Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How To Get A Lean Strong Waist


That’s a snapshot of my waist this morning.  It measures about 31.5 inches in circumference.  Here’s what I’m doing to keep it lean and make it progressively stronger:

First, to get and stay lean I eat a whole foods plant-based macrobiotic diet consisting of whole grains, legumes, seasonal vegetables (mostly cooked), sea vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  I haven’t eaten any animal flesh, milk or eggs for 5 years. 

Many cuts of animal flesh are calorie-dense,  so it is easy to over consume calories when eating meat liberally.  In addition, eating animal protein can increase your insulin response to meals to favor fat storage.

You don’t have to completely eliminate animal products to get or stay lean, but limiting animal food consumption to a maximum of 15% of calories will help you get and stay lean.  If you eat animal products, we recommend wild or sustainably farmed fish or poultry as the best choice.  This chart from my book Essential Macrobiotics shows how much lean animal flesh constitutes 15% of calories at various calorie intake levels.
Note that I suggest this as the upper limit for animal protein intake based on research (discussed in Essential Macrobiotics) indicating that adverse effects of animal protein consumption may occur when animal protein exceeds 10% of total calories. 

Second, I fast for roughly 16 hours every day, and only two meals daily both within an 8 hour feeding window.  I eat a large breakfast, generally between 8 and 10 a.m., and another meal between 2 and 4 p.m. 

In my book Intermittent Fasting I discuss research that suggests that if you want to get lean, it is best to eat a most of your food early in the day, as food eaten late in the day triggers lipid storage mechanisms favoring body fat gain, insulin resistance, and elevated blood lipids.  This same research indicates that most people feel less hunger and more satiety when they eat more of their food in the early part of the day rather than in the evening. 

Diet is the key to getting a lean waist.  Resistance training is the key to getting a strong waist.  You should train the waist musculature with progressive resistance.  You can train the waist fully with 2-4 exercises.  For full training your routine needs to include each of these movements once or twice weekly.

 Waist flexion for the rectus abdominus
 Waist extension for the erector spinae
 Waist rotation for the obliques

Here's an example of how I have fit the waist-strengthening exercises (in bold) into my full-body routines.

Day 1
  1.  Handstand holds
  2.  Hollow body holds (rectus abdominis)
  3.  Shoulder bridge (erector spinae)
  4.  Weighted Cossack squats
  5.  Weighted supinated chin-ups 
  6.  Dips in L-sit  (rectus abdominis)
  7.  Ring rows
  8.  Windshield wipers (rectus abdominis and obliques)
  9.  "Jefferson curl" deadlift  (erector spinae)
Day 2
  1.  Feet-supported crane pose
  2.  Straddle V-ups (rectus abdominis)
  3.  Shoulder bridge (erector spinae)
  4.  Weighted Cossack squats
  5.  Chin-ups in L-sit (rectus abdominis)
  6.  Weighted dips
  7.  Ring rows
  8.  Twisting back extension (erector spinae and obliques)
  9.  "Jefferson curl" deadlift  (erector spinae)
In these routines, the Jefferson curl deadlift is done with a very light weight for improving mobility and flexibility.


I do only one set per exercise, training to fatigue or close to it.   Day 1 involves 3 direct sets for the rectus abdominis, 2 direct sets for the erector spinae, and 1 direct set for the obliques.  Bear in mind that the obliques are also trained indirectly in all movements for the rectus abdominis.  Day 2 involves 3 direct sets for the erector spinae, 2 for the rectus abdominis, and 1 for the obliques. 


Friday, November 25, 2016

Do You Need Single Joint Exercises for Strength or Hypertrophy Training?


Weighted dips for pectorals, shoulders and triceps.  © Don Matesz 2016

Do you need single-joint exercises (such as barbell curls, tricep extensions, leg curls, and leg extensions) in a strength training program, or can you get the same results using only multi-joint exercises (such as squats, chin ups, dips, rowing and overhead press)?

Gentil et al. assigned untrained males to train the elbow flexors (biceps, brachialis) with either shoulder-width supinated grip barbell curls (a single-joint exercise, SJ group, n=15) or pronated wide grip lat. pull downs (a multi-joint exercise, MJ group, n=14).  Both groups also performed leg press, leg flexion, trained twice weekly for 10 weeks, using 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with maximum effort (i.e. to failure).  They were supervised and instructed to perform the lifting and lowering phases of each repetition in 2 seconds each phase, with no pause between repetitions.  They rested 1.5-2.5 minutes between sets.  If necessary, weights were adjusted for each set in order to keep repetitions in the 8-12 range.  Before and after the 10 weeks, they tested the subjects elbow flexors for peak torque (PT) and muscle thickness (MT).

At the end of the 10 weeks, the MJ and SJ groups had increased elbow flexor MT by 6.1% and 5.38% respectively, and PT by 10.4% and 11.87%, respectively.  These differences were statistically non-significant.

