13 November 2011

Offal: Grab Life By The...

... lamb fries!
Using my River Cottage Meat Book I know you can give me any organ meat and I will have a recipe on how to cook it. At one of my weekend farmers market visits I came across a pastured lamb farmer who I bought several hearts and fries from. I originally bought the fries, or testicles, to feed to Shaman to make up for the fact I got him fixed way back when he was 13 months old. Temperament-wise, I regret doing that, but that is another story for another day. So while the dogs did get their fair share, they are now huge fans, I decided to see how they taste.

In regards to cooking animal fries the Meat Book has dedicated only a small section on how to prepare. I made a few changes to keep it paleo, but ultimately the process is extremely simple. First step, place these bad boys in boiling water for a few minutes.

Hot and steamy...
After the brief visit in boiling water, rinse off with cold water. Precede to skin and cut into sections. The skins make a good snack for the dogs. The marinade I used included some olive oil and coconut vinegar.

Nothing goes to waste.
After the marinade, on to the cast iron. I used butter and high heat.

Ready to eat!
If these fries were from a bull calf they would be called Rocky Mountain Oysters. From a taste and texture standpoint I can see why they are called oysters. If you like oysters, give these a try. I was quite happy with this first attempt. So much so I cooked them for an adventurous friend of mine and that was enough to get a few more people giving them a shot. Everyone who tried them walked away impressed. Here is an option, if you can get over the fact you are eating testicles, to eat paleo on a budget. These came from animals fed on pasture and were rather inexpensive at around $2 per pound. And if you are lucky, you may be the only person buying these from the farmer, so you can probably strike an even better price. And even if you do not eat them, if you have a dog these can be fed raw. They are Ridgeback approved!

Rest Day

It is nearly two months since my last post and what can I say? Time flies. 3 days a week you can find me at the 5am CrossFit Hampton Roads class. On Friday mornings I have been doing a Body by Science workout in my apartment's fitness center. And on weekends, quite tired of spending so much time in an urban setting, I have been taking the hounds out to explore the various parks and trails nearby. So my lack of posts is partially related to the fact I been burning the candle at both ends and at the end of the day I crash pretty hard.

Visiting the beach on a cold, windy day.
Weekends are technically my rest days, but rarely is there any rest involved. However today I've decided to just kick back and do nothing. It has been nearly 3 months since moving to Virginia and I am starting to get some semblance of a routine, so expect more activity on here.

17 September 2011

Rainy Day Saturday

This morning I stopped by my CrossFit gym to watch Fight Gone Bad 6. Having just finished the intro courses as of yesterday, I could have joined in on the fun. Unfortunately I had a prior commitment... I will get to in a bit. The first wave started at 9:15am and I was quite impressed with both the WOD as well as the camaraderie. Main site CrossFit explains Fight Gone Bad:

In this workout you move from each of five stations after a minute. This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating. We've used this in 3 and 5 round versions. The stations are:
  1. Wall-ball: 20 pound ball, 10 ft target. (Reps)
  2. Sumo deadlift high-pull: 75 pounds (Reps)
  3. Box Jump: 20" box (Reps)
  4. Push-press: 75 pounds (Reps)
  5. Row: calories (Calories)
The clock does not reset or stop between exercises. On call of "rotate," the athlete/s must move to next station immediately for good score. One point is given for each rep, except on the rower where each calorie is one point.

My intro course covered all of those moves, and other than the box jump, I think my knee could have handled it. It was good to see so many people pushing themselves for a good cause.

Wall-balls begging to be thrown.
So... as I mentioned above, I had a prior commitment that pulled me away from this event. Last weekend I spoke with an interesting group of people, oyster gardeners. I was intrigued... with minimal cost and effort, I could raise my own oysters. Besides helping clean the water, I can grow hundreds if not thousands of these delicious bivalves. The class I went to explained how to build floating cages, sold oyster seed (called spat), and pretty much explained everything I needed to do. The type of cage I went with needs to be flipped every two weeks, which is totally doable for me. My friends have property about an hour away with long pier in a great area for this kind of thing. I know because there is a commercial oyster harvester not a half mile away from this place. I purchase 500 of these baby oysters and put them in one of the floats. In about a month they should be large enough to split them between the two floats that I built. If this goes well, in the spring I will make more floats, buy more spat, and reap the benefits.

Passing the Cyprus inspection.
Top view.
This pier has history. It is one of two training mistakes I made when training Shaman. The first was, when crate training, using his crate as punishment. This made his crate a negative place and causes quite an ordeal when he needs to go there. The pier... well let me say that as a dog owner, a naive one at the time, and being near water, I presumed all dogs would love the water. No, that is not the case. I tried to get Shaman to jump off the pier and swim. I had no idea if he could swim and wanted to know. I would sprint down the pier with him and I would jump off the end into the water. He would stop short and look at me like I was stupid (I was). I would call to him, hoping he would join, but he showed no interest. With the help of friends, we tried many things. And everything failed. He had no intentions of joining me. So here is where the mistake comes in. While still in the water, I asked one of my friends to push him in. If he could not swim I was right there to pick him up and help him. He went in, big splash, and power swam right back to the shore. He could swim! I was so very proud. He walked down the pier back to where he was pushed off and looked at me. I called to him, hoping he would jump, but no go. I had him pushed again. Same thing happened, he swam right to shore and this time did not go back on the pier. Ever since then, he avoids the pier. So walking down to check out the oyster cage, I am joined by Cyprus but not Shaman. When I say the pier incident was part of two training mistakes I had made, I should also say that fully regret ever doing those things. I hope Shaman forgives me.

In closing, I realize in the last two posts Shaman has had no photo presence, so here he is:

Proof that Shaman came near the pier!
And their dinner:

Chicken quarter, bison, and opah (fish).

