Don’t Fall Into The Reward Trap

One of the biggest yet hardest traps to see in one’s fitness journey is the self-reward.

You worked out, hurray, you’re so pleased with yourself – and plus you’ve made room on the caloric budget of it – so you go ahead and have a soda, feeling good about it.

I’m falling into that bad again myself these days. I have a lot of free time in the afternoon after I’ve run all my miles in the morning. What started as eating indulgent food as a little celebration turned into joyless habit pretty quick and bam, I was insidiously back on the standard garbage diet.

For one, we do need to eat, so the work-around for that is planning what you eat long before you’re hungry. When we’re hungry our bodies start urging us toward the most energy dense foods available. So – as I’m going to say in another post I’m working on – Don’t Let Yourself Get Too Hungry.

Part two of that is basing your meals on nutritional needs rather than your sense of caloric need, at least to start with. Meaning, I know I need 3 eggs in a day for choline, I need pumpkins seeds for magnesium, I need beet juice for nitric oxide, etc etc etc. I choose the foods in the house based on filling some nutritional requirement rather simply liking them. And if I’ve had all the healthy stuff I know I need everyday and I’m still hungry I’ll have an indulgent snack. With all the bases covered it’s at least enough food that you won’t over do it.

Controversial opinion – meaning I don’t know where I stand on this really – I think having a treat in the house is a good idea. I’ve found that with nothing sweet in the house I end up buying snacks on the way home. Which means I’m buying them while hungry which is bad and they’re not budgeted for, meaning I’m wasting money. Having cookies in the house may be a good way of telling yourself there’s no need to pick something up while you’re out and once you’re home it’s easier to say you’ll have the cookies after all other nutritional bases are covered.

This is based on the fact that knowledge of beer in the fridge at home was one of the few things that could ease the craving to stay for pints after work back in that day.

And speaking of, don’t reward yourself with booze.

What I think is important is don’t reward yourself at all. The work out was the reward, the health is the reward, practice sitting with those feelings and being okay. The idea that when you feel good you have to consume something in order to heighten it is never going to help you. It’s going to leave you forever chasing.

The best thing you can do is take that celebratory instinct and turn it into motivation. Feel great after a work out? Clean the house. And I know it’s tough when you’re feeling up to do a thing that seems so down but if you can create momentum, striking while the iron is hot so to speak, then you’ll strongly ingrain good habits.

Because the other trap I’m falling into right now is the idea that I’ve done enough for the day. I come home from the gym by 10 in the morning and for some reason the work part of my brain will not activate. Like my work-relax balance is supposed to be set at 4 hours to 12 hours.

This is shifting away from the purpose of the post so maybe I’ll pick it up next time but I notice that the downside of being a morning person is that morning doesn’t really last long. There’s some mental window that closes for me at, like, 11am and suddenly I have inertia to anything I should do.

I’ll explore that further another time, for today remember to be careful how you reward yourself. Is it thinking you’ve earned¬†hours of junk food and video games with minutes of exercise or is it embracing the inner feeling of being a badass?

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Videos I Liked This Week

Starting with a sad one. I’ve watched Buff Dudes for a while and I saw the surgery and the recovery and now he’s all clear to start working out again. But it’s so clear he’s emotionally struggling, he mentions depression several times and the pep talk he’s giving the audience is really him talking to himself. It can be so much easier to be positive when giving advice to someone else than when we’re alone in our heads.

 

Tom Delauer of course, he does 3 or 4 videos a week I’m bound to like one. And this one it’s just ’cause he acknowledges that keto is trendy and talks about where to go from here. That’s practical non-optimism right there. Keto isn’t going to take over the world but it’s popularity will have done some good.

 

 

This chap I just found likeable. He’s clearly already very athletic if his first training run is 8 miles and he’s skiing all the time so his first marathon time is a good 3:30. There’s a recklessness that I like in the way he signs up and trains that takes the looming fear out of the marathon.

 

and of course of course What I Learned, the best videos on the Tube. Watch anything of his I swear.

Testosterone Levels In Female Athletes, The Ruling Comes Down

Caster Semenya will have to suppress her testosterone to keep competing as a sprinter. (CBC Article)

This echoes something I was saying when I wrote about the The Virility Paradox, eventually we may have to organize sport not by gender but by hormone.

It’s not fair to Caster to have to medically dial down her natural athleticism and it’s not fair for others to have to compete against someone who has testosterone levels as high as someone doping testosterone.

But this ethical question then has to be applied to other sports as well. Dean Karnazes, one of the greatest runners in the world for those new to the blog, mentions in his TedTalk that he’s been examined and found that his body clears the by-product of exertion (commonly called lactic acid but is actually hydrogen ions) at an absurdly efficient rate. Or there was a runner mentioned in what I was reading last night, a multiple record holder who simply had the highest max heart rate ever seen. What do we do about them?

