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.

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Torn Between Two Kinds Of Running

Let’s call them Methodical and Spiritual but really it’s a matter of treadmill or outdoor.

As anyone who reads me knows, I love treadmills.

Running outdoors is how I started though, I used to have no purpose to running other than to get out in the air and sunlight every morning. It’s hard for me to fathom right now but the first times people asked me what distances I was running I was proud to say I didn’t know.

Being methodical about time and distance and races and improvement and workifying the whole thing came later.

Sidenote: I just finished Jog On by Bella Mackie and that’s what reminded me.

I used to run to feel free and now I run to feel disciplined.

All day I’ve been bouncing back and forth with increasing despair about whether I should run from here to the Peace Bridge and back or if I should go hit the treadmill and bang out the 3 10k intervals that’s on my list.

Running to the bridge and back would be spiritually nourishing I’m sure but I instantly dread the fact that I’m not getting any work done if I do that. It feels fanciful. The distance is vague and the times will be even more so. I’ll probably fall into a too-casual pace and not really get the work done.

And the treadmill seems so damn convenient. All the water and snacks I want without having to carry them and changing music is super easy, while every minute and kilometer is measured and certain.

You know what though? Ultimately the treadmill is what I want to do, the free run is what I feel like I should do. Backward from the way a lot of runners feel, I know, but that’s why I’m torn. I’m beating myself up for choosing what I like over what seems harder even though in this case they’re both perfectly viable training methods.

Thanks for talking this out with me, blog.

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.

Evolution Isn’t On Your Side

Let’s think about lions. Big, majestic, powerful, symbolic-as-fuck lions.

People get tattoos of male lions and it seems foolish. It’s female lions that do the the hunting and killing, usually of babies.

Male lions with their big ol’ manes just sleep and fuck. They fight each other pointlessly if they have to. They kill babies of their own species to make the women ovulate so only their genes will make it to the next generation then they sleep some more to conserve energy because they only get meals two days a week.

From a human standard that’s a terrible life, that’s basically life in a crack house.

Yet it’s what evolution has deemed the pinnacle. Evolution wants you to eat enough to make babies and be prepared to fight off others who might want to make babies.

Why are people fat and lazy? Because they won at evolution.

Doing anything more than mere humanity is extra-evolutionary. Reading, writing, working out, finding love or happiness or inventing Netflix means going over your drives, being better than your instincts.

In fact your instincts are working against you. Hyper-palatable food, over-sleeping, fear of injury, watching porn, these are all things playing on our instincts that do more harm than good.

And yet we’re dismissive when someone says This Isn’t Enough For Me. We call them selfish or entitled, we craft narratives about how rich people are unhappy and attractive people have eating disorders. There’s an opposite grass-is-always-greener effect where people convince themselves and others that things are the same over there as they are here. Drunks tell each other that if they sober up they’ll have no friends and be addicted to AA.

Effortless people, people who aren’t playing the game, often feel like they’ve been cheated, they’ve been deprived of something. They put in nothing and got nothing out and it stings, so they assume that people putting in more must be getting even more nothing.

But something happens when you take control of your life, of your body, of your time – it doesn’t make you happy but it makes the unhappiness not sting. When you get something – some weight loss, some muscle gain, some running ability, some skill, some knowledge, some thing, it comes with a new set of problem but they don’t bring you down because you already went from nothing to something so surely you can go from something to something better.

You either overcome or you underachieve.

And the biggest evolutionary trap is being like your peers.

Birds of a feather flock together but we’re not birds, we change to suit our tribes. We all know about suicide contagion – the fact that one suicide within a group raises the odds of other members doing it – but did you know it’s true of obesity too? If one of your friends gets fat you start gaining weight. Maybe that’s one more reason our culture is so brutally judgemental of the overweight.

Luckily, we live in the era of the parasocial relationship and you can be faux-peers with whoever you want. Which is sad because… instagram.

And luckily-er the information to correct all the evolutionary traps out there is readily available.

