -- but not everything that may be eaten, should be eaten. Diet affects our health. You heard it here first.

If there are rules  as from a rule book, then human food would be tree food and  ground food, with seeds. As it were, fruit. Coincidentally, fruit and berries and less obvious fruits are purposed, unlike virtually every other food, to be eaten. That's the deal the plant makes: you can eat my fruit if/because you spread my seeds. Pretty clever, eh?

Leaves are meant to convert sunlight into sugar, and may be eaten. Vegetables are meant to be the body of a plant, and may be eaten. Roots are meant to pull up water and minerals, and may be eaten. Tubers are meant to store energy for the plant, and may be eaten. Grains/seeds/nuts are meant to grow into another plant, and may be eaten. Flesh is meant to be the body of an animal, and may be eaten. Eggs and milk ... well, you know.  Contrariwise, the purpose of fruit is to be food.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, pumpkins, lychee nuts, dates, chili peppers, nuts -- they are fruit. Apples? Alas. We have the same needs as always, but not the same resources nor even the same world.  We do not after all live in a garden.  Apples nowadays, as with so many commercially grown foods, are hybridized for flavor and appearance and shelf-life, not for nutritional content.

And behold, Rule Three: "You shall eat the herb of the field." Thus, the invention of agriculture. The orchard-tender, or again the berry-eating shrew-like scampering underbrush creature, becomes a farmer.  Still plant-based, but second-best. as we knew  anyway: too many carbs/grains will make you fat.

In a harsh and uncooperative world, sadly, essential nutritional resources become rare or extinct. There have been mass extinctions.  There are droughts and floods and blights, and global warmings and coolings.  Thus, Rule Four: "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. You are given all creatures, even as the green herbs."

What to eat, during an Ice Age or its searing hardpan Global Warming counterpart, or your short-term merely decades long deforestation events like lava floes and catastrophic floods? Eat animals, which can scavenge on debris and carrion.  Point is, we eat meat because we can, especially in the absence of something better. And some better things are certainly absent, cf mass-extinctions. Who can say what nutritionally superb fruits and herbs and seeds and fungi are now extinct. Who can say how much longer we'd live, with vibrant health, if these lost but essential nutrients were not extinct.

Maybe we came from apes and shrews and lizards and fish and germs and inorganic matter that was stuck by lightning. Sounds like a theory.  Maybe we came from dust and the breath of God, another theory.  No matter.  What matters is what works.

No matter if it;s a hunter-gatherer diet of grubs and sap and roots and reptiles and monkeys and bark and mold and algae and salamanders over hundreds of  thousand or millions of years, or a human diet of fruits and berries and herbs and agriculture.  Upshot is, there be an ideal human diet, optimal for health and performance. Diet can be optimized within existing if irreparable limits.

It's not about dogma.  It's pragmatism.  What works?  Do that thing.  Thus, CrossFit -- highly eclectic, completely practical, in theory devoid of theory, although, as people we do love our answers.  There is a CrossFit for diet, an optimal set of behaviors, hard perhaps to identify, and changing perhaps over time, but identifiable with experience and diligence.  Paleo, or vegan, or Intermitant Fasting, or some other thing or combination.  Be bold and resolute, and maybe and maybe not bloody.

Rough and ready definition of CrossFit: constantly varied functional movements at high intensity.   Works with nutrition as well: a wide variety of calorie-poor/nutrient-dense foods of high quality.  So there it is.  Serious people are serious.  Well?

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank

An Ever-Expanding P-Factor List

  • hot
  • digesting / hungry
  • sore / sick / tired
  • not focused / not there / not feeling it
  • annoyed / distracted
  • depressed
  • weak
  • old
  • consumed with self-loathing and want to look bad
  • very complicated, conflicted & contradictory
  • dizzy / nauseous
  • pregnant, I think
  • pacing myself to the music
  • not fully recovered from last time
  • not being yelled at /  not being watched
  • worthless / fantastic / good enough
  • just doing a maintenance workout
  • doing really well / working hard enough
  • not going to be first anyway
  • saving it for a strong finish
  • working tomorrow
  • me.

Long list. Good excuses, all of them. All excuses are automatically good, if they excuse us. Our motives would need to be a little murky, a little confused or conflicted, but that's just part of being human. Oh, there's another one. I'm only human.

What we will not be, if we excuse ourselves so easily, is excellent.  P-factor is all the reasons, the excuses, the lies we use to stop us from doing our best. It's the Permission to PHail PHactor. Not a good thing, in the long run.

The antidote to p-factor is honesty.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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