Saturday, April 21, 2012

Childhood Obesity: Why Are Kids Getting So Fat?

When I first saw this picture it struck me as a joke, but the more I thought about it the less funny it got.  The kid on the right isn't just a caricature, I see kids like this all the time.  Why?  How did it get this way?  What are we doing about it?

I think the first issue is that most kids don't do ANYTHING.  Why would you want to go outside and play something like football when you can play the video version of it sitting in your room eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew?  After all, you can be a superstar and not even need to have the slightest bit of physical ability. Not to sound like one of those old guys that say "Back in my day", but back when I was a kid you were expected to be outside playing until it was time to come in for dinner.  I don't think my mom was thinking about mt physical fitness, she just wanted me out of the house and away from her.  Regardless of the logic behind it, it worked.  Even the kid that was our "fat" friend wasn't fat by today's standards.  It is said that kids get about 30 hours a week spent either playing video games, watching TV, on the internet, or some other form of electronic media.  That's almost a full time job.  This is leading to an increase in Nature Deficit Disorder , which is a real thing and not something I made up.  Now, all we need is to get Erwan Le Corre to develop school Phys. Ed. programs and maybe we can eliminate this.

Now lets look at what we feed kids.  Our government programs stress a diet heavy in "healthy" whole grains, low-fat dairy, and plenty of other crap that serves no purpose other than to make people fat and dependent on the medical "professionals".  I'm not sure, but I think most of the "professionals" are the same ones helping to form those government policies, but that is another issue.  I saw a sample menu that the government recommends.  For breakfast is a bowl of whole grain cereal with skim milk and a slice of toast with margarine.  I don't think anyone in the Paleo/Primal community needs to be told what's wrong with that.  In fact, the biggest problem would be the arguing what is worse, the grain filled cereal or the rancid PUFA filled margarine.  If you don't know why those are bad, you can learn about it here and here.  So even when people try to feed their kids what they think is healthy, it is just helping to make them fatter and sicker.  The fact is though, a lot of parents aren't trying all that hard to make sure kids are getting the most nutritious foods.  Walk around any grocery store and take a look at what is in people's carts and see what they are feeding their kids.  To drink we have sodas and sugary fake juices and cool-aid.  For breakfast we have pop tarts, donuts, and frozen waffles.  To go on top of the frozen waffles is margarine and what they call syrup, but is nothing more than high fructose corn syrup with artificial maple flavoring.  What is that maple flavoring made out of, I wonder?  Continuing on with the rest of the menu we have an assortment of hot pockets, macaroni and cheese, and frozen pizza.

And lets not even get started on school lunches.  It would take too long to cover it all, and I'm not a skilled enough writer to do it justice.  Here we are using tax money to feed kids the worst assortment of fake foods that are based on horribly flawed nutrition guidelines.  The real shame of it is that most of the kids getting school lunches on the free lunch program are the kids that aren't getting much in the way of nutrition anywhere else.  This could be a way to see to it they get one or two good meals a day in at school, and maybe even show them what a nutritious meal looks like and they could take that bit of information home with them.

I personally pack my daughter's lunch, and I'm always wondering if and when we will get the letter sent home or the call from the school concerned about the nutritional value of her lunch.  "It's just meat, vegetables, and fruit.  Don't you think that's to much meat and fat?  Where are the whole grains?"  If it happens I hope they are ready for all hell to be unleashed.  I will walk in the office with every scrape of documentation from every study explaining why what they think is total bull shit and politely invite them to kiss my ass.

The last part of the problem is many parents are waiting for someone else to step in and be the parent.  "The schools have cut P.E. so what am I supposed to do?"  What you are supposed to do is be a parent.  It is your responsibility to see that your kids are getting what they need.  YOU make sure they go outside and play.  YOU make sure they don't spend unending hours in front of the TV or attached to a video game controller.  YOU feed them healthy food.  And maybe most important is YOU lead by example, and show them what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to Blogger

I'm back!  I have decided to move from the Wordpress blog back to this one. Why?  Because it's free.  I'm not a professional blogger.  No one will be confusing this site with Free The Animal.  It just isn't worth it to me to keep the domain name and pay for the web hosting.  So here I am (to all 3 of you that have any interest in anything I have to say).

