Erich and I attempted to do handstand walks for distance. I set a 14 foot personal record with 18.9 feet. Erich did pretty good 16.8 feet. Considering both couldn’t go further than 4 feet in any other attempt before this I think we were both really happy with this outcome.
Prior to this we did bench press 5×5 at 75% of our 1RM. We did a 6th set for as many repetitions at the same weight. We both got 11 reps. Erich was using 225lbs and I was using 155lbs.
After that we did a pretty decent skill WOD:
L-Sit on the Rings for maximum time-Rest 30 Seconds- AMRAP Double Unders in 2 minutes- Rest 1 Minute- AMRAP Muscle Ups
I was really disappointed with all three aspects of this. I feel like I could have held the L-Sit longer, I could have done a lot better with the double unders, and I definitely should have done more than 3 Muscle Ups.
At Ranger School we often joke about the students being solar powered. You can take a squad that does pretty well during the day and as soon as the sun sets they turn into blithering idiots. Just barely moving bags of sadness meandering like a “Family Circus” cartoon through the woods falling asleep while walking and drooling on themselves.
Actually, put anyone in a sleep deprived situation and they’ll experience the same thing. You see it in college students during finals or in someone who has been pulling all nighters for work.
Now whose noticed that they can tolerate less sleep during the summer than in the winter? I know I just asked a question to the internet, but bear with me. Its sort of a real experience. You are more likely to put gloves on your feet and shoes on your hands during winter finals than spring for the most part.
Its because our body is somewhat solar powered.
It all has to do with how we evolved during a dark and frigid Ice Age. Humans may not hibernate like bears do, but we certainly take it easier in the winter than the summer.
We get a lot of our essential vitamins and minerals from the sun and from plants. Both of which would have been in short supply during the winter. For those of us who live in the modern world where we can eat mangos in the dead of winter, we run into the problem of just confusing the hell out of the body.
Our hormones are expecting us to experience a glycogen shortage and also a shortage of many of the vitamins and minerals we need to survive. For that reason our body will increase the production of some non-essential vitamins and minerals to ensure normal, if not subdued, hormonal and other metabolic processes.
While its up regulating the amounts of some chemicals and hormones it is producing, it is down regulating others. Its kind of common sense. The body needs ‘X’ amount of a chemical to do essential function ‘Y’. It can either make it itself or get it from an outside source that also contains sugar and other chemicals. Through evolution, the body and its symbiotic bacteria know that the external source is only available part of the year.
While the brain does not have a Julian calendar saved on its desktop like a computer does, it does have the ability to perceive and subconsciously analyze things like temperature and amount of ultraviolet light exposure.
It just makes sense that this system would become more sensitive to the effects of sugar in the winter than in the summer. It also makes sense that it would require more sleep because it is trying to accomplish the difficult task of producing enough of its own chemical compounds to keep the system moving.
I would imagine that there is a huge amount of genetic variation among different ethnicities with this. Much like how Scandinavians have developed an adulthood lactose tolerance while other cultures have not, I would imagine that someone from the Indonesia would be less affected by sugar in winter than someone from England or northern Japan.
The same also holds true for sleep. Humans are, to a great extent, solar powered. We need the Vitamin D from the sun for a large variety of essential processes. We also need more maintenance in winter.
Sleep more in winter than you do in summer and eat seasonally.
Sleep science and recommendations that I read, and why I think everyone should read, Lights Out. Part of me doesn’t want to give away all of the explanations and effects of sleep deprivation on the diet because I want you to read the book. The other part is just too lazy to try to synthesize and condense all two hundred pages of the book into a blog post.
I’ll put the bottom line up front:
-Sleep 9 hours a night
-Sleep in a completely dark room
-Unplug all electrical appliances
-Sleep in a cool room
-No electronics of any kind within an hour of sleep
-The sooner you can go to bed after dark the better
-Sleep more in the winter
At first glance, this list looks pretty much impossible to do. Honestly, I don’t even know infants and homeless people who get that much sleep every night. I know that even on days after being awake for over twenty six hours I struggle to sleep more than seven hours at a time. This means that my body is never fully recovering or resetting its hormones. This is also known as “killing itself because I work like an asshole”.
