Hybrid Primal Archive


Planet ‘Murka

Planet Fitness’s Judgement Free Zone is bullsh!t.  No judgement allowed unless of course they are the ones doing the judging.  You’re too strong, training too hard, too fit, breathing too heavy.  God forbid a fit person doing an intense workout is in your vicinity and may breathe heavily; can’t have someone making you feel guilty for being a fat, slazy slob while you walk on the treadmill for 5 mins thinking you just “earned” a baker’s dozen worth of donuts.

i don't want to live on this planet anymore

When I read about “Planet Fitness” I find it hard not to laugh.  It is gym for people that are mediocre at best, looking to perpetuate their mediocrity while persecuting and mocking people who might be seeking improvement or excellence because it makes the sloths feel inadequate.  Switch the word gymn with country and you’ve got a pretty good description of the US(S)A. It has to be the stupidest gymn in the US. Not coincidently it is also the the fastest growing.

Reminds me of another post a friend forwarded me on “Thin Privilege and Fat Logic”.  If you are interested it can be found HERE.

Gym tells woman to cover up because her toned body ‘intimidated’ others

By 19 hours ago

The Planet Fitness gym in Richmond, California is standing behind their dress code policy after one member claimed that she was told to put a shirt over her intimidatingly toned body.

As reported by KTVU Channel 2, Tiffany Austin was recovering from a car accident and getting back in shape with her first workout at the gym. However, her time exercising was cut short when a Planet Fitness employee stopped her. Austin explained, “She says, you know, ‘Excuse me, we’ve had some complaints. You’re intimidating people with your toned body. So can you put on a shirt?’”

Ms. Austin was wearing a spaghetti strap tank top and capri pants with her midriff exposed, and she doesn’t think her attire was out of line. “I don’t feel like it’s anything crazy, but I mean you tell me if it’s burning your eyes,” Austin said with a laugh. Reportedly she was only told that the gym dress code prohibited wearing string tank tops. The Planet Fitness customer agreed to wear one of the shirts the gym provides patrons for free, but while she waited for the tee, another employee approached her with objections to her clothing. Feeling harassed and intimidated herself, Austin decided to get her money back and cancel her membership at the gym advertised as the “Judgement Free Zone” whose policy bans “gymtimidation.” McCall Gosselin, Planet Fitness spokesperson, said that criticizing Austin for being toned, “…is not in line with the Planet Fitness policy whatsoever.”

Planet Fitness in Richmond, CA (KTVU)

According to their website, Planet Fitness’ philosophy of a Judgement Free Zone, “means members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms.” It’s a policy that is attractive to many Americans. With over 5million members, Chris Rondeau, the co-founder and chief executive, says the gym chain is the fastest growing in the U.S. “It’s unfair to like, show off your body and that’s what they don’t want,” said a gym-goer to KTVU. Yahoo! Odd News made a call to the Richmond, California Planet Fitness and was told that while the dress code is not available on the gym’s website, signs within the gym explain the policy.

Director of the Athletic Studies Center at UC Berkeley, Derek Van Rheenen, told the station, “In a lot of ways I actually think what Planet Fitness is doing is a positive thing. I think they obviously need to iron out some of these issues. But you know, sport in the United States is by nature discriminatory. It is selective. It is elitist.”

The Planet Fitness website (Planet Fitness)

Planet Fitness does have its detractors who say that some of their policies go too far. In November 2006 Albert Argibay was removed by police from the Planet Fitness in Wappingers Falls, NY. Reportedly, Argibay had broken the gym’s rule of no grunting, though he says that he was just breathing heavily. The no grunting policy may be what Planet Fitness is most known for. The gym sounds its “lunk alarm,” a siren and flashing lights, whenever a gym-goer is found displaying lunk-like behavior. Posters are said to define a lunk as “one who grunts, drops weights, or judges.”

Albert Argibay (Susan Stava/The New York Times)

With membership rates that start at just $10 per month, and monthly pizza nights and bagel breakfasts, the gym chain is likely to keep attracting their target demographic of occasional exercisers.

Original HERE.

$2.20 Per Day?!?!?!

I want to better verify the actual numbers but the more I think about, the less I think it is off the mark.  $2.20 is what every man, woman and child spends on fast food each day, every day (theoretical assumption).

