Sunday, September 28, 2008

More N.E.A.T Thoughts

I was a big advocate for intense exercise but now I’m not so sure. The problem with intense exercise that produces a body capable of great strength and endurance is that it needs to be maintained constantly. Any let up in the program and after about two weeks, or even less, the muscles start to revert to their previous state of feebleness. Also, the muscles are always feeling a little sore – you’re doing a lot of exercise yet when you walk up the stairs at work your legs ache leading one to wonder, what is the point? The goal should be to develop a feeling of supreme wellness whilst possessing functional strength and endurance. Intense exercise is probably more a young person’s game whose body has greater flexibility and bounce back, whose injuries heal quicker and are less likely to occur in the first place.

Most deliberate exercise is very unnatural and doesn’t result in particularly functional strength. You might lift weights regularly yet when it comes time to do some useful work like lifting ladders when painting the house you find that it still makes you sore. You may even be more susceptible to injury because you have strong muscles in the wrong places that put undue strain on weaker parts of the body.

So maybe the old folks were right when they advised that instead of exercising for its own sake you should do something that is actually useful – it’s less boring than it first appears. The trick, as I noted before, is to consciously think of useful work as exercise. Do work with the best form possible and do work constantly. Yard work should be seen as exercise and done with good spirit and swiftness just like you would when doing an exercise program.

There will be obvious advantageous spin offs with this strategy. Firstly you will get a lot of work done. Family relations will be great because you will be pulling more than your weight around the home and you’ll be doing it cheerfully – you’ll be a hero. Apparently husbands who do more housework get more sex which can be a great work out too (think of sex as exercise!). You will develop more skills around the home that should save you money. Walking somewhere, instead of taking the car, will also save money on gas. At work your enthusiastic energy and relentless devotion to working will pay great dividends and promotions and rewards will surely be forthcoming. You’ll be a great role model to your children. Others in the household will cease to look at you with the distain they once did when you gladly exercised yet were loathe to do any useful housework – the nagging should stop.

The strength you will be acquiring will be of the totally useful kind which is exactly the kind that is necessary for advancing into old age.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

This is N.E.A.T.

You can divide human energy consumption up into three generally recognised categories. They are base metabolism, active exercise and non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). You need about 80 calories an hour just to stay alive – this is what you burn while lying on the couch watching TV. When you put on your running shoes and sprint around the block that is active exercise. When you get up and go to the fridge to grab a beer you burn a little more and this activity is N.E.A.T.

So the energy consumption of a human body that is an idle state is relatively high at around 2000 calories a day more or less depending on the individual. When you actively exercise you can burn around 100 to 500 calories more. This figure is often greatly exaggerated and people sometimes include the base metabolism burn rate along with the extra amount consumed during active exercise when they are calculating how many calories they have expended.

It has been found that the area where people seem to vary the most with their energy consumption is in every day activities. The difference between some fat and thin people is not in the energy that they consume as food but the energy that they expend just moving around. There can be a huge difference with some people burning as much as 2000 calories more than others. These people must be on the go all the time, rarely sitting down to rest throughout the day. They probably never rest and pace backwards and forwards and generally fidget all day long. At the other end of the scale there are people who rarely move, work at a desk and as soon as they see a chair they sit in it. Young people in general fit into the naturally active category and it seems that as we age we get less and less active. If you observe children they are always on the go, even when they are talking to you they will often be rocking back and forth or spinning around. This would be rather strange and possibly downright scary in an adult which is a shame as this is the best sort of activity if you want to burn heaps of calories. In theory, if you kept up a childlike sort of energy expenditure you could get away without having to worry too much how much you ate.

One good thing about this sort of energy use is that it is generally non-damaging. Active exercise, where you are striving to burn calories or increase strength is fraught with danger, running can cause severe damage to knees and ankles while weights and other exercises can damage backs and arms, especially if done with poor form. Too much weight lifting and running can leave you virtually crippled if you are not very careful and you could end up being forced to be inactive and having to rely on strict diets to control your weight while being barely able to function a s a normal active human being. An older person is probably more prone to injury and slower recovery too. It's way better to be just functionaly fit rather than super fit if being super fit exposes you to structural damage.

The answer is to be aware of and actively embrace N.E.A.T. All activity should be seen as a form of exercise. This bit is important as it seems that if you think mowing the lawn or doing the vacuuming is an exercise that improves your body and burns calories then it is much more effective and enjoyable as well. At all times throughout the day you should be thinking about keeping your body moving. Never sit when you can stand, take the stairs, walk to your destination if it is feasible. Consciously hold your gut in and try to keep a good posture as this will improve your core and consumes energy. Stand on one leg or lift your self up on your toes. Never hesitate to bend down and pick things up. Always be on the look out for ways to burn energy and keep the body moving and flexible.