Time To Go Outside And Play

Well, I actually started writing this a couple of months ago after watching the videos from the Ancestral health Symposium.  In particular the talks given by Mark Sisson and Erwan LeCorre.  It was kind of long and drawn out, and it was starting to bore me, so I just deleted it.  Part of the reason it was taking me so long to write it is that I have been taking my own advise.  GET OUT OF THE FUCKING HOUSE!  Get outside and play.  Feel the joy of moving. Get dirty!!!. If you have children this is mandatory.  How do you want your kids to remember you.  ”Dad sure was a hard worker.  The house was always kept perfect, the lawn was immaculate, and he never passed up an opportunity to put in some overtime and earn some extra cash.  It would have been nice to see him more though.”  Or, “Dad was awesome.  He always had time for us, always played with us, gave us so many happy memories, and always taught us fun ways to be happy and healthy.”  I know which way I’ve chosen.
I went to the park with my kids the other day and was completely disgusted with what I saw.  99% of the parents there couldn’t get their asses of the benches or their eyes of their iPhones for half a fucking second to interact with their kids.  I don’t think the majority of them even knew were there kids were half the time.  It was kind of heart-breaking to watch a kid begging their parent to just interact with them even just a little, only to be told to “Go”. I swear, there was only one other guy that was throwing a football around with his son.  It is important to give the kids some independence on the playground, and I absolutely give it.  It helps them develop social and problem solving skills which are desperately needed these days. But I also want them to see that dad still likes to play and have fun and it doesn’t have to end when you grow up.  We got in some good games of tag, and several races(they were actually pretty long runs, and all my oldest’s idea).
The other thing I see my kids learning is that fences are meant to be climbed, gates are optional. Trails are OK to follow, but it’s also fun to make your own path.  1) We are having fun, getting some exercise, exploring nature, and making discoveries.  2) I think these lessons translate well later in life into other areas.  I don’t want my kids growing up to be sheep.
Now, here is where LeCorre comes into play.  Most of us have forgotten how to move and play properly.  It is important to re-learn these skills so we get the most out of it and ***NOT GET HURT***.  I watch my 3 year old playing in the back yard, barefoot of course. She naturally has perfect barefoot running form. She performs the “Grok Squat” with ease and can sit there indefinitely.   No need to re-learn anything. Unfortunately, it’s not the same for most of us. We need a little help remembering who we are.
Bottom line, turn of the damn computer and go outside. Do something fun. Be a kid again. Be a kid with your kids.