That is a disgusting amount of poison to consume.  With this an Common Core, it is going to be quite the world once the youngsters take over.

fatties eating micky d's fat to lean


In fast food war, burgers and subs sink wings and pizza

By March 6, 2014 3:24 PM

How much do Americans love their fast food? This much: $254,541,589,000.

That’s the amount the NPD Group says we spend to buy food that’s quickly thrown together and put in a wrapper, then held in one hand and downed in record time with a soda chaser while driving our cars.

This is ‘Merica. That’s how we roll.

RELATED: Chipotle of pancakes? IHOP developing new format

In a land of 316 million people, $254 billion last year works out to $800 for every man, woman and child, or around $2.20 a day, enough to buy you only half a Big Mac.

But you already knew that. You already eat a lot of Big Macs. Your iPhone map app has been instructed to find every Golden Arch within five miles of your GPS position at any given moment.

RELATED: Chipotle’s ‘guacapalypse’ isn’t happening

McDonald’s is by far the most successful fast food chain in the known universe. QSR magazine said Americans bought more than $35 billion worth of Mickey D’s in 2012, nearly three times more than second place finisher Subway, at $12 billion.


What other fast food joints are succeeding, and which ones still have too much bun and not enough burger, financially speaking? Where does pizza fit in, and when will chicken wings finally get some respect?

Watch the video. But have the TUMS ready.

Original HERE.


The Manliness Of Procreating

be a man

Great article from a great site Art Of Manliness.

The 3 P’s of Manhood: Procreate

by Brett on March 3, 2014 · 52 comments

in A Man’s Life, On Manhood


Welcome back to our series on the 3 P’s of Manhood: Protect, Procreate, and Provide. When professor David D. Gilmore did an exhaustive cross-cultural analysis of how masculinity was lived and perceived around the world, these three male imperatives emerged as nearly universal parts of the code of manhood in every culture. His findings are detailed in Manhood in the Making, and the quotes below, unless otherwise noted, come from that book.

If you haven’t yet, I invite you to read the “Series Sidenote” and Conclusion to the first post in the series on the imperative to protect. Those sections are important in framing what this series is about and the mindset with which it should be pondered.

As we continue on, I want to remind readers that these articles are largely descriptive, rather than wholly prescriptive. That is, they offer a look at the core standards of manhood that are common to almost every culture, but they do not necessarily endorse the idea that every aspect of these standards should be perpetuated. These traditional male imperatives are neither good nor bad in and of themselves; it’s how they’re lived and enforced that matters. I believe a man must first understand these stripped down fundamentals that are common through centuries of masculinity, and then filter them through his moral and religious beliefs to determine their weight in his life.

There is a difference between a cultural concept of manliness and a philosophical one; what Jesus or Marcus Aurelius defined as true manliness can diverge from that which emerged from biological realities, evolutionary pressures, and societal needs and expectations. Or as anthropologist Michael Herzfeld puts it, there’s a difference between being a good man, and being good at being a man. It is the latter category we are grappling with here.

Man as Procreator


The imperative to procreate essentially requires that a man act as pursuer of a woman, successfully impregnate her, and thus create a “large and vigorous family” that expands his lineage as much as possible.

Of the 3 P’s, I think the charge to procreate probably has the least resonance with modern men and will be the most controversial. There are many reasons for this, beyond the fact that “procreate” is a word little used these days, and tends to remind one of an old preacher who employs it as a euphemism for sex.

Proponents of the zero population growth movement will say the imperative to have children is wholly outdated – that while begetting numerous offspring might have strengthened societies in the past, it now has the very opposite effect.

Those who simply don’t want to have children will chafe at the idea that their decision should amount to anything more than personal preference.

Feminists will say that the idea that the man should be the pursuer is sexist, as it has its roots in violence against women and treats them as a prize to be won.

Religious folks, who might otherwise be very receptive to the injunction to “multiply and replenish the earth,” may at the same time be uncomfortable with the fact that in some cultures, it was acceptable to accomplish this charge with a woman who was not your wife, or with multiple wives.

And people of all stripes will likely be uncomfortable embracing a standard for manhood that is not completely within a man’s control. A lazy man can get his butt in gear and become a good provider, and a timid man can bite the bullet and become a courageous protector. But as we shall see below, in many cultures, infertility was always considered the fault of the man, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

Finally, unlike the charge to protect and provide, the duty to procreate lacks the same self-sacrificing, heroic quality that stirs one’s “higher” yearnings. It is more base, more biological.