Even deeper though we have to ask what is the point of sport? What question are we seeking to answer by having people run arbitrary distances or score meaningless points?

Near as I can tell we’re trying to answer who trained better. That’s why it’s not okay to get a technological or chemical advantage that lessens the work of training. You can hire a coach and that gives you an advantage – their knowledge as opposed to your own – but the training workload still falls on you, we still declare that you earned the victory.

But then really someone who trained badly – ran themselves into the ground with overtraining while you recovered – should actually earn the victory. If it were purely about who worked harder.

Like I’ve said this is a bigger question than I can answer and I could write about it all day without getting to anything so I’ll let it go…

Book Review: The Longevity Paradox Part 2

Diving right back in my book mark on page 198 I’ll just block quote this bit

It turns out that the real anti-inflammatory compounds made from DHA and EHA (two types of Omega-3s) in fish oil are called resolvins, and these guys are the superheroes of blocking inflammation in your nerves and eyes. But here’s the caveat: you need a little bit of the active ingredient in aspirin (salicylic acid) to get these effects.

with a quick google I found there’s a lot of foods (green vegetables and nuts) that contain salicylic acid, including my beloved pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are the new walnut, they are good for everything.

Moving on, he talks about glucosamine acting as a lectin blocker. Good, because I take glucosamine, specifically he singles out glucosamine MSM.

My next bookmark is a reminder to get 1000mg of DHA per day and a little note to sprinkle some rosemary on fish. Ultimately Gundry wants you vegan but I guess if you’re not he’s still at bat for you.

And my final bookmark is his liver protection supplement stack and he particularly mentions while fasting; milk thistle, D-limonene, dandelion, N-acetylcysteine, activated charcoal, and chlorella.

I’ve never heard of two of those and spellcheck doesn’t think 3 of them are words.

So that’s all my bookmarks. I’m tempted to go through the book cover-to-cover again, there’s a lot of information in it but a lot of it boils down to expensive and rare food and supplements.

I do think everyone should read this book but not first, it’s not intro-level clean eating. Someone still eating packaged food and whatnot is just going to balk at this and reinforce their bad habits.

What is intro-level? I still give it up to Clean Eating For Dummies, read that then Brain Food by Lisa Mosconi, then maybe you’re ready for the Longevity Paradox.

 

Book Review: The Longevity Paradox Part 1

By Steven R. Gundry, M.D, subtitle How To Die Young At A Ripe Old Age.

First of all just oy. This book is a downer. I said when I was reading Food Prescription that the book wasn’t much help if you were already eating clean anyways, well there’s no such thing as clean enough for old Gundry.

I was baffled during the first 3/4 of the book wondering what was left to eat after he hates on meat, grain, dairy, sugar, beans, corn, and marathons. I know that’s not food related but I was just mortified that he disapproves of marathons.

Now there is good stuff in the book – I don’t think he’s wrong about anything I just think it’s asking too much – and I did takeaway a lot about fasting, which was the chapter that convinced me to buy the book.

The simplest takeaway on that is you want to be sure to go to bed hungry at least once a week, for your brain-health. This got me to switch from a 24 hour fast on Mondays (Dinner Sunday to Dinner Monday) to a 36 (dinner Sunday to breakfast Tuesday). And I do feel mentally clearer on Tuesday because of it.

So that’s my top-of-the-head introductory thoughts, let’s get into the bookmarks I actually left. There’s ten.

Oh he’s got me afraid of glyphosate, thank you. In case you thought being plant-based was enough it’s got to be organic plant-based otherwise you’re getting as much dangerous garbage in your system as an omnivore.

Lectins and auto-immune get a lot of coverage. I knew lectins were bad and about breaking down the lining of your intestine but apparently they also leak out of your gut, attach to your organs, and get attacked by your immune system damaging the organ in the process.

So that’s why he’s anti-bean, but I’ve heard elsewhere that proper cooking destroys the lectin in beans. Lectin is however in every packaged food I’ve seen recently. Whenever I get too in my head about how there’s this killer stuff in every food and oh no I have to avoid everything I remind myself that smokers still exist.

You can smoke, the absolute worst possible thing one can do from a health perspective, for decades, not feel awful, and clean up the damage in a few years. Life is for living and health shouldn’t make you hide.

But do cut down your lectin intake. And don’t smoke, obviously.

Still in the same chapter (called Protect and Defend) there’s talk about the importance of stomach acid. Most bacteria hate it and it keeps them in the intestine where they belong. If you too often neutralize it, particularly with other the counter heartburn medication, they can creep up and you get SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) which is bad, and/or autoimmune which is worse. And apparently drinking a baking soda solution is the, well, solution. Although no further detail is given.

