Saturday, May 29, 2010

Here's A Thought (Mac)

What "food" does the meat industry feed its animals to make them grow as fat as possible in the shortest amount of time?  I'll give you a hint - Special K is made out of it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jeremy Irons is With Me (Mac)

Well, it looks as if I am not the only one who thinks the world has too many human beings leaching off of it - Jeremy Irons is in the same boat as me when it comes to our thoughts on human population.  I am looking forward to seeing his upcoming documentary.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Radical Homemakers (Mac)

"We have lost the innate knowledge and traditional crafts essential to countless functions for our daily survival, with the end result being a disconnection from our communities and our natural world.  So complete is this detachment that we are unaware of the ecological and social damage created by mass production for our daily needs.  Screened from the production process, we buy chicken breasts without considering the workers in poultry factories who must breathe toxic fumes, or the loss of topsoil from irresponsible grain production.  We purchase our detergents and cleaners without considering the ingredients that might be poisoning our families and our water supply.  We buy inexpensive clothing, never considering who must produce the fiber, weave the cloth and sew the garments for paltry wages, or what country must have its rivers polluted with dues.  No matter where we live, we expect fresh tomatoes in December and iceberg lettuce in January, regardless of the fact it took more calories to grow and ship them than they deliver when we eat them.

This is not to say that every homemaker must start weaving cloth and hand-washing their family's clothes: with few exceptions, most of us will always rely on the broader industrial system for something.  But for each daily need that we re-learn to provide within our homes and communities we strengthen our independence from an extractive and parasitic economy.  As we realize the impact of each choice we make, we discover ways to simplify our demands and rebuild our domestic culture.

When we regain connection with all that sustains us, we regain creative spirit.  We rediscover the joy that comes with using our hands and our minds in union to nourish, nurture and delight in our families; we tap the source if true creative satisfaction, the ecstasy that accompanies a home that lives in harmony with the earth's systems, and the certitude of a life guided by principles of social justice and nonexploitation."

~Shannon Hayes
Radical Homemakers

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Scale (Mac)

Out of curiosity, I have been tracking my caloric intake for the last week or so just to give me an idea of what I am eating, how much energy I am consuming, as well as what my nutrient intake is like.  So far, my average intake of all known essential nutrients are above the RDA except for calcium. Am I worried about that?  No, not really because I think the bigger issue is about calcium balance - not losing more than you are gaining.  I wonder how the government and nutritional wizards out there can explain how I manage to get all of my vitamins and minerals without eating grains, tiny amounts of fruits and veggies and a rare smidgen of dairy here and there.  I am hazarding a guess that all the information we hear about needing to eat bread, cereal, fruit, and dairy is driven much more by the slick marketing of the companies that sell these products than about the reality of human nutrition - much like the current media bombardment of yogurt and probiotics.  Pretty soon everyone will be bending over backwards to make sure they get their daily does of probiotics and all to the benefit of the yogurt manufacturers - wake up and smell the damn coffee, people.  I wonder what healthy-must-have-gonna-die-without-it, mass-marketed food product  is coming at us next?

Anyway, last week from Monday to Thursday I averaged 1,723 calories and my weight on Thursday was 187 lbs. Friday I ate 3,160 calories and weighed 186 lbs. Saturday I ate 3,176 calories and weighed 188 lbs. Sunday I ate 3,258 calories and weighed 193 lbs. Yesterday I ate 1,845 calories and weighed 188 lbs and this morning I weigh 186 lbs. and will eat my usual 1700-1800 cal for the rest of the week. So the couple days over the weekend where I ate a lot more than I usually do didn't do anything to my weight over the long term in fact I ended up right where I was from before eating more.

So from Friday to Sunday I "gained" 7 lbs.  Most people would be horrified, but you will see that come this morning I didn't end up gaining a single pound despite eating almost twice what I normally eat and tomorrow morning I'll probably be down to 185 lbs.  I think the idea here is to control consumption of carbohydrates (sugar) and don't overeat every single day of every single month - we didn't evolve to have 3000 calories a day every single day of our lives.  Overeating (proper foods) here and there won't do any harm and daily fluctuations of the scale do not mean you are gaining or losing fat.  The body is in a constant cycle of water, waste, and food so the scale can easily vary 2-3 lbs daily or in my case, 7 lbs over the weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cauliflower Crust Pizza (Mac)

I came across a link to what looks like a great low carb pizza crust.  We will be giving this a try on Saturday night!  This also looks quite yummy.  The cheese doesn't live up to paleolithic standards, I know, but occasionally we will eat full fat (organic when possible) cheese on something like this or like my version of KFC's Double Down which I made for a Friday dinner a few weeks ago (pictured above).

On a side note, I ordered up some casings to try my hand at making pepperoni.  Pepperoni is a fantastic snack, but I'd like to be in charge of my own ingredients and food safety.  I am looking forward to making a batch :-)  I also purchased a decent meat slicer to allow me to make larger quantities of jerky with a reasonable amount of prep time.  My current favorite recipe is simply some hickory smoke flavor and black pepper.

