Thursday, January 29, 2015

Keep an open mind to baseless speculation? Nope.

I just saw this image and thought it would be funny to do a little post with some stories about some of the times I've been called "closed minded" by total idiots with no clue about anything.

As usual, I went off on a bit of a tangent before getting to my original point. The tangent actually makes for a much better article than the original idea.

Anyway, let's begin.

Keeping an open mind is a good thing. But what was that old joke again? Something about being so open minded that your brain falls out?

Whatever.

Being closed minded to certain things isn't so bad either, though. A lot of people have a strange idea about what being "open minded" means. Being open minded would mean being willing to consider and evaluate any evidence you are presented with, and potentially being prepared to change your opinion if the new evidence is strong enough.

Somewhat ironically though, what people often want when they chastise you for "not being open minded" is for you to simply agree with them, without requiring any proof, evidence or a reasonable explanation, and in spite of your own knowledge and experiences. 

Contrary to common opinion, you do not have to "keep an open mind" to baseless speculation from random people and treat it as a credible explanation or viable possibility. Especially in cases where the subject at hand has been studied and there is a body of evidence supporting a certain conclusion or understanding. Again, you should be open to the possibility that new evidence might change that understanding at some time, but by no means does this imply that just because someone can dream up some alternate scenario we should have any less faith in the body of actual evidence and current knowledge on the subject.

Bertrand Russell's famous quote seems relevant here:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.
A lot of claims we're asked to "be open minded" about are similar. It's no more than an idea someone is throwing out there, and while we're often asked "how can be so sure this isn't the case?" the better question would be "what reason is there to believe that this is likely to be the case?". 

In my observation this is usually a rather disingenuous tactic to create the illusion that an opinion based on the current understanding of the body of evidence is less credible, via introducing irrelevant or imaginary concepts rather than via close scrutiny of that evidence. Either that, or you're expected to respond with something like "wow, I never thought of that. Now I am not so sure". Again though, this would assume that your own position is based on no more than casual speculation, rather than on evidence. If your position is based on the evidence, you'd require more than just "an idea" to change it. You'd also require strong and credible evidence in support of that idea.

This is turning into a much heavier blog entry than I'd intended when I started writing. I was just going to post some funny stories about when I've been called "closed minded" and by whom.

Story #1:

Being called closed minded for refusing to "just try it for 3 months and see" regarding cutting all cereals, breads and other grain based foods out of my diet. For three months. Because just because I don't have any symptoms is no reason to be close minded and refuse to accept that I am intolerant to gluten as this person has decided. Something like as follows:
Oh you're still eating grains and cereals, you should cut all that out.
Nah, I go alright.
How can you be so sure? Just try it for 3 months and see.

Nope.
You're so closed minded. You think you know everything.
Really though? 

Actually I got that one a bunch of times from various different people. Random people giving me an unsolicited medical diagnosis over the internet. And I'm the one who thinks he knows everything.

Story #2:

The other story I had in mind was similar, but training related. Now, I'm a qualified and quite experienced trainer, with my own strategies and systems that I use and recommend. I train with a strategy that I enjoy and is appropriate to my goals. I had some bloke a year or so ago who was just relentless about trying to get me to ditch it all and do some fatigue chasing style workout he had devised instead. Now, this is a guy with no qualifications, no real accomplishments, 1 rep max lifts about the same as I would do for 10 reps, and so on. But I'm closed minded for not wanting to waste my time with something that doesn't appeal to me and is not appropriate to my goals.

Bottom line:

The inability to consider that what is appealing and what works nicely for you might not be so suitable for somebody else is the ultimate in closed mindedness, bordering on narcissism.  

Now, people do have their right to their opinions and to believe whatever they want. Right up until the point where they have an opinion about something that you're doing, that you didn't ask for. If you're happy doing what you're doing, enjoying it, getting results that you're satisfied with... that's enough. You don't owe it to anyone to be open to changing to something else if you don't want to, any more than they owe it to you to be more like you.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Myth: You can't just eat whatever you like and still expect to be in shape.

Oh, you were fooled into believing this one?