L-sit pull-ups with a supinated grip. © Don Matesz 2016
I find it this study particularly interesting because the MJ group used pronated grip pulldowns, and the pronated grip places the biceps in a mechanically disadvantaged position.  The biceps are the largest of the elbow flexors and they can exert more force when the wrist is supinated, so that people can handle more resistance in a supinated barbell curl, pull-up or pull-down than in pronated grip versions of these exercises.  This study suggests that the biceps are loaded just as effectively by pronated pull-ups as by supinated barbell curls.  In fact the subjects who did only pronated pull-ups had slightly greater bicep hypertrophy than the subjects who did only supinated-grip barbell curls.  The take home message is that it probably does not matter whether you use a supinated or a pronated grip for pull-ups.

de France et al. found that adding SJ movements to a resistance training routine composed of MJ movements for 8 weeks did not improve results in individuals who had a minimum of 2 years training experience.  This study involved training upper body pushing movements (chest, shoulders, triceps)on Mondays and Thursdays, upper body pulling movements (back and biceps) on Tuesdays and Fridays, and lower limbs, low back, and abdomen on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Here's the selection of movements used for the upper body training:


 All exercises were performed for 3 sets of 10 repetitions except during the "shock" weeks which involved 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions including assisted post-fatigue repetitions.  The MJ only routine took only 35 minutes to complete, the MJ+SJ routine took 50 minutes to complete.  The training program was periodized as shown in Table 1.


Table 3 displays the results:

There was no significant difference in results between the group that used SJ movements and the group that did not.  Once again, the addition of single joint movements did not provide any additional benefit.  Over the course of 8 weeks, the MJ+SJ group spent 8 hours more time training (an extra 15 minutes per session, 4 times weekly, for 8 weeks), without any additional compensation.

Twisting back extension.  © Don Matesz 2016

These are just 2 examples of studies of this topic.  Gentil et al. conducted a review of 23 studies of the acute effects and long-term adaptations of SJ and MJ exercises in resistance training.  They found:

1. "For the upper and lower limbs, analysis of surface electromyographic (sEMG) activation suggests that there are no differences between SJ and MJ exercises when comparing the prime movers."
2.  For the lumbar extensors, the evidence supports including a SJ exercise (i.e. back extensions vs. deadlifts).
3.   "Long-term studies comparing increases in muscle size and strength in the upper limbs reported no difference between SJ and MJ exercises and no additional effects when SJ exercises were included in an MJ exercise program."
4.  Only one study directly compared the effects of MJ and SJ on recovery and its results suggest that SJ exercises produce increased muscle fatigue and soreness.

In short, the evidence to date indicates that, unless you just have time to burn and like working more hours for no additional compensation, you should build your routine of basic multi-joint exercises like squats, pull-ups, dips, rows, overhead presses, and limit your inclusion of SJ exercises in your strength training routine to those that address the lower back (back extensions), and possibly the neck, calves, and forearms, except in cases where an SJ exercise may be needed for rehabilitation. 

Weighted Cossack squats train hip and thigh strength and flexibility.  © Don Matesz 2016

Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat

I learned of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why Its So Hard To Think Straight About Animals by Hal Herzog through reading several of his blog posts online at Psychology Today.  Herzog is one of the world's leading experts on anthrozoology, the study of human-animal relations.  He is a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University.

I was interested in reading his book because I have had some trouble "thinking straight" about animals myself, and I have noticed that few if any people – including animal rights advocates – seem to me to have straight thinking on this topic. 

Herzog discusses the many ways people get caught in odd contradictions with regard to their attitudes or ethical principles towards non-human animals.  For example, while not eating meat myself for the past 5 years, I have taken care of several cats.  Cats eat an average of two ounces of meat daily, which adds up to 50 pounds of meat in a year.  Since there are 94 million cats in America, en masse they consume nearly 12 million pounds of flesh, the equivalent of 3 million chickens, every day.

So why are there so many vegetarians who keep cats?  They could save 3 million chickens every day by humanely killing all cats (euthanasia).  But we don't hear vegetarians calling for this approach.  Why not?

According to Herzog, surveys show that 60% of Americans believe that animals have an intrinsic right to life, yet they also believe that people have the right to eat animals.  Why are people so inconsistent?  Herzog wants to find out. 

Throughout the book Herzog discusses gender differences in attitudes toward animals.  In the introduction he tells the story of one Judith Black, a women who at the age of 12 decided that it was wrong to kill animals for food.  The interesting thing is that this woman, who went on to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology, decided at that age that while cows and pigs were animals, fish were not.  So for 15 years she called herself a vegetarian while regularly enjoying "smoked Copper River salmon and lemon-grilled swordfish."

Her taxonomy served her well until she met Joseph Weldon, a biology graduate student and meat-eater, who tried to convince her that since fish are vertebrates, she was wrong to treat them differently from birds and mammals.  She did not agree, but this did not prevent them from getting married.  The discussion continued for 3 years before Judith gave in.  Faced with deciding whether to stop thinking of herself as a vegetarian, or quitting eating fish,  Herzog says she "joined the ranks of ex-vegetarians," but this is not correct.  She never was a vegetarian, she just thought of herself as such, and lied to herself about fish to make it so. 

Reading Herzog's book, one gets the impression that this is in fact what all ethical vegetarians and animal rights people do.  They tell themselves lies about reality in order to boost their moral certitude and signal their "advanced virtue" to themselves, if not to observers.  

Herzog tells of a dilemma he encounters himself.  A series of events led Herzog to adopt a boa constrictor.  He had a friend who was deeply involved in rescuing kittens who heard through rumor that he was feeding kittens to the boa constrictor.  She called him up to confront him.  It was not true, but it led him to thinking about the issue.  Cats kill songbirds, and cats eat a lot of meat requiring the killing of many animals.  As reptiles with low metabolic rates, boas need must less meat than cats; a cat consumes 10 times more meat in a year than a boa constrictor.  Animal shelters euthanize and cremate 2 million unwanted cats, many of them kittens, every year in the U.S..  Herzog thinks it through:
"Wouldn't it make more sense to make these carcasses available to snake fanciers?  After all, these cats are going to die anyway and fewer mice and rats would be sacrificed to satisfy the dietary needs of the pythons and king snakes living in American homes.  Seems like a win-win, right?