15 September 2011

The Pack Goes Nomadic

After spending what will probably amount to nearly a quarter of my life in one area, it was time to move on. I had all intentions of moving to DC, as most of my social network lives there, however the jobs I applied for never panned out. Instead I took a position down in southern Virginia. I am still close to the beach, closer to the mountains, and much closer to civilization. The population of my new city is about 5 times larger than that of my old one. What does that mean? There has to be a CrossFit. Huzzah!

I've never had a major move before, basically packing everything I own, so there has been some stress. Luckily my minimalist efforts in the past made the move fairly easy so far. Still some logistics to work out on the big stuff, but all in all I am glad the bulk of the move is over. The weekend I was supposed to drive down to start my new job, find a place, etc. just happened to coincide with Ms. Irene pounding the hell out of the east coast. Going against all advice, I drove down towards the hurricane the night before. No wind, no rain, no traffic. Sometimes people are so risk adverse that they miss out on great opportunities. I banked on that and we made our destination... which happened to have a generator and enough food and wine to last a few years. Nothing really to worry about at this point. So when Irene came, we went outside to play! (And by we, I mean Cyprus and I. Shaman is way too intelligent to do stupid things like that).

Braving the tidal surge!
Hoping my new camera is somewhat waterproof.
So my new life currently includes figuring out my new job, restarting physical therapy and as of tomorrow I will have completed the intro courses to CrossFit Hampton Roads. I've got some big plans, so I anticipate more posts. But who knows, maybe I'll get sucked up into the adventures and exploration to be had in this new area.

09 August 2011

AHS Day 2

So day 2 of 2 came and went for the Ancestral Health Symposium. I was quite excited about the 2nd day because of Mark Sisson and Erwan LeCorre. I must say that from an information standpoint, the first day was far more saturated. Still, I cannot say I did not walk away from day 2 with nothing. Day 2 was fun. I spoke briefly with everyone I wanted to, met a new friend from Bermuda, and ate a ton of jerky and pemmican from U.S. Wellness Meats. Like the last post I will provide the notes I took listening to each speaker.

Seth Roberts, PhD
  • He touted the benefits of taking flaxseed oil, pork fat, and butter to aid with balance, sleep, and brain function.
  • He came to this conclusion by doing very simple tests over a period of time, typically timing himself on ability to balance and simple math problems, and being on and off the various items.
  • He put up a chart about how his sleep improved... I feel this is something hard to quantify as he did. When you wake, do you feel 97% rested? 96.5%? 97.5%? Maybe Seth is more in touch with this thing, but I do not know if I personally could use an increment under 15-20%. The skeptic in me did not like this part of the presentation.

Tucker Max
  • Tucker's talk, from Cave to Cage, discussed our history with violence.
  • He felt that a part missing from the whole ancestral movement is fighting. We had to do it, our ancestors did it, and the ones that were the best lived.
  • He pointed to the man in the image of the Ancestry logo. "That's a fucking spear!"
  • He talked about how fighting shape is much different than simply being in shape. He also said stupid people do not do well in MMA.
  • He quoted Thucydides "The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."
Fighting is Truth

Robert Lustig, MD
  • I caught the Q&A session with Dr. Lustig, and while I enjoyed Tucker's talk, I wished I could have caught this one.
  • The original Gatorade tasted like 'Tiger Piss' until it was eventually bought by one of the soda conglomerates and HFCS was added.
  • Elite level athletes can drink all the Gatorade they want, the problem is that it is the fat kids drinking it.

Mat Lalonde, PhD
  • The Kraken was unleashed. For every minute of his 45 minute talk I regretted that I did not take organic chemistry as part of my engineering background.
  • Suggested we read "Food, Nutrition, and Evolution."
  • We did not evolve sharp teeth and claws (typical vegetarian argument) to eat meat because we evolved with tools. We did not evolve ways of breaking down and handling various antinutrients because we evolved with fire and the ability to cook and prepare our food.
  • The of the main things he covered was the importance of the 'Paleo movement' to avoid making claims such as "all lectins are bad" that would not stand up to review by professionals. So the blanket statements made by many of the people of the paleo movement need to be reconsidered if they are to be taken seriously.
  • He also covered how, through many organic chemistry diagrams, a simple change in the structure of the compound can make drastic changes in the how the compound interacts with our body. I took from this that from the hydrogenation process to say replacing sugar with splenda, that the effects could be horrible.
  • It is hard not to be intimidated by a guy that is highly fit and highly intelligent. The nickname "the Kraken" fits this dude.

Mark Sisson
  • Mark spoke on the benefits of play. Unstructured fun and how it can improve health and survival.
  • Leisure time (play) is human currency.
  • He quoted Stuart Brown, MD "Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival."
  • He stressed: have fun, do not be attached to the outcome. He then mentioned he has trouble with this, as he is very competitive. I feel him on this.
  • A study found that among grizzly bears, the ones that were observed to play the most lived the longest.
  • He argued that by playing, trying new things, members of species developed new escape or hunting techniques at supplemented their ability to survive. This translates to humans as well.
  • The whole vibe of his talk seems to resonate with me. From my Amor Fati tattoo and personal philosophy to my dog training style, I see some transcendent ideas that fit many aspects of life.

Matt Metzgar, PhD/John Durant/Richard Nikoley
  • I enjoyed these talks, however I did not walk away with anything from them.

Melissa McEwen
  • Fermented foods may have assisted in the human colon playing less of a role in the digestion of starch.
  • Given she is starting to get involved with this academically, I look forward to see where things go with her future research.

Doug McGuff, MD
  • The liver can store approximately 70g glucose. This is used for moment to moment glucose control.
  • The skeletal muscle can store approximately 250g glucose. This is used for emergencies, fight or flight situations.
  • Athletes can store slightly more than those numbers.