We are planning to go to a BBQ hosted by Linda at Trail's End on May 22 where I hope to pick up some roasts for sausage and pepperoni making as well as some steak to tide us over until our cow is ready in August.  I am also a little closer to finding some locally raised chicken for meat.  I cringe every time I buy factory made, Lilydale garbage.  It is difficult to find a location that is close and can provide me with two chickens a week as all of the places I have found so far are a 2-3 hour drive away.  I am also on the search for some local lamb - love me some lamb!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wood Burning Furnace (Mac)

We had a spring snow storm last week and we lost power for a day and change.  The impact wasn't too bad relatively speaking.  Our fridge was still down and we currently have no meat in the freezer - our 1/4 cow won't be ready until August so we didn't have to worry about food going bad.  At the point of the storm we had already been living fridge-less for almost two weeks.  The power outage did leave us without heat and water though.

We are on a well and septic system even though we are in the town limits and without power we have no water or heat.  We have been long wanting to become free from the utility companies for times when the power goes out as well as the fact that I simply don't trust these huge companies and how they operate.  I also have a huge problem with the province of Alberta allowing these companies to exploit my resources and then sell them back to me at outrageous prices.  We have bills in some winter months of $400-$500!

We know that we want to get a wind turbine to generate electricity and I think we will be successful since it is quite windy here assuming I don't have a battle with the town.  If we can obtain a turbine to generate electricity we will be halfway to our goal of telling our monopolized utility industry where to go.  To replace natural gas I have been looking into a wood pellet burning furnace or boiler.  Wood burning technology has come a long way in the last few years and it looks like a very self-sustainable way to go- at least as long as there is a supply of pellets.  It sure beats being robbed by Fortis and Atco.

Here is a link to more information on wood pellets as a source of fuel.  I have found some local suppliers of pellets as well as a dealer for the furnace up in the Athabasca region who apparently deals all around Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan.  We have a few things on our list ahead of a new furnace like new windows, siding, and a roof conducive to harvesting rain water, but it is good to begin the research ahead of time so all bases can be covered before investing time and money.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So...This is Me (Mac)

I figured I should put up a photo of myself to give you an idea of who is behind the posts here.  I snapped this photo this afternoon.  I am currently 185lbs down from 215lbs in mid-February of this year although I have been as high as 220lbs in previous years.  I am 5'-9 1/4" and, yes, the 1/4" counts and just turned 36 years old in April.  This is me living primally - the way my genes want me to be.

I am just a regular guy, I am not huge, I don't live in a gym, and I don't think I will ever have ripped, six pack, Calvin Klein underwear model abs - I am too lazy.  I do, however, have some decent muscle mass and that is my main goal.  I want to be strong and maintain as much muscle as I age which I believe helps to slow the inevitable degeneration that comes with aging.  Heck, if I look like this throughout my forties, fifties and sixties I am going to a very happy guy!  I don't think I will have much trouble keeping up appearances while living my current lifestyle which brings me to the topic of today's post which has to to with the amount of effort you are willing to give to achieve your ideal body.

One thing that you have to understand is that what ever you are doing dietarily or through exercise to create your ideal body you will need to continue that regimen for as long as you want to look that way.  In other words, your body will reflect your efforts - genetics not withstanding.  The reason I will probably never have a six pack is I am simply not prepared to do what it takes to get them and keep them.  I don't have the genes to be effortlessly super lean and I am not prepared to slog away on the treadmill, scrutinize my diet to the nth degree, etc. to achieve a purely aesthetic look.  I would certainly like to have less body fat, but I know that I won't maintain the effort indefinitely so I see no point.  If I continue to lean out as time progresses while following a predominantly paleolithic diet and lifestyle then, yay for me, but I want to live my life and not worry about single digit body fat levels.

To achieve my current state I am lifting weights for about half an hour Moday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Here is my current schedule:

bench press - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
incline dumbbell press - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
weighted dips - 2 sets of 4-6 reps
cable press downs - 2 sets of 4-6 reps

weighted pull ups - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
bent over barbell row - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
dumbbell curl - 4 sets of 4-6 reps

back squats - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
dead lifts - 4 sets of 4-6 reps

dumbbell push press - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
lateral dumbbell raise - 4 sets of 4-6 reps
barbell shrugs - 4 sets of 4-6 reps

That's it - that's all.  I am able to do those workouts in the time it takes to watch a half hour of "My Name is Earl" (love that show!).  I walk when ever I need to go anywhere in town and I will walk to the neighboring town 3km away once or twice a week and on those walks I will occasionally throw in 6-8 sprints.  This is a workout schedule that I can easily maintain and commit to over the long term.  This may not be the "best" workout plan in the world, but I enjoy lifting heavy weights, I enjoy brief, intense workouts, and I am pretty happy with the effort/result trade offs.