I put it to you that not only CAN you get into shape eating the foods that you like, that's exactly how everyone who ever DID get into shape and STAY that way has done it.

Think about it. Maybe they aren't eating the foods YOU like, but they're definitely eating foods that THEY like. But doesn't that mean that you have to eat the foods that they like, because those are the foods to eat to get into shape, the ones that you don't like and they do?

Nope.

You can't expect results via forcefeeding yourself things you don't like, because you're not going to stick with it. You're going to lose your appetite half way through your first "healthy" meal, throw half of it away, probably skip your next meal because you're so unenthusiastic about that one too, end up ravenous hours later and going to town on exactly the same foods you were convinced you needed to "give up because they're bad" or whatever. And then how do you feel? Not real good.

Imagine three lists of foods.
  • List A: the most unquestionably healthy, wholesome and nutritious choices. If you stuck to only these foods and just ate them until you were satisfied, you probably wouldn't go too far wrong in terms of total energy intake and you'd have an abundance of vitamins and minerals and other good stuff too.
  • List B: more normal sort of food choices. Not full blown health nut level of virtuous "clean eating", but a reasonable variety of reasonably healthy choices.
  • List C: the "now you're just taking the piss, you can't possibly be serious" list.
List A sounds great, right? Here are all the best foods, eat 'em until you are nicely satisfied, and you'll probably be meeting your requirements quite effortlessly. Which is fine, if you happen to like and be enthusiastic about eating those foods. If you're not enthusiastic, it's like I described earlier; you just end up going hungry until you can't anymore.

I feel like it is not so prevalent lately and hopefully will be even less so as this year continues, but in the past there has been this ideal out there that a certain type of person is better than other people, and that's why they look so good and are in good shape. Being an extra active, outdoorsy type who only eat from that A List of most nutritious foods.

Now nothing against those people, don't get me wrong. They're out there living their lives, doing the things they're enthusiastic about, and more power to them for it. But they're not better than someone who'd rather curl up with a good book under a blanket, for example. They're in shape because they have an active lifestyle, and an appropriate energy intake... not because they're better, more virtuous people than someone who's more of an indoorsy person with less exemplary food choices.

That's important to point out, because along with that ideal came this kind of warped notion that people are in shape because of the some "moral" association with those food choices. And then, depending on who you are unfortunate enough to be influenced by, that "List A" becomes shorter and shorter, and god forbid you ever slip up and have something from "List B" instead. A while back in certain circles it was to the extent that you basically had a very, very short "List A" and then everything else that exists is "List C".

"Fruit? You gotta be taking the piss. What about the sugar?"
That sort of thing. It got beyond ridiculous. If you've followed my blogs for a while you'll know already, I considered it the active promotion of orthorexia nervosa and I declared war on it a few years back.

Let's move on though and look at List C, and while it is already the "you must be taking the piss" list, let's really take the piss and say not only is it OK to include some of these foods from time to time, we're going to ONLY eat these foods.

Could it be done? If you set out to prove a point that total energy intake is what matters in maintaining a suitable weight range, and that regardless of food choices health markers will be improved as weight becomes less excessive, could you do it?

Well, a couple of people already have.

Now, not that I am saying for a minute that this is the recommended course of action, but my point stands. You most certainly can lose weight via a plan to meet appropriate total intake from what ever choices of foods best suit you, and while we're at it let's mention whatever meal schedule best suits you, as well.

If you're able to mostly eat from whatever you feel would come under List A, that's awesome. If you have a plan to meet your requirements from List B; that is just as effective, you will not ruin your health, and you will still deserve success just as much as any one else as well. Even if you include some from List C, within a plan for appropriate intake to meet your requirements you will still deserve success and be successful.


Of course, if you would like a little help with your plan that's where I come in, and you can register for more information right here (top right of the page) or at www.flexiblefueling.com.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The importance of scheduled meals and not under eating.

THIS. IS. SERIOUS.

A couple of very important points of discourse on the subject of under eating, or as I prefer to think of it, "under fueling".