"Yikes...I had inadvertently painted myself into a logical corner in which feeding the bodies of kittens to boa constrictors was not only permissible but morally preferable to feeding them rodents.  But while the logical part of my brain may have concluded that there was not much difference between raising snakes on a diet of rats or a diet of kittens, the emotional part of me was not buying the argument at all.  I found the idea of feeding the bodies of cats to snakes revolting, and had no intention of hitting up the animal shelter for kitten carcasses."
Emotion allowed to trump reason.  Is it really morally preferable to breed and kill more mice and rats to feed to snakes, then to feed the animals we already have killed, even if they be kittens, to the snakes? And why is there so much more emotion around kittens, than around mice and rats?  Herzog answers:  its the 'cuteness factor.'

He reports that anthrozoologist Stephen Kellert of Yale University has consistently found that women are more concerned with protecting animals than men, yet also 3 times more likely to have fears of certain animals (e.g. snakes or spiders).  On the other hand, men are much more likely than women to know more about the biology and ecology of other species, and to appreciate animals for what Kellert calls "practical and recreational reasons" i.e. for profit, food and fun.  

Women far outnumber men among vegetarians and animal rights activists.  Herzog writes:
"According to Donna Maurer, author of the book Vegetarianism: Movement or Moment?, the typical vegetarian is a liberal, white, well-educated, middle- or upper- class female who is less likely than the average person to adhere to traditional values."
And:

"Women dominate nearly every aspect of grassroots animal protection.  They make up 85% of the membership of the two largest mainstream animal protectionist organizations in the United States, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States.  Among dog rescuers, women outnumber men eleven to one, and three times more female high school students than males call the National Anti-Vivisection Society's dissection hotline each year because they want to opt out of biology dissection labs for reasons of conscience.  And more women than men give up meat for ethical reasons."
One might even interpret both of these movements as anti-male movements.  They attack specifically male values and behavior.  The irony is that these male values and behavior evolved to protect and provide for the survival of women, children, and elders.

Imagine life 200,000 years ago.  It is late fall, and plant food is scarce.  The women and children of the tribe are hungry.  A man has to choose between killing a deer and watching his spouse, progeny and parents die of starvation.  If he hunts and kills an animal his family lives, if he is paralyzed by 'compassion' for the animal, he and his family die.  The latter would be pathological altruism.  If men were not men – primarily rational not primarily emotional, women and children would die.

Imagine the tribe is holed up in a cave for the winter.  A bear discovers the cave and attempts to enter to take it from the family.  The man has to choose between certain death for himself and his family, or killing the bear.  He breaks down in tears, unable to bring himself to slay the bear because its "cruel" to do so.  Would humanity still exist today if this is what men were made of?

In this light, disgust for men and their capability for cold, calculating rationality toward animals seems inseparable from hatred for humanity.  Do women really want men to abandon rationality in favor of sentimentality?  Do women really believe that, after millions of years of evolution selecting for men who are more rational than emotional, which served women's interests, things have changed so much that now women's interests are better served by opposing men in favor of animals?

It is worth noting that these vegetarians and animal rights advocates are "well-educated" and "less likely to adhere to traditional values."  Since the 1960s, "well-educated" means having a university degree.  Many of the elite intellectuals at American universities are so-called cultural Marxists who are actively hostile to "traditional values" which means European values.  Whereas Marx aimed for a classless society, cultural Marxists consider distinctions between the sexes, races, and species to be the "socially constructed" roots of oppression, and they aim for eliminating what they see as oppression by eliminating the idea that there exist meaningful differences between the sexes, races, and even species.

 Cultural Marxists believe that race, sex, and even species are "social constructs" with no biological components.  They believe that the white race – that is, the European race, or European culture, particularly as manifest through "socially constructed" European males – is the main source of oppression.  Therefore, they have a mission to destroy European culture and its "social constructions" of race, gender, species, etc.  For example, Noel Ignatiev of Harvard University says he is inspired by Marxists and writes:
"The goal of abolishing the white race is on its face so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that it could incur any opposition other than from committed white supremacists."
 And:
"Make no mistake about it: we intend to keep bashing the dead white males, and the live ones, and the females too, until the social construct known as 'the white race' is destroyed—not 'deconstructed' but destroyed."
Such individuals can only be considered openly hostile to European people and culture.  Their stated goal is to destroy white culture, which means European culture, and even the (allegedly non-biological) white race itself.  They hide their desire to genocide Europeans behind a laughable claim that the European race is only a social construct.  They aim to accomplish this genocide by denouncing European men, creating conflict between European men and European women, reducing European reproductive success through "sexual revolutions" and discouraging Europeans from mating with other Europeans, and teaching people to abandon traditional European values and habits, including diets, so as to disintegrate European culture and thereby European power.  In this way the hostile elites get European youth to rebel against their own culture and kind, to destroy the European race from the inside out.

It is well worth noting that whites – Caucasians, Europeans – dominate the vegetarian and animal rights movements.  Not non-whites.  Europeans don't eat dogs, but Asians do.  Europeans want to save the whales, but Japanese refuse to stop because "whaling is an ancient part of Japanese culture, fishermen have caught whales for centuries, and Japan will never allow foreigners to tell its people what they can and cannot eat."

