Sceptically Fit


Lots of Links

Filed under: Exercise, Health and Nutrition — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 19:29

Stress can make you fat. Should we just sleep more? Is meditation the answer?

A look at the idea of sustainable agriculture and the role of subsidies. Another look at the question of is Paleo sustainable?

British tastes in breakfast cereal is moving away from highly processed and sugary. Can we move away from cereal altogether? Mark offers some conversational rebuttals that may come in handy when explaining you don’t eat grains.

A further look at the role of inflammation and mood disorders.

A look at the myths and pseudoscience in the cosmetic industry.

I don’t expect to win, yes its just about taking part and yes, races are just more fun.

Caitlin talks about why fit is a feminist issue:

But when you’ve internalized the social messages that you are weak because you are a woman, well, just existing in the world becomes a lot harder than it needs to be.  And when you pursue fitness simply so you can fit a new definition of “sexy,” you are continuing to buy into a system of thought that says women’s highest value lies in how they look to others.

I think it is critical that we feminists engage with fitness and athletics in a way that takes these things seriously and recognizes their potential to change lives for the better.  It doesn’t have to be about hating yourself and your body, nor does it have to be about embracing fascist beauty standards.  It can also be about loving your body and wanting to take the best possible care of yourself.  It can also be about rejecting the social equation that says to be a woman is to be weak and in need of protection.  It can be about redefining yourself as a creature of strength and power.


Months of thinking – lots of links

Due to a multitude of life stress going on I’ve really feel behind on this site. So in an attempt to catch up I’m going to just link to all the stories that have caught my eye over the last few months.

Vitamin C supplementation may aid recovery from intense exercise in the cold. Is honey even honey any more? Why do we keep messing with our food.   Are our agricultural staples trying to kill us? A look at which nutrients are essential for healthy mitochondria. Can you eat too much liquorice? Yoghurt doesn’t work the way we thought. A look at the effect of a paleo diet on testosterone. The evolution of lactose tolerance and how to use it if you have it. An interview with Dr Loren CordainWholegrain pasta offers no benefit over refined pasta. A look at preparing traditional grains. Are eggs the answer to weightloss? Here’s seven more reasons to eat them.

Meat doesn’t rot in your colon – grains do. Another study shows that grass-fed red meat is healthier. A diet high in fat is not fattening. A ted talk on using diet to stop angiogenesis. And a diet high in carbohydrates is linked to cancer. So while low carb seems better for reducing cancer and heart disease, its best to keep it high in vegetables.

However, is it just a matter of  eating whole foods that’s more important than individual nutrients. The Perfect Health Diet offers a food apple guide, and lifehacker suggests how to begin eating ancestrally

Are you always aware of what you eat – a look at how your subconscious mind affects your diet. The link between  omega3  imbalances and depression and how increasing your omega3 levels can reduce inflammation and anxiety. How to balance your omega 6 vs omega 3 ratios. A guide to cravings and what your body might actually be needing.

Mark Sisson talks about the idea of gateway foods and helpfully provides a delicious sounding recipe for pumpkin pie. How about paleo egg-cupcakes? On the low-carb front – if you’re missing burgers how about a recipe for an oopsie bun. When the winter colds hit – here’s some suggestions for healthy comfort food. And now you’re inspired – here’s a big recipe roundup.

Letting children’s playground be fun results in less accidents then those awful safety playgrounds. A look at the differences of American-European values. Interesting how a respect for individual rights plays out when the people are women. Alas offers a simple primer to evaluate the anti-women’s health arguments. Another reason to damn the development of agriculture. Sam Harris looks at how to be safe in a world with a propensity for violence.

Weightlifting for women is starting to hit the mainstream. A guide to dynamic stretching. Does muscle really burn more calories? Its important to pay attention to muscle imbalances.  Is chocolate milk the best post-exercise drink? Exercising on an empty stomach may not be a good idea. Why cardio is not the best way to lose fat. How exercise can you become more sensitive to feeling full when eating. What ever you do – just stop sitting  down!