If you are training for improved performance in sports and / or a change in body condition, it is crucial to exceed your minimum requirements in total energy and protein intake.

Under eating will not cut it.

You cannot facilitate the changes in body condition you are trying to produce without providing the necessary resources. You cannot starve yourself into strong, healthy, athletic shape. You just can't.

This is a double edged sword though, as attempting to under fuel often results in involuntary over eating later on.

This is an easy situation to fall into, but fortunately just as easy to avoid or to rectify. Simply, by setting a meal schedule as best suits you in order to ensure that your energy and other nutritional requirements are met. Your psychological needs are of no less significant importance here, as well. Set a schedule, have a plan to meet and exceed your minimum requirements, and stick to it. Set the alarm on your phone to remind you when it is time to eat, if necessary.

No more working through lunch or skipping meals for other reasons.
You need to eat, god dammit.

Having a meal schedule and especially as part of a larger plan to meet some appropriate total energy and macronutrient intake targets also means that you are more mindful of how much and what you are eating, as well. As much as I do believe habitual under eating is a serious and widespread problem, at the same time there are no shortage of people who are under the assumption that they are "probably not eating enough" who are actually massively over feeding.

Regardless, having a schedule, appropriate targets, a plan and the intention of sticking to that plan as consistently as possible will solve either problem and many others as well.

Under eating due to restriction of food choices.

A second cause of under eating can be restriction of food choices. Too often, proponents of certain diets advocate the exclusion of various food choices which can be advantageous in meeting both your micronutritional and total energy requirements. Even so called "empty" calories from more indulgent choices of foods are not inherently bad if they prevent you from falling short of your energy requirements where you would be likely to otherwise.

Nutritious foods such as cereals, breads and other grain based foods do provide significant micronutritional resources as well as valuable energy. There is no need to restrict or eliminate intake of these foods, other than as necessary to manage a medical condition that you actually have. Not a medical condition that may hypothetically exist according to alternative health bloggers, not even one that someone told you their cousin suffers from, or whatever else. Unless you have been advised to do so by your doctor or dietitian to manage a diagnosed condition that you actually have, there is no need to cut out grains or anything else that you enjoy and can utilise as a source of energy and other resources to meet your requirements.

Now, usually when there's a debate on this matter... the argument is that people can just meet their energy or micronutritional requirements from other foods, instead. This is true. Will they, though? For many people who find the "other", suggested foods less enjoyable or less appealing, they simply won't eat enough of them. Rather, they just end up not eating anywhere near enough in total, due to having cut out the foods that suit them best for no good reason whatsoever other than bad advice and pressure to conform from people who lack the basic empathy to understand that different people will prefer different foods and that is ok.

Any advice that suggests, advocates or inadvertently results in habitual under eating is terrible and potentially harmful advice.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lean Green and Healthy: Weight loss cures and snake oil salesmen.

Lean Green and Healthy: Weight loss cures and snake oil salesmen.:

Well this morning I had a run in with a fellow on the internet over his promotion of supplements for weight loss. He was posting in a group and his advertisement for his magical product encouraged people to lose weight by mixing his potion with milk, peanut butter and butterscotch pudding mix!  His other recipe included Oreo cookies and Jello flavoured puddingmix. Mmm sounds like a balanced nutritional meal to me! (not!) Not
surprisingly I got a little hot under the collar about this latest dietary scam and decided it was time to talk about weight loss supplements. 

Click the link to read the full entry  on the Lean Green & Healthy blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Low Cost, Effective Home Training Routine, Part Two

This is part two of the Low Cost Home Training Program I posted up just before. I made the videos last summer and thought some new people might like to give it a try. These are serious routines and you will see good results if you do each of them twice weekly with suitable eating habits.

Here's the Pulling routine. The other one was the Pushing routine, remember?


Routine Description:


Warm Up: TRX Reverse Flies and Front Raises

I did 3 sets of 20 (10 reps of each movement) just as a nice warm up for the shoulders and upper back muscles.

