August 2011


Especially when it takes 52 miles and 6500 feet of climbing in 90 degree weather to get to the campsite. Luckily, I had some solidarity when I got back:

S240

There’s a very provocative rebuttal of Gary Taubes’ carbohydrate-obesity thesis over on Stephan Guyenet’s excellent Whole Health Source blog. In a nutshell, Guyenet argues that fat regulation in the body is far more complicated than Taubes has suggested, and that even if low-carb dieting appears to produce good results for some, the reasons for this are not as simple as Taubes suggests. Furthermore, Taubes thesis cannot account for healthy populations across the world who have thrived on high-carb diets.

Personally, I feel like I have learned a lot from reading both Guyenet and Taubes, and don’t have the scientific background to enter the fray at any level of detail.

What I come back to in terms of paleo eating is what I have pointed out previously:

  • There is no one Paleo diet. There is a wide range of diets that have kept traditional populations healthy, from high to low carb and everything in between.
  • What those diets do have in common, however, is that they are generally simple, real-food diets with little processing that avoid modern, industrial food product.
  • Demonization of any one macronutrient, be it carbs, protein, or fat, is simply not that helpful to understanding health.
  • Using evolution as a filter to help think about diet and fitness can be a helpful tool, but it involves a lot of guesswork and there is still a lot of learning and debate going on.
  • Amply footnoted tomes by well respected authors are no substitute for using your head and engaging in rigorous self-experimentation.

One of the things I’ve noticed about my occasional back problems is that they almost always go away when I am not sitting in the office all week. While some of this could be due to the stress of work, I think a lot of it also comes down to the fact that we were simply not designed to sit for 8 hours a day.

Since I have been working from home this summer, I’ve created a standing desk using a dresser to see if it would help. It will take some getting used to as my feet are just not used to standing so much, but it definitely keeps me a bit more alert. As an added bonus, I think I tend to spend less overall time on the computer as it’s just not as easy to fall into a web surfing daze when you don’t have a big chair to sink into. Back problems–gone–just traded them for sore feet instead!

desk

Can Woody Allen’s Execucizer be far away?

I’ve been in San Diego for almost three years now, and only this summer have I started to hike sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the true gems of America’s trail networks. What a loss on my part! My neglect is mostly due to the fact that bicycles are not allowed on the PCT. Though local riders will occasionally “poach” sections of the trail, I’ve chosen to simply steer clear of it.

But as I’ve become more interested in overall (as opposed to cycling exclusive) fitness, I’ve started to do a lot more hiking. It’s been amazing to discover remote sections of San Diego county at a different pace.

pct

HT

My “discovery” of the PCT has even prompted fantasies of doing an extended 2-3 week section next summer. Right now, my main limiting factor is that my feet need to toughen up. It’s hard for me to do much more than 10 miles without blister problems. Wimpy biker’s feet! Hopefully I can get that sorted out–taking my shoes and socks off for a bit every 3 miles or so seems to help.

It is frustrating just how soft our modern bodies have become. Reading literature from as recent as the 19th century, it seems many thought nothing of walking 10 or 20 miles to get somewhere, in part because that was the only way to get there.

It seems to me that any reasonably fit person should be capable hiking at a brisk pace for 8 hours without undue discomfort or fatigue. That really IS what our bodies were designed for. With a little more time on the PCT, I’m hoping to get to where a 20-mile day of hiking is as uneventful to me as 100 miles on the bike.

It’s been awfully quiet around here. After about two and a half years on the Paleo diet, it seems the novelty of it has worn off and this has just become how I eat. It’s what’s for dinner, to quote quote James Garner from the old beef adds. Not too much more thinking or work that needs to be put into it.

In some ways, it gets harder to blog about what has become so normal and quotidian.

Sadly, despite the simplicity and obviousness of staying healthy by eating real food, it’s hard to envision much of a turn around in most American’s eating habits in the near term. And there’s too much money involved in agribusiness and food product for our government or the scientific establishment to get it straight by keeping it simple. Meanwhile, diabetes and obesity are all but guaranteed to bankrupt the health care system. Each new breakthrough nutritional study rearranges a few of the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Oy vey. But at least the eatin’ around here is still good! Here’s one my wife whipped up last night:

dinner

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