Archive for March, 2008

Now That’s a Little More Like It

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Now that’s a little more like it.  Today I managed a 265# squat.  I think I had a little more in me, but I didn’t want to push it too much.  So no more benching more than I can squat - that was ridiculous

My Max Bench Press and my Not so Max Squat

Friday, March 21st, 2008

invisible bench press
see more crazy cat pics
Last night the local crossfit WOD was 3-3-3-3-3-3-3 bench presses, working our way up to our max.

The good news is that I managed a max bench of 215lbs! that’s over 40lbs beyond body weight. The bad news is… and I’m extremely ashamed to say this, but during our last crossfit total, I maxed out at a 205lb back squat. Huh? Yep - that’s right, my max squat was 205lbs and my max bench press was 215lbs. In my eyes there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

I have a feeling (and I hope) that my max squat wasn’t really my max - it was just hovering around where I though my max would be relative to the other guys doing the total with me. On my next total, I think that I should be able to do at least a 250lb back squat as a 1 rep max - hopefully even beyond that. Grrrrr…. It kinda makes me a little PO’d that during the total I didn’t try harder. Grrrr….

Where Has All the Low Carb Food Gone?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

While diets like Atkins or Zone or South Beach are labeled as “fad diets” by many people, truth be told, many people enjoy great success at not only losing weight by following carbohydrate restricted diets, but vast empirical evidence suggests that going low carb can lead to better overall health. However, Canadians looking to live the low carb lifestyle are faced with a dilemma.

This weekend is my wife’s birthday. We’re having some family over for dinner to celebrate and I thought I’d take the opportunity to bake a big batch of low carb savory macaroni and cheese. The catch, of course, was that the recipe called for low carb elbow macaroni and bread crumbs. Easy enough, I thought. But after scowering half a dozen grocery stores, I was empty handed.

Faced with this problem, I looked to the Internet (as always). It turns out that I wasn’t the only one looking for some low carb pasta to no avail. Dreamfields seems to be the popular low carb pasta brand in the US, but while once sold in Canada, it is no more. Turns out that you’d be hard pressed to find any low carb products in Canadian grocery stores.

In 2003, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency made amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations, setting requirements for nutritional content and diet related health claims on food labels. Specifically, restrictions were put in place on labeling products as low carb or variants thereof. Just as grocery store shelves began getting stocked full of low carb food items, companies began pulling the items out of the Canadian market. The obvious reason - if you can’t advertise the benefits of one food item over another, then why bother even making it available in the first place.

So what are we to do? Fortunately there are options. The Low Carb Grocery, based in Toronto, has a fairly inexpensive mail order operation going on. And they have it all, including Dreamfields pasta. But if you’re looking to cook something soon and don’t have the luxury of being able to wait for your food to show up in the mailbox, you’re forced to really look hard to find something that will meet your low carb needs.

I finally settled on Catelli’s Smart elbow pasta which is a white pasta that supposedly tastes unlike the whole wheat kind but has all the fibre benefits making it the lowest net-carb white pasta that I could find. I also found a loaf of Dempster’s whole wheat bread that contains only 7 grams of carbs per slice. In fact, Dempsters was daring enough to advertise this on their packaging despite the regulations (in 2008, further amendments were made to the legislation such that companies are now allowed to advertise the carb content on food labels, so long as there are no other words involved).

But here is the crazy thing about all these low carb label restrictions. They exist, apparently, because of the lack of scientific evidence that low carb is a healthy lifestyle. Fine - despite the fact that I (and many, many others) think opposite, a fair argument can be made of that. But what about the thousands of labeled low fat or prebiotic items for sale? Not only does scientific evidence fail to find these things healthy, empirical evidence is turning up suggesting that low fat diets are actually bad for your health. So why isn’t labelling things as low fat equally restricted??

At the end of the day, it seems that government bodies sometimes feel it necessary to restrict society from making mistakes. Unfortunately they’re just like you and me and many times not only do their priorities get screwed up, they just get things plain wrong. However, with the low carb thing, enough empirical evidence does exist today that I think some further amendments should be made to the legislation to allow a reasonable use labeling to suggest low carb so that companies can begin selling their low carb items in Canada again outside of the rare specialty shops.

Interview with Gary Taubes on Good Calorie, Bad Calories

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Last year, CBC Radio show Quirks and Quarks interviewed Gary Taubes, the controversial scientific writer and author of Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control and Disease. Here is said interview:

Taubes discusses the hypothesis of how the unjustified adoptation of low fat dieting throughout the medical world has caused the obesity pandemics that we see today. Very interesting and definitely worth a listen.

Nutrition Thoughts

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

This post is a major ramble… Apologies in advance if you’re looking for anything coherent.

If you don’t eat well, you will never completely reap the rewards of working out. In fact, not eating well can physically set you backwards, completely negating any potential gains from the gym. We take eating for granted so often, but nutrition is key to our health and well being and truly sets a base from which other aspects of our lives can either flourish or flounder.

But as I’ve said before, it’s not necessarily easy to make good nutrition choices all the time, nor do we necessarily know what good nutrition choices are. In the practical sense, we don’t really need to keep track of every morsel that we put in our mouths. We don’t need to weigh every ounce of chicken or spinach to eat healthy. In fact, it’s completely fine to indulge on ocassion without feeling guilty. We need to consume food, but we should never let what we eat consume us.

Good nutrition in 6 words: Avoid sugar, refined or processed food. Stick with this and you’re well on your way to eating healthy.

Supplement your diet. It’s nearly impossible to expect to get all your required nutrients through eating food alone. Vitamins help greatly with this. Don’t be afraid of protein powder - it isn’t just for hardcore body builders. Get lots of Omega-3’s. Fish oil!

Preparation makes eating healthy so much easier. Buy big tubs of mixed greens and use heaping handfuls as the base for you lunch. Top it with chili, chicken, bacon, egg, cottage cheese, tuna or some other high protein food source. Add some more veggies and you’ve got yourself a good meal.

Make large batches of food for dinner, on the weekend, and freeze portions for later. Make lots of left overs. When you’re not prepared, you are more likely to choose an unhealthy meal. But when you’re in a pinch, don’t feel guilty for eating a burger. Try not to load up on bagels.

Go to the bulk food store and buy lots of nuts. Buy loads of nuts and seeds. Peanuts, cashews, almonds, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, pecans. Also grab some dried cranberries and dried apricots and you’re set for snacks. Combine several cups of smashed up nuts and seeds with some whole oats and honey and artificial sweetener and bake and make your own cereal.

Watch the video linked here: Notice the pyramid. Remember the pyramid.

Yoga Heart Acrobatics

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

As part of my all encompassing quest to be fit, I’ve taken up a Saturday morning yoga class. My wife convinced me that it might be a nice change of pace. And it was. I’ve been seriously enjoying it. But I’ll get more into that in another article. This one’s intended to be a shorty.

While surfing some yoga video clips on YouTube (there are a lot of good ones available… lots), I came across a demo of AcroYoga. As the name suggests, it blends the asanas of yoga with the aerial gymnastic wonders of acrobatics. A juxtaposition seemingly fit for only the strongest yogi’s and yogini’s, but is a marvel to watch.

Shake up your chakras and check out part 1 of the demo yourself below. It was apparently videoed during a LuluLemon Yacht party. Boy, those sustainable apparel folk know how to party. Part 2 can be found here.