There Is No Magic Pill

It seems that everywhere I look, I am reading something about the HCG Diet.  OK, so what is it?  Well, HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotrophin, a hormone produced during pregnancy.  Its purpose is to promote the secretion of progesterone, which will make the uterus thick with blood vessels and capillaries, which are needed to support the growing fetus.  That’s all well and good, but what the hell does it have  to do with diet?
Back in the 1950′s a British doctor by the name of Albert Simeons was studying pregnant women in India that were on a calorie deficient diet, as well as overweight boys with pituitary problems.  Simeons proposes that this hormone he found in the pregnant women’s urine, along with being put on a strict 500 calorie per day diet, would help people to lose fat and curb their appetite.
The claims I read on all the web sites selling HCG say that it keeps you from feeling hungry, mobilizes fat, and redistributes the fat from the stomach and butt.  Oh, and exercise is not needed.  In fact, it is discouraged.  That’s really not much of a surprise.  You’re only eating 500 calories per day, how much energy could you have.  The cost for these “treatments” is a mere $500-$1000 per month, but it’s OK because, they claim it is really free when you figure in how much money you wont be spending on food(Yes, I read that. I’m not being sarcastic).
HCG has been approved by the FDA as a fertility drug, and nothing else.  The way around this is an MD can write a prescription for whatever they want.  For those that do take it, here is a list of possible side effects you may want to consider:
  • Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
  • Birth Defects (if taken during pregnancy)
  • Prostate cancer
  • Severe pelvic pain
  • Swelling in the hands and legs
  • Stomach pain and swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight gain **
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Breast tenderness and swelling
  • Edema
  • Reduced penis size**
  • Blood clots
  • Restlessness
  • Thinning of the hair
  • Male breast enlargement
That’s quit a list.  I wonder how many other drugs you will need to go on to feel better after going on HCG “treatments”.  There is also the Homeopathic versions of the drug, but these are nothing more than water that may or may not have even a trace amounts of the hormone in it after it is diluted(That’s some real expensive water).
There are NO clinical tests that show HCG has any better rate of weight lose than placebo, at least that is what the Peer-Reviewed studies show.  All of the other crap out there is a joke. One of the biggest promoters of the HCG diet was Kevin Trudeau.  In fact, his book, The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t want You to Know About, is considered required reading on many HCG sites on the net.  If you are not familiar with Trudeau, just do a simple Google search and see just how slimy he is.  From his early arrests for larceny and credit card fraud, when he impersonated a doctor to deposit $80,000 in fraudulent checks, charging hundreds of thousands of dollars on peoples credit cards after stealing their name and Social Security numbers, and his involvement in Multi-Level Marketing schemes(AKA pyramid schemes).  How anyone can take ANY advice from this guy is beyond me.
Here is my take on it(and again, this is my take. I hope you do your own research and form your own opinion).  People are looking for the Magic Pill that will solve all there problems for them.  People don’t want to address what is going on in their lives, even when it is killing them.  Here’s some advice.  Look at what is wrong, find out what you need to do to fix it, AND DO IT!  Yes, sometimes it requires changing your entire lifestyle.  But in my experience, this can be a good thing.  I know because I have been there.  I have been in these peoples shoes.  Not too long ago I was obese.  I was over 250 lbs, and only 5′ 9″ that is pretty damn big.  I knew I needed a change.  It would have been real easy to look for the magic pill, but I knew that would never work.  I changed not only how I eat, but how I move and how I think.  I am now at 175 lbs, and have added quite a bit of muscle, so who knows how much fat I have lost.  I have achieved the goal that people going on the HGC diet are looking for by following a Primal/Paleo lifestyle and adopting functional fitness and natural movement.  The best part is it is sustainable over the long haul.  I’m a year and a half in, and I’m still improving, and it’s still easy and ENJOYABLE.  I can’t imagine starving myself on 500 calories a day as being a fun way to live.
Let’s face it, at 500 calories a day you will lose weight.  It’s called starvation.  You will not be able to sustain this without doing damage to your body(or having Sally Struthers trying to raise money to feed you).  You will not have the energy to enjoy life.  I also worry about putting a hormone in your system that is not meant to be there.  What could this do to your endocrine system?  That I don’t know.