Erwan LeCorre
  • Pushed being adaptable is more important than being specifically trained at something.
  • Suggests broadening your experiences to improve your fitness.
Erwan and Mark

James O'Keefe, MD
  • Average total cholesterol of hunter-gatherers was 120.
  • Exercising everyday can lead to mental acuity into old age. Fights off dementia.
  • Dogs and humans co-evolved for over 135,000 years.
  • The heart puts out 4 qt/min when stationary. 20-24 qt/min when running a marathon.
  • He is a fan of statins and takes them himself.

I really enjoyed this second and final day. It was good to see so many different aspects of the paleo lifestyle. There clearly existed proponents of low carb and high carb eating as well as many people with different takes on exercise and health. I look forward to future years and where things go.

Throughout the symposium, I wondered to myself as to if I would be willing to give a talk at a later conference. From my experience with local/pastured/sustainable food to my vast barefoot running experience, I could easily whip something up. Hell, I could talk forever about what I've learned from having the dogs that relates to health, nutrition and fitness. Ultimately though, speaking would probably involve me asking to talk... and I came to the conclusion that I would rather focus on making further strides in my life such that they find me and ask me to talk. I've got some big changes on the horizon, so I should be in a good position to be someone like that. The very last thing I would want is to be in it for the money as a few of the people are. I am in this purely for my health and possibly longevity assuming I do not die early from some future amazing adventure. Still, should that ever happen, not that I would care, but I am fine with that.

06 August 2011

AHS Day 1

So Yesterday I attended the first day of the Ancestral Health Symposium (the AHS program guide can be found here). I must say that having never driven in Los Angeles before, combined with having never been on UCLA's campus, made yesterday morning quite hectic. However, upon finding the building I was instantly put to ease by the amount of people wearing FiveFingers.

The symposium has two lecture series going on at once, so you have to pick and choose which one you wish to sit through. In most cases I had a clear interest in one over the other, but I still read each presenter's abstract and in a few cases changed my mind. Below is a list of who I listened to and what notes I jotted down. I've tried to clean the notes up, however if they still come across as haphazard I know I still understand what they mean... and that is all that matters, right?

Boyd Eaton, MD
  • Rousseau is considered the philosopher of the Paleo movement.
  • Stressed the importance of antioxidants. He pointed out wild fruit, such as blueberries, can contain up to 50% more antioxidants than their industrial cousins. These are found typically in the skin of the fruit.
  • Our ancestors ate significantly higher antioxidants than we do now.
  • I knew this before, but if you add more muscle, you can improve insulin resistance.
  • Suggested we read The Clash of Civilizations and E.O. Wilson's books.

Loren Cordain, PhD
  • Our ancestors ate 25-35% of their calories from plants, 55-65% from animals.
  • Honey consumption is okay, but it was only available seasonally.
  • Natural transfats found in grass-fed rumens seems to be healthy.
  • Raw meat is aseptic... it is the butchering process that adds the risk.
  • No brainer: Avoid chronic low level inflamation.
  • Forgot this bit of trivia: milk is filtered cows blood.

Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD
  • Wrote 'Food and Western Disease'
  • Not a proponent of low carb eating.
  • Humans have a high capacity to digest starch. It doesn't mean we should, it just means we can.
  • Quote I found amusing “One 70 year old man died when he fell from the coconut tree.” Further illustrating the health discrepancy in the West. I do not believe I know anyone over 50 that can climb a tree.

Robb Wolf
  • Paradoxes in biology are purely a breakdown in our understanding. (There are no paradoxes in biology).
  • Should check out the Paleo Physicians Network.

Richard “Jake” Jacobson
  • 30 minutes of midday sun provides approximately 20,000 units of Vit D3
  • We should aim for a range of 60-80 in our Vit D tests. 80 was based on Australian lifeguards who were in the sun everyday.
  • Vit D is consumed when sick, experience trauma, etc.
  • Vit D2 is synthetic and downright bad for you.
  • We should check calcium levels in addition to Vit D.

Stephan Guyenet, PhD
  • When artificial flavor is listed in the ingredients of something, it can contain hundreds of chemicals engineered for taste.
  • He presented a example of a typical strawberry artificial flavor and alone it contained more chemicals than the rest of the milkshake he displayed the ingredients for.
  • He presented a theory about how the reward system in food (sugar, salt, MSG, etc) can cause overeating. Gary Taubes challenged his assertion, and while I won't go in to details, it was a good question that was presented in a very rude manner. Maybe that is Gary's style... but he came across as an asshat.

Gary Taubes, MA
  • Nothing of interest if you already know sugar is bad.

Michael Eades, MD
  • Frédéric Bastiat – 'That which is seen and that which is not seen' essay.
  • Walter Voetlin, author of 'The Stone Age Diet' came to the paleo concept by comparing the digestive tracks of dogs and humans... noticing how similar they are and how dogs do well on meat and fat and low/no carb. He tried this on patients with great success.
  • Protein converted by the liver to glucose is delievered at a rate that doesn't spike like sugar does. So protein is superior to carbohydrates in terms of providing glucose to the muscles and brain.

Richard Feinman, MD
  • Energy Density of Carbs and Protein = 4 kcal/g, Fat = 9 kcal/g, and Ethanol = 7 kcal/g. This explains all the times I ran fueled by alcohol and still did well.
  • Basically Richard went over how to read studies and how things are presented by both the researchers themselves to the media that runs with their findings. It explained how so much misinformation gets out to the people.

Pedro Bastos, MS, MA
  • Milk contains over 100,000 chemicals. This varies by species.
  • Milk has a low glucose response, but very high insulin response (on par with white bread).
  • Pregnant cows milk has far more hormones. Traditional pastoral societies do not milk their cows after the first 3 months of the pregnancy. Industrial cows are milked through most of their pregnancy.
  • The hormones in later stage pregnancy is insane.