Yes, it would seem that every conceivable segment of our present-day population might have reason to take issue with the idea of procreation as a fundamental male imperative. Yet this charge has been a core component of the code of manhood from the beginning of time, all around the world. In fact, it would be argued by anthropologists like Napoleon Chagnon that not only is the imperative to procreate a fundamental part of the 3 P’s of Manhood, it underlies the other two, and practically all male behavior: a man seeks to develop and demonstrate the smarts and strength needed to be a good protector and provider in order to win a mate and beget offspring with her; once he forms this family, he then strives to continue to provide and protect them. Which is to say, the motivation to provide and protect is often ultimately derived from the motivation to procreate.

Thus, no matter how squeamish a discussion of procreation may make us, its universal inclusion in the global code of manhood demands that we put aside emotional knee-jerk reactions in order to give it a thoughtful examination. It is my hope to provide such a treatment today.

Procreation as a Civic Duty


“The birth of his first child is an important event for a Sambia man: it is, ‘de jure, the attainment of manhood.’ To be ‘fully masculine’ a Sambia man ‘must not only marry, but father some children.’ Having many children is one of many social functions that constitute the notion of a cultural competence which directly enhances group security. In impregnating his wife, the Sambia man ‘has proved himself competent’ in social functions. Not so far away, among the Baruya of the Anga territory, a man gains prestige with each succeeding birth ‘until he ‘truly’ becomes a man, that is the father of at least four children.’”

Every society erects standards for manhood that are designed to motivate men to overcome the passivity and timidity inherent in human nature in order to perform the often hard and dangerous tasks that are needed for the community to survive and thrive. A man must demonstrate what Gilmore calls “cultural competence”; he must be useful, effectual – of service to his family and his people. In striving to live the 3 P’s, a man wins honor for himself and gains other benefits as well, while at the same time contributing to society’s collective stability, security, and power. In this way, the code of manhood benefits both the individual and the group. (We’ll explore this dynamic and its implications in a modern world where manhood isn’t honored or valued in a separate post at the end of the month.)


“When home ties are loosened; when men and women cease to regard a worthy family life, with all its duties fully performed, and all its responsibilities lived up to, as the life best worth living; then evil days for the commonwealth are at hand. There are regions in our land, and classes of our population, where the birth rate has sunk below the death rate. Surely it should need no demonstration to show that willful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement…No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.” -Theodore Roosevelt

Thus, while we moderns tend to think of sex and children in terms of our personal pleasure and fulfillment, in ages past, procreation was seen as a civic duty. The number of children a man beget strengthened these societies on a variety of fronts – the more members a community had, the more hands there were to gather and produce food and goods, and most importantly, to serve as protectors. The size of one’s village, along with its men’s reputation for fierceness, was a crucial deterrent in convincing enemies to not even attempt an attack.


“As among the Trukese and the Mediterranean societies we have looked at, the New Guinea man of respect must spread his seed and multiply. Although these men regard sexual relations with a measure of anxiety…they are expected to overcome these inhibitions and to reproduce sexually, just as they are exhorted to produce economically and militarily, and to take on a commanding role in trading and oratory. Reproduction is not a personal pleasure; it is very consciously perceived as a social obligation and a measure of good citizenship. Given the dangers of Highlands life, especially the hovering military threat, the society needs offspring to endure…The bigger the village, the safer it is militarily: none dare attack a place of many armed men…The stress on reproduction to build up numbers is impressed forcefully upon boys as a civic duty.”

As we will explore more in-depth in the next article, the universal mark of a real man in cultures all over the world was whether he produced more than he consumed – whether he created and added value in all areas of life, or whether he was a parasite, a man who failed “in all the constructive masculine pursuits.” Thus he who didn’t strengthen society by siring numerous children was seen as a weak link, and thus unworthy of the title of man.

But why would men need an extra push to procreate anyway? Isn’t the sexual drive powerful enough that it could be left to follow its natural course? The urge to copulate may indeed be quite potent, but as we shall see, it was also an endeavor fraught with risks from which a man might be tempted to shrink.

Hot in Pursuit


“Sexual shyness is more than a casual flaw in an Andalusian youth; it is a serious, even tragic inadequacy. The entire village bemoans shyness as a personal calamity and collective disgrace. People said that Lorenzo was afraid of girls, afraid to try his luck, afraid to gamble in the game of love. They believe a real man must break down the wall of female resistance that separates the sexes; otherwise, God forbid, he will never marry and will sire no heirs. If that happens, everyone suffers, for children are God’s gift to family, village, and nation.”