The one thing I hear and see on a constant basis is this notion of "temporary".  People think they can go on a particular diet or exercise scheme, lose some weight, and then go back to the way they were doing things before ad maintain the results.  It doesn't work like that.  Your results are based on a certain level of effort and if that effort changes - for the good or worse - so do the results.  This is a concept that is totally lost on people.  If you have experienced results with any number of the diet plans out there then you have to stick with them indefinitely if you want to keep the results.  Of course these plans fail because they are going about fat loss completely wrong - their premiss of "eat less calories and do more exercise" is a miserable way to live and is wholly unsustainable.  Just look at the long term failure rates of these programs.

Anyway, I just thought I'd put a physique behind the posts to give you a better idea of what I look like and the results of this lifestyle Jody and I are living.  Just keep in mind before you get all gung-ho about a diet or exercise plan that if it gives you the desired results you will have to keep doing it for as long as you want the results - period.  Grapefruit, water, and coffee enemas for life, eh?  LOL  Have fun with that - I'll be over here chewing on some home made, 100% grass-fed beef jerky ;-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Did I Eat Today? (Mac)

Wednesday is usually the day I do my weekly fast which starts on Tuesday the with my last meal around 6 pm not eating until Wednesday at 6 pm for a 24 hour fast, or occasionally, Thursday morning for a 36 hour fast.  Wednesdays work nice for a fast since it is my day off from weight lifting and nothing much socially happens on Wednesdays so it works nicely, but I didn't feel like fasting today.  Not a big deal as I generally just let my fasting and dietary regimen float around where it wants to go.  I think forcing oneself to stick to a rigid dietary schedule is not much fun as I did that sort of thing for seven or eight years when I was into  serious bodybuilding.

Today I ate the following:
Breakfast: 4 fresh farm eggs, 2 pieces of pepperoni, coffee with 35% whipping cream (not strict paleo its a treat!)
Lunch: a can of sardines in spring water, coffee with coconut milk
Dinner: 4 beef sausages, a handful each of steamed Brussels sprouts & cauliflower

Not a lot of food today as I wasn't really hungry. I find that eating a very low carbohydrate diet allows me to eat less and more sporadically without feeling deprived or with ravenous hunger.  Despite what you hear in the media humans don't need to eat every two hours to avoid metabolic disaster.  Well, you do if you are cramming yourself full of sugar then you need to eat often to get your fix much like a smoker needs to smoke frequently to keep nicotine levels up.  Ditch the sugar and you can actually go a day or more without eating with relative ease.  Try doing that while eating conventionally...I dare you ;-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thanks Agriculture! (Mac)

I just finished watching a fantastic show on the Discovery Civilization channel called Out of Egypt and it was about our (human beings) journey from millennia of hunting and gathering to living in cities less than ten thousand years ago and all the modern ills that followed.  The program pretty much summed up my beliefs in the destruction of human health and longevity, sustainable and responsible living, human suffering, concentration of wealth and power, and disease all caused by the advent of agriculture and urbanization.

What really struck me was the fact that most ancient cities collapsed.  From Africa to South America, most great cities crumbled under their own weight.  The technology at the time allowed cities to grow unchecked and eventually the massive growth outstripped its ability to supply, sustain, and protect the people.  The striking feature for me was that if many of these once grand cities ceased to exist from the massive, unsustainable growth (among other factors) what makes us think we are any different?

What happens when our current technology fails to provide and sustain as it did in ancient times?  There are signs of failure everywhere.  The gap between rich and poor widens, infectious disease, violence, and competition for dwindling resources is on the rise.  More than half the world lives in urban areas as small towns, villages, and rural communities  continue to decline along with the skills and knowledge to live off the land - if those abilities aren't already completely gone.

Why do we think our modern lives and cities are any different than the ancient ones?  Why do we think we can avoid the fate of so many ancient cities?  Why do we never learn from history?  I can say for sure, as I said in my first post on Wake Up & Smell The Damn Coffee, that we are headed for a disaster. It may not be in our lifetime, but it is coming.  The unprecedented growth of the human population since the Industrial Revolution, a mere two hundred-ish years ago, will not go unchecked and much like the massive, never-seen-before cities of the past we will follow on the path to destruction, displacement, and an uncertain future.  Continued growth cannot be the answer.

Pessimistic, I know, but it is the reality.  We can continue to think we are more advanced than our ancestors, that we are separate and above the laws of nature, and that we can never suffer the fates of those before us, but I can guarantee the inhabitants of those failed, ancient cities felt exactly the same way about the preceding generations of hunter gathers.  The modern citizens of the day thought they were more advanced and knew it all - just like we do today.  But it will be different this go around.  Right.

Economies are collapsing (Greece and many to follow) and global recession is still in full swing.  I blame these things, fundamentally, on the inability of individuals to provide for themselves.  Government social programs cannot sustain massive populations on the backs of a few - the writing is on the wall.  Any population in nature that outstrips its environment's ability to sustain said population will collapse and as much as we humans like to think we are immune to such happenings we are in for a rough ride down the road when the proverbial pavement runs out - and it will.