Did you get that last part?  Japan will never allow foreigners i.e. non-Japanese to tell its people what they can and cannot eat.  Japanese resist foreign control of their habits.  Further, Japanese also resist foreign control of their homeland by strictly controlling immigration – only 1.75% of people living in Japan are non-Japanese.  Japanese describe Japan as being a nation of "one race, one civilization, one language and one culture."  This is in fact the correct definition of a nation.  The word nation comes from the Latin nasci- meaning "born" and nationem meaning "birth, origin; breed, stock, kind, species; race of people, tribe."  The Japanese clearly believe that there are very meaningful differences between Japanese people and non-Japanese.  Unlike the Japanese, Europeans (including the Caucasian American population) have been convinced that they must let foreigners control their habits and their culture and even take over their homelands, in order to have a moral high ground and avoid the charge of "racism." 

 Europeans also fill the ranks of the organized environmentalist movement.  Some people blame this "lack of diversity" in these movements on the whites, but that's odd, as if its the fault of Europeans that non-Europeans aren't as likely to have a personal or professional interest in vegetarianism or environmentalism.  No one is stopping non-whites from taking an interest in animal rights, meatless diets or environmental issues.  Would we blame Africans for the relative paucity of white people interested in performing rap music?  Per Occam's razor, it may simply be that Europeans have a greater inclination to have this feeling for animals and nature, and hence these concerns, which is evident in the contents of European literature and folk tales.

Herzog points out that the animal liberation movement is like religion in two ways. One, animal liberation movements offer people moral meaning and purpose.  Two, "Animal rights activists and religious fundamentalists are alike" in that "they see moral issues in terms of black and white rather that shades of gray."
"Shelley Galvin and I gave animal activists a psychological scale developed by the social psychologist Donelson Forsythe to assess individual differences in people's ethical ideologies.  Seventy-five percent of animal activists (compared to only 25% of a group of college students) fell into the 'moral absolutist' category.  People with this ethical stance believe that moral principles are universal and that doing the right thing will result in happy endings."
So most animal activists believe that they have the right to tell other people what to do because they (the activists) believe that they have the moral high ground.  This is how so-called liberal values lead to totalitarian sentiments, such as when a vegan advocate states on video that meat-eaters don't deserve to live and everyone should be forced to be vegan to save the planet.


Since I am totally opposed to totalitarian control such as advocated by this dimwit,  I have been tempted to eat meat just to rebel against their kind.    She illustrates how mentally imbalanced people can become when intoxicated with so-called liberal values.   I agree with Thoreau:
“If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I would run for my life.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden
For it is those who are most convinced of their righteousness that do the most harm in "doing good" to others.

Herzog discusses the heavy price that animal activists pay for their moral vision and absolutism.  Their allegiance to animals can alienate friends, family, and lovers.   People go bankrupt for donating all their money to animal rights organizations.  They become terrorists who attack and even bomb humans to save animals.

People who take the animal rights arguments to their logical conclusions end up producing impossible ethical standards.  For example, Herzog discusses Joan Dunayer, who in her book Speciesism, takes ethical equality to mean that all creatures who can experience pleasure and pain "should" be treated as equals.  So, if we have to choose between saving a dog and saving a child from a burning building, we are perfectly justified in choosing the dog, perhaps by flipping a coin; and, duck hunters should be charged with murder. 
"The problem for animal liberationists is that Dunayer is right.  If you take the charge of speciesism literally, if you refuse to draw any moral lines between species, if you really believe that how we treat creatures should not depend on the size of their brains or the number of their legs, you wind up in a world in which, as Dunayer suggests, termites have the right to eat your house."
And mosquitos carrying West Nile virus have a right to eat your blood.  And you don't have the right to stop them.  
 
Imagine if your immune system followed the anti-speciesist rule.  Instead of identifying pathogenic foreign invaders as not self, and destroying them, it lays back on the principle that these viruses and bacteria and cancer cells have as much right to life as your normal healthy cells.

You'd be dead within a day.

No species can survive by the standard of speciesism.  Anti-speciesism is a variant of pathological altruism, involving the sacrifice of oneself, one's family, and one's nation to enable some foreigner, even one that threatens one's own existence, to survive and thrive.  Anti-speciesism is a death wish.

Who has this death wish?  Caucasians.  Why?  Well, first of all, these animal-rights ethical theories are products of Europeans.  Non-Europeans have faith-based rules of conduct, like the Ten Commandments, but Europeans have lead the world in the development of rational theories of ethics.  The idea of speciesism is attributed to Peter Singer and Tom Regan, both of Anglo extraction. 

Second, it seems to me that white people have been told that they are the bane of existence.  White people are popularly blamed for genocide, colonization, slavery, environmental disaster, and many other crimes against nature and non-European humanity.  Anti-Europeans pretend that non-Europeans have all been angelic, never having committed any of the crimes pinned in Europe. Their willful ignorance of history is appalling.  Contrary to the moral and legal principle that no one can be held responsible for the evil actions of his or her ancestors, there is a popular perspective, promoted by certain special interest groups, that white people alive today must pay for the crimes claimed to have been committed by unrelated white people in the past.

Perhaps as a consequence of this, some whites have come to the conclusion that white people must be eradicated from this planet.  We must put ourselves out of existence, and we must do it by sacrificing ourselves for the good of others.  We must stop eating animals, we must stop reproducing, and we must give everything in our possession to others less fortunate than ourselves.

Some think we are commanded to do so by the Christ of the New Testament.  Turn the other cheek.  Walk the extra mile. If he asks for your coat, give him your shirt as well.  Consider the interests of others to be above your own interests, or you are selfish, a hater of the others.

Meanwhile it is perfectly acceptable for those others to take advantage of you, to use you and spitefully persecute you.  Do not resist your own dispossession and destruction or Yahweh will burn you in hell for evermore.  This is "morality."  