  • I was hoping to catch Chris Masterjon's talk, but my interest in dairy took over so I went to Pedro Bastos speech.
  • I found all of the presentations interesting.
  • The one on Vit D was dry and mainly involved the reading of studies.
  • Whereas I already drink the Robb Wolf koolaid, I didn't really gain any new insight from him. I love his presentation style.
  • Michael Eades reminded me of a likeable George W. Bush.
  • Richard Feinman reminded me of the better teachers I had in college that helped hone my ability to think critically.
  • Looking forward to today's presentations.

04 August 2011

Ancestral Health Symposium

I've been busy the past few months recovering with my knee, doctors visits and physical therapy, that I've not had the time to sit down and post anything here. I've also been looking at changing jobs, moving, and all the fun things that come with that. Readjusting from having 6+ months off of work, spending whole days with the dogs to having a glass of wine with lunch, has pretty much been the only adventure as of late. Until now.

Hello Malibu!
I am currently in Santa Monica, CA waiting for the Ancestral Health Symposium to be held at UCLA tomorrow and Saturday. I am looking forward to seeing the who's who of the Paleo/Primal community. So post-symposium blog posts are anticipated. 

16 June 2011

Ask Paleohund: Beginner Paleo and Shin Splints

I recently received an email from an old friend asking for my advice:
My brother was telling me about this "diet" he uses and I heard you follow it. Is it beneficial, for lack of a better word, for you? Is it actually healthy/safe?
Is there a site I can look up for more info. As you probably know I'm running in the Marine Corp Marathon in Oct and wonder if it's safe to do this while training.
Also, have you experienced shin splints when you first started running and what else is there that I can do to prevent/relieve the pain.
My response:
Yeah, I've been eating this way for 3 years. For more information I would suggest:
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/welcome-to-marks-daily-apple/ and http://www.archevore.com/get-started/ for a straight forward 12-step process.

The gist is that the standard foods most people are eating are grain-based and high in carbohydrates. I won't say carbs are bad... they are just not all created equal, and 'healthy whole grains' are not healthy.

In terms of if it is safe or not, I think what you will find is that it often contradicts the standard advice we are given by doctors or advertisements. So those doctors and those advertisements will say this is unsafe... however if you look at the people that do it they look healthy. I feel great and until I ran into that goal keeper I was running the fastest and furthest I had ever been. I get great sleep, never crave sugar, and right now I am able to not gain even the slightest weight and I've not been doing anything active since I hurt myself in October.

In regards to running, you may want to consume some sugar/gels/goo when going a distance like a marathon. I tend to adjust my carb level to my activity level, so if I had been running sprints earlier I don't mind eating that smith island cake later.

In terms of shin splints, running barefoot or with minimalist shoes like the Vibram FiveFingers avoids issues like that because you run differently in them. But given you have them now and probably won't change your shoes, I do know what works to fix that problem. Shin splints are caused by tiny muscles in the shins being pulled off your shin bone... so yes that is painful. The shin muscles are connected to your calf muscles. When you calf muscles are tight, they are pulling the shin muscles. So stretch and massage your calves to loosen them up. Don't do this before you run... never stretch before long runs... having stiff/rigid muscles is best for distance.

15 June 2011

Thoughts on Fitness and Nutrition

In my time out recovering from my latest knee surgery, I have had a lot of time on my hands. Six to eight hours a day have to be spent on my back with my leg in a machine, so I've had to find things that I can do while doing this. Although there is a massive flat screen television not ten feet from me, I have spent my time reading both books and websites, applying for jobs, and when bored or burnt out of everything else, I'll just think.

One trend I was noticing over at Primal Wisdom was the posts seeming to contradict mainstream Paleo blogs. I like coming across information that challenges or flat out contradicts what I do... and I'll either use this to rethink my beliefs, retool my habits, or call the person a moron and go about my merry way semi-justified that I am still on the right course. Instead of pointing out his arguments and challenging them one by one, I figured I would take a step back and look at the basics of fitness and nutrition.

Fitness: Push
From my experience training for my club soccer or an ultra-marathon or dropping by for a CrossFit workout, I see one common link in everything I've done to progress in my overall fitness: push myself past my previous boundaries. I realized this back in high school when training for the varsity soccer team. When I would run distance, I would always try to go one step further than I went last time. When running sprints or a set distance, I would always try to finish seconds before my previous time. If I ran and was 1 second faster, I took that as a win and pushed myself harder. If I came up a few seconds longer than my previous time, I would push myself harder so that next time I was faster. Sure there is always the overtraining aspect to worry about, but effort matters. I would try to go further than the furthest I had been before, or lift heavier than I had lifted before, and so forth. So if I were to boil down fitness, I would simply say one needs to constantly challenge and push oneself. Let people argue what is the best way to gain muscle, lose fat, etc., but if you 'exercising' but not pushing yourself, I highly doubt you are going to get where you want to be unless you standards are set horribly low.

Nutrition: Know Thy Food
Taking a similar approach to nutrition, I think the single biggest thing to consider is to know what you are eating and know how it affects your body. Most processed foods contain a plethora of ingredients that if you are even able to pronounce them correctly I doubt you will find documentation about what these man-made chemicals do to your body. So when thinking about nutrition, I think the key concept is to know what you are consuming and what, good or bad, it does to you. So why would you eat foods that provide no nutritional benefits, make you hungrier, or wreck your immune system? Eat cleaner, cut out the processed (albeit convenient) shit, and know what you are shoving down your pie hole.

I realize these simplifications allow for dirty vegan and/or marathon runner types, but still I'd argue these people are fitter and healthier than the morbidly obese monstrosities you can find wandering aimlessly around Walmart. So in closing, I think that if people simply did the two things I've listed above, they would see results  in their health and fitness. So let Don of Primal Wisdom go lower fat, but I can bet you he is still not going to eat anything resembling the standard American diet.

