If you’re new to this corner of the health and fitness blogosphere:
- Start with the StarterPage.
- Check out the “About” page.
- Check out my First Six Weeks.
- For the basis of my dietary beliefs – Eat This, Not That Redux
- Directly to the right is a list of recent posts.
- Explore the links in the “blogroll” on the right sidebar.
- Cruise around and check out any of the posts you find interesting. The Manic Monday posts are popular.
Don’t forgot to follow @engrevo on twitter!
April 15, 2011
I’m now the Fitness and Health Expert for MasculON, where I’m putting together a comprehensive course teaching you how to quickly and efficiently better your physique, then maintain that and perfect your health for the rest of your life.
Check out the Masculon Fitness Course Here. It’s Fantastic.
November 4, 2013
I have a new website. It’s awesome, and you’ll like it.
I have a bit built up over there – expect more soon. Add it to your RSS reader.
I will still post stuff here some times, when the topic at hand doesn’t fit neatly into the no-BS, implementation-driven vibe over there.
April 2, 2012
You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much. I got a great new job at a start-up – I love it but the loooong hours are not conducive to frequent posting. No promise of that changing any time soon. Sorry.
However, I will drop in with interesting tidbits from time to time. I’ve received a few emails recently asking me some variation of “which is worse?”, so here’s a list.
The standard, proven offenders, in order of most malicious to least. Keep in mind, I don’t recommend anyone eat any of this crap. And different people will put these in a different order – and they certainly can be in a different order if you have some sort of medical condition.
- Wheat (and other gluten containing grains)
- Processed Food (and all its consistent hyperpalatability)
- Vegetable Oil
- Table Sugar and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Natural Food Toxins (i.e. n6 and physic acid in nuts)
So, of course, this is all dose-dependent. Except Wheat, which is why it’s number one. Wheat is bad in any dose. But beyond that, a costco tub of jelly beans is gonna mess you up more than a shot of soy milk, for example.
And the kicker with Number 2 above is that Processed Foods almost always include ALL of the nasty beasts on the list. So, yea, don’t eat processed food. It makes you fat and sick.
Read MasculON Fitness Course Review from Health Reviews blog.
February 16, 2012
Just a few weeks ago I wrote about my personal 10-week CrossFit experience. This post is about CrossFit on the whole (though informed by my experience, of course).
Anyone who has ever read an article (or watched a youtube video) about CrossFit likely has concerns about the health and safety of the whole operation. It’s impossible to deny that olympic lifts and compound movements can be injurious when performed incorrectly. It’s hard to deny that racing the clock to finish high-rep WODs is likely to cause dangerous breakdowns in form. It’s arguable whether a weekend of seminars and workouts (CrossFit Level 1 Cert) is enough qualification to guide all levels of people through these potentially harmful classes. This is all old news.
The way I see it, life is a series of decisions as to how much danger you’ll accept. It’s everyone’s right to accept the dangers of joining a CrossFit box, or much worse, the dangers of opening a poorly run affiliate.
The fact of the matter is that there are plenty of CrossFit boxes with great trainers, doing the workouts just as intended and keeping their clients safe. The issue I have with CrossFit is that even in this ideal situation, CrossFit isn’t what most people should be doing.
The first time I walked into my CrossFit box of choice (henceforth “The Box”), I signed a waiver and performed the WOD (scaled in a big way as the trainer’s caution won out over my hubris, thankfully). After the workout, I signed up for three months and paid upfront.
The membership form requested information about any injuries, as did the trainer prior to that first workout. I listed shoulder problems, half because it’s true and half to explain my planned avoidance of SDHPs and all things kipping.
Notably absent from the form, and not asked by the trainer or owner – my goals. No one asked “why are you here?” or “what do you want to get out of this?”. I figured they assumed that as a pretty lean and muscular young man, I was there to become a CF Badass.
I realized later that they didn’t ask my goals because it would have served no purpose; they wouldn’t have done anything differently for me to help me achieve them. They still would have had me doing the WOD 3 on, 1 off like every one else. This is how CrossFit is designed.
With a regretful mix of arrogance and apathy, Greg Glassman (CF Founder) describes that CrossFit doesn’t change for the trainee, the trainee changes for CrossFit.