I learned many things from this book, including:

Dolphin "therapy" is a scam.
It is generally true that dog owners look like their dogs.
So-called dog people and cat people are different.
Childhood animal cruelty is not as strongly linked with violence as I had thought.
Research shows that animal rights activism is motivated more by emotion than logic.

You will find Herzog taking you through other lines of thought he has entertained in his effort to understand the moral issues surrounding animals.  For example, he recounts an inner dialogue wherein he tries to understand how one would decide when it would be "right" to kill people who use animals for scientific or medical research, by comparing it to how one would decide when it would be right to bomb people holding other people hostage in an war-time internment camp, such as is usually attributed to Germans in WWII.  

And more.  I highly recommend this book to vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists, and people who want to understand these people and their movements.  



Friday, November 18, 2016

Christoph Hufeland's Macrobiotic Diet Recommendations, c. 1842

Christoph Hufeland.  Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3635300
Many people seem to think that the idea that a diet low in animal foods promotes health and longevity emerged only in the 20th century as a component of what they consider a scientifically unsupported lipid hypothesis.  They imagine that prior to 1900, physicians were promoting low carbohydrate diets because they were so advanced in their understanding of the "fact" that eating carbohydrates makes the body fat and sick. 

Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland (1762-1836) was the most prominent physician of his time in Germany.  He was physician for Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried von Herder, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, and Christoph Martin Wieland.

He wrote 11 major works on medicine, including one in which he introduced a term he invented – macrobiotic:  Macrobiotics:  The Art of Prolonging Life.  This is from the introduction to this book:


Among the practices Hufeland advances as beneficial for prolonging life, he has this to say about diet:


John Wesley was an Anglican cleric.  In describing animal flesh as heating, stimulating, and richly yielding blood and nourishment, Hufeland is in resonance with the Oriental medicine view that animal flesh is more yang than plant food.  Basically, he maintains that animal food accelerates metabolic processes, resulting in acceleration of aging. 
"We find that it is not those who lived on flesh, but on vegetables, pulse, fruit, and milk, who attained to the greatest age."
If I remember correctly, Vilhjalmur Stefansson noted in one of his works, I think it was Cancer: Disease of Civilization, that Eskimos had significantly shorter life spans than Canadians eating mixed diets, and he also wondered whether the highly stimulating effect of a high meat diet was responsible for this.

In any case, Hufeland was not indoctrinated by a modern lipid hypothesis.  The observation that people who live on more plant-based diets tend to have longer life spans is not some 20th century fabrication from the lipid hypothesis.  This was observed at least as long ago as ancient Greece, as evidenced by the fact that Socrates suggests the same in Plato's Republic, Book II.  
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Macrobiotic Mindset: Self-Responsibility

By Frontispiece drawn by “Sonnem.” (? hard to read, left bottom corner) and engraved by “MB” (bottom right corner). Image scanned by the John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library. Image slightly improved by Aristeas. - http://www.archive.org/details/epictetienchirid00epic, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9071933
Epictetus was born a slave in the Roman Empire about 55 A.D..  He discovered a passion for philosophy in youth, and he got permission from his owner to study Stoic philosophy under the master Gaius Musonius Rufus.  He obtained liberation from slavery after the cruel, tyrannical Roman emperor Nero died in 63 A.D..

Some time after this, Epictetus began to teach philosophy.  In 93 A.D. the emperor Domitian banned philosophers from Rome, so Epictetus moved to Greece where he established a school of Stoic philosophy.  One of his students was Marcus Aurelius, who went on to become the emperor of Rome.  Though born a “slave” he made himself into a great man, remembered and revered to this day, by taking control of himself, accepting and yet rising above his accidental circumstances.

Epictetus taught that if you are unhappy, it is your own fault.  He is reported to have said:
"To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one’s education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one’s education is complete."
Blaming others makes you a slave to things beyond your control.  Epictetus emphasized that slavery of the soul consists of trying to control things outside oneself, but failing to control things that are within one's own power:
"That alone is in our power, which is our own work; and in this class are our opinions, impulses, desires, and aversions. What, on the contrary, is not in our power, are our bodies, possessions, glory, and power. Any delusion on this point leads to the greatest errors, misfortunes, and troubles, and to the slavery of the soul." 
This world is full of beauty and opportunity.  If you are not happy, if you have not attained your potential, it is your own fault.  Self-responsibility is a key practice of macrobiotic mindset, necessary to self-mastery, freedom and greatness of the soul.  You can liberate yourself from slavery by taking responsibility for your thoughts, words, and deeds.  Easier said than done, but possible and worth more than you can imagine. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Gorilla Mindset Review



I first saw Mike Cernovich in a video interview on Stefan Molyneux’s YouTube channel.  I was impressed with his idea of Gorilla Mindset so I took some time to browse his website and followed him on his Twitter account.  I found him offering a lot of value to anyone, particularly men, looking for empowerment.  After following his online work and watching him dialogue with Molyneux in one or two more videos, Tracy got me a copy of his best selling book, Gorilla Mindset

In Gorilla Mindset Cernovich presents principles and practices that resonate with the themes of my blog and approach to macrobiotics:  food, fitness, freedom, and philosophy for a great life (macro-bios).  The gorilla is an emblem of size, strength, and dominance.  Gorilla Mindset is heavy on what I consider practical philosophy aimed at, in Cernovich’s words, embracing your gorilla nature – body and mind – to realize dominance and power, not over others, but over oneself and one’s destiny.  Gorilla Mindset is about breaking free of the all-too prevalent scarcity mindset into an abundance mindset so you can live a great life of health, wealth, and freedom. 

