CrossFit Fun

 Posted by on 11 August 2008 at 12:42 pm  Health
Aug 112008

Since the Morton’s neuroma and capsulitis in my right foot is still causing me problems, my exercise has been somewhat limited this summer. I’ve been doing mostly interval rowing (30 second normal, then 30 seconds hard and fast, for 2-3 miles per session) and CrossFit-style weight training to keep myself in shape. Since I’d like to build more muscle, I’ve been on the lookout for new exercises. Variation keeps my workouts fresh — and difficult. Consequently, I’ve been watching a fair amount of CrossFit videos on YouTube, some of which are just damn cool.

Since I just bought a set of kettlebells, I’ve been doing these swings:

(Don’t miss the end: she swings 70 pounds!) With ordinary dumbbells, you work one muscle group at a time. With the kettlebells, you can do whole-body movements. I like that much better, as the workout is much more intense. I’ve only done 25 pounds so far as part of a tabata set.

As for movements that I won’t be doing anytime soon, here’s a super-cool 57 inch box jump:


Inspiring Before and After

 Posted by on 19 July 2008 at 4:02 pm  Health
Jul 192008

Wow, these are an inspiring set of before-and-after pictures highlighting the importance of proper diet in addition to exercise. The before pictures are actually after two months of CrossFit plus an active job, yet eating the usual high-carb junk. The after pictures are from a mere three months later. The couple continued the exercise but switched to a paleo diet, eating whatever “they wanted from meats, fish, chicken, seasonal fruits, and veggies.” The difference is almost shocking. (The pictures are found in the link above, but the full discussion is in this MS Word document.)

The original source, Robb Wolf, says, “From my experience bad nutrition will block virtually all the effects of exercise.”

(One of the benefits of being home again after OCON is the capacity to eat all and only what I want. Life is so much better that way!)

The Tabata Method

 Posted by on 17 June 2008 at 10:31 pm  Health
Jun 172008

Wowee. Tonight, I tried my first exercise session using the Tabata Method. (I learned of it thanks to some blogging by my old friend Joshua, under the guidance of another old friend Kirez.)

Here’s how it works, according to an excellent introductory article:

It’s simple: take one exercise and perform it in the following manner:

1) For twenty seconds, do as many repetitions as possible.

2) Rest for ten seconds

3) Repeat seven more times!

That’s it! You’re done in four minutes! Oh, and that thing you’re trying to brush off your face? That would be the floor.

I did a four-minute block of front squats — just carrying an extra ten pounds of weights. (I didn’t want to overload myself.) And yes, by the end, my face did need to be scraped off the floor. I was breathing like I’d just run a series of sprints, and my quads were quivering like a bowl of jello. (Even an hour later, my legs were still weak!) After I recovered a bit, I did a set of easy pushups on my TRX suspension system. (My shoulders felt huge afterward.) Next I did a set of bicep curls, then a set of situps. Those last three sessions were challenging, but nothing like the squats. Also, I should mention that to track my time, I used the very handy Tabata-Clock on my laptop.

I suspect that I’m going to be quite sore tomorrow. But if not, then I know that I can ramp up the weight!

Raw Milk

 Posted by on 17 June 2008 at 12:29 pm  Food, Health, Politics
Jun 172008

I recently bought a share of a cow from Isle Farms, so that I can enjoy the delights of raw milk. One share yields about a gallon per week.

Raw milk is straight from the cow, without any pasteurization (i.e. heating to kill any bacteria) or homogenization (i.e. forced straining of fats for consistency). It’s what I grew up drinking as a kid, courtesy of our local dairy farmer in New Jersey. (When I was 11, my family moved to Maryland. That was the end of our raw milk, unfortunately.) From what I’ve read, raw milk does entail a somewhat higher risk of food borne illness than pasteurized milk, but it’s still less than other ordinary foods like deli meats and hot dogs.

The regulation of raw milk is completely insane. In California, raw milk and its products like butter and cheese can be bought directly from stores. That’s ideal. However, in many states, the sale of raw milk is banned completely, as if it were cocaine. (Not that I’m in favor of the drug war, but raw milk is not on par with addictive drugs, no matter how tasty!) In other states, distribution of raw milk is permitted but heavily regulated — at the point of the gun, as these government raids illustrate.

Colorado is one of those regulated states. Basically, it’s permissible to drink raw milk from your own cow. That allows a few small farmers across the state to sell shares of cows to people like me, who then pay a monthly boarding fee, all in order to obtain a few gallons of raw milk per month. Farmers are not permitted to sell raw milk directly to willing buyers, nor even give it away. Even under the cowshare program, farms cannot distribute butter and cheese. (I have made my own butter using these simple instructions.) Still, I’m happy that raw milk is available in Colorado at all, as it’s only legal in a bare majority of states. (Here’s a handy summary of the state of the law in Colorado and all other states regarding raw milk.)

The New York Times ran a story last year on the demand for raw milk in face of government regulation: Should This Milk Be Legal? It’s worth a quick read, if you’re interested. Also, if you’d like to learn more about pervasive government control of agriculture, Monica has a good post on that, including links to information on how to fight the attempt to impose more regulations on farmers. (Those regulations would be particularly burdensome for small farms like Isle Farms.)

As for why I’m going to so much trouble to obtain raw milk, I have two reasons. First, it tastes much better. It’s deeply satisfying in a way that its equivalent of pasteurized, homogenized whole milk equivalent is not. Second, it’s part of an overall change in diet. I’m consuming more protein and certain kinds of fats, and I’m trying to avoid stuffing myself full of goodness-only-knows-what from processed foods, particularly carbohydrates. I’m also interested in trying natural grass-fed beef, likely from this local supplier, as I have worries about the inappropriate feed given to cows intended for consumption. (I’m also interested in more natural forms of other meats like pork, lamb, and chicken.)

I’m quite pleased with the change in my diet already. The food tastes better to me, and I’ve lost my gnawing cravings for sugar. That’s definitely good news.

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