04 June 2011

Hiking the Shenandoah

With my surgery looming, I planned several events to take my mind off the upcoming pain and immobility. One thing I was dead set on was spending a weekend out hiking. I should partially credit the idea to the Appalachian Ridgeback for her blog and great hiking photos. So, for a challenging weekend backpacking trip I figured I would go hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail located in the Shenandoah National Park. With Cyprus off at a dog show, the Shaman and I packed up and headed west to Front Royal, VA, the northern tip of the park.
Early on the Saturday before the surgery we arrived at the park and after a few minutes of loading up our packs we started hiking. Having never been here before, I only had a vague idea where to get started. While walking into the wilderness without any real plan may not sit well with everyone, I liked the idea of not being bound by any particular itinerary and figured we would just have a good time at our own pace. We would hike south and camp in the backcountry when it got dark and in the morning we head back. So it began.
My pack mule.
In my pack I had a tent, a liter of water, a jacket and pants, and several bags of almonds and beef jerky. I recently bought a dehydrator and have been experimenting with various jerky recipes. In Shaman's pack, he carried his leash, collar, water bowl and approximately 2 liters of water. At each break we drank from his water first, so his pack weight dropped drastically as we went along. As the weekend went on I made a mental list of things I should get before I go out for another adventure like this. Luckily the weather was nice and we were only going to be out one night, so we were going to survive event without the gear we carried.

The portion of the trail we hiked, while having some challenging areas, offered few outlooks to enjoy the views. Still, we took a few side trails that gave us a decent view every now and then. We would go for long stretches without seeing any other people so I kept Shaman off-leash and let him do his own thing. All wildlife in the park is protected, and dogs are to remain leashed, however Shaman will not chase anything unless I give the okay and when he wears his pack he is less inclined to run around.
A perfect day to be out hiking.
Rocks, rocks, and more rocks.
Shaman has a fascination with ledges.
We hiked approximately 15 miles and camped near a shelter. Having regained most of my mobility after my first surgery, I felt we covered decent ground. When we did encounter others, usually they commented on Shaman's Ruff Wear pack or the fact I was hiking in my Vibram FiveFinger Treks. We encountered several thru-hikers and had some great conversations regarding long-term hiking, camping, and discussed their nutrition. I intend to discuss some of this in a future post.

With the intent of being as active as possible before my surgery I must say I was quite satisfied with this small adventure. I intend to go back and spend a longer time in Shenandoah when time and my knee permits it.

02 June 2011

Rally for Food and Farm Freedom

Being involved with the local food movement in my area, I often hear from farmers how certain regulations limit what they can do on the farm. The farm I get my grass-fed beef and pastured pork has to send their animals out of state to be butchered. Should they be able to butcher on their farm, they would be able to sell these items much cheaper (and have a much lower carbon footprint). Typically Big Ag and/or Big Government is the focus of their frustration and from what I can tell in most cases rightly so. It was through one of my friends of the local food movement (she blogs at Fish In The Water) that I found out about a rally in DC over the ability of people in Maryland, Virginia and the DC to purchase raw milk and other products from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania. Already in the area for other pre-surgery adventures I figured I would attend.

Hands Off My Milk
Naturally being a person who likes to kayak without a life jacket and ride my bike without a helmet, I would like the option to purchase and drink raw milk. I am educated, I know the risks. I am a firm believer that huge, blanket bans or laws prohibiting a complex issue are a waste of time and money and tend to hurt more than they help. Healthy cows produce healthy milk. Unhealthy cows kept in confined conditions (as typical in the Big Ag industrial process) do not produce healthy milk. So, alas, here is another example of Big Ag ruining it for the smaller family farms who appropriately care for their animals. Sure even the most pampered cow can still get sick, but with smaller herds and the farmers knowing their animals on a more humane and personal level, the risk should be low. I grew up on a river and learned to swim at a very early age. I've been water skiing, wake boarding, and surfing my entire life. To say I must have a life jacket in my kayak at all times is complete bullshit. Sure, being educated, I realize situations may present themselves that a life jacket on board would help keep me alive, but I accept that risk. Everything in life has inherent risks.

Here are some photos of the rally:
Jonathan Emord, Attorney
Baylen Linnekin of keepfoodlegal.org
Sally Fallon Morell of Weston A. Price Foundation
They handed out free glasses of raw milk.
They even brought a Jersey
For more information, check out Grassfed on The Hill. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. I've tried the milk and like it. Given it is coming from several hundred miles from where I live, I doubt I will ever be a member of this farm. I've got quality dairy farms around me and I wish they could sell raw milk, butter and cheeses to me. Hell, in Maryland, farmers are not even allowed to sell me raw milk if it were purely for the dogs. Who is being protected there? Bull. Shit.

Dairy and Paleo

“Recent studies claim that early milk drinkers left ten times as many descendants as their abstemious siblings.” - From N. Wade, “Lactose Tolerance in East Africa Points to Recent Evolution,” NY Times, December 11, 2006.

So those in the Paleo community do not always approve of dairy consumption, this is known. I've always wondered if those ancestral people who consumed milk (clearly raw) were healthier and stronger from it, or if simply the milk provided more food to allow more people to survive like grains did. So I am curious if it allowed people to thrive, not simply survive. I am always on the lookout for more information on this.

In most cases of diet I tend to go with Robb Wolf's Look, Feel, Perform. Grains and processed foods are definitely a no go. Milk, yogurt, butter from pastured sources have always made me feel great and have been a major asset in my recovery from intense physical exertions. I have noticed an inflammatory response when I am drinking daily, but it is mild compared to when I was drinking grain-fed organic milk from the grocery store. So, right now for me, my dairy consumption is very similar to my overall carbohydrate consumption, purely dependent on my activity level.

31 May 2011

The Road to Recovery

"What's peak condition? It's one step from falling off a cliff."
 James M. Pivarnik, exercise physiologist

Today marks one week since I had my second (and hopefully final) knee surgery. All in all, it has been over 7 months since I hurt my knee and I am told it could be another 18 months before I am back to trail running and soccer again.