Unluckily-er most of us don’t know we’re doing things wrong. We’re in the evolutionary comfort zone and don’t know we’re poorly compensating.

For example I over-pronated my feet. My ankles and calves would compensate and I walked feeling just fine for 30 years. Until I started running. Running didn’t cause an injury it revealed – it diagnosed – a lazy compensation mechanism.

And we all do it, not just for physical things but mental and emotional ones as well.

Telling yourself you’ll figure something out later, when you can, means when you have to.

And someday you’ll find you waited most of your life for something and then it passed you by because you weren’t ready. You never really got to be where you wanted but somehow you still feel like you’ve been replaced.

You lived like a lion.

Book Review: This Is Day One by Drew Dudley (part 2)

Diving back in…

Page 161. He talks about stacking victorious days – which is something I’ve felt – but he says and no one can take that away from me which hit me in the feels. Because, yes, yes they can.

Just to use a super light example: Remember when Mr. Burns is staying with the Simpsons so Marge can paint his portrait? Homer, struggling to lose weight, is happy with himself for having lost some weight and Marge, ever the supportive partner, cheers him on for his modest accomplishment. Then Mr. Burns is so gleefully cynical and demeaning that Homer is ashamed to have been happy and goes to cry in the fridge.

People can easily, sometimes without trying or knowing it, take away your pride, your accomplishments, your sense of self, and I don’t know for certain how to inoculate against it. Most people do it by telling themselves a story about their bully where it has nothing to do with them, the victim. The bully is just a hater, they’re jealous, they’re cruel, they had a bad childhood. We make them into an unreliable narrator so that what they says something about them not about us.

Which is fine. If it works, it works.

Page 165. Still in the Self-Respect chapter, he talks about the phrase everything happens for a reason and how, like me, he hates it. It discounts the strength we had to come through whatever tribulations we’re talking about.

I think it’s a case of protagonist thinking. In a story, written by an omniscient author, a character does go through trials for a reason and to become something greater. In life however comforting that thought maybe, it’s not true. The chaos of life makes us stronger – if it makes us stronger – because we authored that strength. Life is happening in real time and you’re brain is wired to see you as the good guy, the learner of lessons, and to get to a new normal no matter what.

Don’t be passive and let things”happen” for “a reason”. Steer The Ship.

Final dog ear page 175. Only Hurt People Hurt Other, it’s the header of the sub-chapter. And he talks about how we can’t forgive because we want to win.

I’ve been there, I am there. Staying angry feels like not accepting defeat, like maybe you can come out on top against the people who hurt you, eventually.

It’s why forgiveness, acceptance, and letting it go (do we have a single word for that?), are 3 shades of the same thing but each unique. I can let things go – when the effort of staying actively mad is more than any possible pay off to the situation. Because in the past I’ve painted myself into a corner by having to stay officially angry. I’ve accepted people – I had a friend who was difficult, impossible even, to work with but he has a mental illness and I thought consciously that it’s always up to me to make room for him to be him. Because while his brain is trying to help him just like everyone’s is, it’s helping in a dysfunctional way and if I, on the outside, can see that then it’s my responsibility or at least my capability to help. Then I thought if I can do that for him it’s only fair that I do it for neurotypical people as well.

So that’s how I learned to accept people. Forgiveness though… I think the closest of come to forgiveness is the opposite of what I said about story-telling to oneself about bullies. The closest I’ve come to forgiving someone is to tell myself a story where their trespass wasn’t really against me, wasn’t really malicious. But I think that’s still more a case of letting it go rather than forgiveness.

On the topic of only hurt people hurt people there’s a phrase I’ve been dying to break down. We all know, and we all should cringe at, the phrase you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. Expressing self-love is hard for decent people and those who are quite comfortable with it are unbearable assholes.

But I think it’s important to remember that if you can’t stop hurting yourself you will hurt others, including the people you care about.

