Nov 192012

Hospital Death in Ireland Renews Fight Over Abortion:

The woman, Savita Halappanavar, 31, a dentist who lived near Galway, was 17 weeks pregnant when she sought treatment at University Hospital Galway on Oct. 21, complaining of severe back pain.

Dr. Halappanavar was informed by senior hospital physicians that she was having a miscarriage and that her fetus had no chance of survival. However, despite repeated pleas for an abortion, she was told that it would be illegal while the fetus’s heart was still beating, her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, said.

It was not until Oct. 24 that the heartbeat ceased and the remains of the fetus were surgically removed. But Dr. Halappanavar contracted a bacterial blood disease, septicemia. She was admitted to intensive care but never recovered, dying on Oct. 28.

Mr. Halappanavar, in an interview with The Irish Times from his home in India, said his wife was told after one request, “This is a Catholic country.”

On Facebook, I’ve seen some advocates of abortion bans claim that her death cannot be definitively proved to have been caused by the failure of the doctors to abort her dying fetus. That’s true, but utterly beside the point.

Very little in medicine is cut and dried. The human body is immensely complex, and doctors mostly deal in probabilities, not certainties. That’s part of why it’s so important for each person — guided by the advice of her doctors — to make her own decisions about her medical care.

People differ in their values, and hence, in the risks they’re willing to accept or not. For a person to be free to live her own life requires that she be free to decide what risks to take with her own body and health — without interference from the government.

For the government to dictate or outlaw certain kinds of medical treatments means subjecting people to risks contrary to their own best judgment of their own interests. That’s a violation of their rights, plain and simple. That’s true for all medical care, including abortion.

That’s why laws banning abortion violate rights, even when they allow for exceptions to save the life of the mother. All pregnancy is risky: the maternal death rate in the United States is 16 out of 100,000. Many women are unwilling to undergo that risk, not to mention all the other complications and risks of pregnancy — and rightly so. Because the embryo/fetus is not a person with the right to life, a woman has the right to decide, based purely on her judgment of her own best interests, that she’s not willing to bear the risks of pregnancy, and hence, to terminate her pregnancy.

In contrast, under laws that permit abortion only to save the life of the mother, doctors would be constantly subject to second-guessing by police, prosecutors, and courts — and perhaps, subject to very serious criminal charges for murder or manslaughter. That’s why women die under abortion bans, regardless of provisions that permit doctors to act to save the woman’s life. The doctor cannot afford to be blind to the risk to his own life and liberty of performing an abortion, even to save a woman’s life.

The advocates of abortion bans seek to evade the consequences of their own policies when confronted by these kinds of cases by claiming that the woman might have died anyway, even if she’d been able to terminate the pregnancy. That might be true, but that should have been her decision to make. Instead, she was preventing from acting based on her own best judgment in service of her life. That’s a major violation of her fundamental rights.

Ultimately, as Savita Halappanavar’s husband said, “It was all in their hands, and they just let her go. How can you let a young woman go to save a baby who will die anyway?”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: opposition to abortion rights is not “pro-life.”

Sep 012012

Last Friday, I completed my fourth sheet of SuperSlow training, i.e. another 16 sessions. If you’ve not read my prior posts on SuperSlow, check out:

Here’s the latest sheet: This last sheet was something of a bear, but let’s see how I did. (Click to enlarge.)

Here’s a summary of my progress on various movements, starting from Session 48 from Sheet 3 to Session 64 on Sheet 4. All the machines are Nautilus, except the lower back and the torso rotation. As before, only Leg Press and Lower Back are done every session; all other movements are done every other session.

With this sheet, we decided to allow the leg press to take a back seat, given all the progress that I made in Sheet 3. So I did it last every session, which was insanely hard. I was focused on making progress on my lat pull-down, hip adduction, and hip abduction.

Every week:

  • LP: Leg Press: 280 to 285 lbs. My trainer moved my seat forward, and that just killed me. For the past few sessions, I’ve been extending my legs less (due my my knee popping down once), and that’s increased the difficulty too.
  • LB: Lower Back: 178 to 182 lbs. My weight on this machine is ridiculously high for a woman, so I’m not pushing myself too hard on it at present. Still, it’s the sole machine that I don’t hate!