Looking back, I know I sprinted into that goal keeper at the top of my game. From excellent performances on the soccer pitch, running sub-19 minute 5k races, completing 50 mile ultra races through the night, to having my nutrition both at home and on the road right where I wanted it, I was feeling great. I did realize I could injure myself, knowing the more I pushed myself there existed more opportunities for overtraining or rogue goalkeepers to set me back. As I sit here now icing the knee or precariously going up and down steps on crutches and opiates, I have no regrets. Injuries come with the territory.

All that being said, fuck an 18 month recovery. I'll be back before then.

03 May 2011

Hello May, Hello You

So it has been awhile since I have posted anything. My reasons for this absence are twofold. First, I’ve learned my second and final knee surgery is scheduled for May, so I have been working diligently at both home and work to prepare for my 6 weeks off recovering. Second, with spring here, I’ve been spending a lot of time outside getting sun and being active while I can. Since the first surgery, I regained all mobility and have even been able to run sprints, albeit with pain. I find it extremely amusing how many comments I get in regards to the fact I have stayed lean and have not been running or working out.

Soaking up the April sun.
With my increase in mobility, I have periodically broken from my paleo dietary habits. From going out for a beer with friends or having a piece of homemade cornbread, I’ve done so in moderation. However, with the surgery coming in less than a month, I am going to transition back to strict paleo. Fortunately, my CSA starts next week, so I can start adding more fresh, local produce and poultry to my diet. I’ve always been pretty good about cooking and eating what I get per week throughout the week, greatly limiting how much I eat out or go to a grocery store.  

Although pain and immobility are forthcoming, I am looking forward to the surgery. I cannot wait to get back to normal or at least as close to normal as possible. I will have quite a bit of time to figure out what I want to do when I bounce back from this. I am thinking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

28 March 2011

Omnivores and Vegans Unite Against Factory Farming?

A friend emailed me this link: Introducing... the Vegan/Omnivore Alliance against Animal Factories. The author Tom Philpott argues that both vegans and industrial-meat-critical omnivores stand in opposition to the way the majority of meat in this country is raised. My playful response to her email:

I have heard suggestions that the two sides team up... however us paleo people do not see the need to partner with people with smaller brains and pathetically weak bone structures. 
Hell, I would advocate eating vegans if it were not for their high omega-6 content due to their pathetically inferior diet.
All that being said, I guess if we wanted to see results, it wouldn't hurt to form an alliance... but as soon as one of them mentions a veggie burger being delicious, game over man, game over.

I have always advocated for a grass-roots (figuratively and literally) movement where demand for quality, appropriately raised foods is increased through education at the local level. However I constantly hear how new USDA regulations are hindering and hurting the local, smaller farmers I support. Maybe we do need a larger voice to wrest the USDA and other governmental organizations out of the hands of Big Ag lobbyists. I am thinking it would be worth working with the dirty vegans on this one.

26 March 2011

Locavore Lit Fest Visit and Hound Update

Last night I met up with my brother and two friends and attended one of the talks of the Locavore Literary Festival at Washington College in Chestertown, MD. We got to listen to Lierre Keith talk about her book The Vegetarian Myth and how the world is going to hell, followed by some local foods and booze, and then got to ask her questions. Lierre was attacked by vegans awhile back, so I had my brother on the look out for nutritionally inferrior people with an agenda. Our chance of smacking around vegans never came unfortunately.

That being said, I can completely see why vegans would get upset. I felt like I was at a Take Back The Night rally. As if someone took an ultra-liberal activist, shook them up, and then unleashed them on their own people. Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed the talk very much, I just thought Lierre came across a little abrasive and very much against agriculture and civilization. A little too idealist for my tastes. That being said, her answers during the Q&A session were down to earth and I really liked how she responded when I asked her thoughts on the economic challenge of getting people, say college students and people on minimum wage, eating grass-fed/pastured meat. She touched on everything from sourcing your foods, to rasing your own animals (i.e. Chickens), to eating offal and hunting. Later in one of the questions she went in to how periodically she will eat raw liver. Hell, this morning I had lamb heart and kidneys with my bacon and eggs, however I do not know if I am ready (or willing) to go at it raw like the dogs do.

Lierre touched on population control (introducing incentives to keep from having too many kids) and women's rights and education (educated/powerful women also have less kids) as steps in the right direction. She has been working on a book that will layout a plan of restoring the earth. I highly doubt I will read it, as I know enough about human nature and therefore I think we are f**ked. Still, I think she is generally fighting in the right direction, so have at it Lierre! The dogs and I may sit this one out. If you get a chance to listen to her speak, I recommend it. Be sure to know that when she attacks agriculture as a scourge upon life itself, she is talking monocultures and other forms that degrade topsoil and are unsustainable. It was hard to grasp this at first, and I was thinking she was attacking my near and dear Greenbranch and Polyface style farming, but it was in the Q&A this got fleshed out.

In other news, Cyprus was gone for about a week with a professional handler that I intend to use to obtain her Champion title in the AKC conformation ring. Shaman and I got to have a lot of one-on-one time and truthfully I could not tell if he even cared his little sister was missing. I forgot how easy it is to travel with only one dog, so Shaman and I went everywhere together. Upon Cyprus' return, I was alerted that my diva was quite the dominant bitch with the other dogs and only drank cold bottle water. Knowing Cyprus though, it sounded as if she went from Bear Grylls to Ke$ha overnight. Both dogs were glad to see each other, so maybe Shaman did miss his sister a little.

Like old times, The Sham and I

22 March 2011

Dieting so easy...

