Sunday, November 27, 2016

The road to happiness through suffering, surviving, thriving, and personal empowerment

Sorry for the overly feel-good almost "elitedaily" type title for this particular piece.  I ruminated for a while on what I would call it, but nothing snappy enough really came to mind.  So I just went with it.

The last few weeks I've read a lot about life improvement.  Mainly because the last few years doing so has been such a huge priority of mine, and I've taken a lot of steps and implement measures and habits that would improve the quality of my life.

By no means does implementing these measures mean you are going to avoid suffering, trials, struggles, and setbacks in life.  In fact, in a lot of ways, those are the very things you need and the stimulus that serves at a catalyst for pushing us forwards into making changes that can create a higher quality of life.  When the pain of staying the same ends up being greater than the fear of change is usually the crossover point where we often make dramatic life changes.  Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worst.  Or let me state this, sometimes the change feels like the worst choice initially, but usually we need to let enough pieces of the future puzzle fall into place before we can adequately judge the quality of our choices, or what they truly manifested in our life.  It's not like eating at Chipotle and realizing 90 minutes later that the outcome of doing so had negative consequences.

Possibly the worst choice we can make, is to avoid said pain and suffering because by doing so we end up with very fragmented lives that feel incomplete and unrewarding, sending us into a downwards spiral that we don't often recognize is even happening until we've landed at rock bottom.  Along the ride into that seventh circle of hell, we often develop coping mechanisms so that we can avoid fixing the very things that unstich us.  We love avoidance.  We love rationalizing.  These two things enable us to emotionally survive temporarily until doing so is no longer enough to make up for the "loss" we live with day in and day out.

Pharmaceutical companies make billions a year off of these mechanisms in the way of Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Paxil.  As a society, better "living through chemistry" has become our life motto when adversity hits us the hardest, rather than using said adversity as a means for personal growth.

Our most difficult times in life are the ones we need the most as the stimulus for embracing change, conquering fears, and evolving into the very best version of who we want to become.  That can't happen if we numb ourselves down through drugs, rationalize the putting off of making choices, and allow these times to bring out the very worst parts of who we are.

Even worse, using SSRI drugs are eventually going to make our depression worse.

A recently released scientific study published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews claims that the entire theory behind the usage of SSRI’s is completely backwards, even going as far as to suggest that SSRI’s actually make overcoming depression more difficult, especially in the first weeks of taking antidepressants.

‘”Those serotonin-boosting medications actually make it harder for patients to recover, especially in the short term, says lead author Paul Andrews, an assistant professor of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster.’

This new research gives us an explanation as to why so many people do not improve once they begin taking SSRI’s, offering evidence that taking SSRI’s may actually make it more difficult for people to heal depression, as the medication interferes with the brain’s natural processes of recovery.

“When depressed patients on SSRI medication do show improvement, it appears that their brains are actually overcoming the effects of anti-depressant medications, rather than being assisted directly by them. Instead of helping, the medications appear to be interfering with the brain’s own mechanisms of recovery.”
The mental health industry is founded on prescribing mood-enhancing drugs rather than uncovering and confronting the physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual and environmental root causes of depression, anxiety and attention deficit ‘disorders.’

The other studies are just as alarming.  Linking a high rate of suicide to those on antidepressants, that often begin with shaking, consistent nightmares, withdrawing and isolating oneself from friends and loved ones.

There's a few things that really jump out at me there.  The first is that our brain, much like our body with training, has the ability to help us heal and become stronger through emotional, psychological, and environmental trauma.  And much like how stress in the gym serves as the catalyst for building us a stronger and more robust physique, going through times of stress and dealing with it appropriately gives us the emotional and mental ability to forge through future times of stress and discomfort far more easily.  We have the ability to tap into these measures with the proper help, the right support systems, the right attitude, and the right choices so that we can heal properly from the toll life often takes on us.

The second thing is much more obvious - Drugs aren't going to fix your problems because once you become numbed down, how on Earth are you going to be able to make logical decisions about changing your life when you feel nothing?  There is a hand shaking mechanism between logic and emotion that we need to use in order to arrive at a decision that we feel is best for our life, and offers us up the highest quality of it.  Even if that means we have to endure wave after wave of adversity for a while.  