Overall this is a good book and I’ve put it’s ideas into practice, like asking oneself questions rather than stating goals as a means to ensure progress. Do something to show my girlfriend I love her is easy to write down and intend to do but what did I do today to show my girlfriend I love her makes you examine your actions on a daily basis and deal with the days that you just forgot or felt too busy. Because if you call something a priority and then get too busy – it wasn’t your priority.

Book Review: This Is Day One by Drew Dudley (part 1)

You should read this book if you’re feeling disorganized and unmotivated, or like your goals are on the other side of an intangible barrier (like they’re going to happen someday but you don’t what the signal will be that someday has arrived).

If that’s all the takeaway you need (that I recommend this book to people who feel that certain way) then go in peace, otherwise I’ve got 7 dog ears and let’s get started:

Page 18. He’s talking about his narrow world view during his time as an ideal student; You find out what the person at the head of the class (a teacher or any kind of authority) and you give it to them. Preferably better than anyone else in class.

This touches on two things for me. One is that it reminded me my work so often resembles an elementary school and a number of people prefer it that way and model that behaviour.

And two, I’ve seen this kind of small-pond syndrome a lot. Some people want to get ahead in life and some people just want to get ahead in the group their in. Whatever group it is. You can make anyone a judge (like a hot guy or girl) and then ‘beat’ your friends for their approval (by flirting with them). Like it doesn’t matter how much they can lift objectively, as long as they can lift more than someone else.

The problem with that is when you reach the top of whatever little heap you’re in, you don’t want to go be middle of the pack somewhere else. You stop growing and you try to stop your peers from moving on as well because if they leave there’s no one under you to hold your ego skyward.

It’s a sign of emptiness. Of not truly being oneself, only oneself in relation to others. I’ve seen it in myself when I feel like I have nothing special going on. Someone’s putting out their first graphic novel and suddenly, deeply, I want to put out a graphic novel. Then I remind myself that no, I have literally never wanted that, and I need to stay on my own course and find accomplishments of my own.

Dudley learns that same lesson, he spent so much time being the perfect student he didn’t grow into the ability to be his own master. Til later of course and wrote this book.

Page 74. Confidence versus Courage. Confidence can be faked, says Dudley, whereas courage can only be displayed through action.

This barely needs explanation as to why I’d write about it, it’s obviously good. I’ve written in the past about how I’m annoyed with people who project themselves, confidently, into tough situations and assume they’d handle it glowingly meanwhile they never practice their courage day to day. How can you expect to muster up a skill you’ve never had before when you need? People picture all the game-winning free throws and foiled bank robbers because it feels good to imagine them but they don’t do the first thing, the little things, that are between here and there.

Confidence can be faked, it can be a lie, but real confidence can be just as dangerous. If you’re confident an event is going to go well then you don’t look for how it might not, you blindside yourself. Rather than be confident, be humble – acknowledge the skills you have and how you’ve worked for them without thinking they are you, and you’ve somehow become infallible.

This will get rantier and rantier, movin’ on.

Page 91. Still on courage, this is about how a lot of people are terrified of public speaking. I’m not, I thrive.

And I think of it just like writing, people say I’m good at it (public performance and writing) and always say they can’t do it. When you look back you’ll see that’s two different things. It’s not you’re good and I’m bad or you can and I can’t it’s you’re good because I can’t.

I may or may not be good, everyone’s feelings including my own may change on that periodically, but I am able. I’ve worked through whatever the thing is that stops people entirely. And I think that thing is people talk themselves out of it, thinking they’re being careful. But the danger one feels with public speaking or writing isn’t real. All nervousness isn’t danger.

158. Dudley was so overweight during a trip to an amusement park he was told ‘the ride cannot accommodate your dimensions, sir’

First of all my heart breaks for everyone in that situation. I’d have counselors on hand for both people, imagine being told that or having to tell somebody…

But Dudley’s point is that he had, once again, let his weight get out of control. And the once again part is crucial. I said to a friend once that having quit smoking before makes it less likely you’ll stay quit, not more. When you’ve done the hard part of something once you don’t want to do it again, you feel like you’ve earned the outcome. But you tell yourself you could. You’re certain you could. Drop of a hat you could reconstitute that discipline. And you will. Tomorrow.