... a caveman could do it! (Thanks GEICO)

I overheard two coworkers discussing weight loss recently and just had to chime in. One was touting a half-pound weight loss over a week... and the other brought up the Twinkie Diet. I realize I've decided to be less militant this year, however I just had to say something to these people. I skipped my usual comment that the weight-loss was probably just water weight and went right for the throat of the Twinkie Diet comment. I explained that being healthy is not just about weight loss and the twinkie diet did not take into account other health markers or the fact it is not sustainable (and I've since found out he didn't just eat twinkies, "He also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. And he ate vegetables, typically a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks."). I also added that cancer makes you lose weight, so does that make it good? It was then I heard the usual remark: "It is too hard to eat the way you do." Not that I believe for a second they know fully how I eat, I think they are just making excuses to simplify things. And simplifying things, such as simply looking at a scale for progress, is setting yourself up for failure.

I learned to ditch the scale early in my life. In my freshman year of college, while home on summer break, I was introduced to the Adkins diet that a coworker was following. I read nothing on the diet, I just simply ate low carb. Combining that with some strength training, I lost about 25 pounds. My goal was to drop 30 pounds, to get from 200 down to 170. As I approached my goal, I started losing the ground I conquered. My time in the gym was adding weight, keeping me from hitting 170. I was strong but not lean and realized that my focus should be more about fat loss rather than weight loss. I should also add my coworker that followed Adkins properly lost nearly 60 pounds, but also had her hair start falling out. Again, simplifying things such as just going low to no carbohydrate was not the way to go.

Having learned to eat smarter and work out smarter, it really is easy to go paleo. I f**king love what I eat (bacon and eggs, steak, fresh veggies, coconut milk, etc.) and feel a thousand times better and more focused than I ever was before. Having trashed my scale several years ago, I weighed myself at a friend's place while on the road this past weekend. 156 pounds. And I know for a fact I am stronger than the 175+ pound version of me I mentioned above. And hell, I am not doing anything. I am not running, or lifting, or doing anything special. In fact, since I hurt my knee, I've leaned up further by focusing on my diet and going from 80/20 to more of a 90/10. I've also been focusing on getting sun whenever I can and making sleep a priority. But truthfully, I know some people would rather hear they could eat nothing but twinkies and lose weight. And as that half pound of weight loss turns into 5 pounds of weight gain, they will probably not even wonder what happened because that is how it always happens to them. Little do they know (even with me telling them!) that with a little legwork, understanding human physiology, they could become healthier in a simple fashion.  

03 March 2011

The Devil Hounds of Kenya: Canine Persistence Hunting

Several years ago I was emailed these images from a 1958 Adventure magazine. Besides being solely about my favorite breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the article was the first one where I got to see photos of dogs being used to hunt large game and the first time I’ve read about dogs hunting in a persistence fashion.

“Their teamwork is instinctive. One hound will dart out of the pack, put on a burst of speed, outdistance his confreres, and overhaul the target. When he draws near the fleeing animal, the ridgeback alternatingly snarls and snaps at the victim’s legs, occasionally coming off with a piece of flesh as a reward for his intrepidity. When he tires, another of the dogs shoots out, replacing the lead animal who drops back with the rest of the pack. In this way the prey has to keep up a bristling pace to stay ahead, and this can’t be done.”
Imagine that instead of dogs we have athletic human hunters with spears. Sure the speed of the dog is one of its attributes, but the throw of a projectile can cover significant ground in a short amount of time even if the thrower cannot. A near hit spear throw would startle prey similar to the snapping of a dog’s jaws, forcing it to run faster and further. That hunter goes to retrieve his spear while the others keep after the prey at a decent pace. The next hunter sprints ahead and makes his throw when in range and so forth it goes until the prey is too tired to dodge or run away.

So while there are some out there who may argue against the theory we evolved as persistence hunters, I think there is a good chance we did it. I am sure our ancestors did, or at least tried, everything to survive. Maybe this endurance style of hunting is not the most efficient or healthy method to mimic for optimum fitness, but I am sure no type of hunting was ever done with fitness in mind. It was all about securing food and simply what worked, worked. So I’m thinking if you want to keep your endurance training fairly paleo you would follow these general guidelines:

  • Don’t Do It Every Day – Even if we did evolve as persistence hunters, we sure as hell didn’t do it every day. Maybe once or twice a week?
  • Ditch The Shoes – Although barefoot is ideal, minimalist shoes work well and protect your feet from that random piece of glass or prickly leaf.
  • Trail Run – From dodging roots to tromping through mud, you are bound to get a better workout on this uneven terrain. And your feet and knees will enjoy getting away from the hard pounding that comes with running on roads or sidewalks.
  • Mix In Sprints – I usually try to sprint up any inclines and would rather randomly pick an object ahead of me and try to beat the dogs to it. I must say that the times I felt most alive have been when I am sprinting along a dense trail with the dogs at my heels.
  • Take A Break – Periodically stop, catch your breath, and take in your surroundings. Just zooming through the woods isn’t enough for me. I like to experience the tranquility or take in an amazing view. If you’ve got dogs running with you, let them stop and sniff.
  • Bring Something Back – Grab something big and drag it. Toss a big rock or log. Mix in some squats and lunges. If I were on a trail that looped, I would sometimes grab a log and carry it on my shoulders until I worked my way back to that same spot where I would put it back.
Maybe I just had too good of a time running the ultras that I did and deep down I am looking for anything to justify that experience. My knee injury aside, I had planned on not running any more endurance races for a while. The main reason had more to do with the dogs. Often taking the dogs with me to a race was unfeasible, as rarely did I have anyone go with me. The question “want to go camping several nights, no nearby showers, and watch the dogs for me while I run 6 to 12 hours?” never drew the crowd I was hoping. Instead I like the idea of going backpacking with the dogs, somewhere I can bring them, still get to be out in the wilderness, and get a great workout.

28 February 2011

John Durant on Raw Feeding for Dogs

John Durant of Hunter-Gatherer has posted some interesting posts, including photos and videos, of the raw diet:

It is good to see others are coming to the realization our pets are suffering, much like we are, from diets consisting primarily of processed grains and unnatural man-made products.