Every other week:

  • CR: Calf Raises: 300 to 305 lbs. Progress is hard to make on this movement, because the heels are just moving a few inches up and down. Still, I can see better definition in my calves, and I expect to be up to 310 lbs soon.
  • Hip AB: Hip Abduction: 85 to 95 lbs. I’ve made some, but not much progress. It’s really hard, and I might be near my max weight.
  • Hip AD: Hip Adduction: 105 to 115 lbs. Again, I’ve made some, but not much progress. I might be near my max weight with this machine too.
  • Lower Back (see above)
  • Bicep: Steady at 50 lbs: Hrmph. I didn’t realize that I made no progress on this machine. My times aren’t great either.
  • Tricep: Steady at 85 lbs: Again, no progress. Boo!
  • Ab C: Ab Crunch: Steady at 20 lbs. I’m okay with that.
  • Leg Press (see above)
Every other week:

  • PD: Lat Pull-Down: 115 to 130 lbs. I’m really happy with my progress on this machine, particularly after being at 115 lbs for the whole of Sheet 3. You’ll see that my trainer accidentally increased me by 15 lbs, but I was able to do it! (We kept 10 lbs of that increase.) Sometimes, a mistaken weight increase is a great way to make progress.
  • CP: Chest Press: 65 to 70 lbs. I’ve struggled to make any progress on this machine, so I’m very happy with a 5 lb increase. My times didn’t really justify the increase, but sometimes an increase when stalled can get me out of a rut. I’ve done okay with 70 lbs, so I think that was the right decision.
  • Row: Row: 55 to 60 lbs. I alternate between pulling and a 2 minute static hold. I hate this machine, and I’m still having trouble with my form. But hey, a little progress is good!
  • LE/LC: Leg Extension: Steady at 70 lbs. I wasn’t able to make much progress on this machine due to its later placement in the workout. I’m okay with that. (LC is a 90-second Leg Curl of progressive intensity against a stable frame.)
  • Lower Back (see above)
  • Rot T: Rotate Torso: 50 to 40 lbs. My trainer dropped my weight to work on form, and I think that was helpful.
  • Leg Press (see above)

I can’t quite recall what my trainer and I decided to do on the next sheet. We’ve moved a bunch of machines around, yet again. Leg press is at the end of every other workout, and I think it’s in the middle of the others. The lat pull-down is still early, I think. For more than that, you’ll have to wait for my report in 16 weeks.

Overall, I’m still really happy to be doing SuperSlow. It’s the most difficult half hour of every week, but I just need that half hour to keep in great shape for the sports that I love — horseback riding, skiing, and snowboarding. Plus, my injury risk is negligible. I love that.

P.S. If you decide to try my SuperSlow gym — now TruFit Health — in south Denver, please tell them that I referred you!


Joshua Lipana is one of the assistant editors for The Objective Standard blog, and a hard-working advocate for reason and free markets.

Unfortunately, he was recently diagnosed at age 20 with cancer (specifically, a T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).

TOS editor Craig Biddle has spearheaded an online fundraiser to help Joshua and his family cover some of the medical expenses.  Diana and I have already contributed, but we’d like to spread the word.

Craig has a nice update on Joshua’s condition in this August 6, 2012 post, “Help Joshua Lipana Fight Cancer—Update“.  Craig discusses how he met Joshua, highlights some of his many achievements, and tells us a little bit more about his background.

Basically, the treatments seem to be working.  But he needs our help.  Craig notes:

To date we’ve raised $13,642 (that’s $2,000 more than GoFundMe shows because one couple generously made a direct donation of $2,000 to Joshua’s PayPal account). But we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of $25,000.

If you’d like to donate, you can do so through this GoFundMe page.

You can also donate via PayPal to joshualipana (atsign) yahoo (dot) com.