In short, make constant movement a habit of a lifetime. The goal will be to eventually achieve it without conscious effort and maintain a healthy, flexible body that is practically functional long into old age.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Update on the High Fat Diet

It has now been eight weeks since I started actively eating more animal fat. The extra fat has come in the form of mostly full cream. Unfortunately I haven't been as strict with my diet in other areas as I normally would and have been indulging in some high carb food in the form of chocolate with nuts, lots of cashew nuts and some ice-cream and occasional treats. Not huge amounts but probably more than I should have. Also due to injury and unusually wet weather I have not done a lot of aerobic exercise. The result now is that I am a little more than one kilo heavier. Now one kilo is not very much and you can easily be one kilo out on a day to day basis but the measurements are consistent enough to set off some warning bells. Weight = 71.5 kg - average over one week.

I get the feeling that fat has been deposited in the form of visceral fat as my belly seems larger as if fat has built up below the muscle layer. A fat belly is exactly the opposite of what I desire to achieve. My arms, legs and fingers all feel lean and sinewy with just bone, muscle, sinews and skin. Sometimes the wrists and fingers feel frighteningly thin as if there is no padding there whatsoever and I need gloves when doing weights. As men age even the thin ones can retain slim limbs and chest yet develop a pregnant look where visceral fat has built up in the abdomen. This is not a good look and is definitely not healthy.

Now this is in no way scientific as there are so many factors involved but I am going to stop drinking full cream and reducing the amount of cashews, nuts and cheese I eat. Chocolate is off the menu as well.

Time to get back on the wagon. It seems the greatest appetite suppressor is obsession. I can feeling it kicking in now - if leanness is more important than food then you will achieve good results.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Celebrity Demise Again

See the happy picture above? Who would guess that the two on the left are now dead and what a sorry tale it is indeed. I was drawn to this article entitled 'Stress' kills the mother of tragic TV star Mark Speight being attracted to tales of tragic deaths in my search for "life lessons", preferably other peoples ones in order to learn about pitfalls so that I can avoid them.

In short, but you can read the whole thing by clicking on the link above, Mark and Natasha spend an evening drinking, snorting cocaine and taking sleeping pills. She ends up taking a bath in extremely hot water burning sixty per cent of her body and dies then and there. He gets arrested and loses his job. A few days later he hangs himself with his shoe laces and then his mother suffers a stroke and keels over too.

So three people now dead who shouldn't be. What would an Active Survivalist do? Firstly you need to know your limits when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Preferably you should take no drugs and limit alcohol to a level that is beneficial to health. Kinda boring I know but imagine the living hell Mark went through after everything went pear shaped. Drugs put you in great danger of doing things that you wouldn't ordinarily do. Things that are set forever in time and space with no chance of ever changing, things that are sometimes too dreadful to bear. Why expose yourself to such a risk? It's not just yourself who is in mortal danger but those around you as well.

Always keep in mind that everything you do is set in the space time continuum for evermore. Don't end up being an example to others of what not to do for all time. If you can't live with the consequences don't do it - should be obvious really. Actively look ahead and avoid danger in all its forms and give yourself the best chance of survival. A drug taker is not an Active Survivalist.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Man of One Tree Hill

Within walking distance to where I live is a 300 acre park that surrounds and includes an extinct volcanic cone. It is probably one of the best parks in the southern hemisphere and a great place to go jogging and cycling. It is also a working farm with sheep and cattle and chickens wandering about. Once it was the site of a large Maori pa (fortified settlement) and all around there is evidence of their occupation in the form of food storage pits and earth redoubts.

Inside the main crater there are many scoria stones that tend to roll around on the surface. People use these to make their mark on sunny weekends, usually writing their names or leaving a message. I spotted the design above yesterday and had to take a photo for the archives. You can see from the first photo just how large this picture is. It's quite a feat to produce such a large picture with stones. I’m thinking of doing this regularly as there are many different variations of temporary messages created here and probably no one is recording it for history. Sometimes you will see a gem like a large penis. What sort of person would spend so much time and effort creating a stone drawing of a phallus one wonders? On one volcano someone created a huge phallic symbol using weed spray on the grass which was highly visible for weeks - wish I had taken a photo. Nevertheless, very Palaeolithic.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Falling off the Wagon

A lot of people have had a lot of success with losing weight and or increasing fitness levels. Almost as many people have let it all slip away and got back to where they started or ended up in even worse shape. When my weight first blew out and I actively worked on getting it back down again I found it to be much easier than I thought it was going to be. A few months later for some reason I lost my focus and the pounds just started piling back on again and I suspect that in the back of my mind I knew that at any time I could regain my focus and strip it all off again. Yet this proved not to be the case and summoning the willpower to do the hard slog again was much more difficult the second time around. Apparently this is quite common.

So what happens? Winter comes around and suddenly exercise is not such an attractive activity even though exercise is a poor weight control method it still seems an essential component of the healthy living ethos. You get a cold and generally feel miserable. Your joints start to ache and you decide to take a bit of a break from things that turns out to be a break of epic proportions. You binge eat on rubbish that is on special at the local supermarket and somehow never think to stop. You notice the weight going back on but you choose to ignore it or vainly endeavor to maintain weight rather than lose weight. You get the feeling that your body seems to be able to put on weight much more easily than before even though you are also actually eating continuously. You avoid standing on the scales. The task of getting back into shape grows more daunting by the day. Maybe being fat and weak is not so bad after all.

You are now in mortal danger…..time to get back on the program!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Early Celebrity Demise File

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:10

Three score years and ten (70) was the Bible’s calculation for the lifespan of man, noted some three thousand or so years ago. Yet these days dying at around seventy seems too young especially considering all the advantages of modern medicine. Unfortunately we have all the disadvantages of modern diet and misinformation to contend with as well. One wonders what would happen if we married stone-age diet (minus the cannibalism) with modern medicine and carefully controlled exercise. To find the answer to this is impossible now as experiments that involve human longevity take so long to complete so we have to use our best guesses.

Today I note in the news that two entertainment personalities have died at what appears to be too young an age these days yet fulfilling the Biblical prediction. They are Don LaFontaine and Jerry Reed ,shown left and right,respectively, above.

I’m thinking of regularly posting on the demise of well known people and seeing if we can learn something from their deaths that may help with the longevity project.

I note that their deaths were 'natural' and not accidental. The main contributing factor of their deaths appears to be smoking. Both were smokers at some stage in their lives with Reed smoking until the end and LaFontaine had smoked but gave up twenty years ago - even so, he died of complications from a collapsed lung. Here is LaFontaine in his own words:

...the real point of all this is the Genesis of the condition. I was a smoker, on and off, for thirty years. I quit nearly twenty years ago, but that crap has a tendency to lie doggo in your system. It finally caught up with me, and as you've just read - it ain't pretty. For those of you who are in the Voice Over business, and you think that smoking is adding some wonderful quality to your instrument - WAKE UP! Quit! Today! Whoever you are - if you smoke - Stop! All you are adding is garbage to your vocal cords, and a nice deep layer of tar and poison on the linings of your lungs.

I tell you all this, because I need to clear the air, because there has been a lot of speculation out there, and because it should serve as a cautionary tale.

Reed, who had quadruple bypass surgery in 1999, died on Monday of complications arising from emphysema which is a typical smokers disease.

Looking at the pictures it seems both had put on a bit of weight in their later years too and I can’t help wondering if this has contributed to their early demise. Overweight means over nutrition which means that the body never gets a chance to perform the clean up of dead and dying cells. Cancer cells are constantly fed a diet of high glucose, which they love and the body gets tired of regulating the glucose spikes that it has to constantly contend with. Seventy years of this sort of punishment will lead to the body breaking down and refusing to carry on.

Clearly both of these guys broke two of the rules of Active Survival - they smoked and they gained weight in their later years. Reed was 71 and LaFontaine 68. Not bad, but they could have done better and now serve us with their "cautionary tales".

Monday, September 01, 2008

What Would an Active Survivalist Do?

There was a case in New Zealand recently where a young man jumped into a river to save what he thought was a drowning dog only to drown himself and the dog survived. At the funeral there were glowing testimonies about how this young man was so nice in everything he did. He used to spend a lot of time in his room or with his grandmother reading the Bible, always there to help out and never a cross word. I can't remember exactly the details of how good a person he was but it was certainly a tragic waste of a young life. There's a common saying that only the good die young and there is some truth in this. It seems that both ends of the spectrum lead to an early demise, being too good or too evil.

If you do a Google search for people drowning while saving dogs you get quite a few results. For instance:

A man drowned when he jumped into the sea to rescue a dog. His body was pulled from water off Blackpool promenade after a major search by police and coastguards. Link

So what would an Active Survivalist do in this situation? Risking your life to save a dog is clearly not an intelligent option. Indeed dogs are naturally good swimmers and drowning is extremely unlikely. In fact if the dog drowns you have absolutely no chance of surviving in the same conditions. Also, the spectacle of a drowning dog, not something one sees everyday, will ensure that the day is not entirely wasted. Perhaps you could, if you like dogs, get a branch or stick and try and help it out, but I'd be careful, it might be rabid or something.

The lesson in all this is that you don't want to be too good a person. Your obituary should have little to say because hopefully you have out-lived all those that had anything nice to say about you which wasn't much anyway. Can't see anyone at my funeral blathering on about how he loved dogs.......

All you never wanted to know about saving drowning dogs

Step 1d: As a last resort, swim to the dog. Protect yourself. Bring something for the dog to cling to or climb on and be pulled to shore.

Yeah right.

Step 5d: Alternately (after 30 seconds), hold the dog's mouth and lips closed and blow firmly into its nostrils.

I don't think so!