To quote a close friend of mine who battled depression for a while and was using anti-depressants to cope, was told by the psychiatrist "you don't have clinical depression.  I'm taking you off of all anti-depressants because you need to FIX THE PROBLEMS IN YOUR LIFE!"

The truth is, it's hard to get good help these days.  Doctors numb people down and get them addicted to drugs because it lines their pockets.  Most therapists don't really push for people to make for life changing decisions because it behooves them to have them on their couch each week talking about "how they feel".  If they were good at their job, and forced people to move, rather than sit idle in their life, they don't have patients for years on end, helping to increase the size of their bank account.  

That's right.  The medical, big pharma, and the therapy community for the large part doesn't really have your best interests at heart.  People who are suffering from normal life problems and adversity (I'm talking outside the scope of legitimate chemical or physiological issues), don't need therapy for years on end.  They don't need drugs.  They need to embrace the small, uncomfortable confined space that life has put them in, and summon the strength to break free from it.  That is where personal growth happens.  That is the wellspring from where creating something anew begins.

I think that a good therapist can give you the tools to do this; but they also have to force you to examine your life and instead of asking you the question of "how does that make you feel?", and instead ask you "and what are you going to do to change it?" and hold you accountable.  More importantly, you need to hold yourself accountable for personal growth, and have a loving and sincere support system that does so as well.

As someone who suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks for years (at one time to the point of causing irregular heart patterns that landed me in the hospital) I was told by many to see a doctor about getting on "something" to help me.  

I refused.

I knew that dealing with it was within my control, and that I needed to learn how.  And over time, I did.  And I've had fewer anxiety attacks as I learned my own personal coping mechanisms to deal with them.  When they have happened again, I learned how to shorten the time span in which they lasted.  Not a single drug was ever taken in order for me deal with this.

I'm not a doctor, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (I'm way too snobby for that), but I can write a little bit about how to find some personal empowerment, and some steps you can take that will eventually set you on the course to alleviating stress and personal grief.  Maybe you don't need this, but maybe someone you know does.  Maybe my advice doesn't help at all.  But if it helps one person, then writing this is worth it.

Seek happiness through positive selfishness -

The word selfishness has a very negative connotation.  It invokes the idealistic view of someone doing things that only serve themselves, at the expense of hurting others.  And that is a TYPE of selfishness.  It's negative selfishness.  But there's also a thing called positive selfishness that should be a part of your ideology if you actually want to be the best person you can be for the people you do love and care about.

Servitude can be exhausting.  Doing for others is a great thing, and is something I will expound on later.  However when your efforts are constantly centered around making everyone else happy, especially at the expense of your own happiness, it will leave you depleted.

There is a saying about training that goes "fatigue masks fitness."  In other words, if you are tired and/or exhausted then you will not be able to perform to the best of your abilities in the gym, or athletic field.  No one ever told an athlete that resting was selfish, or that it wasn't a part of an intelligent training program.  It's an integral part of becoming better.

Likewise, how do you expect to be at your best, when you don't take time out for personal recovery?

Treating yourself to the things that make you happy is something you should learn how to embrace without feeling guilty about it.  You need the things that exist outside of everyone and everything else that you can immerse yourself in, that invigorate you and restore your emotional energy.

I often refer back to my oxygen mask metaphor.  When you're on a plane and they talk about safety procedures, they tell you in the case of an emergency if you are with a child or someone who cannot take care of themselves (like an elderly or handicapped person), to put your oxygen mask on FIRST.

Is this selfish? YES!  It's a form of positive selfishness because unless you are of sound mind due to getting adequate oxygen, you cannot take care of the people that need you the most.

Put your mental, emotional, and spiritual well being first, and you will be at your best in regards to making choices that better your life, and those you intend to keep in it.

Treat your relationships like entities / Build a dynamic support system -

A few weeks ago I had a great conversation with someone who specializes in this area.  And he gave me a great way to look at the various relationships we have in our life, and how they either create a strong or weak support system in it.

To paraphrase.......

There is an identification process embedded in creating your relationships.  No different than running or owning a business.