Key to fulfilling one’s role as a procreator was acting as the initiator, and that requirement began with the seduction process. In cultures across the world, the man is expected to make the first move, engage in “aggressive courtship,” and not fear rejection as he does so.

If it takes two to tango, how did the charge to initiate courtship and seduction end up at the man’s feet?

Well, the reality of it, even if unpleasant to acknowledge and contemplate, can likely be traced to male anatomy and polygamy.

While a woman can only grow a maximum of a few babies in her womb at a time, as creators of a limitless amount of sperm, the number of children a man can produce is hypothetically limited only by the time he can invest in copulation. Since we are all biological organisms driven to reproduce our kind, and since men generally have more randy-inducing testosterone, it has long been thought (and behaviorally born out) that men have a higher sex drive than women. And a man can hypothetically act on that drive whenever he wishes; since in the sexual act the male is the penetrator and the woman the penetrated, it is possible for a man to not only initiate sex, but to do so without the woman’s consent.

In primitive polygamous societies, because some men had multiple wives, it also meant that some had none, forcing these men to undertake dangerous raids on neighboring villages to rape their women and kidnap soon-to-be brides.


As societies modernized and monogamy became the common standard, men gained a more or less equal shot at finding a mate, and moral and religious codes developed that sought to temper and channel men’s sexual energies towards one woman at a time. Kidnapping and rape were dropped from the wife-procurement process, but the charge to be the initiator remained. As mentioned last time, a fundamental standard of manhood is a vigorous embrace of risk and competition. Thus, besting other suitors to win the heart of a lady, and risking rejection in asking for her hand, continued to be seen as inherently manly behaviors.

What began as a rationale for violence transformed into a chivalrous act; since men were taught to be stoic, and women supposedly had more tender feelings, the man willingly shouldered the risk of doing the asking and potentially weathering the sting of being turned down. It became the gentlemanly thing to do.

A Potent Procreator


“Like fighting and breadwinning, sexual intercourse is thus also a risky business for Trukese men, a question of winning or losing, for the man can either do the job or not, depending on how his organ ‘works’…intercourse is a contest, ‘in which it is only the man who can lose and not the woman.’”

The risks and responsibilities of being the initiator continued in the bedroom. Central to fulfilling the procreator role was demonstrating virility and sexual competence, and this meant both being able to please one lover’s and simply being able to “get it up.”

While there were certainly cultures where a woman’s sexual satisfaction was ignored, in many, if a man was unable to satisfy his lover, his manly reputation suffered. Gilmore writes:

“Fighting, drinking, and defying the sea are not the only measures of manhood. A Trukese man must prove competence in another arena: sex…To maintain face in the sexual act, the Trukese man must be the initiator, totally in command. The success of the sexual act depends entirely on his performance; in every love affair he is sorely tested. Like the Andalusians and the Italians, a Trukese man must be potent, having many lovers, bringing them to orgasm time and again. Interestingly, this erotic ability is, again, phrased in idiom, not of love or charm, but of pure physical competence. If he fails to satisfy her, the woman laughs at him; he is shamed for being ineffectual…And, significantly, his failure to perform is rewarded by jibes and insults that liken him to a baby because he is incapable of performance. The standard insult for a man who performs badly is the advice to ‘take the breast…like a baby.’”

Impotence was considered incredibly emasculating, since it robbed a man of even the chance to please his partner, and more importantly, to attain the culmination of what the sexual act aimed at: fathering children. Thus this malady has been a source of anxiety for men in cultures across the world, right up until the present day. One need only look at the almost comically manly imagery (Working with machinery! Pulling horses through the mud! Making fire!) used in commercials for erectile dysfunction drugs to realize that insecurity over the implications of impotence for a man’s overall claim to manhood remain.


“Many Indian men have been described as obsessively worried about their sexual capabilities…This heightened fear of impotence occurs throughout the subcontinent and is said to be distinctly Indian. In some cases, men adopt special diets to fight impotence and bolster performance. Often these involve both magical potions and the ingestion, in homeopathic fashion, of semenlike fluids such as milk or egg whites or even…semen itself. Fear of virility loss has given rise to more than the usual panoply of cures and treatments for impotence — real or imagined — in both India and Sri Lanka.”

Doing Brave Deeds for My Lady


All of the 3 P’s interact and interrelate with each other, so that, for example, demonstrating you were a good provider and protector could impress the women in your community, winning you opportunities to then show your prowess as a procreator.