Who is Mike Cernovich?

Mike grew up in a family that depended on state welfare.  His parents weren’t skilled at the money game.  He was overweight and bullied by other kids.  After one particularly rough day at school, he went home and cried himself to sleep.  When his father got home, he looked at Mike and asked a question that changed Mike’s life direction.  He still had to grow himself more – some of the details are in Gorilla Mindset, but eventually he developed himself into a well-known lawyer, writer, podcaster, journalist, and, as he says, free-speech advocate.

What is Mindset?



Cernovich cites Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, as the leader of the mindset revolution.  He says research cited by Dweck has shown that people who adopt a growth mindset – a belief that challenges and difficulties give you an opportunity to grow your abilities – were far more likely to succeed than those with a  fixed mindset consisting of the belief that your intelligence and ability do not increase but instead have a set-point.  Gorilla Mindset is focused on application of this principle. 

Mike identifies the “fixed” mindset as one that assumes scarcity, but the “growth” mindset assumes abundance:

“Imagine that you start with the assumption we live in a world of limited possibilities.  You have a fixed mindset, that is, a belief you cannot change.  Nothing you do ultimately matters. You will never be good enough. If you begin with that scarcity mindset, why even get out of bed? Life would be a pointless grind... Many depressed people have a scarcity mindset, believing nothing matters and the world is one of limited possibilities.
“Now imagine that you believe that the world is massive. The world is one of endless resources and infinite possibilities. What you do matters. Choices matter. You matter. Each day is a new day full of limitless possibilities. How would you act if you knew that anything you wanted to do was possible? Would you live differently if you believed that you were abundant and full of potential?....

“We all started off as children. We had an abundance mindset and a genuine fascination and curiosity about life. Somewhere along the way we lost it. Mindset is a choice. We can choose to view the world as one of scarcity or abundance.” 

Mike Cernovich knows how to instantly turn apparent poverty into real wealth. After an appearance on mainstream TV, he was viciously and dishonestly attacked by enemies.  A scarcity mindset would call this a loss, but Cernovich turned it into gift by branding himself as the renegade journalist the mainstream media fears. (And they do because he dares investigate what they want ignored.) 

This reminded me of George Ohsawa, whose macrobiotic philosophy is founded on the abundance mindset. Long before Cernovich was born, Ohsawa wrote: “A strong cruel enemy is particularly valuable; without him, one becomes idle, weak, and stupid.”  Cernovich understands and embraces this.

In Zen Macrobiotics, Ohsawa wrote about the importance of never begging goods from others and taking total responsibility for one’s own life:

“Your happiness, freedom, justice, health and joyfulness must be completely yours.  Health or freedom given by others is a debt that must be paid sooner or later if you are not to remain a slave or a thief.”

Without an abundance mindset, Ohsawa would not have survived some of his adventures, such as his near starvation as a political prisoner during WWII.

In fact, although most people believe that macrobiotics is just a whole foods plant-based diet with an Oriental flair, Ohsawa taught that the individual who knows how to enjoy and grow himself through life’s difficulties is macrobiotic, no matter what he eats. To Ohsawa, mindset was ultimately more important than diet. 

Gorilla Mindset teaches the reader how to induce and implement an abundance mindset by monitoring and changing the way that you

talk to yourself
perceive and frame life events
pay attention, moment by moment
manage, or fail to manage, your moods
focus
organize your lifestyle
eat and exercise
posture yourself
handle money
use your power of visualization
live your life day by day

Each chapter focusses on one of these topics, and includes shifts of perspective, worksheets, and habit suggestions to help you induce and maintain an abundance mindset. 

Self-Talk

How do you talk to yourself? Are you your own coach, or do you get down on yourself like Gollum? Gorilla Mindset starts with changing your relationship with yourself. In Gorilla Mindset Cernovich shows you how to use the power of affirmations to shape your mindset, but he also provides exercises for changing your internal conversation for the better.  You will be empowered by this chapter!

Framing

How do you frame your life?  As an attorney, Mike knows that framing is about asking the right questions in order to give a direction to our thoughts and attention. When you have a gorilla mindset, you frame every event in a way that empowers you to grow.  Gorilla framing enables you to turn difficulties into blessings, and scarcity into wealth. As known to George Ohsawa, its all about shifting your focus from what’s absent to what’s present.

Mindfulness

Are you present?  I mean really present, right now?  Or are you thinking about something else?  How does your left hand feel? 

Modern psychology did not discover mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness brings your attention to that which is PRESENT: REALITY. That’s why it is the key to awakening to direct knowledge of Reality. 

Cernovich gives readers some very useful exercises for waking up to the reality of one’s life.  He shows you how to induce a state of mindfulness and how to use it to enhance your quality of life.  He includes sections on how to use mindfulness to get in “the zone” and improve your reading comprehension, your gait, your emotional state, your results from exercise, and your relationships.   

Mood Management

Mood management is not a new thing.  Yogis have been using various techniques for inducing a cheerful, adventurous, positive mood for millennia.  However, most people in East and West are raised to view their moods and particularly their default mood state as beyond control.  Cernovich gives a simple 4-step method for changing not only any emergent mood, but also, with enough practice, your default mood.

Focus

Focus, focus, focus.  Our modern digital lifestyles give us plenty of distractions.  If we don’t focus we can misplace items, lose lots of time or other valuables.  Mike tells a story of a man who for lack of focus tragically killed his own child.  Mike helps readers cut through distraction and develop a more focussed lifestyle by asking four questions that will help you reduce distractions, and adopting Gorilla focus habits.