"If you run a business, you hire the most qualified people, and eliminate those not qualified.  You don't keep unqualified people employed and then hate the job they do each day as the company loses money.  You identify they can no longer do the job or are not qualified for it, and let them go.  The company benefits and grows by replacing them with someone who can.  If you view  your love life or other relationships as an entity, which it is, then you only hire the most qualified persons so that it can prosper and grow.  If a company isn't growing, it can't serve its customers to the best of its ability.  It can't function efficiently.  People don't often think about how their romantic or personal relationships transcends into other parts of servitude in their life.  Fulfilling relationships will strengthen all the other facets of your life no different than a company works at a more efficient capacity for its customers when it has fantastic employees and managers."

This should lead you to some easy conclusions, and probably some hard questions to ask.

"Do the people I keep in my support system, and the ones I share intimacy and love with help our "business" to grow, or are they leading me into emotional bankruptcy?"

 If you know the answer to the bankruptcy question is "yes", then why are you keeping them "employed?"

Change or create a new support system.  The people in your life should make you feel empowered, strengthened, loved, supported, and cherished.

If they don't, then I can promise you they are robbing you of your ability to cultivate the life you're trying to carve out.  Your support system has momentum built into it.  And here's the thing about momentum; it goes both ways.  The wind is either at your back, or it's blasting you in the face.  Which one is your support system doing?

Give back -

A few weeks ago I decided on something that had been on my heart for a long time.  I have given to charity and participated in various outreach programs, but for quite some time I had wanted to create something that was genuinely part of me.  To give back to the community, and to those less fortunate.

And that's how the Strength Giving Project ended up happening.  I wanted to put my time and energy into giving to those less fortunate.  I wanted to do the work.  I still think giving money to great charities is exceptionally noble and worthwhile, however it's not quite the same as "getting your hands dirty" and putting your own personal time and efforts into making a difference.

I wanted to get out and talk to people that were suffering from being homeless, and hear their stories, and give them something to smile about or feel good about.  Even if only for a day.  That's one less day of their life that was spent in depression or sadness.  That was something I could help give them and I had the power to do that.

Putting in that time, money, and energy to do so was exceptionally rewarding and has given me an outlet for a passion I've had for a long time, but didn't enact upon.  Now it's something I will be making one of the priorities in my life, and something I hope grows into a program that helps people all over the world.

Which brings me to.....

Set powerful goals -

Let me preface this part with something about happiness as well.

Goal attainment should not ever be looked at, as something that will make you happy.  Yes, achieving goals will most certainly make you happy, but the problem is, that happiness is fleeting.  It's very impermanent.  And yes we can later reflect back on those achievements and be proud of them, but most of us have come to believe that attaining something or achieving something is where happiness lives at.  And then we spend all the time in between attaining that "thing" (whatever it may be) in a state of unhappiness, or a feeling of being inadequate.  We believe if we can squash the phrase "if I could only..." that suddenly personal completeness will arrive.

It won't.  After we attain whatever that thing is, there's assuredly something else we inevitably find we believe we are missing for "more happiness."

This doesn't mean you shouldn't set powerful and meaningful goals in your life.  You should.  But along the way the work to that achievement should be something that gives you happiness as well.  People often cite the phrase "live in the moment", then fail to do so because they are so focused on goal attainment.

Aerosmith wrote "life's a journey, not a destination."  Create a magnificent destination you are traveling towards.  But make sure you don't miss all of the wonderful things on the drive there that really make it worth while.

I have huge plans for the Strength Giving Project.  I hope more people want to get involved with me in this outreach program.

Empower others through your experiences -

Over the years, I've gotten asked by a lot of people how I ended up with...I guess...great insight to navigating through life or offering advice on how to improve..."things" (I hate writing this part because it feels arrogant and haughty and I don't want to come across that way) or themselves.

This all ties back into the previous part about using suffering and adversity as the most significant times in your life for personal growth.

I could never sit across from someone, and be able to identify with their struggles or suffering, if I had numbed myself down through drugs, or wasn't introspective enough to look back on my life and own my mistakes, do my best to make amends for them, and ultimately make positive selfish choices that helped me love and listen better.  I could never sit across from someone and possibly help them if I hadn't made a lot of the very difficult choices I had to make in order to improve the quality of my life.  Which is what all of us should be doing, in my opinion.