I see my drinking friends trying to rack up 30 days of sobriety and every day they break off the start day and tack it on at the end. Instead of starting today and the goal being 30 days away, they’ll drink today and start tomorrow and the goal is only 31 days away, that’s no big deal. And they do this, one day at a time, for weeks or months. It’s always Day Zero, never Day One. But they feel close enough to the work and the goal that they don’t feel bad either. The feeling that one is going to change is enough to take away the feeling that one has to change.

We’re nearing a thousand words so I’ll do a part two…

 

 

My Half Of An Argument On Why If You Don’t Like Running Something Is Wrong With You

The Bros and I were talking after squash the other day and one of them disagreed with me that human beings are wired to enjoy running and if you don’t it’s because something is blocking that enjoyment.

I know what you’re thinking; how goddamn dare he and I’m obviously right. Thank you for thinking that, everybody.

Naturally the discussion didn’t end when we got off the train and fist-bumped our good byes, it rattled on and on in my head every day since. I talk to myself about it while running.

And that’s how blogs are born. That’s the blog-stork in action.

So here’s my thesis statement that if you disagree with you’re wrong: Going back, back back in human history til it’s pre-human history and you find the earliest possible things that we could identity with and they would eat, fuck, and run. Run from predators and after prey, run to survey ground, run to play as growing young like the young of all species use play to develop adult skills. And they’d ‘enjoy’ those things in the evolutionary sense because being better at them and doing them more would pass on one’s genes. That’s all we’d have in common. We’d otherwise look different, smell different, fear different things, whatever.

Let’s look at the other two things on the list, eating and sex. Starting with sex because. Everyone has sexual expression (if one wanted to argue that not loving running was as anomalous as asexuality I’d accept) and if someone has blockage between themselves and that expression we assume it’s trauma or shame or physical ailment.

Whatever your thing is for sex a progressive society basically wants you to have it. There’s surely a chat room for you at least. If droves of people were saying I hate sex, it’s just not for me we’d try to help them get to a purer, unadulterated, expression of their sexual selves. We want you to grow into a healthy sexual expression and if someone messes that up for you bad enough we put them in jail.

With athletic self expression we’re like yeah some people just don’t like it. And if cruel coaches and jocks and negligent parents warp what could be a healthy and enjoyable expression for you, no one goes to jail or is even shunned.

My completely moderate opinion is that if you ruin someone’s relationship to their body in any way we should bring back stoning.

As a society we’re more likely to mock someone for being overly athletic or a health nut than not athletic at all (fat shaming being a totally different issue because I’m talking about mockery not cruelty, fat shamers should also be stoned). That’s like saying wow you’re too comfortable with your sexuality and knowing how to communicate it with your partners, ho ho, cocktail party laughter.

And Food. The other thing we all have to engage with and enjoy. People have different preferences you say, just like some people don’t like avocados some people might not like running and that’s not a flaw that’s diversity.

But we’re not different or diverse underneath and that’s my actual point. Our bodies all have wants and needs built in. We all need protein, some fats, and basically the same vitamins to not die. You don’t have scurvy for the same reason I don’t have scurvy, no preferences involved. The expression of how you don’t get scurvy is up to you and can be a preference but not your body’ desire to not get scurvy.

Your body has a desire to move, built in from an ancient history of running, that is as real as it’s desire not to get scurvy. Now maybe your expression isn’t marathon running but even if it’s climbing (which is really extreme, vertical, running) or dancing (which is running made symbolic and pointless) the underlying evolutionary drive toward it is real and is in everyone unless they have a dysfunction that we should be striving to alleviate.

This has been my perfectly reasonable rant on the subject so I can go on with my life.