Lifestyle Organization

Does your lifestyle help or hinder you in your quest for a great life?  Do you have effective routines that empower you to growth and abundance, or do your routines lead you into stagnation and poverty?  Mike shows you how to set up an empowering morning routine that gets you warmed up for high performance days.

He recommends cold showers or contrast showers first thing in the morning to really awaken yourself. I had been ending all of my morning showers with 30-60 seconds of cold water for some time before I read his book and highly recommend the practice. Now I am experimenting with a brief straight cold shower before doing any other activity.

This chapter also contains an interview with psychologist Jeremy Nicholson who explains how to cultivate will power and use it wisely.  Many people incorrectly believe that they have no will power, when in reality, they have some, but have not grown it wisely.

Food and Fitness

Cernovich states that
“Plants are the king of food. Diets high in plant foods are associated with every benefit you can imagine – lower cancer risk, higher cancer survival rates, a stronger immune system, and even better looking skin. Your diet should be based primarily around plants, and 8-9 servings of vegetables each day is an outstanding target to hit.”  
He likes the ANDI index developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  He admits “There are many vegans who eat a plant-based diet while having incredible physiques.”  He also says he eats “a lot of high-fiber foods” including oatmeal, lentils and black and pinto beans.

Mike’s list of the top 20 best foods to eat includes 16 whole plant foods, including rice and white potatoes but no legumes, plus chicken, eggs, salmon, white fish, and lean beef.  His justification for the list seems to be that they are “foods the fittest people tend to eat the most of and that are ranked high on the ANDI scale.” 

Dr. Fuhrman’s ANDI scale gives salmon a score of 34, eggs a 31, chicken breast a 24, and lean beef a 21.  White fish isn’t even on the scale.  Brown rice and white potatoes both get a score of 28 (potatoes with skin 43). However, oatmeal scores 36, pinto beans 61, lentils 72, and black beans 83.  It is clear that salmon, eggs, chicken, white fish and lean beef don’t have high ANDI scores so I infer that he put them on the top 20 list because he believes they are “foods the fittest people tend to eat the most of...”  It seems odd that oatmeal, pinto beans, lentils, and black beans don’t make his top 20 list since he writes that he eats “a lot” of these foods and all of them have higher ANDI scores than any of those animal foods. 

Mike also recommends eating “approximately the same amount of calories from protein, carbohydrates, and fat.”  A 2500 kcal diet with 33% of calories from protein would supply 206 grams of protein.  That amounts to 2.5 g protein per kg bodyweight for a 180 pound individual. Tarnopolsky et al found that protein intakes greater than 0.9 g/kg were excessive for sedentary individuals, and greater than 1.4 g/kg was excessive for individuals engaged in resistance training.  Hence, an isocaloric diet would provide excess protein for a resistance trained individual.

Research links long-term excessively high protein, high meat intakes in humans with increased risks of (a) disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis, (b) renal function disorders, (c) cancer, (d) liver function disorders, and (e) progression of coronary artery disease.  Mike may want to take notice of this since he reports that his grandfather had a heart attack at age 65.  Dr. Fuhrman has shown how an athlete can obtain more than adequate protein without consuming large amounts of low-ANDI value animal flesh.  Plant-based low carbohydrate diets are associated with decreased cardiovascular and all-cause mortality, in contrast to animal-based low carbohydrate diets which are associated with higher cardiovascular, cancer, and all-cause mortality.

Mike states “The less insulin sensitive you are, the more carbohydrates you can eat” several times.  In medicine the phrase “insulin sensitive” means not insulin-resistant. People who have lower insulin sensitivity (i.e. greater insulin resistance) have more difficulty properly disposing of blood sugar, so theoretically may have a lower dietary carbohydrate tolerance.  It seems that Mike inverted the concept.

Mike also has a list of supplements he recommends. Most I have no comment on but several I do. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found a lack of evidence that multivitamins reduce risks for cancer and cardiovascular disease.




A review of 20 studies including nearly 70, 000 subjects found that supplementation with fish oil does not provide a lower risk for all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke in the general populations.


Mike suggests zinc/magnesium aspartate supplementation, but there is a lack of evidence for beneficial effects of this supplement.


Regarding fitness training, Gorilla Mindset includes an interview of neurological surgeon and anti-aging and regenerative medicine specialist Brett Osborn, M.D..  In reply to Mike’s question “What type of exercise should a person who wants to improve his overall health and mindset undertake?” Osborn recommends strength training as the foundation and primary fitness training method, followed by interval training. I couldn’t agree more, and have written the same on my blog and in my forthcoming book on macrobiotics. 

Overall I think Mike is on the right track with health and fitness suggestions, but I think his discussion of food is the weakest part of Gorilla Mindset.

Posture

Most people have noticed that posture has a powerful effect on mindset.  How you stand or sit reflects and produces how you feel.  Practitioners of Hatha Yoga have for millennia used postures – “asana” – to facilitate changes in state.  For example, warrior’s pose is so named because it helps to induce a sense of dominance and confidence.  Cernovich cites research showing that how you pose may increase testosterone levels and risk tolerance.[1]  However, attempts to replicate the results of this research have not all been successful.[2]

Nevertheless, changing your posture certainly changes your state of mind.  Consider the simple differences between laying supine, sitting, and standing.  Of these the first is the most yin or passive pose, the last the most active, sitting is in between.  Laying down results in the mind becoming more passive and introverted, standing makes the mind more active and extroverted.  This is why we favor standing for delivering lectures and laying down for relaxation.  Cernovich shows several simple “poses” one can adopt often throughout the day to improve your basic posture and counteract the adverse postural effects of working at a desk.