Yes, I've had a lot of people seek me out in previous years for advice on traversing through the worst parts of their life.  And I hope in those times, I was able to help them in some way.  If I did, it was only because I had walked down similar paths (not the exact ones, because everyone's struggle is uniquely their own), made a lot of really bad choices, and somehow....someway...I found myself searching out the best way(s) to let go of resentment, shame, and anger and learned how to replace them with patience, empathy, sincerity, and forgiveness.

I can almost bet, anyone reading this has a story.  You have your own story about your life, and the hardships it has bestowed upon you at times.  And I can also just about bet money, looking back on some of those times you are proud of how you responded and grew from them.  And there's also a good chance, you've shared that with someone at some point, that learned something from what you went through.  And that in itself, is empowering others through your own experiences.

Being able to do so requires the suffering of course, but it also meant you might have been able to give someone a few encouraging words that helped them get through a period where they weren't sure how to cope anymore.  Or how they would face another day of the personal pain they were experiencing.

I've had times in my life that felt so debilitating that it took all the energy I could muster up just to turn out of bed, and put my feet on the floor so I could stand up.  I've had plenty of days where I prayed to God that I had no idea how I would face another day of agony, and felt completely defeated in life.

If you've ever been there, in that place of loss and despair, and sat down on the cold, damp floor at rock bottom and felt like you'd never have a day in your life again where you woke up happy again, I promise you that when you sit across from someone in that exact'll see it in their eyes.

And if you found the strength to climb out of those places, you'll be a great source of strength and encouragement for the person you are sitting across from who is struggling with all of the same questions you had in those moments.

Make happiness and love your priority - 

In closing, I am going to reference the Grant study.

I have many times before, and will do so again, and probably will again at some point in the future because I think everyone should grasp and understand just how important love and a high quality of life is linked together.

Our life, from childhood to when we say goodbye to this world, the degree of happiness we  get to experience in it, is directly related to the amount of love we experience in it as well.

What is the Grant study?

The project, which began in 1938, has followed 268 Harvard undergraduate men for 75 years, measuring an astonishing range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits—from personality type to IQ to drinking habits to family relationships to “hanging length of his scrotum”—in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing.
  • Financial success depends on warmth of relationships and, above a certain level, not on intelligence.
  • Those who scored highest on measurements of “warm relationships” earned an average of $141,000 a year more at their peak salaries (usually between ages 55 and 60).
  • No significant difference in maximum income earned by men with IQs in the 110–115 range and men with IQs higher than 150.

  • The warmth of childhood relationship with mothers matters long into adulthood:
  • Men who had “warm” childhood relationships with their mothers earned an average of $87,000 more a year than men whose mothers were uncaring.
  • Men who had poor childhood relationships with their mothers were much more likely to develop dementia when old.
  • Late in their professional lives, the men’s boyhood relationships with their mothers—but not with their fathers—were associated with effectiveness at work.
  • The warmth of childhood relationships with mothers had no significant bearing on "life satisfaction" at 75.
  • The warmth of childhood relationship with fathers correlated with:
    • Lower rates of adult anxiety.
    • Greater enjoyment of vacations.
    • Increased “life satisfaction” at age 75.
Vaillant's main conclusion is that "warmth of relationships throughout life have the greatest positive impact on 'life satisfaction'". Put differently, Vaillant says the study shows: "Happiness is love. Full stop."

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pain management - Get busy living.....

Injuries suck.  I love opening with a provocatively obvious statement right out of the gate.

Oh let me add, being sick also sucks.  I mean when you're really sick with the flu, or some type of bronchitis that makes daily living outright miserable.

None of this is news, of course.  I'm stating the obvious for a reason as a vehicle for the rest of this article.

What is it that we do when we are injured?  We train around it.  We rehab.  We compress it and elevate it, some people even still apply ice (groan).  In other words, we do all the things to manage dealing with it until said injury is healed.

When we are sick, we often medicate ourselves.  We take some off the shelf coma inducing elixir to help us manage the aches and pains, and numb us down as much as possible until it runs its course.

The commonality here is that we do things to manage illness and injury until it subsides, and we can resume feeling good again, or at least normal.  Because that's the goal.  Not to be in pain.  Not to feel sick.  Not to be injured.  And the best part of that, is once it does subside is that we are exceptionally appreciative to not be in pain anymore.  To not be coughing a lung out all day, each day.  To not feel like hammered shit.

I remember the night I drove myself to the emergency room in severe stomach pain that had been going on for a few days.  I had tried everything I could think of to relieve it.  Tums, ibuprofen, gas medicine, pepto.  Hell, I even made myself throw up, because I thought maybe I had something in my stomach that wouldn't come out either end and that if I "got it out", that I would feel better.  No such luck.

It was around 2 a.m. that it hit me, to test something out.  I pushed in on the lower right side of my abdomen, and then quickly let off and pain shot through my body like I had been hit by a lightening bolt.  Right then I realized the severity of my situation and I drove to the ER.

That night they wheeled me into emergency surgery and removed my appendix.

I awoke over a day later burning up with fever, that plagued me for a few days.  The pain was enervating.  On the third day my surgeon came in and told me that had I waited a few more hours that most likely I would have died.  I had obviously put my pain aside by "managing" and the infection from the rupture had spread into my body.

Luckily (probably to the dismay of some), I did survive.  But the experience did give me pause for thought, as my father called me while in the hospital and said "son, don't you think maybe you need to do a better job of assessing your pain management?"

His words weren't lost on me, as since then I've tried to not play the role of ultimate macho man, and understand that gutting everything out (in that case, literally) isn't always the best idea, and actually taking care of myself is kinda important.  Because I don't have an extra body lying around I can climb into if this one goes to hell in a hand basket.

All of this sort of hit me the other day as I was driving around running errands and rummaging through my thoughts.

I had gotten off the phone with my best friend and the conversation had left me feeling pretty awesome.  We laughed about a bunch of silly shit, and made fun of each other as we often do.  Then I set out to do my adulting for the day.

The levity from the conversation actually opened my eyes to the fact that, I realized I had mostly been "managing" a lot of shit in my life.  And management can be a good thing.  We are mostly required to manage shit throughout the day.  That's what adulting largely is.  You could easily interchange the terms coping with managing, I think.  You have a checklist of things to do, and you need to do them for the day.  Fair enough.

We get to infuse those moments of levity so infrequently because we spend so much time managing the uncomfortable life we live in.  It's our fault.  It really is.  After all, we created it.  We teach the people we hold closest to us how to treat us.  Because we allow it.  We tolerate it.  Then we develop coping mechanisms that enable us to become comfortable in the discontent of it all.  We emotionally medicate and numb ourselves down so we can "manage" our life.  And at that point, we're not really alive.  We're just breathing.

The awareness of such often happens in these epiphanies where levity removes our injuries, illnesses, having to perform pain management.  Our eyes become opened to just how much pain management we've been doing.  I've sat across tables from people I loved who I knew had immersed themselves so heavily in pain management that they had climbed the ladder to pain CEO levels.  Outwardly, to most people, they were doing just fine.  They had their shit together.  They knew how to smile through the pain and had a life that from all appearances, looked "normal".  And that word right there, normal, I don't even know what that means anymore because I don't really know of anyone that isn't consistently waging some battle in their life that incarcerates and shackles their joy in some way.

I'm not saying our life should be Disney land everyday.  Nor should it be.  How are you ever going to have periods of personal growth if you don't walk through some suffrage?

Pressure is the catalyst for growth.  Change doesn't often happen until the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of change.

My realization during that drive was that, most often something happens that gives us that moment of levity that provides contrast to just how much pain management we've been doing, or we hit a breaking point where we can no longer manage the discomfort, and something must change.

The worst part of this actualization is we see how much in our life we've been "managing".  You find yourself saying "I thought I was doing ok."  Then realize that well, you haven't been.  And those movements are either the launching pad for the initiation of change in our life, or we wake up everyday with far more clarity about just how much our life doesn't look like what we desire it to be, but succumb to simply "dealing with it".