Oh, the next book mark is on the next page and it’s the dreaded Thing Worse Than Gluten! Wheat Germ Agglutinin known as WGA because agglutinin is unpronounceable with any dignity. This little molecule has come across my desk before and convinced me that even the healthiest bread isn’t healthy. It gets through the gut barrier and causes inflammation but worse still it mimics insulin.

This explains how I was eating brown bread every day with as many added ancient grains as possible and still looking pre-diabetic in 2017.

Back to the bookmarks though we’re into a chapter called Dance Your Way To Old Age but really we’re still in the gut biome. This is where he gets anti-marathon. He’s against both acute endurance exercise like marathon running (or even halfs and 10ks) and so called chronic cardio.

Besides the heart scarring effects which I knew about and have written about there’s the effect on the gut. Long form exercise draws blood away from the stomach for so long that bad things go wild and it tanks your immune system, hence why runners are sick all the time and have digestive issues according to Dr Gundry.

But there’s got to be a work around. I was thinking about this on the treadmill when I ran my 3 10k intervals two days ago and noticed I’d get a chill after every handful of Smarties. Drawing blood away from the surface muscles and back to the gut, I figured.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the health consequences of running and it’s important to remember that it’s not equally bad to anything else. I’m going to write another dedicated post about it but there’s a nihilist dismissiveness that everyone suddenly gets when you talk about cancer. Oh everything gives you cancer is the common refrain. Because as evidence mounts and more and more seemingly fun things get seemingly taken away people just throw their hands up. But health isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being better. Yes, smoking and bacon will both increase your likely of getting cancer, but not equally. Yes, running and not running are both bad for you in excess amounts in long term studies, but not equally.

This is where I’m going to break the review in half so I don’t go down the bubble-living argument rabbit hole… see you tomorrow, unless too much awesome running kills me.

Weight-loss Grants Are Dumb And Such A Good Idea

Because no one but worker bees listens to the radio anymore you might not have heard the ads for Weight-Loss Grants but they’re close to what they sound like. It’s actually a company that will rebate you some money for losing weight on any program you want and some more money if you lose that weight with one of their approved companies.

So yeah they’re meh.

I like the idea though. The money and time cost of being sick later because of being overweight will always be more than the investment of getting and staying healthy. From a government or a companies point of view it’s better to invest a thousand dollars while you’re living than ten thousand dollars when you’re dying.

From a private company point of view maybe something like a Marathon Bonus and for the government a Marathon Tax Credit to reward and incentivize a running population.

The company I work for will subsidize the cost of a gym membership 100% for some level of employees but that just makes it a take-it-or-leave-it thing, what if they also had a No-Sick-Days bonus or a Can-Dead-Lift-The-Most-In-The-Office incentive to make people want to go to the gym?

I’m trying to think of a way to incentivize good eating but it’s all analogous to drug testing and that’s a slippery slope I don’t want to come down on.

Where I work there’s a struggle to keep people sober before big days but there’s no effort to get them to not eat crap everyday that makes them sick. In fact trying to be healthy at my workplace is a hard swim upstream (so kudos to all my peeps bringing their own lunches and stuff).

At the end of the day I don’t think most people know what it feels like to live clean, even slightly. They think of fitness in terms of wanting to be thin and sexy but it being too much work and that’s that. When really being thin and sexy is one of the last of a million benefits you’ll notice with a few minor changes and some time. People think they feel as good as they’re going to because they’re always acquiescing to their cravings. But some incentives could get them on the slippery slope, get the dopamine flowing in the right direction, and we’d all be better off even if economics was all you cared about.

The Day After Fasting Again

Progress.

The key to avoiding crashy, mental and physical fatigue the day after a fast is to fast longer.

When I fasted for 24 hours, ate, and went to bed full I felt like crap the next day. When I fasted for 36 hours, going to bed still fasting, I felt perky and rejuvenated the next day.

The next thing to watch out for, and everyone online has talked about this too, is eating too much and too permissively the day after.

Your sense of smell and your cravings for everything are unnaturally the day after fasting and it’s kind of fun, you feel like celebrating. I was doing great, eating paleo and slightly more than normal until there was pizza in the staff room left over from catering. I had one and then just started wolfing.

My tummy… did not like. But I burped enough and felt better. The real trouble was after I had a jugo juice and came home and had a protein shake. Then my stomach went full rebellion.

But it also passed and I had some dinner and went to bed.

I’m going to try moving my fast day throughout the week. I love getting everything done on Monday in order to have a strong week but fasting seems to throw off the building blocks, like it’s Wednesday now and I feel like everything is settled and normal and the week can start.

Friday might be a good day, everything’s easier when you can see the end and it’ll cut down on weekend indulgences. And I really don’t think any mid-week day is ideal but I’ll give it a shot just for something to do.