Or if you’d prefer to mail a check, please make it out to “The Objective Standard” and write on the Memo line: “Donation for Joshua”  and send it to:

The Objective Standard P.O. Box 5274 Glen Allen, VA 23058

Thank you for helping out in this good cause for a good man.

No Ancestral Health Symposium for Me

 Posted by on 7 August 2012 at 12:00 pm  Announcements, Health, Personal
Aug 072012

Alas, I’ve decided not to attend the Ancestral Health Symposium, happening later this week.

My adrenal insufficiency is a huge problem for me right now, and even with adrenal supplements, an easy schedule, and good sleep, I’m feeling sleepy and lethargic most of the time. Travel exacerbates the problem like nothing else: I’ve still not dug myself out of the hole that I dug myself visiting family in late June.

So I fear that the AHS would not just be miserable and exhausting for me but also put me in a significant worse state. I hate to cancel, particularly at the last minute. I’m sorry that I’ll be missing some sure-to-be-awesome lectures, as well as chatting with paleo folks. Nonetheless, it seems like the only sensible decision.

As a result, Sunday morning’s Philosophy in Action Radio Show will be broadcast as usual… but I’m still skipping the Wednesday evening’s show.

Beware “Gluten Free” Labels

 Posted by on 28 July 2012 at 10:00 am  Food, Health
Jul 282012

Recently, I ran across this article from Experience Life: Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels:

Think you can have your gluten-free cake and eat it, too? Not so fast. Despite the hundreds of products that sport gluten-free labels, the FDA has no official standards to regulate the claim. For those striving to limit their gluten intake, that lack of regulation can be frustrating. But for those with celiac disease, hypersensitivities to cereal grains, or certain autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (in which the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid), a “gluten-free” food with traces of gluten can pose a serious health threat. Fortunately, new rules likely to be unveiled later this year should clear up the confusion.

As it stands now, the FDA only requires companies to state whether common allergens, such as wheat or nuts, are ingredients in a product. Labeling regulations are lax for products potentially cross-contaminated with allergens during the manufacturing process — something that happens frequently in facilities that process a wide variety of foods. That means small quantities of gluten can easily sneak into products labeled “gluten-free.”

The article holds out the hope in the form of FDA regulations, but I don’t think that’s the answer for people with Celiac or severe intolerances. Labels may not be accurate, often due to cross-contamination. A 2010 study found that many “inherently non-gluten grains” contained significant amounts of gluten:

Twenty-two inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours not labeled gluten-free were purchased in June 2009 and sent unopened to a company who specializes in gluten analysis. All samples were homogenized and tested in duplicate using the Ridascreen Gliadin sandwich R5 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with cocktail extraction. Thirteen of 22 (59%) samples contained less than the limit of quantification of 5 parts per million (ppm) for gluten. Nine of 22 (41%) samples contained more than the limit of quantification, with mean gluten levels ranging from 8.5 to 2,925.0 ppm. Seven of 22 samples (32%) contained mean gluten levels >/=20 ppm and would not be considered gluten-free under the proposed FDA rule for gluten-free labeling. Gluten contamination of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours not labeled gluten-free is a legitimate concern.

For people with severe reactions to gluten, the solution should include avoiding all grains, I think. As the Experience Life article says at the end:

In the meantime, you can eliminate the guesswork by avoiding processed foods whenever possible. “The best way to avoid gluten is to eat products that aren’t manufactured,” says Korn. “Most natural, non-grain whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes and fish, are inherently gluten-free.”

Gluten is everywhere, particularly when eating out… and those “gluten-free” cookies and cupcakes are just increasing the risk of accidental exposure.

Jul 142012

My last thyroid report was just about a year ago. So wow, it’s time for an update!

As of last July, I’d just seen a new doctor — Dr. Juetersonke in Colorado Springs. He was willing to raise my dose of desiccated thyroid from 2 grains to 3 grains — even though my TSH was already too low by conventional standards — based on my persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism, plus my low Free T3 and Free T4. (Even when I was seriously mentally and physically disabled by hypothyroidism, my TSH was never terribly high — just 3.23. So that I’d need to keep a lower-than-usual TSH isn’t too surprising.)

