Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Friday, March 12, 2010

Human Physiology Lecture Bank

Gary Taubes, Stevens Institute Of Technology, 2/6/08
Macronutriets and Metabolism

Christopher Gardner, Stanford University, 1/17/08
Atkins vs. Zone vs Govt vs. Ornish

Robert H. Lustig, MD 7/30/09, UC SF
Glucose vs. Fructose vs Ethanol
4:13 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Scrub My Brain With Smart


The word "brainwashing" has negative connotations, but I embrace it as a method of DIY reprogramming that can be used for good or ill. In my case, for good. For me, it's the power of positive thinking portrayed with sarcastic cynicism. It's an effective aid to habit swapping when used in a voluntary fashion upon oneself.

I used to be the kind of person who felt betrayed by life. Thinking I deserved endless joy and constant satisfaction, I was content to sit around and await their arrival. I invested no effort, and was surprised by the lack of dividends.

When my habitual over consumption left me overweight, unable to breathe, constantly ill, and frequently depressed, I piled on. More tobacco. More alcohol. More cocaine. More weed. More food. More sleep. None of these provided anything but fleeting respite.

For a long, embarrassing decade, I was bewildered. Why was I such a shitsack? I deserved the good life! A bounty of riches! Respect! Attractiveness! Happiness!

Then, of course, I quit smoking, altered my diet, began exercising, and miraculously, felt a whole lot better physically and mentally.

I like to think I left my former self behind completely, but that's not completely true. That sorry, whiny, complacent caricature still surfaces. I consider his porcine mindset to be my evil alter ego; the proverbial devil on my shoulder. I still frequently fall sway to his dulcet harp despite the resultant consequences.

Last Saturday I bought a pack of cigarettes and a pizza. The cigarettes provided no satisfaction, serving only to raise my body temperature, artificially accelerate my heart rate, and coat me inside and out with a fine layer of yellow tar filth. My complexion shaded gray. They were suppose to be an indulgence, an alternate to alcohol as a way to relax, basically, a reward for good behavior. Instead of enjoying them, I was left with naught but counterproductive nostalgia and shame. The pizza was supposed to be a joy wallop of verboten foods, wonderful tasting, no effort, calorie dense/nutrient sparse garbage. The taste was underwhelming, despite ordering from Pizza Metro, one of my former favorites. I gorged and fell asleep sweating.

This led to a Sunday of leftover pizza, cigarettes, and sluggish deadness. I farted a lot. I was glad to empty the ashtray and throw out that pizza box at the end of the night. My rewards had become punishments to be endured, not indulgences to be savored.

On Monday I didn't want to move. I didn't crave a cigarette, amazingly. I guess addiction is no longer my default state. My fruit/vegetable/meat diet didn't recharge me back to energetic vibrancy until halfway through Tuesday, when I finally had the willpower to restart my push-ups and sprints.

Why are the weekends such a danger zone for me? How come I keep fooling myself into thinking that a temporary reversion to my old self will somehow be fun? I keep doing it, like slamming my finger in a door because it'll feel nice to stop.

I suppose this is progress. Instead of blithely embracing pollution, I now feel exactly how sludgy true gluttony feels. Instead of comfort, these poisons give honest accounts of themselves to my body chemistry. I morph into a slump shouldered foot dragging old man for 48 hours after this crap. I much prefer the energetic healthy guy I am during the weekdays, the one with massive lungs.

Really, this means I need a new hobby. I can't hibernate two days a week with fuckloads of spare energy to burn. This restlessness without an outlet leads me backwards. I need an activity.

For the first time in ten years, I actually want to go outside. As a bonus, springtime is dawning. I am thrilled by this development. I never was before. I even used to tell people that winter was my favorite season. Fuck that, am I right? Yep, my spring has arrived.

Lucky me.
5:11 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Dancing Lung Puppets


I've decided to go with a paleolithic diet. The general philosophy is this: Man's evolution has progressed over millions of years; the agricultural revolution began somewhere between 5000 and 10000 years ago, therefore, we have not genetically adapted to grains & sugars. Occasional sugars from fruit are okay; cavemen had them when they were in season. The idea is go from a glucose based metabolism to a fat based one. Higher insulin sensitivity, fewer blood sugar spikes/valleys, greater satiety from food eaten resulting in fewer calories consumed, no food with high caloric/low nutrient ratios, you know, basic physiology hacks. How did I get here?

Since I quit smoking and knew I'd be eating like a hog, I chose fruits and vegetables. I now eat a lot of them, probably 75% of my daily food intake. No joke. My poo breaks the toilet's water line three times a day, and that's in bulk piles, not sturdy links standing up. (I eat plants for hours straight upon arriving to work) These provide all of my carbohydrates, albeit in limited numbers.

I began to exercise. Push-ups, sit-ups, bicycle crunches, shit like that. I looked into structured home exercise programs, and also solicited advice from trusted friends regarding frequency, stretching, and common rookie pitfalls. I learned new exercises previously unknown to me, such as lunges, squats, crossovers, and burpees.

My own online research led me to realize what I was doing was fairly close to a regimen of high intensity, short duration bodyweight workouts espoused by numerous anti-cardio paleo gurus. These I could do from home, which appealed to me, as I felt a gym membership was A) too expensive B) socially offputting C) required me to be somewhere specific D) the enemy of spontaneity.

The most accessible was the Primal Blueprint, Mark Sisson's plan. All of it was free online in blog form at, so I read a few years worth of entries. Without consciously deciding to follow it his lifestyle plan, I began to shy away from Diet Coke and rice. I cut back on the citrus fruits and carved up celery and carrots instead. Now, I guess, I'm buying into it formally. Apart from some beer and a small bit of hamburger bun over the weekend, I've been grain & sugar free for about 10 days.

So here I am, following a defined formal structure, something I generally count myself as allergic to. (ended in a preposition, crap) I just added sprinting to my regimen last Friday. I do this in the long freight hallway at work, late at night, once the other staff and cleaning crews are long departed.

Holy shit. I knew my lungs were damaged, but I didn't realize how badly until this. I suppose I wasn't really scraping my alveoli with the bodyweight workouts. While running hard, I generate a foamy lather in my lungs and throat after a few good lengths down the freight hall. It feels like I squirted detergent into my mouth, swallowed it into the wrong tube, and started the steam cycle. Running has given me the puke reflex, too, but fortunately the splashouts have all had a pulmonary source; the ejectus: lung butter; not my precious vegetable matter. In the ejected murk I can taste those old cigarettes, even faint traces of menthol from way back when. I've been carrying this wet scum around for a decade plus, basting on new layers of grimy lacquer with every carton. Quitting was so long overdue. It feels gross to wring out my lungs with violent gasping, but I believe this process to be necessary cleansing.

They say it takes 1 year of healing for every 2 years of smoking before you get back to a normal breathing state. I hope my aggressive, youthful approach can reduce that significantly.

I'm about to go run a few. It's either that or heave a station wagon over the building. I'm fucking charged.
6:15 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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