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How Do YOU Stimulate Yourself?

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment
DNA, RNA, transcription, translation,

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Hey Folks,

In a previous post I mentioned how animals in captivity have shortened lifespans and a whole slew of other problems.  Today we’re going to delve into the guiding principles of health, and why the oneswe’re currently using don’t work.

The human body is designed to respond and adapt to the stimuli with which you provide it.  That stimulus can be either genetically congruent, or it can be genetically incongruent.  Whether you believe in evolution, creation or any mix of the two, this guiding principle applies to you.

So what type of stimuli am I speaking of, that are causing you to adapt?  The stimuli I’m speaking of includes everything from where you are, to what you do and think.  To avoid chaos and bad science we need a guiding principle, to direct the stimuli you experience and to help us make intelligent choices with regard to those experiences.  How about evolution for a guiding principle?  If we use consider the things we do in life, are they consistent with the actions we have evolved to go?  Genetics appears to be the new culprit for poor health, but do you think that over the millions of years of our evolution that poor genes that made us sick were more successful at being passed onto the next generation than healthy genes?  Would it make any sense that your body was directed through tens of thousands of generations to sabotage you when you least expect it?  This is what we’re being taught and exposed to all day everyday.  Many drug companies claim that they are only indicated when other forms of treatment have not worked.  Lately it appears that step has been skipped over, and we’ve all assumed it won’t work.  Adusting your lifestyle is the ONLY thing that will make you healthier.  Taking medications will change your symptoms or lab values and you and your MD can celebrate those values, but you aren’t any healthier, that’s for certain. 

For just a moment, let’s pretend that you are the proud owner of the perfect genes.  If you were consuming a diet high in processed carbohydrates, vegetable oils, and grain fed meats.  You didn’t have any physical activity for the day, and you sleep poorly.  Do you think that your perfect genetics are making a mistake when they decide to upregulate the genes that lead to increased LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and a down regulation of the proteins responsible for producing the insulin receptors on cells?  Or is your DNA just responding to the stimulus that you’re providing it?

If you believe it isn’t a mistake, and that it happened for a reason – would it make any sense to you to take a drug that prevents your body from being able to react to the stimuli you provide it?

I’m willing to bet you said “no” to that question.  But that’s what we’re doing with our current health and wellness model.  High cholesterol?  Who cares WHY it’s happening, continue to eat crap and take statins.  Little to no midline stability?  Forget correcting posture and how you move, do crunches until your face goes numb.  Depressed? Don’t worry about changing your lifestyle, it has nothing to do with you, it’s serotonins fault!

We are stuck in the one cure for one ill model, and we’re slowly being convinced that any inadequacies in our lives have nothing to do with us!  I’m sorry to tell you this, but you aren’t as unique as you think you are.  As homo sapiens we have the same genes as our ancestors from 40,000 year ago.  They’re all in there.  What we do with our lives is what affects how they’re expressed.  The diversity of people on the planet is a good example of the many different ways our genes can be expressed.  Can you think of anyone that exercise is BAD for?  That eating high quality, organic, free range food would be bad for some people and good for others?  That getting adequate sleep would be bad for some people?  That smiling and laughing is bad?

How can there be things that are good for EVERYONE?  Because we’re all designed to be healthy, happy, successful humans.  Full stop.  Your body can’t help but express crap if you feed it with crap.  It also can’t help but express excellence if you provide it with excellence.  Too much sitting is just as toxic as too much gluten.  Proper diet is just as important as getting exercise and sleeping well.  We need to give up the “I have this problem that requires that solution”, and embrace the, “am I living in a way that will best allow my DNA to express health?”.

What are you providing your body?  Are you feeding in crap and expecting excellence?   Take stock in what you’re doing well for yourself and celebrate it.  Acknowledge what you aren’t and plan a way to address it.  There is always a better you out there, waiting to be experienced.  Don’t get lost among the shiny promises of the one problem-one solution people!

What are you doing?

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

More importantly, why are you doing it?