The results of that increased dose to 3 grains were excellent. My thyroid symptoms vanished, and they’ve not returned. My lab values are good too, and they’re stable. Happily, my thyroid antibodies (particularly Antithyroglobulin Ab) have fallen from a high of 123 to within the normal range. Hence, I hope to be able to stay well on 3 grains of desiccated thyroid for the foreseeable future.

Here were my labs from 21 December 2011, after 6 months on three grains of desiccated thyroid:

  • TSH = 0.009 uIU/mL (normal range .3 to 3.0)
  • Free T3 = 4.0 pg/mL (normal range 2.0 to 4.4)
  • Free T4 = 1.18 ng/dL (normal range .82 to 1.77)
  • Antithyroglobulin Ab = 31 IU/mL (normal range 0 to 19)

Here were my lab results from 21 June 2012, after a year on three grains of desiccated thyroid:

  • TSH = 0.010 uIU/mL (normal range .3 to 3.0)
  • Free T3 = 3.4 pg/mL (normal range 2.0 to 4.4)
  • Free T4 = 1.19 ng/dL (normal range .82 to 1.77)
  • Antithyroglobulin Ab = 29 IU/mL (normal range 0 to 40)

Also, I’m still taking high-dose iodine — 12.5 mg per day at present — because I’ve found that my menstrual cycles will not happen without it. I’ve never had any ill-effects from high-dose iodine, as some people with Hashi’s do, and I wonder if that’s because I’ve always taken 200 mcgs of selenium with it. (I’ve read that the bad reaction of some people with Hashi’s to iodine might be due to selenium deficiency, not the iodine per se.)

Alas, I’ve not had such great success with my adrenal insufficiency. I’ve gone from two adrenal supplements per day a year ago up to three, down to two, down to one, down to zero, up to one, and now up to two. My recent increase is partly due to a less potent batch of pills than before. (That’s a common problem.) However, it’s also just too damn easy for me to push myself into sheer exhaustion. If I combine too much exertion with lack of sleep — as almost always happens when I travel — I’m toast. The result is feeling sleepy and unmotivated from morning until night, even on a good night of sleep. In my recent appointment, Dr. Juetersonke gave me some suggestions for dealing with that better, so hopefully I’ll get that sorted out soon.

Oh, and I should mention that my elimination diet for gut repair is still ongoing and still working. I’ve kept off the ten pounds that I lost early in the diet without any trouble. I’m tolerating a wider range of foods, including beef and some dairy. I’m not out of the woods yet, but the path that our own Christian Wernstedt of Vital Objectives laid out for me is working well.



In my post Obligatory Narcissism, I said:

I took that [photograph] just before my SuperSlow workout… in which I nearly died because my trainer moved the seat of the leg press forward a bit. She lessened the weight by 25 pounds too, but the bottom turn-around was horrific. At the end, I was yelling things like “OH MY GOD! NO, I’M NOT HOLDING! THAT WAS THE WORST THING EVER!” My trainer — and everyone else in the facility — was highly amused.

Of course, I plan to do that same awful leg press next week. I refuse to be beaten!

Well, I did that awful leg press the next week, and this time, we took video. It’s pretty awesome. Now, I must admonish you: Don’t hit the play button, then go browse some other web pages or switch to another program. You must watch the picture! I won’t explain further; you’ll hear what I mean.

This was the last machine of my workout, and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t manage to walk the 20 feet required to get to the waiting area all at once. I’m serious: I had to stop and sit down on the bicep machine for about five minutes!

Interestingly, I found the video genuinely helpful, as I can really see when I’m moving too fast or wiggling. That’s remarkably hard to feel at the time. I wonder if I could help correct my form problems on the row machine by recording and then watching video with my trainer. Video would probably be even more helpful for CrossFitters: I probably could have vastly improved the form of my Olympic lifts if I’d watched some video of them with my trainer.