TRX Hanging Row:


In the gym I’d probably be doing a cable row, machine row, even a dumbbell row… any type of horizontal pulling movement. Here I’ve gone for the TRX variation, and I’m leaning back as far as possible so that I’m pulling as much of my body weight as I can.
I managed 4 sets of 16 reps here, you should aim for 10 - 12 reps.

Resistance Band One Arm Reverse Flies

Here I’m trying to replicate a Reverse Cable Fly that I might do in the gym. In my program we’d call this a Precision Movement trying to target the rear deltoid muscle specifically.
Do 4 sets of 12 to 16 reps.

Resistance Band Upright Row


Usually I’d do this with a barbell in the gym, but a resistance band will suffice at home or on holiday. We want to be pulling our elbows straight up into the air, and our hands to about middle-of-the-chest height.
4 sets of 10 - 12 reps again here.

Pull Ups / Chin Ups


Vertical Pulling movement. Self explanatory! These are tough though, so don't be too upset if you can't manage them as a beginner.

Resistance Band Reverse Flies


Again. This is probably over kill having already done a TRX version and a single arm version, but I wanted to show a few different options.

Resistance Band Bicep Curls


Squeeze those biceps at the top and release slowly.
4 sets of 12 - 16 reps.


Not shown in the video, but do these too.Google them if you have to.


Hip Thrust / Glute Bridge 4 x 20 reps.
Hip Rotation aka Clam Shell Exercise, or Fire Hydrant Exercise 4 x 20 reps each side.
Hip Abduction aka Laying Side Leg Raise 4 x 20 reps each side.

Low Cost, Effective Home Training Routine, Part One

I shot these videos last summer and thought I'd share them again for all the people looking to get into shape as part of their New Years Resolutions.

Now, it's like I talk about all the time. If you actually want results you need to train productively, not just "burn calories". Resistance training really is the key, but weights are expensive! On a budget, some resistance bands and a suspension trainer are a great option to train seriously at home.

Today's routine is based on pushing movements, and accessory exercises that compliment them.


Routine Description:


Warm Up: Resistance Band One Arm Flies

I usually start this routine with Pec Dec in the gym. A dumbbell or cable fly is a similar movement, and the resistance band fly is the option we’ll use with the home routine. If you had two sets of the same bands (and really they’re not very expensive, so that’s worth thinking about) you could do both sides together… or one at a time like I am doing here. I’m adding a little extra shoulder rotation to the end of the movement here which I feel gives me just that little extra bit of contraction in the pectorals.
Do 3 sets of 12 - 16 reps of these.

Horizontal Push: Push Ups

We could do a Chest Press with the Resistance Bands, but I feel like Push Ups are as good an option as any. You can see I start with a beginners version, leaning against the railing… and then I do a more advanced version with my feet elevated. If you have the TRX and are really looking for an advanced option you can have your feet in the straps which means a lot of extra work to stabalise yourself.
Do 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Various Squats

I think the TRX Squats are a really good method to learn good, deep squatting technique. You can lean back into the squat a little and you have the handles to hang on to for balance, and you can squat nice and deep. Once that’s too easy, try either the one legged (pistol) squat or the one legged lunge. These damn near killed me. You can see some discrepancy with my form from one side to the other as well… if only I’d had a coach there to point that out at the time!
4 sets of as many as you can manage!

Resistance Band Front Raise

Coming back to upper body, and this is a nice one to target the shoulders. Anterior Deltoid muscle in particular.
Do 2 x 12 - 16 reps.

Resistance Band Side Lateral Raise

Shoulders again, this time trying to hit the Lateral (or middle if you prefer) Deltoid. With both this and the above exercise, try to have a little pause at the top of the movement, and then return slowly to the starting position.
Do 3 x 12 - 16 reps.

Vertical Push: Resistance Band Shoulder Press

Much like performing a Dumbbell Shoulder Press in the gym, but with the Resistance Bands instead.
Do 3 x 10 - 12 reps.

Resistance Band Overhead Tricep Extension

Self explanatory, isn’t it? You could do a variation on Cable Kickbacks here as well, which I quite like.
Do 3 x 12 - 16 reps.

Here's the link to the next routine.