“If you came to me with a set of goals that looked like ‘lose the fat, improve my musculature,’ or ‘move toward a better aesthetic,’ I wouldn’t do anything differently for you than if you came to me and said, ‘I want to improve my work capacity across broad time and modal domains.’ “
Yea, that’s stupid. And it’s also ignoring other common goals, like “carry groceries in from the car,” and “have big biceps.” These goals may seem weak or vain, but if that’s what the trainee wants, it’s what the trainer they are paying should try to give them.
Glassman continues: “I want to be a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Specialization is for insects. I’m looking for breadth of experience, and anyone who is at all wise realizes that being a specialist represents a compromised position.”
You know who else specializes, in addition to insects? Olympic athletes. I can guarantee you wouldn’t know the name Michael Phelps if his mission in life was to be pretty good at a bunch of crap.
The irony here is that CrossFit is very much specialized. CrossFit refuses to adapt to the goals of the trainee, refuses to be custom. By avoiding doing anything really well, they have specialized in mediocrity.
CrossFit is not the best way to lose fat. CrossFit is not the best way to get strong. CrossFit is not the best way to be better at a sport. Even athletes training for “the sport of CrossFit” don’t train with CrossFit anymore. Think about it – CrossFit isn’t even the best way to get good at CrossFit.
The good news is that elements of CrossFit are a great tool in many types of training. The foundations of CrossFit are solid and there is evidence that the early days were bright. I firmly believe that strategic applications of extreme intensity are vital to optimal health and athleticism in a large variety of pursuits. I love the (old) lean towards skill and strength over volume.
It is with volume that CrossFit has box-jumped the shark. The repetitions and AMRAP times have increased steadily since the early days, but the frequency (3 on 1 off) remains. Something has to give, and that something is intensity, health, or both. CrossFit has lost its way.
It’s easy to see how this happened. Intensity is addictive; we love a good beat-down. Also, with trainees scaling weight regularly, the only way for a programmer to hold their feet to the fire is with more reps or time. The focus on skill work and mental challenge has faded as the movement has grown.
Hidden behind the grungy appeal of warehouse workouts and puking clowns is a fact becoming increasingly hard to ignore: CrossFit is “forging elite fitness” not like a blacksmith with a hammer and anvil, but like a scared child signing their father’s name on a bad report card – CrossFit is faking it.
Luckily, there is a simple solution. When a trainee walks through the door, ask why they came in, what they want. Then program specifically for them. Fortunately, there isn’t a large variety of goals, so you can have three or four programs running and just plug them into one with a few personal tweaks. And the different programs can have a fair amount of overlap, like sharing a couple of strength days. It would take more work, but you’d have happier healthier clients, which likely means more of them, so you can have more staff.
I came down pretty hard on CrossFit here, but I really did love my time at The Box. It was great for me because it caused me to realize that I hadn’t been pushing the intensity envelope as far as I could. I’m also really glad that I established a baseline competency with olympic lifts. The trainers were great, I’m sure better than most.
Also, spending a little time in a globo-gym since my days at The Box has shown me that the majority of trainees have horrible form – even with basics like the squat and deadlift. In the last month at 24hr Fitness, I’ve seen three people squatting without lifting their heels (compared to dozens up on their toes), and two of them told me they have been to a CrossFit box before.
The fact of the matter is that on the vast spectrum from zero activity to optimal, CrossFit is much closer to the latter than the former. What bothers me is that CrossFit is so close – has so much promise – yet has missed the mark a bit.
January 20, 2012
The paleosphere (the nice neighborhood anyway) prides itself on constant examination of its identity – with one eye on evolution and the other on the latest research. This means that, over time, the definition of “paleo” (as we use it) changes.
As we near the end of 2011, let’s take a look back on what has changed, and why.
For years, the grand paleo poobah (Robb Wolf) has been recommending a lot of fish oil. So much so, that Whole9 put up a calculator, and supplied a special apparatus for getting in your massive daily “metabolically damaged” dose (not really). A sign of the changing times, where there was once a calculator, there is now an informative and well-reasoned Fish Oil FAQ. Even the poobah himself came out and (quite gracefully) changed his recommendation. Props to Chris Kresser for getting this ball rolling.
The Current Stance – Varies a bit by source, but general consensus is to limit PUFA consumption as much as reasonably possible. This means the best option may be to avoid Omega6s whenever possible, and get by on the incidental Omega3s in your high-vitamin/fermented cod liver oil (that you’re already taking for VitA, K2).
This longtime paleo stalwart saw a major fall from grace in the last year. It’s a shame, they seem like such a great thing to eat until you actually sit down and think about it. Lots of PUFAs, often lots of n6, often oxidized (think roasted nuts) before they even make it to your gullet by the handful. Oh, and lots of phytic acid, which is part of the reason we’re avoiding grains.
The Current Stance – You can get away with nuts once in a while, but I say “why bother?” They don’t provide anything you can’t get somewhere else and they are often eaten as a snack, another thing you don’t need.
Paleo eaters have long identified with low-carbers, but the relationship is getting more tenuous every day. The bottom line is that paleo is about eating real food, including carbohydrate. It’s becoming clearer that disease and dysfunction is caused by garbage food, not carbohydrate. Paleo dieters don’t omit wheat because of the starch. Wheat is more than just starch.
The Current Stance – Many are still saying things like “earn your carbs”. Give it a few years and (I think) most people will be saying “go ahead and eat as many #$%^&*@ sweet potatoes as you want.
This one is likely largely connected with the fading low-carb allegiance in the paleosphere. It’s also the only trend on here that leaves me a little wary. I personally eat white rice and peeled white potatoes on occasion, but I don’t fool myself into thinking they are an ideal food. Andrew at evolvify made a good argument for reconsidering increased rice and potato consumption, with an important point, “Paleo is bigger than lectins and phytates and saponins.”
The Current Stance – This one is hairy. Purists will tell you that these neolithic foods (white potatoes are different than sweet potatoes in significant ways) are guilty until proven innocent, and I tend to agree with their stance on this one. Potatoes and rice are not necessary for health, and there is some chance they are detrimental. This is one where you have to make your own decision (the humanity!).
This one has been a long time coming. I’m not sure who got the first swing in here, but it’s clear that the paleosphere smelled blood in the water and attacked these suboptimal food choices. (1,2,3,4).
The Current Stance – From Whole9: “To use an analogy we can all (probably) understand, the Paleo-ification of poor food choices is a little bit like having sex with your pants on.” Yea, that doesn’t sound too cool. If you talk to someone who has been eating paleo for a while, they’ll likely tell you they made a bunch of this crap early on and kind of regret it. Learn from their mistakes and say no to junk food regardless of what’s in it.
Offal has been around paleo for a while, so I think the trend is mostly a result of a large sophomore class of paleo eaters maturing and eating smarter. As seen on twitter recently (I’d love to know who tweeted it) “The stages of paleo: low-carb zealot, expert “paleo” baker, passionate natural foodie.” (paraphrased)
The Current Stance – There’s a reason that paleo dieters tend to eat more strange stuff as they mature, it is darn smart. Eat up.
Bacon and olive oil have pretty similar fat profiles, and you wouldn’t heat olive oil until it’s crackling and smoking in a pan would you? Exactly. So, bacon may not be the best idea. This is why people call the Whole9 crew buzzkills.
The Current Stance – People get unhappy when you take away their bacon. Unfortunately, it’s still not a great choice. I’ve switched to using bacon as a condiment, and you might want to consider doing the same.
It seems to me that paleo has markedly changed its principal interests and selling points. It seems like the majority of content producers in the paleosphere have transformed their message from “eat paleo for a six-pack” to “eat paleo for a long and healthy life”.
The Current Stance – Health is good, mmkay? The cool part is that if you eat for optimal health, a six-pack is not far behind. The increasing focus on health leads to more meaningful discussion and less neuroses. In my experience, people who design their diet for health tend to be happier (and saner) than those with enviable physiques on the mind.
(Almost) all of these trends highlight part of what makes the paleosphere great. Perhaps as an homage to our roots, paleo is constantly evolving. The dedication to accuracy in the paleosphere is second to none, and it’s what makes us great (back-pat). I’ve heard some complaint about how the paleo recommendations are always changing, but it’s actually a good thing. Be happy to be a part of it. Change or be suboptimal.
December 9, 2011