27 February 2011

Spring On The Way

Although freezing temperatures are not out of the picture here in Maryland, every day brings us closer to Spring. With the daylight hours lengthening and a few days of 60 degree temperatures, I have started gearing up for the warm weather I love so much. With my knee injury my plans and priorities have changed. To keep focused on my 2011 Resolutions, I have been taking advantage of every warm day and ever additional minute of daylight.

In preparing for having a garden this year I have started doing the necessary yard work. I have turned all outdoor chores into exercises and soaked up all the sun I can. The change in my energy and mood is astounding! I feel supercharged after getting a decent amount of sun. The dogs do too. While I am out raking leaves they are chewing bones. After a day of that the dogs are far calmer and sleep far better. It bugs me that so many days are spent working in a cubicle while the dogs are crated. Weekends leave me craving for more.

As I type this the sun is setting and f.lux has started to transition my computer screen. Truthfully I am getting tired... and it is only 6pm! The one thing I tried this past winter was to follow camping rules, going to bed shortly after the sun sets and get up when the sun rises. While I have not religiously stuck to this, as my social life would crumble, I have done this enough to no longer need an alarm and sleep better than ever. Although I've come to appreciate the long hours of slumber, I am looking forward to the longer days and shorter nights of summer.

In preparation of my plans to take the dogs for a 3 week backcountry camping and hiking trip I have been working with the dogs. I have started getting them used to walking in their packs and have even started adding some weight. I have also started working on Cyprus' off-leash training, which is bound to have its entertaining moments. She loves running and on most off-leash moments she runs at least 20 times to what I walk. Other than a few instances of disobedience, things go incredibly well. One kink I've seen in my plan is that my time off with my knee may eat all my vacation time. Either way, I will be far better prepared to take the dogs camping whenever and wherever.

Enjoying the sun despite the cold weather

11 February 2011


Happy Friday everyone! I have been quite busy these past few weeks and have some updates I thought I would share.

  • Intermittent Fasting has many benefits. I IF'd yesterday until the evening where I competed in a wing eating competition. I guess frequently gorging myself on meat (no homo) kept me prepared for an event like this. I tied for first place, losing in the final round. In the top 5 people I was the only one that looked remotely fit or healthy. It was a good chance to explain to people the benefits of paleo.
  • My coworker and friend Nick who I turned on to the paleo/primal diet and who has been doing CrossFit workouts told me that in the past year he dropped 40 lbs! Dude is now lean and fit. Congrats Nick! The funny (yet highly disconcerting) thing to note is that on his yearly follow-up with his doctor where his physical stats and blood results showed vast improvements, the doctor didn't even bother to ask how he did it.
  • I have returned internet to my house. One of the things keeping me busy is that I've decided to rent the rooms in my house and the average person isn't willing to go all monkish like me. What this means I will have more time to update this site.
  • Tomorrow, Saturday February 12 is Darwin Day! How are you celebrating?
  • The no-egg, no-coffee, no milk, more randomized breakfasts have been going well. I've been eating an assortment of liver, heart, and other offal from cow, lamb, and pig sources all grass-fed/pastured. So far I have not noticed any major changes. The no-alcohol has not worked out so well. I'll just say the underdog, 2nd place wing eating competitor, was bought several shots last night.
  • One of my new roommates has a little mix-breed dog that definitely has a strong drive to herd. It has been quite amusing watching my dogs run around while this little dog tries to herd them. Like herding lions, it is easier said than done.
  • Lastly, the hounds seem to enjoy the copious amount of snow more so than I:

03 February 2011

Breakfast Rethought, Redefined, Randomized

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
Oscar Wilde

Having been intrigued by the randomization and extreme event ideas posted by De Vany in the New Evolution Diet and further mentioned by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the Afterword, I’ve started taking a look at my lifestyle to find areas that I could add some randomization. From a fitness perspective I am taking it easy with another surgery on the horizon. Once I’ve healed I can pick up a CrossFit/MovNat style workout and incorporate an ever-changing fitness plan. From a sleep perspective, I am doing great. I have been getting quality sleep in a mostly blacked out room. Having the dogs sleep in the room provides plenty of randomization, as they sometimes wake during the night with the need to go outside or wake growling to alert me of a noise they heard. When I looked at my diet, I notice my lunches and dinners are ever changing in both the time I eat, what I eat, or if I eat. My breakfasts however have become quite consistent in certain aspects.

Still eating bread in this photo.

Bread replaced with fruit.

10 eggs prepped to dump into the cast iron

The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the Highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!
Henry David Thoreau

I am fine with using my cast iron frequently, but when I think about foods like eggs, I’ve probably eaten eggs for breakfast since I started transitioning to paleo. If I had to guess I would say at least 3 solid years of eating eggs for breakfast. Starting with 2 per day, sometimes I would eat as many as a dozen if it were the day after a strenuous workout or ultra-marathon. Before I demonize my egg consumption I should add that I’ve put in the effort to diversify where I get my eggs… typically pulling from 5-6 different flocks of chickens with the periodic addition of the more expensive, but far richer duck egg. Looking back, I even posted about my issue of what to do with all the egg shells I have been accumulating. Realizing this, I’ve decided to redefine breakfasts.

Breakfast Without Eggs
Having had eggs with so many breakfasts, I find it hard to imagine a breakfast without them. That being said, I will eat my last four tomorrow morning and plan to go a month or two without purchasing more. My future breakfasts will probably just include more of the other varying items: bacon, liver, heart, and scrapple. I am also planning to add more meats like ground beef and sausage and possibly an avocado once in a while. Maybe I will skip a few breakfasts and have a hearty dinner. I am not completely sure how my breakfast will evolve in the coming months, or what I will take away from this egg excommunication, but I feel this will be a good move.

As a side note, I’ve also sworn off coffee, milk, and alcohol for this same general timeframe. My thought is that as I recover from the next surgery I will reintroduce and ramp up various foods in an attempt to build muscle and achieve strength gains. Until that time, goodbye eggs.