Very frequently exercise discussions turn ugly and people get defensive, but this only seems to happen when people feel that the way they spend their time in the gym is being questioned. Before you get upset, do you question it yourself?

What I mean by this is, why do you do what you do, in the gym? Is your exercise supporting your goal? If your goal is to compete in an iron man triathlon, your time might be well spent practicing swimming, biking and running, in various lengths and environments. Training your 1 rep max deadlift or clean and jerk aren’t a terrible idea, but probably aren’t serving the ironman triathlete well in supporting their goal. On the other side of the coin, plugging in a 5k run everyday isn’t going to help someone increase their powerlifting or olympic total (or help with runs that are any length other than 5k). These are obviously only 2 simple examples.

When you tell me today is “chest and arms” day, unless you’re in a body building program, I don’t know what goal you’re working toward.  Tell me what your goal is and we will evaluate whether or not you are effectively working towards achieving it.  Simply spending time “doing the machines” or plugging away on the elliptical aren’t an efficient way to work toward your goals.

Always keep in mind the stimulus your training is putting on your body. Your body and its cells don’t know that you want to “get lean” any better than it knows that you want to “bulk up”. The only way to tell your body what you’re trying to do is to provide the appropriate stimulus and environment toward that goal.

As far as the exercise side of this equation goes, it isn’t a new idea that the good stuff of exercise is in the intensity. By intensity I mean YOUR intensity, because some very stupid workouts could be considered “intense”. I’m talking about the intensity directed at an appropriate stimulus. Whether it’s the intensity of a heavy squat, the intensity of the last 500 meters of a 10k trail run or the last round of Fran, it’s putting effort into something you know is going to be difficult. It’s that intense effort that tells your body “next time it’s going to be heavier/shorter/faster”. And in return, your body will respond to that stimulus and you improve.

So, you can’t get upset if you aren’t reaching your goals when the exercise you’re doing does not effectively direct you toward achieving them.  Have a plan.  Make sure it effectively supports your goal and then stick to it.  I believe it is Dan John who said, “the plan is to keep the plan the plan”.

Simple?  Yes.  Easy?  No.  But anything worth having is worth working for.

You’re an Animal

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Jones runs and plays like a free dog would.

Not in the wild, beast-like manner that you may be thinking, but you are most definitely an animal.  And you are meant to live like a human being.

Ok. So now you may be thinking, “Adam is being weird, why do I even read this blog”.   But my point is, we aren’t really free.  If you take into consideration how we live, it’s very similar to animals in captivity.  We spend most of our lives inside a box, whether it be a house, a cubicle, or even a car. This is not a good set up.

Let’s consider any animal in captivity. They get frustrated, they act out of the ordinary for their species, they don’t even want to mate with each other. When they do it actually makes headlines, “_________ animal has cute baby!”. Kind of ridiculous, however, does it remind you of anyone you know?

“I can’t seem to get to sleep at night anymore!

“My libido isn’t what it used to be”

“We’ve been trying to have children for a year now”

“I keep gaining weight despite eating ‘well'”

I could continue forever. These complaints are usually accompanied with stuff like

“I’ve been working hard, putting in a lot of hours at the office”

“Man, I’m so stressed out about _______”

“Did you see the late, late show last night???”

These people aren’t being the human they were designed to be.  Think about those animals again.  When they are taken out of captivity and allowed to go back to their native environment, (excluding those who have been raised by captive animals with copious human intervention), they thrive!  While my first sentence in this paragraph sounds almost philosophical, it is meant to be read more seriously.  We need to move, eat, and think like we are designed to.  We’re captive.  No wonder we suffer from these common problems (infertility, obesity, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression).  Your genetics are responsible for your problems just as much as they are for your successes.  Live in a way that your genetics are designed to react optimally to.

We’ll dive into the “how”s and “why”s of this subject more at a later date. For now I want you to start thinking about the parallels between the problems that animals in captivity live with, and the common complaints you hear from people.  After that, consider the ways in which you are being held “captive” and what you’d do different if you were “free”.

All the best everyone!  Have a great Thanksgiving.