Much of the risks men take, the wealth they try to accumulate, and the showy things they do, are, at their core, attempts to impress women, who have traditionally acted as the gatekeepers to sex. Women don’t just serve as passive enticements either, and may actively goad the men into demonstrations of manhood.

For example, among the Samburu, a pastoral tribe in East Africa, cattle are of the highest value as they serve as both a source of sustenance and trading wealth, and the size of a man’s herd is directly correlated to his level of manly prestige. Rustling cattle from neighboring tribes to amass one’s own herd is not only accepted, but encouraged; because cattle-rich men of the tribe are expected to throw feasts in which they share their wealth with their fellow tribesmen, an increase in one man’s herd benefits the entire community.

For young male Samburu (called moran), raiding is seen as an important test of courage, and especially for those “who have little other opportunity to amass animals for breeder stock, raiding and rustling represents the principal means of achieving manhood and all its social rewards: respect, honor, wives, children.”

During the tribe’s festive, exuberant dances, the connection between a young man’s willingness to rustle cattle and his desire to impress a potential sexual partner and wife is made crystal clear:

“the nubile girls, standing on the sidelines, sing lilting songs that taunt those moran who have never been on a stock raid. In their finery they chant their lyrics, making galling insinuations of cowardice. Moved by the beauty and challenge of the girls, the boys are whipped into a frenzy of desire. Driven to try their hand at rustling without delay, they impassively take up the challenge. Spencer observes: ‘That the taunts of the girls help to maintain this ideal and induce the moran to steal may be judged from this description of one moran. ‘You are standing there in the dance, and a girl starts to sing. She raises her chin high and you see her throat. And then you want to go and steal some cattle for yourself…You leave the dance and stride into the night, afraid of nothing and only conscious of the fact that you are going to steal a cow.’”

As Gilmore observes, here again we see the way in which the standards of manhood work to simultaneously advance the interests of the individual and the group:

“The way the Samburu moran impress their objects of desire by running risks in foreign lands seems to conform to a virtual global strategy of courting…In Elizabethan England, as among the Samburu, this romantic appeal of “passing danger” in defense of basic values is something that everyone would easily have understood as the mythic confabulation of manhood.

As a collective representation, masculinity often forges an iron shield of protectiveness on the smithy of honor and courage; sexual magnetism follows, as though virility were itself a matter of braving danger to succor those one loves. The connection between virility and civic-mindedness comes out clearly and dramatically.”

The theme of the man who performs brave deeds that win the heart of a woman, while also benefitting the larger community, is ubiquitous in Western myth and literature right up to the present day. Think of the knight who slays a dragon that is terrorizing a whole countryside in order to gain the hand of the princess, or the action hero who kills a bad guy who’s kidnapped his love interest, stopping this evil genius from blowing up the world at the same time.

What About Gay Men?

Homosexuality is such a hot topic these days that I can imagine the elephant in the room for many folks is how being gay fit into this rubric of manhood.

Well, the first thing that’s important to realize is that the idea of “being gay” didn’t exist in most cultures until the 20th century. The term “homosexuality” was in fact not coined until 1869, and before that time, the strict dichotomy between “gay” and “straight” did not yet exist. Attraction to, and sexual activity with other men was thought of as something you did, not something you were. It was a behavior, rather than a lifestyle or an identity. (You can read more on this shift and how it affected male friendships here.)

In some cultures, particularly those influenced by the Judeo-Christian religion, homosexual behaviors were condemned. But in many preindustrial, pre-Christian societies, it was considered acceptable for men to dabble in same-sex relationships. This was especially true of warrior societies like ancient Japan and Sparta, as it was thought that a samurai or hoplite who went to war alongside his lover would be a better soldier – apt to be less lonely on the march and to fight more fiercely in battle.


In these cultures, engaging in homosexual sex did not impugn a man’s claim to manhood, so long as he  “retained the active role in the encounter.” Accepting “the passive, or receptive role in the sex act,” was considered effeminate, an abdication of one’s masculinity, because it meant “he surrendered the male prerogative of control or dominance.” As the Roman Plutarch puts it in his Dialogue on Love, “Those who enjoy playing the passive role we treat as the lowest of the low, and we have not the slightest degree of respect or affection for them.”

Even though a man could engage in “transient homosexuality” without it affecting his manly reputation, a proclivity for same-sex relations did not exempt him from the charge to procreate with a woman. He was still expected to fulfill the imperative to strengthen his society by producing children. For example, though Spartan warriors could take a male lover while out on campaign, once they returned home, they were expected to sleep with their wives and fulfill their duty of adding new citizens to the state.

Results Matter


“In southern Spain…people will heap scorn upon a married man without children, no matter how sexually active he may have been prior to marriage. What counts is results, not the preliminaries.”

In many cultures a certain amount of wild oat sowing was accepted behavior for young men. But this youthful carousing was not seen as a manly end in and of itself, but only as a means to an end:

“Even in those parts of Southern Europe where the Don Juan model of sexual assertiveness is highly valued, a man’s assigned task is not just to make endless conquests but to spread his seed. Beyond mere promiscuity, the ultimate test is that of competence in reproduction, that is, impregnating one’s wife. For example, in Italy, ’only a wife’s pregnancy could sustain her husband’s masculinity.’ Most importantly, therefore, the Mediterranean emphasis on manliness means results; it means procreating offspring (preferably boys)…Simply stated, it means creating a large and vigorous family. Promiscuous adventurism represents a prior (youthful) testing ground to a more serious adult purpose.”

With all the 3 P’s of Manhood, public affirmation and concrete proof of one’s prowess is demanded. Whether a society frowned upon fooling around or winked at it, eventually a man had to demonstrate he had moved on from the preliminaries and succeeded in the ultimate requirement of the procreator role — the end goal that all the aggressive courtship, all the braving of dangers in the name of seduction ultimately aimed at: fathering progeny, expanding one’s lineage, and passing on one’s genes.


“Sexual ‘function’…is a passport to acceptance generally as a man and indeed a critical part of the Mehinaku masculinity syndrome that defines adult male status. Like the Trukese, a man who fails to bring his wife or lover to orgasm, fails to satisfy his partner, fails to beget children, is ridiculed and publicly shamed, becoming not just a figure of fun but an outcast in a more inclusive sense.”

A man who cannot pass this final test, who is infertile and cannot father children, is faulted for this deficiency, and given scorn rather than sympathy. For example, in Southern Spain, the man is saddled with full responsibility for sterility:

“Although both husband and wife suffer in prestige, the blame of barrenness is placed squarely on him, not his wife, for it is always the man who is expected to initiate (and accomplish) things. ‘Is he a man?’ the people sneer. Scurrilous gossip circulates about his physiological defects. He is said to be incompetent, a sexual bungler, a clown. His mother-in-law becomes outraged. His loins are useless, she says, “no sirven,” they don’t work. Solutions are sought in both medical and magical means. People say that he has failed at his husbandly duty. In being sexually ineffectual, he has failed at being a man.”

Procreation at Present


What’s interesting to me is that while writing the piece on the Protector duty, it felt natural to use the present tense, while in writing this one, it seemed more appropriate to use the past tense. While Gilmore’s observations on the Procreator role come from anthropological studies done just 40-50 years ago, the expectations and standards surrounding this male imperative have truly changed dramatically over the past half century. At the same time, the fact that strong echoes of these standards persist despite vigorous challenge, tells us how deeply entrenched they really are.

The implications of these changes are numerous and profound, and could all warrant their own articles. For now, I will provide a brief overview of just a few of the most salient issues.

It Takes Two to Tango… Awkwardly


When it comes to relations between the sexes, we currently exist in a state of limbo, where the old “sexual scripts” are hypothetically no longer supposed to be in force, but in practice are still very much hanging around, making for some confused interactions between men and women.

For starters, while girl power campaigns and advice columnists have sought to convince young women that asking a guy on a date instead of waiting for him to do the asking is completely acceptable, many women still second-guess the appropriateness of making the first move. For their part, many young men have voiced their support for a leveling of the dating playing field, though I do wonder how much this willingness to share in the responsibility of asking is truly born of a sincere effort to advance gender equality, rather than sheer laziness and the simple relief of unburdening themselves of the risk of rejection.

In the bedroom, instead of the man having to initiate and take responsibility for the proceedings, women have taken more ownership of their sexual pleasure, with sex being seen by both partners as a more collaborative activity. Yet there remains more emphasis on the man being able to please his lover in popular culture, if only because bringing a woman to orgasm is more of an art, while a woman satisfying a man is more of a straightforward endeavor.

We are told that women are as game for sex as men, and therefore should be able to initiate it without being “slut-shamed.” Some men appreciate this new standard, while others still find it a turn-off when women are too forward with sexual advances, and they are then shamed for having this “throwback” reaction.

In marriage, the man, seeking to be an enlightened, egalitarian partner, and not wanting to be an ogre, tries not to always be the one to initiate sex. But this reticence then leads the wife to worry that she isn’t sexually desirable to him, and to question his manly virility. So the husband starts to initiate more, but his wife isn’t in the mood as much as he is, so he pulls back again, and the cycle repeats itself.

And, as a quite fascinating article in The New York Times recently detailed, even in very egalitarian marriages, where women don’t want their husbands to take charge in any other area of their lives, many do still want to be dominated in the bedroom. But their husbands, used to equally splitting working, diapering, cooking, cleaning and decision making – find it difficult to shift gears and assume this role.

Seduction and love can be a beautiful, delicate dance, a paradoxical art in which the partners are equal, but the man is tasked with leadings the steps. Today both partners are supposed to be on the same footing, which results in a lot of stepped on toes.

Notches on the Bedpost, But None on the Crib

The consequences of the invention of birth control and the sexual revolution on the male imperative to procreate can hardly be overestimated.

Ready and effective birth control allowed the two fundamental and formerly inextricably tied planks of procreation – sex and reproduction – to be completely uncoupled for the first time in history. While men formerly had to accept the responsibility of children if they wanted to enjoy the pleasures of sex, now they could get the milk without buying the cow. In fact, while having children once enhanced a man’s reputation for manhood, now some see the responsibility for offspring as detracting from it; there’s definitely a strain in our culture that celebrates the completely unattached, perennial bachelor (see: George Clooney) as the paragon of manliness.

Has the Cheapness of Sex De-motivated Men?

There is another significant implication of the sexual revolution as well. As mentioned above, since women once served as the gatekeepers to sex, and kept it relatively tightly locked up, men had to strive to show their prowess as protectors and providers in order to woo them into giving up the key. In economic terms, the demand for sex was high and so was the “price,” so that men had to “pay” a lot to get it.

What then would one expect to happen if sex became readily available without much effort? Men would lose the motivation to build up their status. This, some social scientists posit, is exactly what has happened. In “the sexual marketplace,” the male demand for sex has remained the same, but its “price” has dropped dramatically; there’s no need to slay a dragon, just buy a lady dinner and invite her back to your place. The modern “cheapness” of sex, some theorize, accounts for the way many young men are resisting commitment and floundering in other areas of their lives such as academics or career responsibilities.

If you’re interested in this “economics of sex” theory, this well-done video explains it more clearly than I ever could, and uses Sharpies to do it:

Sex: The Overweighed Pillar of Manhood

One of the most interesting insights I got from Manhood in the Making comes from two observations Gilmore includes about an indigenous people of Brazil, the Mehinaku.

First, that:

“probably most important to the Mehinaku as a measure of maleness is sexual performance. The Mehinaku, as Gregor describes them, are unusually preoccupied by sex, the men complaining they can never get enough of it and talking about it all the time.”

And second that:

“The Mehinaku fight no wars and were never warriors. They are self-consciously a nonviolent people, regarding not only warfare but also displays of anger as morally repugnant.”

It seems to me that these two attributes of Mehinaku men are actually quite connected. When one or two of the other P’s of Manhood are weakened or non-existent, greater stress is placed on the remaining pillar(s). And it is usually sex, the lowest-hanging fruit of the manly imperatives, the charge that involves the least amount of risk and work, that endures.

Observe our current culture in the West. In the US, only .5% of citizens serve in the military, so that for the vast majority of men, being a warrior and a protector is more abstraction than reality. And whether it’s because women make up half the workforce, or that jobs are so hard to find, and those that are available are largely of the soft, white collar variety, the impetus to provide has lost much of its manly sheen. So what remains for young men who yearn for manhood? Only sex. While the edifice of manhood is designed to be supported on a triad of columns, all of its weight now rests on the pillar of procreation, and even that pillar is a rickety shade of its former self. Weighted with a load it was never meant to carry, the pillar twists and contorts, leading to perversions of the manly code – men who devote all their energy to becoming master pick-up artists or who stare all day at online porn.

Procreators Are the New Parasites?

In times past, a man who added children to a tribe/village/nation was seen as a producer, someone who greatly added to the overall strength of the group. Those who did not reproduce were considered parasites who used society’s resources but did not replenish them.

