Sunday, October 16, 2016

Thoughts about life, crap, and stuff - "Grab her by the...."

I usually wait a while if I am going to write about some social issue that is dominating the news.  I like to ruminate on it a bit because I like to read different opinions in regards to it, and not have a knee jerk reaction to things.

However some events in my life have unfolded in the last week that made me revisit this piece of prose, and rewrite a lot of it.

Yesterday morning, I found out my mother had a stroke.  And as I continued writing this article it took on a different turn due to being reflective about what she has meant in my life.  Something I will get to later in this.

But first, I wanted to address the comments from Trump that was dug up from 11 years ago in a "locker room" type conversation because it is relevant as to where I arrived at by the end of this post.
This isn't about the presidential race, or what a shit show it is.  It's about what it has brought to light.  And that is the cultural line of hypocrisy we live in.

As a father of three girls, I can tell you that me and their mother talk to them on a regular basis about they talk, and how they treat them.  And the main theme is this -

"You teach men how you will be treated."

That means I expect my girls to carry themselves with dignity, respect, and modesty in their own behavior.  Because if they do so, it's what they will command that people give back to them.

This seems like a simple concept, but it's one that has largely gotten lost in the proverbial social sewage tunnel that is modern day feminism, where they preach that men must respect them, regardless of how deplorable their own behavior is.  For example...

"Slut shaming is wrong."

This is based off the apparent double standard that, if a man sleeps around with lots of women, it's ok.  But if a woman sleeps around with a lot of men, she's a slut.  And that calling a woman a slut for the same behavior men get a pass for, is wrong.

Ok, so let's decide here which one is acceptable.

Should we call males "man whores" and tell them that sleeping around with all the women they want is wrong?  Because if so, then women doing the same thing should get judged by the same standard.

If men are sluts, then women are sluts for the same behavior.

Which one shall we have?

"I don't think people should be judged for..."

I really wish people would stop this nonsense.  As an adult, you are free to live your life as  you please.  That's  your right.  And it's absolutely my right to have an opinion about it if I am asked.  It's absolutely my right to judge you for your words and actions.  Should I judge you fairly?  Of course.  However people are in fact going to make a judgement about you based on what you say and what you do.  This is reality.  This is factual.  You don't have to like it.  But it's better to get pissed off, than pissed on, I suppose.

Femnazi's want women to be respected REGARDLESS of what they say or do, based on their gender alone.  Of course they hide behind the equality badge in all of this but it's not about equality at all.  We don't have social equality because women can get away with shit men can't, and vice versa.  All you need to do is watch some social experiment videos where women beat on men to the laughter of all who watch it, to understand we're never really going to live in a society of equality.  This doesn't make it right.  I'm just stating for obvious reasons what real life actually is.

As I've read all these opinions, and watched these videos of women literally crying over Trump's comments, all I could think was the state of social constructs we have right now in this country.

And I am going to write this - Women, you can't have it both ways.

You cannot run around half naked, having all the casual sex you want, and EXPECT good men to respect you.  You cannot put your hands on a man in anger and it be "ok".  Men should never put their hands on a woman in anger either.  But the reality of these situations are, men get a pass on casual sex, and women get a pass on violence towards men.  Maybe if we held each other to the same standards this would jolt people into reality, but again, I don't see that happening.  And I'm not fighting that battle because I have kids to raise, and I can't change the world.

I teach my girls to dress appropriately because I live in real life.  Not in some made up fem-nazi utopia where women can dress like street workers and still garner the respect of a good man.  And yes, I want my girls to marry good men.  But I can't expect them to gain the love, respect, and admiration of a good man if they don't carry themselves as respectable young women.

Women you cannot post videos of you twerking and expect good men to take you seriously and respect you.

Women you cannot post pic after pic after pic of your tits and ass, in order to get affirmation and validation from men, then complain about all of the "creepy" messages you get in your social media inbox.  When you objectify yourself by creating the persona that you WANT and DESIRE for men to look at your tits and ass, then they will reduce you to being nothing but tits and ass.  YOU DID THAT.  Not them.  You objectified yourself.

Do you understand that?

Women, you are the ones that bought a book about a man who dominates and objectives a young woman in the realm of S&M and got all hot and bothered by it.

Women, a large percentage of you watch porn.  Know anything about the porn industry?  It preys on the young, helpless, naive females who are often in horrible places in their life and it's an industry filled with abuse, drug addiction, disease, and objectification.  Why don't you do some research on all the women who have left porn and shared the same stories about how awful the industry is.

As a man, I've been very vocal in my stance on porn in that I don't watch it (no, I REALLY don't), and I think the whole industry is a shit pile and that any man sitting around the house, with a woman in it, who is watching porn and jacking off has serious issues.  So THIS MAN, has been vocal against porn.  Because there's not a damn thing respectful about the porn industry in regards to how it treats women.

"They aren't hurting anyone" blah blah blah.  I wonder if the people who say and write that nonsense have ever listened to the people who have exited the porn industry and exposed the horribleness of it all?

Young males, with such easy access to porn often end up seeing women as nothing more than sexual objects?  Yes.  And it possibly warps their ability to cultivate honorable and respectful relationships with women?  Yes to that too.

Male porn stars who participate in porn, often end up seeing women as nothing more than sexual objects.   So how could you expect young men who watch porn be left with anything but the same state of thinking?

Yet I've read plenty of times from progressive liberal minded women that we shouldn't judge women in porn because it's an "honorable" job.

I guess the word "honorable" has become extremely flexible in today's society.

I wonder if people who say or write that "they aren't hurting anyone" have been in the presence of a family who has a daughter or son whom they love and care about, and mourn daily over watching the state their life is in?

Life isn't lived in a vacuum where your actions don't affect anyone at all.  As someone who lived half of their life watching a sibling struggle with drug addiction I can tell you, it's an absolute lie that people who are addicted to drugs aren't "hurting anyone else."  And the same goes for porn.

Many teens never have the chance to learn what a healthy relationship is like before porn starts teaching them its version—which is typically filled with violence, domination, and abuse. [11] Since most people aren’t too excited about the idea of being in an abusive relationship, teens that have gotten their sex ed from porn often find that they struggle to connect with real romantic partners and that they don’t know how to be turned on by anything other than images on a screen. [12] As biologist Gary Wilson said, “Using porn is more than just training for the wrong sport. It’s replacing these guys’ ability to play the sport they really want to learn.” [13]

Erections are powered by chemicals in the brain’s reward center (See Porn Is Like a Drug] that are released when a guy sees, hears, smells, or feels something that turns him on. [18] The problem for porn users is that they’ve hijacked their reward center by using porn to get it to overload on these chemicals. [19] As a result, the user’s brain responds by cutting down on the amount of pleasure chemicals it produces and stops responding as well to the chemicals that are being released. [20] It’s like when you’re standing next to a fire alarm that goes off; it’s too much noise so you cover your ears. That’s what porn user’s brains are doing. When chemical levels are too high, the brain fights back by blocking some of the flood of chemicals released.

On top of that, porn users have wired their brain to get aroused by sitting alone in a room looking at virtual images rather than connecting arousal to being with a real person. [21]

There's plenty of studies that prove over and over again that relationships that involve porn are diminished in quality and commitment than ones that are porn free.  

"I watch it with my partner."

Again, this doesn't matter.  Nothing like disconnecting emotionally with the person lying next to you and eroding intimacy over time by staring at two actors and fantasizing about that, rather than spending that time being in that moment with the person you claim to care about.

So why aren't women, who believe that men should respect women, taking a hard stance against the sex industry which CLEARLY objectifies and abuses women and decimates young males ability to cultivate the proper social skills required to create nurturing sexual relationships?

You see, Trump's words don't have much of an effect on plenty of young men, because so many of them already see women just like Trump described them.  And plenty of women play a part in that by espousing that casual sex and flings are "perfectly ok".  By not holding themselves to a standard that commands respect.

Why all of my talk about porn?  Because it's become a sexual acceptance in today's society despite all the peer reviewed research going back decades documenting the damage it does to people's lives, and reducing both males and females to nothing more than a means to an end of sexual gratification (which really isn't anywhere near as gratifying as investing in intimacy with someone you love).  This is science.  Not your opinion.  Yet when the issue of Trump's statements come up, women are horrified that in this day and age so many men have reduced them to sexual objects.

So I will ask again, which one is it?  Do you want and command for men to respect you, or do you want to live a life of promiscuity and sexual liberation where men see you as nothing more than a piece of ass?

Do you desire for men to speak, act, and treat you in an honorable way?  If so, then speak, act, and cultivate a personality that others see from you that radiates these qualities.

I'm sorry, you have to pick one or the other.  You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I look at the road we're headed down, and have been headed down as a society, and it depresses me.  For my kids.

Marriage is on the decline.  And you know why?  Because women now see casual sex as perfectly ok, and men are tired.

Men are tired for being blamed by the modern day feminist movement for all that's wrong with society.  They are tired of being told that there's something fundamentally wrong with them.  They are tired for being blamed for everything that makes a woman unhappy.  If the man is the breadwinner, then somehow she's automatically put into a subservient role.  But if he's a stay at home dad, then he's a beta male with no ambition.

Men can't win.

Men used to court women, get to know them, figure out if they were the kind of woman he would want to marry.  Now, men don't have to go through all of that.  Because as a society women now shout from the rooftops that casual sex is perfectly ok, that "slut shaming" is wrong.

So now a man can get all the sex he wants, well...after signing some documents that shows she consents to it, and all the various positions and sexual actions that can or cannot happen after the invitation to sex has been granted.   And then he doesn't have to lose half of what he owns, because feminism has proclaimed that the nuclear family causes women to be submissive and is oppressive to them.

So men retreat into porn, and engage in too much casual sex, and become completely inept at developing quality relationships with women.  Women then say they can't find a good man, and blame men for all of it.  Round and round we go.

NO.  Decide on a standard for both genders.  Is it respectful and honorable to be selective about who you sleep with, or is it perfectly fine to engage in sex with on a casual basis with people you barely know?  To me, this seems fairly obvious.  

Women, you cannot control what men say.   You never will.  It's never going to happen.  What you can control is what you say, what you do, and what you will tolerate.  Who you will keep in your circle, who you will give your love to, and who you will be vulnerable to.

This isn't about rape culture.  This is about acceptance and rejection.

People don't accept or reject YOU.  They accept or reject what you offer them.  And if you reduce yourself to nothing but tits and ass and casual sex, like the hundreds of women that flock to a guy like Dan Bilzerian on the daily, then that's all you're ever going to be.  And you can't blame men for that.  Take a long hard look in the mirror and try some self reflective honesty.

Rape or sexual assault is deplorable.  Again, as a father, I'd gladly serve time in prison for killing any man that hurt my daughters in that way.

At the same time, I work diligently to teach my girls to carry themselves in a way that will attract a man that will love and respect them and that how they speak, act, and dress will determine the quality of man they attract.  And to reject behavior from men, and people in general, that isn't respectful towards them by walking away from it.

As their father, I do my best to behave in a way THEY are proud of.  When I have failed at that in the past, I have worked very hard to make amends for it, and tell them MY OWN BEHAVIOR WAS WRONG.  I didn't sit back and justify it because of gender or social acceptance.  I can't sit back and tell them to act in a way that will attract a good man, if I also don't work to be a good man as well.

You will attract what you give off.  Act like a lady, and you'll get a gentleman.

But don't write on social media about how appalled you are at the comments of men if you're supporting the sex industry, twerking, buying books that promote misogyny (ironically written by a woman), posting pics of yourself with the camera facing down into your tits or with your ass stuck out for all to see, then "like" the comments about how "sexy" you are.  Oh and then turn around and bitch about men objectifying women.  This just makes you a hypocrite.

Now I'm pretty sure there are probably some men who are clapping and blame all of these problems on the modern wave of feminism alone, but we're going to be real about this as well.

Men are a huge part of the problem as well.  Obviously.

One thing I have trouble getting my head around is men who have mother's they love and respect, or daughters or sisters they love, and would never tolerate another man talking about them in a disrespectful way, yet do so about females outside of that group.

You're all hypocrites too.  I have been at times as well.  So let's be real with each other about this.

Men, we don't often keep each other in check.  The "locker room talk" we deem acceptable wouldn't be acceptable around our mother, daughters, or the woman we love.  There isn't a man on the face of the planet that genuinely cares about his daughter(s) that would tell her that a man speaking to her in such a way is "guy talk" and that it's "perfectly ok".  If he did, then he's not a very good father or role model.  And being a great role model starts with your own behavior.

Living the life as an honorable man will often mean treating people with respect and courtesy even when they may not deserve it.  It may mean asking yourself "what is the role of an honorable man in a dishonorable world?"

As men, we have to be accountable for our words and actions, and the ramifications they can and will have.  I'm sure Trump now regrets his "locker room" talk from 11 years ago, no different than if I could have a talk with my younger self, I would tell him to consistently talk and behave in a way his mother and daughter's would be proud of.

Gandhi once said "be the change you want to see in the world."

As men, if you want other men to treat the women in your life that you love with respect and dignity, then it starts with you.  You have to set the example.  You can't complain about your daughter's picking dirtbag males when you yourself act like a dirtbag.

As men, we need to keep other men in check in regards to how they speak to and treat women.  And by doing so, hope they hold the other men in their circle to the same standards.

Women need to understand that some men aren't going to do this.  That some men are going to be ok with reducing females to sexual objects not worthy of respect.  But you can't lump ALL men into that proverbial basket.  There are plenty of good men in this world.  And if you're living your life through the words and actions of an honorable woman that commands respect, that the good men will reveal themselves to you.

I can't change the world.  A blog post can't change the world.  But it might make someone pause for reflection about these things and decide to make a change in their life about these things.  And that change may have a reverberating effect  throughout their inner circle of people they care about.  And that cascade effect may continue from there.  And one day down the road, one of my girls may meet a good man.  An honorable man.  A man that talks to her and treats her in a way that makes her feel loved, respected, and honored.  And it's possible that through some kind of positive degree of karma, that he was taught how to do this because he had a male role model talk to him about it.  And going back, that somehow this simple blog post or my words or actions played a part in that.

And despite my stance as a libertarian, I wholly understand that my words and actions aren't encapsulated inside an isolated world.

The smallest of gestures can set off a chain of enormous outcomes.  A phrase of few words can change a life.

In The Vocation of Man, Fichte says that "you could not remove a single grain of sand from its place without thereby ... changing something throughout all parts of the immeasurable whole".  

The root of compassion, empathy, love, and consideration all start with respect.  Even when we feel as though we are being wronged.  That's when we find it most difficult to show love and respect.

But if there is one very hard lesson I learned over the past few years that I always "knew" but often failed to apply, is that if you keep showing someone respect and love, even when you aren't getting it back from them, love will win out in the end.  

I am thankful for all the great women in my life who have taught me so many valuable lessons about what it means to be an honorable man.  I've had many great men do so as well.  However I think as males, we don't often take a step back to be grateful for the women we've had in our life that teach us so many things that truly, we can't often learn from other men.  And maybe that's part of the problem we have that separates the genders at times.  As men, we need to acknowledge the influential women we've had in our lives that tried to help shape us into good men.  Because they can often offer a perspective that only a woman can.  And rather than be dismissive of that, open our minds to accepting that gift.  Because it's a priceless one that we should be incredibly thankful for.  

So many of the great parts of who I am, came from my mom.  And the older I get, the more cognizant I become of that.  She is one of the most incredible people I have ever known.  And I know that she would want me to treat women with the same degree of love and respect that I always did with her.  

The saying of "behind every great man is a great woman" is blatantly wrong.  Because I don't want my woman behind me.  I want her beside me.  Letting me know that if it means burning the soles off of her feet to be there, she'll walk through hell to do so.  Because I will for her.

And she'll know the only thing I reached out to grab, to make her want to be there beside me, was her heart.  

I think my mom would be proud of that.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

The toxicity level in your blood

I like to think I'm  fairly transparent individual.

I say what I mean, and mean what I say.  I still try (and sometimes fail) to adhere to doing and saying things I believe are the "right" things I should say and do.  After all, once you say something or do something, it becomes cemented in time.  You cannot rewrite history, and your past is indestructible.

Living in it can cause a great deal of angst, and anxiety.  Trust me, I've traversed that road and it's not one worth traveling down.  I'm not suggesting that you take on the attitude of "oh, who gives a shit what I did/said", I'm just saying that there's a better attitude to immerse yourself in that leads to a better version of yourself, than an attitude that keeps you muddled up in personal victimization.

I'd like to believe that the people who know me best can attest to the fact that I am transparent, and do my best to try and love and support them to the very best of my ability.  That's generally a goal of mine, and one I work towards each and everyday in order to make my own life better.

I think it's hard to be terribly unhappy doing your best to love people to the very best of your ability.  Because after all, if you squeeze and orange, what comes out of it?  Orange juice.  If what you're giving out each day to people closest to you is love, empathy, and kindness, then it kinda means those are the traits dwelling the strongest inside of you.  You can't give something to people you aren't in possession of, after all.

This doesn't mean there isn't a caveat to all of this.  Because there is.  And it's about what and whom you're giving those emotional investments to.

From a very pragmatic standpoint, if I have a million dollars, and I keep investing it into stocks that I clearly see are declining in worth, and spend time researching them, KNOWING that the chances of my investments being lost makes me well, kinda stupid.

I like to think of our positive virtues in a similar fashion.  We've only got so much love to give.  And we have different types of love investments as well.  The way I love cinnamon rolls is obviously vastly different than the way I love my kids.  I love training.  I love what it gives back to me in regards to health, how I look and how I feel.

So love itself cannot be encompassed into some singular idea because it's dynamic in nature.  There's different kinds of love, and different amounts of investments we have inside of us for the things we choose to give it to.

Just because I love cinnamon rolls doesn't mean I'm going to eat them everyday.  But I will wake up and choose to love my kids to the best of my ability all the time.

If I loved cinnamon rolls the way I love my kids, it would eventually detract from my quality of life.  I'd get fat, feel like shit, look like shit, and my quality of life would decline immensely.

Where if I love my kids, there will be times of disappointments and suffering, the return on that investment improves the quality of my life a million fold.

This last month of my life has been filled with tremendous adversity.  Possibly more than any other month of my life.  I've been open about that because as noted, I try to be transparent, and write about it because well, I'm an average dude.  And I think all us "average dudes" probably go through a lot of the same things, and suffer in a lot of the same ways, and search for answers and clues as to what to do with our life while mired in the mess of things.

I've worked exceptionally hard to try and keep a positive mindset despite all of this.  Because I've lived long enough to know that no matter how hard the path we're currently walking down is, at some point the road does clear, becomes smooth underneath our feet, least for a while...offers us a reprieve.

One of the greatest parts about arriving at the "smooth in the road" is our ability to appreciate it.  To really inhale how great it truly feels, and just how glad we are to have arrived there.  To turn and look back, and say goodbye to the road behind us.  That we survived, and that in doing so, learned something.  Whether that be all the things we know we want in our life, or don't want in our life, it probably served some purpose that, if we let it, can help us immensely.

But just like eating or not eating cinnamon rolls everyday, a huge part of actually getting off of the path that shreds the flesh from bone on the soles of our choice.  We simply decide not to eat cinnamon rolls all day long.  And we simply decide we no longer want to walk down that path.

This doesn't mean it immediately happens.  But it certainly won't ever happen if don't make a choice to stop walking down it.

And because my writing is long and drawn out most of the time, I will do my best to condense some of this and tell you that I actually am going someplace with the orange juice, emotional investments, and "roads we don't want to travel" metaphors here.

And that is this - often times, in fact maybe all the time, the reason we begin to fail in our efforts to find ourselves in the place we want to be, is because we refuse to actually remove others from that environment.

And that environment, is toxicity.

Have you ever known someone, who used to be something?

They used to be happy, or they used to be endearing, full of life and passion...or they used to be a friend that was there through any situation to help you.  They used to make you feel loved, or that you mattered in their life.

Notice I asked if you knew someone that "used" to be something?

Because now, they aren't those things anymore.

Maybe that person is you.  Maybe it's not.  I don't know.  I'm not all knowing.  Hell, I barely know where I put my car keys half the time.  That's always a fun time of day when I know I have to pick the girls up from school and I can't find my keys and I get this semi panicky feeling of "OMG my girls will be stuck at school for the rest of their life!"  Of course I find them, and manage to accomplish my goal.

The last few days, I happened to end up reading a lot about toxic people, toxic relationships, toxic families.  Toxic everything.

Funny enough, the fitness industry is loaded with "detox" methods for your physical body (which are all bullshit of course), but the one NON BULLSHIT version of detoxing, that really works, is the removal of toxic people, relationships, and toxic behavior in your own life.

If you want to find a higher quality of life, better health, a better sense of well being, and better "you" overall, then stop looking for pills or powders or diets that are going to do that.  And start with detoxing your life by spitting out the poison that is killing you emotionally, spiritually, and even physically (stress), on a daily basis.

The one that is causing you to sink all of those millions of dollars into stocks that are crashing, and will end up sucking you dry, and leaving you broke.  And that's most often the word you will find from people who have been stuck in suffering for too long because they refuse to rid themselves of these "bad investments".

"I just feel broken."

Because you are.  Emotionally, you become broke.  There's nothing left to give.

When your ability to invest in people with all of those dynamic versions of love and sincerity have been depleted, what is it that's left for people to squeeze out of you at that point?

Bitterness.  Apathy.  Discontent.  Anger.  Cynicism.

In all the articles I read about toxic relationships and such, only one addressed this very issue.  That the longer you stay in those toxic environments, the more toxic YOU BECOME.  I think this got lost in so many of the other articles because most often, people like to victimize themselves in bad situations without taking a long hard look at who they have become, and wonder if they too have simply "meshed" into the environment around them.  Because that really is most often the case.  And when you arrive at your own place of personal toxicity, there will be things that happen that should be obvious to you, that you have now become part of the very problem you're complaining about.

The friends you used to have, no longer want to be around you.

People tend to see you as unhappy all the time.

Your thoughts are consistently filled with negativity, and it becomes manifested in your words and actions.

Everything that happens to you, you take personally.

You consistently see yourself as being the victim, when in all reality you've made yourself one by refusing to make a choice not to be.

You've become toxic.  You're now part of all of those "toxic relationships" you read about, that is apparently, ruining your life.  Perhaps, some self accountability is in order here in that, the whole reason you "became someone else" is because you simply became just like the toxic people you kept within your circle.

That's generally how it works.  What's that saying........

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

Now this doesn't mean all five people are toxic.  The odds are that are well, pretty slim.  But it is likely, that the longer you keep the toxic people in your life, one of those five people will remove themselves from your circle, because they are aware of removing toxic attitudes, words, actions, and people in their life and don't want it.  In essence, they were the ones that made the choice NOT to stay confined within that toxic environment.

And upon reading through all of these articles, the most common place they all kept coming back to for most people....was family.

California psychologist Sherrie Campbell, author of the book “Loving Yourself : The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.” wrote about this, and the fact that cutting ties with family is often the hardest thing to do, but if they indeed are the root cause of the toxicity in your life, then it's imperative to do so in you actually want to start improving the quality of said life.

One thing I think often gets lost on people about "family" is this.  

They aren't special.  

That's right, I just wrote that.  Let it sink in.  Or let me rephrase that.  

They are just people.  I'm only "special" to my kids because of my efforts to be devoted to them.  Someone can adopt a child and become "special" to them because of the love, nurturing, and care they give in raising them.  Their biological parents are not special in that way.  Those things have to be earned.

And because "family" are just people, they too can be very unhealthy people to keep in your life.

Because of social ideologies and and phrases like "blood is thicker than water", most people grow up with this idea that family gets a pass on anything and everything they do to us, when there's no way in hell we'd allow anyone else to treat us that way and still remain in our life.

This doesn't mean to dishonor your family by being an asshole.  It simply means that creating space and boundaries in regards to them may have to be done if  you are to find yourself walking down the path of unhappiness, sorrow, and ridicule because of them.  Because while you are walking down that road, that's exactly what you're probably going to be giving out to the other people around you.  

As I said, now you too have become toxic.

Because I've already written enough, and I think that Dr. Campbell summed all of this up in a high level overview, I will just do a good ol copy and past with the link.  

Campbell's 7 reasons to terminate relationships with family:

1. When the relationship is based in any kind of abuse, mentally, physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally. When the relationship is based in manipulation, overt or covert, you can be sure you are being used and abused. When you are living in constant anxiety never knowing or being able to predict how any engagement is going to turn out, it is time to love yourself enough to let go.

2. It is time to terminate a relationship when the only contact you have with them is negative. The contact you have with them serves to bring you down, put you down and/or make you feel you are not good enough, or you haven't done enough for them.

3. When the relationship creates so much stress that it affects the important areas of your life at work, home or both. When your emotions are totally caught up in defending yourself and wanting to explain yourself and the chaos of your relationships with these people is all you talk about, it is time to let go.

4. If you find yourself obsessed with the gossip about you and trying to right wrong information, and you are constantly being ostracized to the point you are losing sleep over it, you are becoming poisoned with their toxicity. Gossip only serves one family member to get others to gang up on you and you are left defenseless against the false beliefs about you being thrown your way. There is usually a ring leader gathering the troops for the assault and because they are joined together, you begin to wonder whether it is you that is the problem.

5. When the relationship is completely all about the other person and there is no real reason why the other person cannot make any effort toward the health and maintenance of the relationship with you. One sided relationships are set up for your failure. When you realize there is never going to be an "enough" place for you to reach in the relationship, you need to let go and start to focus on your own healing.

6. When and whether the relationship is only about borrowing or needing money.

7. When crazy-making, no-win games dominate the relationship such as the silent treatment, blame-games, no-win arguments that spin around on you, there is no point in continuing in this battle. Verbal warfare is never the place you will convince them of anything and these kinds of verbal interactions are set up to be their way or the highway. If these are the negative consequences you receive each time this person or people don't get their way, it is time to let go.

To offer up my own story of what you just read, I too had a toxic family member in my youth/teenage years.  My sister.  Who became addicted to drugs, and I spent most of those years trying to save her from herself.  Her behavior, like most addicts, was destroying and wrecking the serenity of my and my family's life.

Once I left for the military, and had my first child, I would still get phone calls about what all my sister was doing and it would leave me angry and frustrated.  One day, my wife at the time finally told me what I needed to hear most.

"You have a daughter now.  Your sister isn't your problem anymore.  You need to let her do what she wants with her life, and whatever that is, it's not  your problem anymore.  Just let her go."

I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  And it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders.

If you're at home, and still under the order of your parents, then you should still respect and honor them as truly, it's the right thing to do.  But all baby birds leave the nest.  And if your family is part of what is making you miserable, then creating space and boundaries so that you can breathe and find your own happiness is what you WILL HAVE TO DO.

There's no other option.  And the battle you will be faced with initially, is that they are going to fight even harder once you try to apply this resistance.  Because they have probably spent years bullying you into doing what they want you to do, instead of respecting that as an adult, the choices you make in your life should be your own.  Sometimes even if they are destructive.

Why do I write that?

Because ultimately we are the ones that are held accountable for our actions.  In every fashion, in the end, we are the ones that have ownership for our choices and decisions.

But that also means that if you truly want to be happy, and after reading this realize that you too may have become part of the toxicity in your life, then the only way to rid yourself of it, is to snuff out the root cause of it, and decide you won't allow it to exist in your life anymore.

If you find the courage to arrive at such a decision, don't expect it to be easy.  After all, you're the one who has spent all these years teaching people how to treat  you.  Yes, it is YOU who is responsible for it.  People treat us how we allow them to.  It's our fault if we keep bowing to it.  And when you decide to get off of your knees and rise, and proclaim that your life is your own, then be prepared for an emotional onslaught.  It WILL happen.

What also will happen, is the longer you stand your ground, and the longer you stop tolerating it, then you might expect, how they treat you will begin to change as well.

There's a very simple word to describe what that destination is.


And until you are strong enough to make these changes, then whoever it is in your life that keeps bringing you down, and bullying you emotionally, will continue to do so.  Until there's nothing left of "who you were".

And then there's going to be a group of people you used to call "friends" sitting around one day, and you know what they are going to talk about?

Who you used to be............

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ketones, TBI, and brain function

I'm not a doctor of any sorts.  Hell, I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  In fact, on my trip back home to see my family we ended up staying at the Hampton Inn on two separate occasions (which promoted fat baybay to say on the drive home "we better not stay at another freaking Hampton Inn!").

Nevertheless, I read an enormous amount of studies and research articles to do my best at understanding the various facets of hypertrophy, nutrition, and of course as of late, all the benefits that come with the intake of exogenous ketones.

I've documented much of the success I've had with them in regards to physique competitors in the depleted stages of contest prep.  I've used them to help people get over nagging injuries, and even helped people overcome hypoglycemia with them.

But as of late, the one area I've spent the most time reading about in regards to them, is how they function in regards to those that have suffered a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

The reason for this is because it has become a serious issue with players in the NFL.  And from my outside view, the league has done very little to actually address the seriousness of the issue.

Let me be clear here about one of my biggest problems with the NFL before I delve into this.

I abhor the NFL's policies on performance enhancement drugs.  But all the while having no problem prescribing narcotic drugs to their players, some of who end up with serious addiction and dependency issues on them well after their careers are over.  I'm going to put on my tin foil hat here and just take a stab that the NFL somehow is in cahoots with big pharmacy from a financial perspective.  I mean it just makes too much sense to me.

We can't have players taking growth hormone, or peptides.  Which have been proven to speed up healing and would get them back on the field faster.  But it's fine to load them up with a various cocktail of drugs that numb them down but don't actually address the problem causing the pain.  Players know their livelihood depends on playing, and playing at a high level.  So they will do whatever it takes, and play through a litany of injuries to keep their jobs because they are all aware that their time in the league most likely, is going to be very short lived.  The average NFL career I believe, is a little less than three years.  So if a guy is always in the trainers room, he won't be on the roster for very long.

The NFL has made some rules now about players and concussions.  As they are required to leave the field and get clearance before they can return to play.  However, even if the doctor rules they can't return to play that day, it doesn't take away the fact that the player is going to deal with the aftermath of said concussion.

Even worse, by the time a guy reaches the NFL, it's very likely he's already suffered concussions all the way from high school, through college.

There's actually a list of former players who, upon post post-mortem inspection, were found to have suffered from something called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

From wiki..........

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), i.e. "punch-drunk", as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American football,rugby, ice hockey, boxing, professional wrestling, stunt performing, bull riding, rodeo, and other contact sports who have experienced repeated concussions or other brain trauma.

This hits slightly home with me, because one of the players who was diagnosed with CTE was a friend of mine.  Jovan Belcher.  The middle linebacker for the Chiefs, who was involved in a murder-suicide.  He killed his girlfriend at the time, then drove to the Chiefs facility where he shot himself.

Junior Seau, the all time great for the San Diego Chargers, shot himself in the chest, so that his brain could be examined.  

On January 10, 2013, Seau's family released the NIH's findings that his brain showed definitive signs of CTE. Russell Lonser of the NIH coordinated with three independent neuropathologists, giving them unidentified tissue from three brains including Seau's. The three experts along with two government researchers arrived at the same conclusion. The NIH said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."

Seau had no prior reported history of concussions.  Junior was a football warrior.  Anyone that ever watched him play knew the kind of wreckless abandon he played with and he was admired and feared as a tenacious player.  But in the end, his brain just couldn't take the damage that had been caused by all the human car wrecks he had subjected himself to.  

Neither Jovan or Junior are alone in this regard.  All it takes is a google search to find all of the players whom, upon autopsy, suffered from CTE.  

Sports related concussions occur when there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration or rotational forces imparted to the brain.  The connection between TBI and CTE is clear.  CTE is caused by those who have suffered repeated concussions or traumatic brain injuries, such as those in contact sports, and even our military personnel.

The brain of an individual who suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy gradually deteriorates and will over time end up losing mass. Certain areas of the brain are particularly liable to atrophy, though other areas are prone to becoming enlarged.

The symptoms of CTE can be debilitating and may have life-changing effects for both the individual and for his or her family. Some of the most common include loss of memory, difficulty controlling impulsive or erratic behavior, impaired judgment, behavioral disturbances including aggression and depression, difficult with balance, and a gradual onset of dementia. An individual with CTE may mistakenly ascribe the symptoms to the normal process of aging, or might receive a wrong diagnosis due to the fact that many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. CTE has been diagnosed in several notable cases which received widespread media attention, including the suicide deaths of NFL player Junior Seau, and professional wrestler Chris Benoit who committed suicide after murdering his wife and son.

Obviously,  this is a very disheartening thing to read.  And it's one of the reasons I detest when people start talking about how "watered down" the NFL has become because they don't allow people to "spear" people anymore, or lead with their head in tackling.  I mean, I played ball.  At no one was I ever taught to lead with my head in tackling drills.  The guy sitting on the couch drinking his Coors Light on Sunday afternoon complaining about how "pussy" the league has become, will never ever sit in a trainers room after the game wondering what his name is, where he is, or deal with the incredible migraines that come in the post concussive state.  

With all that said, one of the things I happened across when I became involved in using exogenous ketones was the fact that the brain uses ketones in a very preferable way for fuel.  

So what's the tie in here, you ask? 

During a TBI, glucose metabolism is depressed.  

Mild traumatic brain injury results in depressed cerebral glucose uptake: An (18)FDG PET study.

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in humans and rats induces measurable metabolic changes, including a sustained depression in cerebral glucose uptake. However, the effect of a mild TBI on brain glucose uptake is unclear, particularly in rodent models. This study aimed to determine the glucose uptake pattern in the brain after a mild lateral fluid percussion (LFP) TBI. Briefly, adult male rats were subjected to a mild LFP and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose ((18)FDG), which was performed prior to injury and at 3 and 24 h and 5, 9, and 16 days post-injury. Locomotor function was assessed prior to injury and at 1, 3, 7, 14, and 21 days after injury using modified beam walk tasks to confirm injury severity. Histology was performed at either 10 or 21 days post-injury. Analysis of function revealed a transient impairment in locomotor ability, which corresponds to a mild TBI. Using reference region normalization, PET imaging revealed that mild LFP-induced TBI depresses glucose uptake in both the ipsilateral and contralateral hemispheres in comparison with sham-injured and naïve controls from 3 h to 5 days post-injury. Further, areas of depressed glucose uptake were associated with regions of glial activation and axonal damage, but no measurable change in neuronal loss or gross tissue damage was observed. In conclusion, we show that mild TBI, which is characterized by transient impairments in function, axonal damage, and glial activation, results in an observable depression in overall brain glucose uptake using (18)FDG-PET.

In contrast to dietary approaches to re-establish TBI-induced deficiencies in brain metabolites, diets have also been used to replace or redirect essential brain substrates. TBI-induced impairments of the glucose metabolic machinery may make glucose a less favorable energy substrate. In fact, hyperglycemia has been long associated with poor outcome after TBI. Early administration of glucose after severe TBI suppresses ketogenesis, increases insulin and increases lactic acid production (Robertson et al., 1991). TBI patients who were fasted or maintained on a ketogenic-like diet to minimize hyperglycemia showed significantly lower plasma glucose and lactate concentrations, elevated ß-hydroxybutyrate levels and better urinary nitrogen balance compared to standard fed patients (Ritter et al., 1996). Similar plasma substrate changes were observed with 24-hr starvation in the adult rodent after controlled cortical impact injury. The fasted animals showed significant cortical tissue preservation, improved cognitive outcome and improved mitochondria bioenergetics (Davis et al., 2008).

As I've had to read through all of these very, very scientific/medical studies, what I learned was that post TBI there is an immediate but transient elevation in cerebral glucose metabolism, followed by a prolonged period of glucose metabolic depression. The brain is metabolically flexible. So it has to ability to tab into various fuels for different needs.

For example, during fasting (not starvation, but fasting!) two thirds of the brain fuel is derived from ketones. The rest come from lactate, pyruvate, amino-acids, glycerol and other gluconeogenic precursors.

Post TBI, we have seen in studies on rats (and humans) that there is a tremendous demand for energy to restore homeostasis. To repeat myself, there is a depression in glucose metabolism during this period. Meaning, the brain cannot use glucose as needed in order to meet the demands required for said repair. This is something seen in studies over and over again.  

So where does it try to derive fuel from? 

Apparently, lactate and ketones.

TBI-induced impairments of the glucose metabolic machinery may make glucose a less favorable energy substrate.

But what I found interesting, is that the brain had no problem using ketones and lactate as the fuel sources to help return it to homeostasis, and that the ketones also had neuroprotective effects after a TBI had occured.

Whether ketosis is achieved by starvation or administration of a ketogenic diet, the common underlying conditions of low plasma glucose in the presence of an alternative substrate (ketones) have consistently shown neuroprotective effects after various types of brain injury.

Allow me to lead you down a rabbit hole for just a second, but I promise I'll round you back to the main point in all of this eventually.  

A dietary therapy for pediatric epilepsy known as the ketogenic diet has seen a revival in its clinical use during the past decade. Although the underlying mechanism of the diet remains unknown, modern scientific approaches, such as the genetic disruption of glucose metabolism, are allowing for more detailed questions to be addressed. Recent work indicates that several mechanisms may exist for the ketogenic diet, including disruption of glutamatergic synaptic transmission, inhibition of glycolysis, and activation of ATP-sensitive potassium channels. Here, we describe on-going work in these areas that is providing a better understanding of metabolic influences on brain excitability and epilepsy.

I bolded that part for a reason.  Because it is related to the cascading issues that come with brain injuries.  

Glycolysis and TBI - 

The postinjury period of glucose metabolic depression is accompanied by adenosine triphosphate decreases, increased flux of glucose through the pentose phosphate pathway, free radical production, activation of poly-ADP ribose polymerase via DNA damage, and inhibition of glyceraldehyde dehydrogenase (a key glycolytic enzyme) via depletion of the cytosolic NAD pool. Under these post-brain injury conditions of impaired glycolytic metabolism, glucose becomes a less favorable energy substrate. Ketone bodies are the only known natural alternative substrate to glucose for cerebral energy metabolism. While it has been demonstrated that other fuels (pyruvate, lactate, and acetyl-L-carnitine) can be metabolized by the brain, ketones are the only endogenous fuel that can contribute significantly to cerebral metabolism.

ATP and TBI -

Glucose is the primary fuel source of the adult brain and its processing through the glycolytic pathway provides carbons for the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle for energy production in the form of ATP. 

Comparison of glucose metabolic changes in TBI between different age groups within the pediatric population, or a comparison between adults and children, has not yet been made in humans. Regardless of age, the prolonged glucose metabolic depression reflects a period of time during which glucose uptake into the brain is compromised. This could cause downstream negative effects if the energy demands of the brain are not sufficiently met.

Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is the enzyme that connects the glycolytic pathway to the mitochondrial TCA cycle. Phosphorylation of the E1 subunit of PDH, which inhibits PDH function and therefore carbon entry into the mitochondria, has been shown to occur at a higher frequency than normal at 24 hours after CCI injury (Xing et al., 2009). These TBI-induced alterations in glycolytic enzyme functioning ultimately decrease the ability of glucose to be efficiently processed for oxidative metabolism, and thereby contribute to the post-TBI energy crisis, reflected by reductions in ATP production (see poster, panel D).

Free radicals and inflammation - 

The other issue involving TBI is the increase in both inflammation, and free radicals.  

In addition to increasing ATP production while reducing oxygen consumption, ketone body metabolism can also reduce production of damaging free radicals [14,16,48]. The semiquinone of Q, the half reduced form, spontaneously reacts with oxygen and is the major source of mitochondrial free radical generation [14,51]. Oxidation of the Q couple reduces the amount of the semiquinone form thus decreasing superoxide production [14]. Since the cytosolic free NADP+/NADPH concentration couple is in near equilibrium with the glutathione couple, ketone body metabolism will increase the reduced form of glutathione thus facilitating destruction of hydrogen peroxide [14]. The reduction of free radicals through ketone body metabolism will also reduce tissue inflammation provoked by reactive oxygen species. Thus, ketone bodies are not only a more efficient metabolic fuel than glucose, but also possess anti-inflammatory potential.

Ok so where am I going with all of this?

First off, despite the fact that death via TBI is a major issue in this country, and a major issue in contact sports, believe it or not it's not at the forefront of research in regards to finding the most effective therapeutic solutions for it.  

What we have, for the most part, is a lot of research done on rats, and some research done on humans.  This is quite puzzling to me because TBI is, once again, a major cause of death in the world.  

But even if someone doesn't die, the amount of damage done after repeated bouts of TBI like in Rugby, boxing, football, hockey, etc means that those athletes tend to live an exceptionally poor quality of life after sports. With many, such as Jovan and Seau actually resorting to suicide.  

I'm not saying that exogenous ketones will fix all the problems associated with TBIs.  But if you look at the fact that they reduce free radicals, reduce inflammation, and provide the brain with a more preferred fuel source while glucose metabolism is depressed, then I can't understand for the life of me why more people who are responsible for the health and well being of our pro athletes aren't at least including exogenous ketones as part of dietary therapy for their players who have or do suffer from brain injuries.  

What we're currently doing is not working.  And when you add up what evidence we do have, I do see promise in regards to the inclusion of exogenous ketones as part of therapy to help players suffer minimal damage in the post TBI stages.  

Or they can just keep feeding them prescription pills from big pharma.  That's clearly working.  /sarcasm.

If you want to learn more about exogenous ketones..........

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The modalities of training efficiently

Specific goal prioritization - Decide on one thing

Wanting to squat more weight and wanting bigger quads are not the same goal.  Squatting more weight might not even be an efficient means to that end.  And yet so many guys that say they are interested in growing get caught up in the trap that if they aren't hitting PR's at every training session, that they weren't stimulating growth, or getting better.

Strength and hypertrophy are more like, distant cousins than identical twins.  Basically there are some connective ideologies but there's also a lot of things that make them very dissimilar.  I mean ping pong is called table tennis but I doubt Serena Williams is going to challenge any Olympic level ping pong players.

Training for maximal strength in order to grow is a lot like trying to get better at tennis in order to be better at ping pong.  Yeah, you might find some carryover but for the most part you're not maximizing what is most effective.

A good example of this would be someone who say, does distance running.  They might throw in some track work intervals once a week or twice a month, but the majority of their training is built around doing the things needed to get better at distance running.  That's because whatever it is you are trying to maximize with training has to be geared towards maximal responses.

Strength training has a large neurological base associated with it.  Training for size, does not.

One can actually train with relatively low intensities (as little as 30% of 1RM) and stimulate growth via muscle protein synthesis.  But you cannot develop maximal strength at loads that low.

There's at least a dozen other things I could write out that separate training for strength vs size, from training frequency, to volume, to how the movements are even executed, but without doing that I am just going to say that your training should always be focused on a singular goal to achieve as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

If you are training for strength, training for strength.  Do not plan on getting "ripped" at this time.  There might be some growth as a side effect, but again it absolutely will not be maximized because training for maximal strength is not training for maximal growth.  Generally this means training in low to moderate rep ranges using intensities between (give or take) 75-90%.  Volume can be waved throughout periodized blocks all depending on where the intensity zone is being utilized at the present time.  Training should be centered around being explosive, refining technique and motor patterns and not generating fatigue through training to failure.

If you are in a fat loss stage, then muscle retention is a priority.  That means you must give your body a reason to hold on to the amount of lean tissue it is currently in possession of, while using your diet and probably some form of conditioning to put yourself into a hypocaloric state.  This means you should still train hard, but understand two things - neither increased mass (you cannot get big and ripped at the same time) nor increased strength should be counted on at this time.

If  you are training for maximal growth, then (obviously) you will have to have an excess of calories coming in to support the growth process.  Training should reflect the fact that you are training for maximal growth via efficient training modalities like increased time under tension.  Emphasis should be placed on putting the muscles into fully lengthened and shortened positions (through various movement selection) and generating as much tension as possible on the muscles you are trying to work.  Generally speaking this also means rep ranges of 8-20 or possibly even more.  Generating fatigue in some fashion (where failure is hit, or something close to failure is achieved) is also highly desired as well.

As you can see, whatever phase you feel like you need to concentrate on, they have very different approaches in order to maximize efficiency.  Of course, none of these are completely set in stone or are "rock hard facts" but through both anecdotal evidence and what we've seen through research these are solid starting guidelines for most.

Cognizant selection - Know why you are doing what you are doing

A training program or methodology is generally made  up of a myriad of properties.  And you should be able to answer the questions under each one without hesitation.

Training volume.

Why are you using X amount of sets?

Training frequency.

Why are you training Y number of times per week?

Training intensity (both perceived effort and percentage of 1 rep max).

Why are you using certain loading in  your training or training with a certain RPE?

Movement selection.

Why are you performing each movement in the manner that you are?

Rep range (which could also fall under the volume umbrella).

Why are you using certain rep ranges for both warm ups, and working sets?

Movement execution.

Why are you performing each movement in the manner that you are?

For every single part of your training, you should have a clear understanding of what you are doing what you are doing.  Why you are training X number of days per week, why you are doing your chosen rep range, why you are using Y amount of volume, and why you are using certain training intensities.

All of these variables should be defined by you for very specific reasons.  Even to the point of having variation within training sessions built on how you feel for the day.  For example, if you got very little sleep or nutrition was sub par for the day (or the day before) or you're just generally feeling very under the weather, then "going for it" on such a day is probably not a good idea.

Being aware of your own natural recovery rhythms is a huge factor in sustaining progress.  Getting injured because you refused to deviate from a plan that called for you to do a max set of 10 reps on bench press, when you could "feel" things were off that day, means you refused to leave your training ego at the door.

This too means you know why you are pulling back on training intensity for the day.  So you backed off because you knew you your body was not going to be capable of putting forth a significant amount of effort.  This is not an excuse to be lazy.  It simply means that you're aware that the nitro button shouldn't be pushing during a time when the engine was sounding clunky.

This is where so many people lose out on months, years, potentially a decade or more of productive training.  Because they often just copy what someone else is doing without ever questioning why they themselves are doing it and/or never learn what would be best for them.  Copying what someone else is doing means  you've decided to put your logical reasoning to the side and just be a training zombie.
I'm not saying you can't borrow something from someone else that does in fact work well for you, but using wholesale routines "because that big dude trains that way" doesn't make a lot of sense.  You're not that big dude.  And he probably didn't become that big dude training the way he does now.

One of the most important aspects of creating an efficient training program or ideology that paves a faster way to goal actualization is to breakdown every facet of what you're doing, and identify the reasoning for it.

If you cannot answer the questions provided, then take some time to think about it until you can.  Then start to apply the answers in your own training, and see what it produces.

Individual bias - What resonates with you

Perhaps the single most important factor in regards to training efficiently, or shall we say, maximizing results, is to embrace what resonates with you.

Some people will find that some sort of DUP or block methodology will really appeal to them.  And some won't.  Some people will love training lower volume with brutal all out intensity techniques.  And some will prefer a much higher degree of volume in their training, avoiding failure all together.

Despite all the studies you will ever read, the one thing none of them can take into account is what resonates with each individual.  In regards to pretty much everything.  That's life, and training.

Some people like cats.  Some people like dogs.  Some like both.  Some don't like either.

If you asked each person their reasoning for such, you'd likely get some simple answers as to why, but believe it or not, most of those things are just surface level responses and the majority of people cannot really tell you the deep meaning of why they gravitate towards certain things in life.  They know they do, and they have their own answers, but they cannot explain to you why they like "red headed women".

"Because I'm attracted to them."

Yes, that's a really surface level answer, but truthfully people can't really tell you the why behind their answers.  And let's be clear, with everything in life you don't have to.  The person who loves country music, and hates metal can't tell you why they do.  They just do.  And vice versa.  Again, one person may say "it's all a bunch of screaming I can't understand" or the metal guy may say "country sucks because it's a bunch of whining."

Again, surface level answers.

People can't really answer the "why" to those answers.

"Why don't you like all that screaming in metal music?"

"Because I don't."

To them, that's enough.  And it is.  No one has to justify their reasoning for their preferences.  But there tends to be reasons deeper than "I do/don't like..." certain things.  But I'm not a psychologist and I don't intend to ask  you about your relationship with your mom/dad or your childhood fears.

Training is no different.  People are going to gravitate towards certain training "styles" because it speaks to them and they enjoy it.  There's probably a deeper reason "why" to all of that, but I can't answer those things for every person.  Some people are more analytical in their approach to things, and like structure.  Some people gravitate towards a more haphazard brutality style approach and tend to often live their life with a bit more edge to it as well.

That's just my own observations and is in no way factual.  I'm just never surprised when I have a chance to get to know someone personally, what training style they tend to favor.  It's almost always a reflection of the actual person I know.

But here's the thing.  You will be the most consistent with whatever training program resonates with you the most.  Even if the training program is sub-par in some aspects, if you're applying it will consistency and exceptional effort, then results will manifest themselves in some way.

Dieting is no different.  People have been debating low fat/low carb for fat loss for decades now and there have been a zillion studies done with each side trying to prove one is more effective than the other.  When the fact is, the most effective one, is the one someone can use on a consistent basis because they enjoy it (I mean to whatever degree you can REALLY enjoy dieting).  From satiation to food selection, people will be more likely to stick to the diet that for whatever surface level reasons, resonate with them.

Conclusion - 

These three things are basically the pyramid or trinity or trifecta in regards to outlining a complete training/diet strategy to reach your goals the fastest.  Within each of these there is of course, a complicated set of questions and answers that you must ask, and be willing to answer.  Once  you can effectively "fill in the blanks" to all of that, you'll be well on your way to smashing through roadblocks and understanding how to apply the things that best suit you and your individual needs.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

And not a single mountain was ever climbed......

There is an idiom most often used to describe people as pessimists or optimists.  

And it's commonly "glass is half full" or "glass is half empty".

I try not to use absolutes in my life now.  By that I mean, the words and phrases "never" "always" "all the time", etc.  Because for the most part, they are rarely true (see, I had to be careful right there not to say they are "never" true).  

The reason why is because using absolutes distorts our perception about how true a situation really is, or isn't.  

And most people are not always half-full or half-empty types "all the time".  We tend to see the liquid in the glass quite differently based on different situations in our life.  

When we are in a glass-is-half-empty state, we tend to over analyze every word, action, and reaction involved in whatever situation is plaguing us.  We do this, I believe, because we often find ourselves at a crossroad in our life that requires us to make a decision that we feel like will be life impacting.  That once we take that step off the proverbial cliff, we accept that we are in a free fall and have no idea what our landing is going to be like.  It would be nice to know well ahead of time that a mountain of cotton is at the bottom, just waiting to cushion our fall.  But we can't know that.  And depending on where our mindset is at in the time of that free fall, we either envision said mountain of cotton (glass is half full), or envision razor sharp rocks (half empty) that are going to slice us into bits and disembowel us.  Even worse is that we don't die from it.  We just get split wide open and lie there bleeding eternally in a lake of our own blood and pain, metaphorically speaking, and think "this is going to be my life."  Pain, misery, anguish, and suffering.....eternally.  

Now that's a rosy ass picture I just painted, let me tell you.

But that is rarely the case.  If ever.  Yeah, I used an absolute there (sort of, I did add the "if") because I think I'm ok in saying that at some point, the misery does end.  At least for a while before life presents us with a new set of circumstances that will require us to make a choice to have faith in yet another free fall.

Most of the time, life gives us a bit of both, however.  The razors and the cotton.  

Generally speaking, taking big risks and big decisions usually means getting split wide open for a while until we find ourselves in emotional comfort.  Or we get comfortable being uncomfortable.  And there's good and bad in that as well.  Sometimes we aren't aware of how unbearable the discomfort is until something awakens us to it.  

I heard a story about a woman a few years ago who, by all accounts had a fairly good life.  That is, until her husband died.  Now I know what you're thinking at this point.  It all went into the shitter for her at that point.  But actually, it was the opposite.  Once she was unshackled from the chains of the discomfort she had grown so used to in that marriage, her life blossomed and she began doing all the things she had ever wanted to do in her life, but was never free to explore.  The person who was closest to her said of it all "it was a bizarre duality of joy and complete sadness.  Joy, to see her with the ability to feel free to explore who she wanted to be, and what she wanted out of life without limits, without reservations, without oppression.  And sad at the same time, that she let so many years get washed away by not finding the strength to actually make the choice to free herself from that emotional slavery."  

People can and do willingly chain themselves to life draining situations for sometimes illogical and inexplicable reasons.  Or let me rephrase, illogical to everyone else from the outside looking in.

I can't read minds, and I do my best not to speak for others, but in the time I've spent on this Earth, and in my own experience in life, most of us end up in those prisons because we are paralyzed by the fear of change.  

Exceptionally cliche thing to write, I'm aware.  But cliches exist for a reason.  They exist because most of us live some sort of the same situations throughout life, just painted with slightly different colors and patterns.  One person's mauve is another person's thistle. 

The paralyzing effect in people's life isn't just fear, but habit.  

The FBI's database shows that about 8% of people who are taken hostage end up developing Stockholm syndrome.

If you don't know what that is, I can enlighten you.......

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

Essentially, there is a sort of illogical bonding that happens in spite of the fact that the person being held hostage is in fact being abused by their captors.  Symptoms include but are not limited to.....

  • Positive feelings by the prisoner toward the captor.
  • Negative feelings by the prisoner toward his or her family, friends or authorities attempting any rescue.
  • Support for the captor's reasons and behaviors.
The most common thought behind the development of these irrational and illogical thoughts come back to one of the two things that we as humans, are designed for, physiologically.

1.  To procreate.
2.  To survive. 

It's #2 that psychologists agree on (for the most part) that causes this phenomenon.  In essence, self preservation.  

Once the hostage is in the clutches of the abductor, they are isolated from the outside world.  Everything now, in regards to survival, is dependent on that relationship.  The longer the abduction goes on, the more reliant the hostage becomes.  Their life depends on it.  So there is a shift in their mental and emotional state that creates a coping mechanism.  Most of us do in fact develop coping mechanisms for physical, emotional, and mental stress in our life.

Hell, let's go ahead and break the rules here and use an absolute (shit I'm breaking that rule all over the place in this article).  We ALL develop coping mechanisms for the hostage situations we have in our life.  Whatever they may be, we will find a way to cope.  It may be healthy, or unhealthy, but it will happen.  

Unfortunately, as I've seen all too often, people that become aware of such issues and find themselves lying on a therapist's couch, end up trying to fix all the coping mechanisms, rather than addressing what's actually causing them.  This should make sense, if you understand how the world of therapy and therapists can and is often filled with people who don't desire you to get off that couch.

I read an article a while back, which I cannot seem to find now so I will have to paraphrase, where the author (who is a therapist) was railing on the entire field of therapy because people should not find themselves in therapy for weeks, months, or years.  I'm not talking about things like drug addiction or such, I'm talking about getting through normal, yet difficult life situations.

Her stance?  Make a fucking choice.  

That's it.  That's all.  

And her problem with most of the people working in the field of therapy was that it wasn't their desire to help these people make a choice.  Her pet peeve was the common question asked by therapists to their patients.

"Well how does that make you feel?"

Her retort was basically, "this is fucking stupid.  I already know how it makes them feel because they told me.  So my question back to them was "and what are you going to do about it?""

Her success rate was pretty high.  Her style of counseling was to essentially force people to recognize the root of the problem, rather than worrying about the coping mechanisms, then make a choice to change the actual problem.  To get them to actually say what they needed to change, then actually act on it.  To understand what their control in life was, and to seize it, and make it work for them.  To stop waiting for things to "magically change".  To stop trying to put band-aids on the problem by addressing the coping mechanisms and to actually kill those off, by making a choice to change what was causing them.

Her average number of therapy sessions per client? 


In other words, "shit or get off the fucking pot."  Amazing that she was smart enough to go to school all those years and arrive at a saying most of us already knew, but have trouble applying.

The problem is, most people really do already know the answer, but don't have the courage to break away from their metaphorical or real life in-person captors.

People stay shackled to jobs, marriages, friendships, and all sorts of shit in life because of fear, habit, and the development of an ideology that their self preservation is dependent upon these things existing.  In other words, they can't imagine their life without those things in place.  No matter how bad or horrible or shitty they may be.  No different than the hostage.

How many people have you ever known that were in a life sucking relationship but would not get out of it?  

The most common answer as to why, that I've ever heard is "well I love them."  To those people, I don't think they understand the concept of what that word means.  And it can mean a lot of things.  But I don't often associate love with destruction or the tearing down of someone in a way that lessens them.  I mean wiki told me this.......

Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection ("I love my mother") to pleasure ("I loved that meal"). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment.  It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection—"the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another". It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one's self or animals.

I mean just borrow from that..........

"I loved that meal".

Pretty sure no one has ever said that while gagging on a food their taste buds rejected like your intestines rejects Chipotle (and while you may love Chipotle, your intestines usually do not).

This isn't to say that you don't love that person.  But it shouldn't be reason, the sole reason, you keep arriving at to stay in that state of Stockholm syndrome with them.  There's been enough articles written about toxic relationships on the net that you could have found a few and come to the conclusion if you happened to be in one or not, and found the courage to get out of it.  Why on Earth would you waste another minute of your life in something that consistently takes more than it gives back?  

Wait.  That's how Casinos stay in business.  But I digress.  Even then, people end up in therapy for gambling because they watch their life crumble due to their "love" of gambling.  Everyday that you stay in a relationship with someone you "love" that causes you to empty out your emotional bank account, the closer you get to being broke(en).  And once that happens, just like in gambling, you will have to take a long hard look at your own self worth.  

Ugh.  This article is really uplifting isn't it?

I've worked with people who bitched daily about the jobs we were in.

"I hate this fucking job so much."

"Well go get another one."

"Well rabble rabble mumble mumble....stuff, things, you know."

I get it.  Change is fucking hard.  We like routine.  We like habits.  We wouldn't have habits if they weren't habits!   Get your mind around that for a while.  But routine and habits that cause us to be hostages is no way to go through life.  I mean that's really deep (sarcasm) and should be on a Pinterest meme somewhere with a chick walking on the beach in the background, but at the core of it, the message still rings true.

And it's not until that moment, that epiphany, that paradigm shift that happens that causes our eyes to be wide open to it all, and creates pause long enough to let fear sink in that maybe, possibly, probably....we need to make a change.  We need to step a step off that ledge, and embrace that free fall.  That whatever comes with that decision, fuck it, we will deal with it.  Cotton or razors, cut open or cushy, I'm making a choice to change things.  

No one ever climbed a single mountain by just looking at it.  Not one person.  Ever.  Yes, I used a few absolutes there because that is an undeniable truth.  

You will never ever climb a single mountain just by standing at the foot of it.   And life can't improved by living in self imposed victimhood.  Choosing to change things to accept happiness is not selfish.  And a lot of people in your life that you may have to remove to find happiness, may tell you that you're being selfish.  Most of the time, those are your captors.  The ones you've been so reliant on.  The ones who have shackled you and imprisoned you and made you believe that your self preservation depends on them.  

It doesn't.  

Empowerment is something people can find if they are willing to embrace change.  If they are willing to embrace that fall.  If they are willing to go through the myriad of pains life will bring with change.

But the journey up that mountain has to start with the first step.  The free fall has to start with that first step.  

Every major change starts with that one first step.  That one usually proves to be the hardest.  And if you're ever to find  yourself in a place where you carved out the life you really wanted, you'll look back and realize that step was indeed the hardest, but absolutely the most important one.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

The competitor and keto/os

The last year I've been involved with a company that distributes exogenous ketones called keto/os designed by Pruvit.

Like most supplements, and rightly so, they have undergone a lot of scrutiny and lashing across the net for being the product of an MLM based company.

I myself was very reluctant to get involved for those exact reasons and it took me a long time to get on board with it all because I am a skeptic by heart.  Especially when it comes to supplements.

I wrote an article before outlining how I ended up buying in and I will link it here.

One of the common misconceptions about using exogenous ketones is that you need to be on a ketogenic diet in order to use them.  The only reason I feel like people can arrive at such a conclusion is just because of the fact that the supplement is in fact a ketone itself.  Beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

The entire point of using an exogenous ketone (exogenous meaning it comes from outside the body, where endogenous means from inside the body) is to get the benefits that ketones provide without actually having to get into a state of ketosis.  In other words, you can have your carbs and derive the benefits you get from that ketone BHB itself.

To be completely up front, I am not a fan of ketogenic diets.  Or let me state, not from an athletic or muscle building standpoint.  And I will tell you why.

Carbohydrates have a protein sparing effect in regards to the fact that the keep the body from using amino acids through the process known as gluconeogenesisto create glucose.

In the absence of glucose, gluconeogenesis essentially robs Peter to pay Paul.  If someone is interested in growing as much lean tissue as possible, then robbing muscle of the very building blocks needed to grow is not a great idea.  Let us also not forget that carbohydrates serve as a catalyst for the pancreas to secrete insulin, which is responsible for reducing muscle protein breakdown.

Yet at the same time, there's actually no such thing as an "essential carbohydrate".

We have essential amino acids, the ones that cannot be created by the body and must be found through food or supplementation. Those being histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

And we have essential fatty acids, Omega-3 and Omega-6.  Just like the 9 essential amino acids, these cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through diet.

In fact, as we break down what the essentials are by the body, you actually won't find carbohydrates in the list anywhere.

- Water.  Without water well, you die.
- Essential amino acids
- Essential fatty acids
- Vitamins and minerals
- Trace minerals

The only knock here is that reducing your diet to protein and fats is said by some to cause deficiencies in some of the areas listed above.  Potentially potassium, zinc, selenium, and vitamin D.  However let's be clear about something here - if  your diet doesn't contain a variety of foods in it then regardless of the "style" of dieting you choose,  you'll end up deficient in something somewhere. So even if you decide that a keto diet is right for you, make sure to do your homework in regards to food selection so that you have your bases covered as thoroughly as possible from this standpoint.

With all of that said, from both an athletic performance standpoint and muscle building standpoint, carbs really are king, but only when working in conjunction in a synergistic way with proteins and fats.  You need an optimum supply of all three macros in order to either grow muscle, or perform athletically at a high level.  Carbs supply an immediate and "cheap" source of energy that is easily converted into ATP which is the driver for fast and explosive muscular contractions.

So while carbs may not be "essential" their role in regards to sports performance and building muscle cannot be overstated.

So where in the hell does that bring us back to in regards to exogenous ketones?

Those on keto diets and those not - 

Well this one shouldn't be too hard to figure out.  Anyone that decides to implement a keto diet, which has been proven to be an excellent choice for rapid fat loss, can use the exogenous ketones to achieve a high rate of ketosis in that state.

But what about those who either subscribe to a higher carbohydrate diet, or someone just going low carb for the sake of fat loss, either for physique competition or just using a low carb/high fat paradigm to shed more fat?

I'm glad you asked.  Or maybe you didn't.  But here you are, reading this tripe anyway.

The brain uses about 120 grams of glucose a day (give or take).  When the body is low on glucose, such as in a state of low carb dieting, the brain competes with the glucose supply for normal functioning.

Anyone who has ever done a contest diet should understand the manifestations of this quite well.  When someone is only ingesting 50-150 grams of carbs a day, then training, then doing cardio, there's not a lot of that "cheap energy" to tap into.  When I was in contest prep and carbs were at an all time low, I had times where I had no idea where I was driving to or what my cats name was anymore.

If you doubt the impact on glucose availability for proper brain function, have a lookie at this guy here......

Previous research has found that the ingestion of glucose boosts task performance in the memory domain (including tasks tapping episodic, semantic, and working memory). The present pilot study tested the hypothesis that glucose ingestion would enhance performance on a test of prospective memory. In a between-subjects design, 56 adults ranging from 17 to 80 years of age performed a computerized prospective memory task and an attention (filler) task after 25 g of glucose or a sweetness-matched placebo. Blood glucose measurements were also taken to assess the impact of individual differences on glucose regulation. After the drink containing glucose, cognitive facilitation was observed on the prospective memory task after excluding subjects with impaired fasting glucose level. Specifically, subjects receiving glucose were 19% more accurate than subjects receiving a placebo, a trend that was marginally nonsignificant, F₁,₄₁ = 3.4, P = .07, but that had a medium effect size, d = 0.58. Subjects receiving glucose were also significantly faster on the prospective memory task, F₁,₃₅ = 4.8, P < .05, d = 0.6. In addition, elevated baseline blood glucose (indicative of poor glucose regulation) was associated with slower prospective memory responding, F₁,₃₅ = 4.4, P < .05, d = 0.57. These data add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that both memory and executive functioning can benefit from the increased provision of glucose to the brain.

To clear this up, once you remove carbs, brain function drops if there is not an alternative source for improving cognition.

Now when I write "remove carbs" I'm talking about low carbohydrate diets, and not ketogenic diets.  The brain cannot use fatty acids for fuel.  [1]Fatty acids do not serve as fuel for the brain, because they are bound to albumin in plasma and so do not traverse the blood-brain barrier. In starvation, ketone bodies generated by the liver partly replace glucose as fuel for the brain.  So if someone is going low carb, but not in a ketogenic state, then essentially brain cognition is going to be in the shitter.

Ketosis can only happen once your body no longer as the ability to draw upon glucose for a fuel source, and then a switch in the metabolic pathways happens so that ketones can be used instead of glucose.  The process here is that fat gets broken down in the liver, and glycerol and fatty acid molecules are released.  Ketogensis happens, then and a ketone body called acetoacetate which is then converted into BHB and acetone.  Acetone is the one that makes your breath smell like you've been feasting on the flesh of rotting corpses in a truck stop bathroom.

BHB however, is quite amazing.

The therapeutic uses for ketogenic diets have been documented quite thoroughly, like right here....

Surprisingly, D-beta-hydroxybutyrate (abbreviated "betaOHB") may also provide a more efficient source of energy for brain per unit oxygen, supported by the same phenomenon noted in the isolated working perfused rat heart and in sperm. It has also been shown to decrease cell death in two human neuronal cultures, one a model of Alzheimer's and the other of Parkinson's disease. These observations raise the possibility that a number of neurologic disorders, genetic and acquired, might benefit by ketosis.

But to expound on BHB, is in fact the preferred fuel source by the brain.  But even more than that, BHB appears to suppress brain glucose function.  Yah, this was done on rats, but I will follow up with some people stuff after this as well........

It is hypothesized that ketone bodies play a neuroprotective role through an improvement in metabolic efficiency, by sparing glucose, and the degradation of muscle-derived amino acids for substrates15. During hypoxia, ketone bodies have been shown to be neuroprotective16,17 by depressing glucose uptake and CMRglu possibly due to metabolic bocks as a result of oxidative damage. Ketone bodies are thought to stabilize the lactate/pyruvate ratio and bypass the metabolic blocks associated with oxidative stress induced impairment of glucose metabolism.

So over the last many months, what I've seen with competitors who are in a very depleted carbohydrate state is this very thing when they added in the ketones during those times.

And while it's true that the brain draws upon different fuels for function, a brain trying to run on trace amounts of glucose that is being constantly depleted through cardio and training will be a brain that isn't working all that well.

So as I dispersed this product out to competitors in a state of severe carbohydrate depletion, they all kept coming back amazed at what happened.  Brain fog gone, the ability to generate hard mind to muscle contractions during training had returned, and the feeling of death washing over them every hour of the day was gone.  Or at least, for the hours that the exogenous ketones were running through their system.  

This didn't happen once, or twice, or even three times.  It happened with every competitor that ended up using the product.  

When the brain cannot draw upon enough glucose for efficient functioning and the ketones are implemented, it now has a fuel source that it actually prefers.  Especially in the times when the body is depleted of glucose.  

In summary, this is the first study directly showing acute utilization of BHB in human brain. The concentration of tissue BHB is in agreement with earlier acute hyperketonemic (nonfasted) data, with concentrations of brain BHB quite low. At the plasma levels of 2.25 ± 0.24 mmol/L BHB, the appearance of the 13C label into the brain and into the amino acid pools is rapid, reaching a steady state for Glu4 and Gln4 at fractional enrichments of 6.78 ± 1.71% and 5.64 ± 1.84%, respectively. The distribution of label resembles that of glucose, consistent with the view that BHB is metabolized primarily within the large neuronal compartment. Modeling the glutamate and glutamine steady-state fractional enrichments based on a single compartment gives oxidative rates of BHB of 0.032 ± 0.009 mmol kg−1 min−1 that are consistent with whole brain human brain measurements made earlier using AV difference methods. Analysis of aspartate labeling is consistent with the view that in these compartments of BHB consumption, aspartate and glutamate are not equally distributed. We anticipate that information gained from these BHB studies will contribute towards defining the extent of BHB accumulation and the metabolic contributions that are not glucose dependent, which may be helpful towards understanding and managing clinical situations where glucose is not readily available, for example, the ketogenic diet and hypoglycemia.

^ and the above is exactly what competitors are often dealing with, and why it is they see such dramatic results when implementing keto/os as part of their competition cycle.  And it's exactly what happened to me when I hit the "wall" in prep for my show as well.  

But even if you're not a competitor, or do enjoy a diet rich in the delights from places like the Cheesecake factory or Olive garden, the benefits of BHB go far beyond that of just supplying the brain with an amazing fuel source.  From appetite suppression to its very well documented anti-inflammatory properties, it's not just a supplement to be thrown in by guys and gals trotting around on stage 95% naked.  You can still keep your clothes on and derive tremendous benefits from an overall health perspective with the inclusion of said product, and drastically improve your quality of life.

Or don't.  I don't care.  

But if you want to, try a pack out here.........

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