High Heels and Sex Appeal

 Posted by on 19 May 2012 at 10:00 am  Ethics, Fitness, Health, Love/Sex
May 192012

I’ve never been a fan of high heels. I used to wear wide two-inch heels on rare special occasions — meaning, a few times per year. I’d be happy to do that now, except that my Morton’s neuroma (inflamed nerve in the ball of my right foot) begins to scream and holler after just a few minutes in heels. Even without that problem, I can’t imagine wearing heels on a regular basis: to enhance my rear lines at the price of destroying my feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back seems like idiotic trade-off to me. In my view, if you’re destroying your capacity to enjoy your life (and sex) in order to make yourself more attractive, you’re doing it wrong!

So just how bad are heels for your feet? Consider these two x-rays. First, a normal foot, standing flat on the ground:

Now, a foot in high heels:

The abnormal stress and weight on the ball foot is glaringly obvious — and we’re not even seeing how the toes are jammed into the narrow point of the shoe. Of course, feet are not the only causality of high heels, as the whole point of heels is that they change a woman’s posture — thereby affecting ankles, knees, hips, and back too. The article High Heels and Back Pain explains the basics nicely:

For over a century, the biomechanical effects of heels in everything from running shoes to stilettos has puzzled researchers and fired controversy. When standing barefoot, the perpendicular line of the straight body column creates a ninety degree angle with the floor. On a two-inch heel, were the body a rigid column and forced to tilt forward, the angle would be reduced to seventy degrees, and to fifty-five degrees on a three-inch heel. Thus, for the body to maintain an erect position, a whole series of joint adjustments (ankle, knee, hip, spine, head) are required to regain and retain one’s erect stance and equilibrium.

The slope or slant of the heel, rear to front, is called the ‘heel wedge angle’. The higher the heel, the greater the angle. On the bare foot there is no wedge angle. The bottom of the heel is on a level one hundred and eighty degrees, with body weight shared equally between heel and ball. Inside the heeled shoe, the wedge angle shifts body weight forward so that on a low heel, body weight is shared forty percent heel, sixty percent ball; and on a high heel ninety percent ball and ten percent heel.

Check out the article for more details, including some illustrative drawings.

Undoubtedly, modern high heels aren’t as damaging as Chinese foot binding. Happily, heels can be worn only on occasion, and I don’t see any problem with that. However, I can’t see wearing high heels regularly as anything but self-destructive. Sure, they’re sexy, but do you need to exude sex appeal at work? Probably not, unless you’re a stripper. More, to court chronic pain and disfigurement in order to feel a bit sexier seems like a cruel joke on yourself and your sex life. In my view, that’s a sign that you need to rethink your standards for sexy, preferably before you cause your body permanent damage.

A woman who is healthy, happy, warm, and engaging can exude plenty of sexy … with her feet flat on the ground.

Apr 282012

On Friday, I completed my third sheet of SuperSlow training, i.e. another 16 sessions. By way of background, check out:

I began SuperSlow in early June of 2011, so I’ve been doing it for almost a year now. The sessions are grueling and exhausting, although I’ve definitely learned to limit my post-workout exhaustion by resting and eating for about 20 minutes immediately after my workout. I’m definitely enjoying the progress that I’ve made, particularly getting to 300 pounds on leg press. Mostly, I’m glad that I have the time, energy, and strength required to pursue my chosen sports — skiing, snowboarding, and horse riding — for the sheet pleasure of it. Physical fitness at the price of just 30 minutes once per week, with little muscle soreness, is pretty awesome.

Without further ado, here’s this third sheet. (Click to enlarge.)

Here’s a summary of my progress on various movements, starting from Session 32 from Sheet 2 to Session 48 on Sheet 3. All the machines are Nautilus, except the lower back and the torso rotation. As before, only Leg Press and Lower Back are done every session; all other movements are done every other session.

With this sheet, I pushed myself so hard on the leg press — and made so much progress — that I didn’t make much progress with other movements. For the last three sessions, we switched leg press to the last movement, with the expectation that I’ll be able to make more progress on other movements as a result. (The order of movements makes so much difference in my capacity to make progress!)