Nothing like having it all come crashing down on you suddenly like that, eh?

I am totally down for adhering to the mantra that we should wake up each day and be thankful for so many of the things we do have in our life that are genuine blessings.  Somewhere this morning someone is praying over their child who is fighting a battle with cancer.  And you're not that person.

Somewhere this morning, someone is trying to figure out where their next meal will come from.  And  you're not that person.

Yes, it's true.  I could be labor on and on about this all day about how "someone else has it worse."  And as I was once told, as I minimized the problems in my own life to someone - "Yes Paul, someone else has it worse, and those people are dead."

The mindset of minimizing your own grief is an awesome way to make sure you don't seize a life you'd be much happier and more productive in.  Because then you rationalize with that old and tired cliche that "it could be worse."  Yes, and as noted, you could be dead.  But if you're reading this, you're not.

People bypass seizing the life they would rather have because doing so often takes work.  A lot of work.  A lot of change.  And change is often frightening.

It often requires overcoming fears that are rooted in the unknown.  So we don't change our life because we're afraid of change, and failure, and ridicule, and ostracizing, and thus we say "I CAN live this way."

And you can.  Truly, you can.

I CAN eat dog food and survive, but I probably won't be very fulfilled and happy in doing so.  Not only that, dog food is designed for dogs.  I'd probably be better off eating food humans should be eating.  Even more, I'd probably feel better making food selections that improve my quality of health and well being.

If your "life diet" has been Alpo, then after eating it day after day after day, you'd eventually just adjust to the fact that "hey, this is what I eat.  And you know what?  It could be worse.  I could be starving."

Yes, and starving people...if they keep starving, eventually die.  And at some point, you'll either grow tired of eating the dog food, and starve to death, or you'll get a taste of food that is fit for human consumption and decide that "I don't have to eat this dog food shit each day."

I know, that's really deep right there - dog food and all.  I'm like a modern day Socrates with this shit, but I think you probably understand the spirit of it all.

The actual real life newsflash here is this - moving out of the pain management zone often requires one change.  Just one.  Not four.  Not three.  Not twelve.  Not four hundred.  It's the one.

Yes that one often means a lot of decisions and changes that will domino afterwards, but I can tell you this - a huge part of excellence in our life is mustering up the courage to bring issues we need deal with to the forefront of our life, and make a choice about them.  When we don't, we are left with alternatives that we haven't chosen for ourselves.  Paraphrasing from Bonhoeffer.

And that is often the predicament that leaves us managing.  Because now we are coping with a life that has been created through situations that we didn't choose.  That we didn't really want.  That don't allow us to wake up with that overriding sense of consistent levity that truthfully, we all more or less desire.  So we cope.  And we say "I am doing ok.  Yes, that milkbone is just fine."

I wholly agree that our mindset of happiness requires us to be introspective about the things we should be thankful for in our life.  But it also means we should be introspective enough to identify when we are merely coping, or applying pain management to our life as well.

When my appendix ruptured, I had a choice.  To sit in my house and die a slow and agonizing death.  Or to drive to the emergency room and get help.  I chose to help myself.  That meant getting cut open, and having parts removed from me that were causing my pain, and would eventually lead to my demise.  I had to make one decision in order to live.  Drive myself to the hospital.

Life, for a lot of people can look a lot like that, but on a longer timeline.  They will suffer and live in pain, and find ways to manage.  All to avoid making a drive to a new destination where yes, they may get cut open, and have to recover from that on the other side of it all.  But afterwards can wake up each day without that nagging ache that doesn't require so much management.

"Get busy living, or get busy dying". -- Andy Dufresne

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Thoughts about life, crap, training, and stuff - Collection 1

Oh hey there.

Yes, I know my writing here has been fleeting and absent for weeks or months at a time.  I've had so many things going on in life that it's largely taken a backseat.  Not my writing, just writing on here.  In case you haven't been following most of my training articles have been going to t-nation and I'm also busy working on a new novel.

With that said, I realized the other night as I was swiping through my social media that there's so much good information in regards to training being distributed now that it might be a decent idea to grab some of the things I see and just collect them on here in blog posts now and then and throw in a few comments.