Nine hours might be a lot. If the average person works from 9am to 5pm than they are putting in eight hours at the office per day. Add three hours in the car, an hour at the gym, an hour to cook, and a hour to consume all meals and you are already deficient on the sleep recommendation.
So my advice is to follow Robb Wolf’s advice and sleep as much as you can without getting fired, starving, or getting a divorce. I try to force myself into bed at 9pm on days when I’m not working. Failing that at 10pm I will stop whatever I’m doing and go to bed. It sucks and I Tivo late night tv, but its ok.
The dark room thing really does not have any excuse. I have like one picture hanging in my room and even I went out and bought black out drapes. If you’re short on cash, than hang heavy blankets and turn off all of the hall lights. After reading this book and thinking about the number of kids who have night lights its no wonder Americans are becoming so fat, stupid, neurotic, and screwed up.
Unplug all of your electronics. I know you need an alarm, I do too. I use my phone and have it plugged in in my bathroom with the electromagnetic field as far away from me as possible. I wake up to this every morning:
So there’s no question of me sleeping through my alarm.
I know a lot of people like to stay up late. Hell, I know that I should sleep more and when I’m home or on days off I figure I can just make it up on the back end. Not so. You know that whole biological clock thing? Its controlled by the bacteria that just so happen to out number the human cells in your body. They don’t like Team Coco and care not a damn about your late night horizontal dance routine. In fact, they are not a fan and will quit working faster than a government employee if stay up past their bed time. This has major repercussions to important things fighting cancer, repairing muscles, or digesting food.
This is another case where you just need to do the best that you can in order to optimize what you can do for you.
Lastly, minimize the amount of electronic exposure you have before bed. For most of us, the reason we’re up late is because of TV, a phone call, the internet, etc. Turn it off and you’ll sleep more. Also you wouldn’t go to bed your body’s ability to produce serotonin and melatonin depressed. Its kind of like when your mom told you not to eat before swimming, only real.
My almost New Year’s resolution is to address sleep more with the people that I coach and consult. I always tended to believe that if I ate right and trained right than the sleep variable would not be that much of an issue. I was definitely wrong on that one. I know I put off reading this book because I do day on, day off shift work where I will be away for longer than a twenty-four hour period.
Sort of wish I’d put that book off longer, at least until I was done. Everything from mental health to digestive bacteria are seriously affected by the amount of sleep that you get.
So now that I’ve convinced most of the gym not to eat any grains I think I’ll start using sleep more as my default answer for any and all issues from fat loss to muscle ups.
Lights Out, like so many other books that are the darling of Paleo circle, recommends a low carb diet. Frankly, I have a problem with this as a coach and as someone who spends way too much time worry about semantics. I think “Low Carb” is a disproven construct for diet and weight loss.
That is not to say that it is wholly without merit. In fact, I would say that most of what we now know stems from work done by low carb researchers, coaches, scientists, and practitioners done all the way back to the 1970s when Dr. Atkins first testified to the McGovern Commission.
When I was still in school for history, we used to talk a lot about the idea that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” This was the justification for using secondary sources when we had primary sources available. Anyone who coaches or advises someone on health and fitness also needs to acknowledge the work of those who came before us. Unless you invented it yourself, give credit where credit is due.
So back to carbs. I believe that low carb is not really low carb in all cases. Many people will go by the concept of net carbs, which is one of the stranger dietary loop holes out there. Others will still wind up eating a good quantity of carbohydrate, but it will be a relatively low percentage of their diet.
About a year and a half ago I followed a low carb Paleo diet very strictly. My carbohydrate consumption was always below fifteen percent of my diet. The caveat is that I still consumed about 2600-3000 calories a day at this time (I was in the beginning stages of an ongoing mass gain). This meant that at a minimum I was getting 390 calories from carbs. Since I was not really eating many tubers and very little fruit at the time, this meant that I was eating about as much vegetable matter as I could stomach.
While there are low carb dieters who go below ten percent and even those who strive for zero, anyone who is consuming over fifteen percent of their diet from carbohydrate and is eating Paleo is still consuming a large quantity of vegetable matter. Nowadays, my carbohydrate consumption is between twenty and thirty-five percent on an average day.
Just by eating a real food diet with a heavy emphasis on meat I am accidentally in the low carb percent range, BUT I am getting a massive amount of calories (and nutrition) from plant foods.
My argument for semantics is that to really be low carbohydrate it needs to be based on quantity and not percentage of food consumed. I think that consuming toxic food will have the same effect on you no matter what else you consume around it.
The more important argument is that that macronutrients don’t really matter. Compare the diets and health of hunter gatherers from high carbohydrate societies like Kitava to low carbohydrate societies like the Inuit and you will find that they are more similar to each other than to modern societies anywhere on the spectrum.
The other problem is that each individual is different. People have different goals and activities. While most people will thrive on lower carbs, there are many who will absolutely crash and die. I made this mistake with JB when he did his Paleo challenge.
I think carbohydrate consumption is a bogey man. Getting people fat adapted is important, but it is not the most important thing in fixing their diet. Many of the mechanism of insulin and eicosanoid secretion for fat storage work differently than how the scientists (and the authors) would have known when they wrote the book.
I would prefer that anyone who reads this skims that point and focuses on the advice that Sean Croxton gives: Just Eat Real Food. The rest will mostly take care of itself.
One of the more interesting rule and insightful parts of Lights Out was actually a pretty interesting rule about fats. They called it the “step on it rule”.
Basically, this rule is that you should only eat fat sources that leave an oily imprint if you step on it with just your foot. That pretty much means any animal or fish fat, olives, avocado, maybe some nuts, and coconut. I actually had to test the coconut one myself with a fresh coconut (shell removed) just to make sure.
This is a pretty slick way of telling people to avoid eating any form of fake seed oils. Corn, Soy, Canola, etc in their unprocessed form do not leave a grease stain. Black olives and bacon sure as hell do.
The other thing this does is it limits nut consumption considerably. I am of the belief that most people eat way to many nuts, especially Paleo folks who try to stick to lean meats exclusively. This leaves you needing a fat source and you wind up gorging on tons of Omega-6′s and lectins that you were trying so hard to otherwise avoid.
I find myself rotating cravings for plant sources of fat. It’s a pretty solid cycle between avocado, coconut, and olives. Currently, olives are in favor. In a few weeks I’ll probably get sick of them and move on to something else. The constant throughout all of this is animal fats.
This sort of makes sense from a seasonality perspective. Animals would have been available all year, although probably not in the quantity of bacon and cow I consume. Plants, however, would probably not be accessible to my Irish and Italian ancestors year round. I think the ability to preserve some plants came about pretty early (such as fermented foods or pickled or brined foods). Maybe that’s why I’m on a olive kick in December.
Either way, I really cannot think of other plant based fat sources that do not meet this criteria. The process of rendering an oil from something like corn or soy involves a Manhattan Project level of science. It also involves extremely toxic chemicals. While the hexane and other chemicals do not (probably) make it into your Crisco in a large enough dose to cause the FDA concern, does something that requires a science experiment to make edible really make sense as food?
If you can think of other plants that fit this bill post into comments.
Here’s a video of how canola (rapeseed) oil is made:
Ignore the propaganda about how “healthy” it is and really focus on words like chemical, high pressure pressing, bleaching, process, etc
Now compare it to Olive Oil
*Note: even I find the music in the second video to be a ridiculous juxtaposition with the first. It’s almost like youtube is on my side.