Every week:

  • LP: Leg Press: 260 to 305 lbs. I rocked the leg press with this sheet. I was increasing by 5 pounds with every workout, and then my trainer bumped me from 285 to 300 pounds. Gack! But I did it, and it was awesome. On 4/13, we moved the leg press to the end of my workout, so that I’m not completely trashed on other movements. Still, I got up to 305 lbs on Friday with a time of 2:24.
  • LB: Lower Back: 160 to 178 lbs. I was supposed to be at 168 this last week, but my trainer bumped me up an extra 10 pounds by accident. Still, I did two minutes!

Every other week:

  • Hip AB: Hip Abduction: Steady at 100 lbs, then readjusted position, so down to 85 lbs. I’d not been making any progress on this machine whatsoever with my feet on the upper rung. So my trainer moved my feet to the lower rung again. (That positioning affects the muscles I use in making the movement.) I made some progress in my last two sessions, but we’ll see what happens on the next sheet
  • Hip AD: Hip Adduction: 115 to 105 lbs. I was stuck at 115 lbs for weeks and weeks, so my trainer moved my feet to the lower rung and dropped the weight down to 105 pounds. That didn’t seem to help much in the last two sessions, but that might change. Or maybe more tweaks will be required.
  • Lower Back (see above)
  • Leg Press (see above)
  • PD: Lat Pull-Down: 110 to 115 lbs. Due to being completely trashed after my leg press, I made no progress on this machine for most of the sheet. My muscles weren’t failing: my whole body was just out of gas. After moving the leg press to the end of the workout, I did much better on 4/20, so I should be at 120 lbs next week.
  • CP: Chest Press: Steady at 65 lbs. Again, I was very exhausted after the leg press. But I’m always weak on this movement, so we’ll see what progress I make on the next sheet.
  • Row: Row: 60 to 55 lbs. I alternate between pulling and a 2 minute static hold. Due to leg press, plus the two arm movements before it, I couldn’t keep my form on this movement, so my trainer dropped my weight.
  • Ab C: Ab Crunch: 15 to 20 lbs. A bit of progress! Yay!

Every other week:

  • LE/LC: Leg Extension: 50 to 70 lbs. I was able to make great progress on this movement due to its early placement in the workout, plus really concentrating on working through the burn. (LC is a 90-second Leg Curl of progressive intensity against a stable frame.)
  • Leg Press (see above)
  • Bicep: 40 lbs to 50 lbs: Some progress, but I want more!
  • Tricep: 80 to 85 lbs: Just a bit of progress. I could really feel the exhaustion with this movement.
  • Lower Back (see above) Doing lower back after leg press nearly killed me. My legs, although locked in, would shake uncontrollably, and I often had to quit before I felt the tightness in my back.
  • Rot T: Rotate Torso: 48 to 50 lbs. Minimal progress: I was always so exhausted by this point in the workout!
  • CR: Calf Raises: 300 lbs. I only did this exercise a few times. I kept being a bit late or forgetting to bring the shoes I needed. I’ll have to make it happen more consistently on the next sheet.

For this next sheet, I want to focus on making major progress on just a few machines — just as I made so much progress on leg press and leg extension on this sheet. I’m thinking lat pull-down, hip abduction, and hip adduction. I’ll have to ask my trainer if we can move those around to be on different days, so that I can really give them my full power.

Basically, SuperSlow is still working really well for me. I’m making good progress with just one 30-minute session per week, and I’m looking forward to progressing even more in my next 16 sessions of Sheet 4!

P.S. If you decide to try my SuperSlow gym — now TruFit Health — in south Denver, please tell them that I referred you!

The Battle of the Bulge

 Posted by on 14 April 2012 at 10:00 am  Fitness, Funny, Health, WTF
Apr 142012

Clearly, we paleo women need to stop lifting heavy weights and start this 1940′s workout routine! (Really, it’s hysterical!)

On the plus side — definitely no pun intended — these women look so much healthier than today’s stick-figure models!

For more on women and weight, I’d recommend reading Why Women Need Fat by Melissa McEwen and I’m OK, You’re Fat by Crystal Meadows.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha