I went to see a performance of Cosi Fan Tutte (a Mozart opera) last night in Pasadena. It was put on by a small company, and performed in a school auditorium. There’s something about all the small imperfections of a show like that that make it all the more human for me. It’s odd, I feel like the sterility of a professional show sort of removes the human aspect. Not to say that I don’t enjoy a highly polished show or that I’m looking for a sloppy production, but rather I just mean that it’s refreshing to see the humanity in minor imperfections, be it a wavering note or slightly late cue. It gives me hope that I could some day do the same thing. (Also the show last night was very good, I don’t mean to imply that it was shoddy. I was very impressed.)

I think we miss out at times when we simply consume the highly polished tv, movies, and music that comes from professionals. Sometimes it seems to impossible to make something that good, and it can be disheartening to try. It’s hard to try to go from point A to C without ever seeing what B looks like. So thanks to all the semi-professional and amateur performers out there for giving me hope and something to aspire to.

Look I’m famous!

Check it out, I got my a picture of me (looking really haggard) featured in my gym’s post for the day. Check it out on the Dogtown Crossfit site.

Not only that, but I had a good day of lifting today. Starting off the day with a 200lb hang power clean PR was pretty awesome.

My 30 Day Diet Recommendation

Diet is a Greek word for ‘way of life,’ and that is the sense in which I use the word. It’s been commandeered in recent years to mean weight loss program, and often when I tell people that I’m on a diet, they respond with something like: “but you’re so healthy, why are you dieting?” I’m dieting because we have to eat something, and I want what I eat to make me stronger, smarter, and happier. Seems like kind of a tall order, but it’s a work in progress. I pick up and drop things as I learn more and discover new things about my body. One can spend thier entire life refining their diet. One should spend their life refining their diet. It’s your fuel source and the building blocks for every part of your body: your brain, your lungs, your heart. Between diet and sleep, there are few things that can greater affect your wellbeing.

One of the most important things to realize about dieting is that everyone’s body is different. That said though, we’re more similar than different, so even if you can eat shit and not get fat, that doesn’t mean you’re dodging heart disease or diabetes. Be smart about realizing where you’re different and where you’re in denial because you love ice cream. So if we’re all different, what can I recommend to a general audience? Some general guidelines to start with and a way to measure improvement in future experimentation.

Guidelines: I recommend starting with worrying about food quality. Focus on eating real foods which would have been available to our paleolithic (caveman/woman) ancestors. We spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving to eat a diet of wild game and foraged roots and berries, only to discover agriculture some 10,000 years ago and completely change our diets. Since that change, we’ve gotten shorter, developed teeth problems, and problems like obesity and heart disease (and other so called diseases of civilization). As a side note, I’m not arguing that agriculture was a bad thing, it’s allowed humans to develop past small nomadic societies and into it’s state today, what I am saying is that it’s wasn’t good for our diets.

As such, my general recommendation is to eat vegetables and meat as your primary energy sources. Avoid all grains, dairy, and refined foods. If you can’t look at your food and see what animal or plant it came from, you really should think twice about eating it. Also be careful with potatoes, legumes (like peanuts and beans), and fruit. Potatoes and legumes because they contain anti-nutrients which end up doing more harm than good. Fruit can be a problem because many people will substitute the sugar they cut out of their diet with very sugary fruit (one note on this is that we have bred a lot of our fruits to be much sweeter than they ever were before agriculture. See this picture of a wild banana.) Fruit obviously has a lot of good vitamins and nutrients in it, but don’t overdo it, one or two pieces a day is pushing it. During your first 30 days, I’d say avoid it pretty much all together.

Measuring Improvement: Try it for 30 days and see if you feel better at the end of the 30 days. Some things to watch for are general energy levels, periods of sleepiness throughout the day, how you feel when you wake up, feeling hungry throughout the day. You have to commit to a minimum of 30 days though. The first two weeks you will likely feel worse because (if you’re like most people, and chances are you are) your body will have to make the adjustment between burning carbs as a primary energy source to burning fat. The good news is, after this changeover has occurred, you’ll reap a lot of benefits. To name a few that I’ve experienced on this diet: I don’t feel tired mid-afternoon anymore, I don’t get mood swings based on my blood sugar modulation between meals, and I’ve leaned out a little bit (I’m pretty lean already, my friend lost 30+ pounds). This same trial period works great for any dietary modifications you want to make, try it for 30 days, check back at the end and see if you look and feel better. If so, keep it, if not, get rid of it. No amount of scientific evidence can be as convincing as simply trying it for yourself. Worst case scenario, you’ve wasted 30 days, but in reality it hasn’t been wasted anyways because you’ve learned something about your body and your diet.

One important thing to remember on all this though is that the end goal is improving your quality of life. If for any reason, sticking to your diet is causing you more grief than benefits, you need to sit down and take a long look at what to do about it. On common situation this can come up with is alcohol consumption. Alcohol is detrimental to your bodily health. I think we can all agree on that. However, drinking can be an important part of socializing and general enjoyment of life, so maybe having a few drinks isn’t ideal from a diet standpoint, but if it’s going to make you happier, maybe you should let loose from time to time. To paraphrase Robb Wolf: Drink as much as it takes to optimize your sex life, without too much detriment your performance.

For more reading/watching/listening on this subject, check out:
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes
Robb Wolf’s Website
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain
The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain
Fat Head a documentary by Tom Naughton
or just do a google search for some research on anything I’ve mentioned above. I recommend finding multiple sources though, and be very careful about shoddy research, there’s a lot out there in the area of nutrition.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments, I’ll try to get to them. Or even better, post results of your dietary experimentations.

Looking for my purpose

So throughout school, from elementary to college, there was always this goal before me, graduation. Well I got there a little over a year ago and haven’t put much thought into what’s next. I had to deal with the first few things, finding a job, housing, paying student loans, trying to get dates, clothing and feeding myself, but it’s all been pretty mundane. I’ve feel as if I lost that greater purpose. I’m still working towards smaller goals (like squat and deadlift 300lbs, press 170lbs, or learn a new aria in my voice lessons), but none of this really gets me going in the morning. I recently discovered this after being broken up with by yet another woman (maybe I’ll write a post on those something) and finding myself pretty unmotivated about everything. I spent last weekend puzzling over a solution for this and I was hard pressed to find something to pick myself up. Now granted, part of this is just the usual post-getting-dumped feeling shitty, but part of it seemed indicative of a larger problem I have. I have no real reason for being at the moment. Now granted, I’m probably never going to figure out why I’m here or what life’s about, but I’d at least like to wake up in the morning and be able to say, “I know why I’m getting out of bed today.”

So that’s the quandary I’ve been working on since last Saturday, and I feel like I’ve got something. It’s not fleshed out yet, but the first wisps of thought are starting to manifest. Here is is (I’ll probably write more later, but I just want to get this out there): I want to start a group, similar to the Junto of Benjamin Franklin, which will serve as a venue for enjoyment and learning about life. I want to find a group of people who are intelligent, diverse, and interesting and then meet regularly to share our endeavors, wisdom, and experiences with each other. We only really get one straight shot through life, so the more we can learn from the experiences of others, the richer our lives will be. Just as Franklin’s group used the Junto to share and refine essays, I want us to do things like write essays, poetry, or create art which we can share with each other.

Obviously this is going to be a pretty good amount of work, finding people who are interested and then actually getting them and myself off our asses to meet, but it’s the challenge that in part makes it fun for me. I’m excited about the end result, but also about the unknown path I’ll take to get there. Should be fun, I’m working on a mission statement of sorts for the group, so I’ll post that when I’m done.