I titled this one "Collection 1" however don't expect me to keep the count in order.  When Jamie Lewis and I were doing the Chaos and Bang podcast we lost count on the episode number all the time and it became a mainstay of comedy to use a random number on purpose.

With all that said, let's get to it, shall we?

Conditioning - EPOC and steady state cardio

I happened across two pieces this week I read that were interesting.

The first one was from pubmed.

This is the second time I've read about EPOC (excess post exercise oxygen consumption) the last few weeks.  In case you didn't know, one of the supposed benefits of doing a lot of intervals or HIIT is that you're going to have the ol' metabolism revved for hours and hours post workout, burning calories at a blazing clip that will turn you into a real life Professor Klump (go to bed fat, wake up shredded).

Unfortunately, it's really not the case.  From the other studies I read basically EPOC values came out to around an additional 14% of calories burned from HIIT style training, with about 7% of calories burned EPOC when doing LISS.

Now you may say "hold on, that's twice the amount!".  However what actually matters the most is the total number of calories burned during AND after conditioning/cardio work.  200 calories burned from interval training with an additional 14% added on through EPOC is 228 calories.  If you burned 300 calories through some form of steady state with an additional 7% we don't need to do more math here.  You had a larger energy deficit through the steady state.

I didn't have to write all of this really.  I could have summed it up quickly and just written "total calories burned during cardio style exercise is more important than the type you use when striving for fat loss."  With that said, I still think doing intervals is a great idea for reasons outside of fat loss.  Mainly because getting in great shape helps to increase work capacity in the gym, i.e. you can recover faster between sets, thus allowing you to do more work, and volume has some direct correlations with muscle growth.

LISS gets a bad rap sometimes and I'm not sure why.  It serves a number of valuable purposes not only for fat loss, but stress reduction (if  used properly) and can help aid in recovery.  Where HIIT style training tends to be another form of training that detracts from it.

Which led me to end up reading this piece as well....

This was a great piece because he goes into inflammation, something I've covered a lot in the past, and the difference in good inflammation that does it's job, and chronic inflammation that speeds us to an early grave.  As noted above, HIIT is a high form of stress that tends to turn on the sympathetic nervous system and is another inflammation driver.  If you're already busting balls in the gym, and doing intervals, and you have a high level of stress in your personal life, then it's a good bet you're driving a high degree of chronic inflammation into your body.  Not good.

Take home note here - Use both steady state and intervals.  But balance it out so that fat loss goals are being met in conjunction with recovery needs.  For every HIIT/interval session you do, you should have around 5 sessions of steady state in between.

Driving down inflammation was also one of the reasons I became so interested in the exogenous ketones as well.  All you have to do is Google "BHB inflammation" and you'll find a metric ton of peer reviewed research on how well BHB fights inflammation.  I've covered at at length before, so just do some searching through here and you'll find it all.  If you are interested in using them, here is my link.

Training - Yeah, carbs are good

This one should be no surprise.

This study investigated the effect of three consecutive days of high CHO intake on CrossFit performance and corresponding metabolically -related variables in strength trained individuals.

This study was only 9 days long, but for serious I don't need a study that spans a century to know that a diet rich in carbs is going to promote a higher degree of performance for the athlete.

Basically this study showed that the longer training went on, the group that was eating more carbs started performing significantly better.  Thanks for that newsflash from the city.  Again, the study was short, but I think you'd see that trend continue even if it were much longer.  

If body recomp is your goal, then at some point you'll need a hypocaloric diet, which does often mean reducing carbs (and fats), but if you're after performance then using carbs is essential.  Yes I wrote essential because the evidence is fairly overwhelming that diets higher in carbs allow one to perform better than one low in carbs, or (God forbid) no carbs at all.  

Fat loss - 

For this one I want to give a shout out to Vince Dizenzo, who lost 100 pounds.  I've watched his transformation happen and he's been very candid about all the struggles that came with it, and I really appreciate that kind of transparency when someone sets off on a journey like that.

When you read this (and you should) take note of this part........

The long and short of the story, it's been a slow and steady process. The only exception was one time when I lost 40 lbs in 12 weeks. I ended up putting that all back on and then some. Since then, my weight loss actually averages out to just around 1.5 lbs a month.