Who Needs a Gym

All too often we hear the same typical excuses of why someone can’t get healthy. The one that has been bugging me lately is “I don’t have the money for a gym membership, and I wouldn’t have the time to go if I did.” Well, there are no more excuses because that doesn’t fly! I have gotten into the best shape of my life and I have yet to set foot into a gym. My gym is my back yard, the park, the great outdoors, or on the bedroom floor if need be. All those locations come without membership fees.
As for equipment, one of my favorites is my own body weight. Do a hundred burpees and then tell me you didn’t just get one hell of a workout. Just a couple of weeks ago my workout consisted of 5×100 meter sprints, push-ups, pull-ups, and body weight shoulder presses. The entire workout, including warm-up and cool-down, was under 30 minutes.
My workout gear consists of sandbags, a sledgehammer, Bulgarian bags(made from a truck tire inertube), a homemade medicine ball and some kettlebells. The kettlebells are the only traditional weights that I own. I only need a couple of them, so it’s not like I had to break the bank to get them. The rest came from my favorite gym equipment store, The Home Depot. A 50 lb. bag of sand cost a couple of bucks. I wrapped the sandbag in duct tape(another couple of bucks) to give it some durability, and I’m working out for less money than a McDonald’s Value Meal. The sledgehammer cost a little bit more(still under $20), but I get to use it as tool(imagine that) to get work done too, so it is worth the extra money. The Bulgarian bag was pretty simple.  Cut open the inertube, fill with sand, zip tie closed and duct tape the handles – done!  The medicine ball was an old basket ball.  I cut a hole in it filled it with sand, and duct taped it(You may see a pattern forming here with me and duct tape).
No more Excuses! If you’ve got 20 minutes and your own body weight you can get great workout. Go outside, take a run/walk/sprint/crawl(yes, I said crawl) through your neighborhood. Head to the park and find something to climb(If you have kids they will love you for this). In short, learn to love movement again. Learn the joy of moving in a more natural way, they way we were designed to.
And here is a very important key point. You need to turn off the computer, turn off the TV, and leave the i-Phone behind. Go outside and play.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Blog is Moving

I have decided to move to a different blog location. Please follow me at  The new blog should have a cleaner look and will not have the problems that were experienced her with comments and viewing on mobile devices. Hope to see you there.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Conversation With a Runner

Over the 4th of July holiday I had the chance to have a “discussion” about fitness, nutrition, and running shoes with a former marathoner. Can you guess how that conversation went?  It was what I expected for the most part.  There were a few surprises.  I had no idea runners were so attached to their running shoes!  I had just come in from running some sprints.  I had worn a pair of minimalist shoes(Nike Free TR’s. Not really that minimalist, but they are what I have.) since the holiday festivities were held right outside where I was staying so I was worried about debris in the grass and the pavement was a little hot to go barefoot in the Florida heat.  I mentioned how I would have preferred to run them barefoot, as I find it better.  The runner then went on to inform me of the role good running shoes play.  Apparently, it is important they be flexible, with proper padding in the heel, and good arch support.  I was told how if I don’t have those things then I will suffer from any number of ailments from running, ranging from shin splints to stress fractures in my heals over time.  I informed him that that is not the case for me, and that if those are problems people face then they are not running properly.  Well, that went over like a fart in a wet bathing suit.  Experienced runners don’t like to hear they are doing it wrong.  But riddle me this Batman, if the arch is one of the strongest load-bearing structures(the Roman aqueducts are still standing after all), then why do we need to “support” them?  You only need to have cushioning in the heel if you are slamming your heel down on the ground.  In that case, then yes, you will hurt yourself without it.  I used this example, let me know if I’m off base, If you were pounding on your hand with a hammer and realized “hey, this hurts”, would you A) develop a padded glove to wear that will absorb the shock and minimize the impact of the blow, or B) STOP HITTING YOURSELF!  The running shoes are simply masking the problem, and further weakening your foot in the process.  As a species, we’ve been developing for a very long time, and the ability to run is a big part of our development.  The amount of time in our history that we have been wearing modern style shoes is a mere blink of the eye in the big picture of human evolution.  Something tells me natural selection is a little better at determining what works best for us than Nike, Asics, Saucony, and New Balance combined.

I am far from being any kind of expert on barefoot running, or in running in general.  I am just getting back into it, and retraining myself after a lifetime of poor technique.  But there are people out there that know quit a bit, and they are worth listening to. People like Prof. Dan Lieberman, Chris McDougall, Barefoot Ted, and Barefoot Ken Bob.  If you are interested you can find their books here, it is definitely worth your time.