Cycling can be dangerous – the Florida Dept of Transport says riding 4-5 ft from curb, not wearing spandex, being a woman all cause cars to move further over in the lane when passing you. And its shown to be cheaper to build cycling infrastructure than not.

Seven ideas to improve your running, and how to improve your mileage.


Aiming for What?

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:28

This article The Aesthetic Goal Conundrum | Everyday Paleo really struck a chord with me.

When I first got into fitness as a driving force in my life, I was not unhappy with the way my body looked. I was overweight, but not terribly so (and in today’s Anglosphere standards, probably quite firmly in the average level), and I embraced attitudes towards beauty as an eye of the beholder type thing. I believed I looked good – if anything I’d been coming to terms with dressing myself better so even if shopping could still be problematic, on the whole – I liked how I looked.

What drove me to get into exercise was a desire to be fit – I wanted to be able to do anything I wanted. I tell people the turning point was watching some serial killer type movie and realising I would not be able to run 20mins to get away from a killer.

So I got into it – I could run 20min, then my goal became 1hr, which I can now also do pretty comfortably. By the time I was able to run 20mins, I’d dropped two dress sizes.

Throughout my career, the biggest changes in physical appearance have more often than not been achieved by those without aesthetic goals.  Furthermore, clients who are the most driven by aesthetic goals alone, sometimes to the point of desperation, are usually those who struggle the most.  It’s a frustrating paradox for both client and trainer alike.  I have some tenuous theories, but no definitive solutions.

If anything – I’m more critical of my body now. And I’m conscious that there’s areas I want to fix. If I could just put a bit more work in, stick to my diet plan a bit better I’d lose the body fat I don’t like and my body would be better. You know what – terrible motivation. I can’t do it.

body loathing probably goes hand in hand with low self esteem in most cases.  Whether the relationship between how you look and how you value yourself is correlated or causal, the outcome is often difficulty with compliance.

I think there is a lot in this. When all I cared about was improving my fitness as an external goal, making the effort seemed worth it. Trying to lose body fat because I’m not good enough feels intrinsically different.

Fortunately I’m gearing up to work on a few more fitness goals. I don’t think I want to care too much more about hitting a certain scale/body fat % point anymore.



An Australian Embarassment

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 20:10

As part of my plan for total liveability (a concept that’s a work in progress and will be expanded on later) I want to become a good swimmer. I used to swim a lot as a child – I was never anything noteworthy but I was strong enough to swim out of moderate rips and in general felt confident in the ocean as well as the pool.

Then I hit my teens and stopped swimming – sure I’d lark around in the family pool (which we only got when I was thirteen). But it was a small round above-ground – ideal for cooling off in, making whirlpools and just hanging around in for ages in the shade of a tree in summer, but not so ideal for maintaining swimming strength.

Fast-forward a few years and I could count up on one had how often I hit the water in about ten years. It seems breaststroke is like the apocryphal bicycle – I have no problem swimming for hours with that. Its freestyle that’s the problem. I feel awkward, I seem to be gasping for breath every stroke – and I’m pretty sure I’m pausing for the inbreath too. And I can barely make it 25 metres (British public pools tend to be small…).

The plan is that I will continue to try and swim about once a week. I’m sure I could get better more efficiently if I devoted more time to it, but this is part of a fit and healthy lifestyle which means it has to fit in with my life. My biggest concern is my feet cramping up while swimming. Even if I’d had the lung capacity to swim more (how can I be able to run 20km but not swim 25metres?) I pretty much had to stop each lap to stretch out my feet.  I would have liked to have stayed another ten minutes or so but the cramping was starting to spread to my calves.

Why was this happening? I do have a bit of a family history of muscle cramps and restless leg, and I take a magnesium supplement daily and a potassium supplement after a workout. Should I be looking to do that a couple of hours before swimming? Is it something I’ll grow out of – it kind of felt like my muscles were tensing to swim, but they weren’t meeting and resistance so just kept going and cramped.  Is this just something my body has to relearn after getting used to running over the last few years? Or have I completely made up this theory with no scientific basis at all?

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