1.5 pounds a month.  For those complaining during their fat loss or body recomp journey, think about that for a long time.  No seriously, think about a whole month of dieting and training for 1.5 pounds.  Most people complain when they don't see that each week.  Then they blame the diet coach or get discouraged, and quit and then later have to start all over again.  

As I've written before, if you walk 10 miles into the woods, it's a 10 mile walk back out.  Don't expect to undo 10 years of bad habits in a few weeks.  The struggle will be real.  Make a choice to dig deep and see the process through, or quit like the majority of new years resolution people do after 6 weeks or so.  

Vince is also candid in that fact that he believes he most likely developed an eating disorder while getting over 300 pounds.  And that it's something he will always struggle with.  I think it's great he brings up that point because eating disorders are usually just associated with females, but I've talked to plenty of males who do suffer from them, and I believe it's an issue that should be brought to the forefront more.  

Powerlifting drives the whole "get your weight up" mantra.  One that often leads strength athletes down the road of poor eating habits and consistent binge eating in order to put up higher numbers.  At some point, all of that is going to be gone, and the lifter is often left hating how they feel and look.  I've talked to enough of them to know this, and was one myself.  

It's also a reason why a lot of lifters struggle to break free of the mentality of "weight on the bar" when they do set down that path.  It's been ingrained in them so long to lift more and more and more that as soon as they see some dips in strength, they freak out, and go right back to shoveling in food in massive quantities.  

It's your life.  Do with it what you please, but also understand at some point there will be consequences for chasing numbers if your means to an end includes huge drug cycles and gaining a massive degree of bodyfat.  It's hard to kick ass or get on the platform when strapped to a kidney dialysis machine or are awaiting open heart surgery.  Nope, you don't have to set out to get shredded or get into single digit bodyfat, but I firmly believe that you can keep your body comp in check and still hit the numbers you are after.  It may take longer, but it will take a LOT longer to reverse all the damage done later if you throw caution to the wind in regards to your health.

Recovery - 

This ties in with the article above about steady state vs interval work.  I have no idea how I came across it but it's worth a read and echoes things I've covered in the past about recovery.

What I liked about this one is that she drives home the importance of implementing a recovery protocol.  That's something I don't think many people take into account.  People bark all the time about how important recovery is, then when you ask them what they do for recovery it's usually something about deloading.  That's just not enough.

When you start to take into account all of the things that drive stress and turn the sympathetic nervous system on, it's not enough to have a few days or even a week of less training intensity to spend more time allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to recover.

Think about the stress involved in something as simple as body recomp -

1.  Dieting - generally a stress
2.  Training - a stress
3.  Interval training - a stress
4.  Job - often a stress, usually is
5.  Kids - stress
6.  Relationship problems - stress
7.  Traffic - stress
8.  Finances - stress

We could keep going but I think you get the point.  There has to be some time where you decompress completely to allow systemic recovery to happen.  Localized recovery at the muscular level isn't that big of a deal.  Unless you trained so hard that you can't walk normally from the soreness, most of us don't need to balance that out.  However we do need to balance out meeting the demands for nervous system recovery.

1.  Massage
2.  Reducing intensity in training
3.  Steady state cardio
4.  Periodic breaks from dieting
5.  Creating healthy coping mechanisms for life and relationship stress
6.  Doing things that release more oxytocin and endorphins (cuddling, laughing, petting your dog or cat, etc).

Have a recovery protocol and be just as strict about it as you are about going for that bench PR.  The bench PR is going to come much faster if your recovery demands are being met.

Life and crap - 

I read this piece twice I loved it so much.  I can literally use "LOL" here because I did in fact laugh out loud several times in reading this piece.  I won't spoil it.  Just read it.

I'm not sure where this next article could fall under, or if it's even real as I did not want to research it to find out that it was false, because that would have ruined it for me.

Two things.......

1.  I know of no restaurants that serve vagina.  I obviously assume they meant performing cunnlingus.
2.  If that's the case then vegan and vegetarian men are clearly at a higher risk of cancer.  Because they don't perform cunnilingus.  They just lick the bush.

I'm out!

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