Money

How’s your money mindset?  Do you have a good relationship with money?  Do you have clear idea how much wealth you need to live your dream, and a plan for creating it?  Do you know how to invest in yourself to get top returns? 

Gorilla Mindset will show you how you can develop an abundance mindset around money.  You will learn how to find wealth everywhere.  Like me, Mike is all about free enterprise and as I contemplate his Gorilla wealth-creation mindset I am reminded of chapter 81 in the Tao Te Ching:


In Gorilla Mindset you will learn how to shift into the producer mindset, capitalize on assets you may not have know you had, “skate where the puck is going” (you’ll have to read the book!), establish your authority, and brand your enterprise to create multiple streams of income.  You’ll also learn what is the most valuable stock in the world and how to invest in it, how to reduce your taxes and plan for your retirement.  This chapter is one of the best in Gorilla Mindset.

Visualization

Mike asks “What would happen if you treated your dreams as more real than your memories?”  Gorilla Mindset is about having a vision that pulls you forward.  If you think you’re not good at visualization, Mike will show you that you’re wrong.  You’re a master at it, but you probably use it to your detriment.  If you don’t know how to find your dream or life purpose, Mike has a “cold shower” approach to getting a vision that could work for you.  

One Day At A Time

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and a great life is composed of a succession of great days.  Do you have an idea what a great day would look like for you?  Gorilla Mindset ends with a writing and visualization exercise that can help you envision your ideal day.  Create one great day at a time and when you get to the end, you will have a great life.

Verdict

Overall, Gorilla Mindset is a great book.  I highly recommend it.








Notes
1.  Carney DR, Cuddy AJ, Yap AJ. Power posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychol Sci. 2010 Oct;21(10):1363-8. Epub 2010 Sep 20. PubMed PMID: 20855902.
2. Ranehill E, Dreber A, Johannesson M, et al.. Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing: No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women. Psychological Science Online First 2015 March 30.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ecological footprint, war and refugees

The Global Footprint Network has produced maps of the ecological balance of all regions of the world.  Red means the region has exceeded the carrying capacity of the local resources; green means the region has a surplus of resources.


The ecological demands of the U.S.A. exceed its biocapacity by 120%, in India demand exceeds capacity by 160%, in China by 260%.

Put otherwise, all of these regions, and all other red and pink regions on the map, are overpopulated. 


The map directly above depicts the total demands placed on the biosphere by the local populations.  The darker the color, the more demand.  Who puts the most demand on the biosphere?  Here are the top nine consumers of natural resources.


China tops the list, with more than double the ecological footprint than the U.S.A. in second place.  India is very close behind the U.S.A.

I often see people from India and elsewhere blaming "the west" for their poverty.  It is claimed that "the west" looted other nations to sustain itself.

The non-European nations can't blame Europeans for their population sizes.  Neither Europeans nor Americans caused their populations to grow to unsustainable levels.  There is good reason to believe that the practice of polygamy in some of these nations strongly contributed to their overpopulation, and that the traditional monogamy and sexual ethics of Europe played an important role in keeping the European populations smaller, enabling Europeans to maintain higher levels of per capita wealth. 

Moreover, the map below shows the biocapacity of the various regions of the world:


Brazil tops the list.  China has a biocapacity greater than the U.S.A..  India's biocapacity is greater than that of Canada and Europe.  Despite claims that Europeans "looted" India and Africa, as a matter of fact, India has a greater biocapacity than Europe and Africa has at the very least a biocapacity similar to Europe on a hectare by hectare basis. 


 The relative poverty in non-European nations is at least in part – probably a very large part – due to the simple fact that those nations had sexual and marriage norms that caused their populations to grow far more rapidly than European nations, resulting in higher ratios of people to natural resources, which per force results in lower wealth per capita.  The U.S.A. once had (I emphasize had) a small population and a large biocapacity, which resulted in a low ratio of people to natural resources, which naturally results in greater wealth per capita. 

Here's how much the ecological demands in the U.S.A. have been in excess of the biocapacity of the region between 1961 and 2012 – the green line indicates the biocapacity, the red area shows how much the region is in excess of capacity.

As you can see, due to damage, the biocapacity of the U.S.A. (represented by the green line) has been declining steadily since 1961.

Prior to 1965, the U.S.A. had limited immigration, but in 1965 the Hart-Celler act was passed, which greatly increased the number of immigrants entering the U.S.A..  Since immigration means more people putting more strain on the country's natural resources, immigration into the U.S.A. is accelerating environmental damage and the rate of progressive ecological collapse.

Here's the ecological footprint of India:

India is no ecological paradise.  This photo gives some indication of the Indian approach to environmental protection.

By meg and rahul - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2755430


Here's the ecological footprint of China:


Back in the 1960s China was more or less living within its carrying capacity, but since then it has consistently lived beyond its carrying capacity.  Chinese have not shown much concern for environmental preservation; 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_in_China


Chinese factory. By High Contrast - Own work, CC BY 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4985249

When a population starts experiencing resource shortages, individuals in the population may start fighting over what resources remain, or simply leave their depleted region in search of greener pastures.  Here's the ecological footprint for Syria:


Ecological demands far exceed the biocapacity of the region.  Same for Libya, deeply in the red:


Afghanistan is also living beyond its means:



As long as population demands on resources exceed carrying capacity, people are going to suffer and we are going to see progressive environmental degradation, increasing conflict between people, and mass migrations which will lead to more conflicts.    Be prepared.