Today, there are some who think having children weakens one’s nation and world, by stressing already depleted resources and adding to problems like global warming. These folks would argue that the equation is completely flipped: procreators are now the parasites.

Of course, not everyone agrees that overpopulation is a real danger or that the earth has a set carrying capacity. And in some countries in Europe that are experiencing zero to negative population growth, exhortations (and government bonuses) to have children to strengthen the future of the state can be heard again.

Men Going Their Own Way


Gilmore argues that the 3 P’s of Manhood not only aim to motivate men to perform service to their communities, but also act “as modes of integrating men into their society.” As we’ll discuss later, it may be that men have a harder time growing up and embracing responsibility than women, and the standards of manhood provide men with a purpose that counteracts a natural tendency to live for self and opt out of social involvement.

The imperatives of manhood are only effective in societies that are small enough, or at least homogeneous enough that the dynamics of honor and shame can operate, and men feel a kinship with their fellow citizens. Without such a kinship, a sense of duty and obligation to serve and protect them cannot exist.

For this reason, the nuclear family is in many ways the last bulwark against the dissolution of manliness. In a nation of increasing diversity, where an honor culture can no longer function, a man with wife and children still has a small group he is driven to protect and provide for.

Last time, I compared the protector imperative to the cornerstone of the arch of manhood, since courage has been considered the sin qua non of “real men” in every culture since time immemorial. But upon further reflection, I’d say the duty to procreate is really a better fit for this metaphorical role. Because once the pillar of family crumbles, so does the whole edifice of manhood; without even a tiny fiefdom to provide for and protect, some men will opt out of the traditional duties of manhood altogether.

This is not a hypothetical theory; simply google “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW) and you’ll find a slew of blogs dedicated to the idea that because society no longer respects and honors masculinity, men should no longer strive to meet the traditional markers of manhood. Those who come to embrace the MGTOW philosophy often feel that women today are no longer of a caliber that is worth pursuing and committing to, and that if you do get married and it inevitably doesn’t work out, divorce and family courts are so hostile to men that they’ll chew you up and spit you out. The rational decision then, they would argue, is to avoid marriage like the plague and to live for one’s self, working as little as possible and sleeping around as much as you can.

Many who adopt this philosophy actively hope that by opting out of society, they will help hasten its demise – that in going their own way, they remove one of the columns that’s helping to hold up its rotten structure. Without men propping it up, the thinking goes, our current civilization will crumble and can be reset. Stripped of the ease and luxury that allowed manhood to be denigrated and ignored, people will once again keenly feel how much men are needed, men will be free to men again, and the world can begin anew.

The idea of pressing the reset button on the world can be exhilarating or dread-inducing, depending on your current familial status. For the unattached and unencumbered bachelor, the idea of adventure and chaos might sound quite appealing, especially when compared to his current routine of: wake up, trudge to the cubicle, come home, watch tv, repeat. (The protests around the world these past several years are surely about many political issues. But given the fact that 98% of the protestors are men, I happen to think a lot of it is actually the expression of pure male boredom.) But for the man with a wife and kids, the idea of navigating a post-apocalyptic landscape, trying to protect them from violence and keep food in their little hungry bellies, sounds harrowing – a ghastly reality he’ll fight tooth and nail to avoid.

So, is the family unit the last bulwark against the complete dissolution of manhood, or is it the last remaining obstacle to the world being reset and a culture of manhood returning in full force?

I’ll tell you my answer, from the obvious bias of someone who believes the family is the fundamental unit of society and that nothing can bring greater satisfaction than marriage and children: if you believe in the veracity of the generational cycle, and I really do, a crisis will come that will refresh the world and renew appreciation for manliness anyway. You don’t need to purposefully try to bring it about, so until that wave washes over us, pursue manhood for its own sake whether or not society honors such efforts (yes, there are reasons to do so – stay tuned), live it in your family, and enjoy the fruits of procreation.

There are many more implications for the way that modernity has challenged and transformed the male imperative to procreate. But for now I’ll sign off and turn these issues over to you for discussion. I look forward to reading your thoughtful and civil comments!

Original article HERE.


So Slim-Fast Is Better?

The US News and World Report recently released their report on the best and worst diets.  Apparently eating animal protein and fresh vegetables, fruit and whole foods in general is your least healthy option while gimmicky diets that focus on processed foods in which sugar is the main ingredient are superior.  Couple this with type of propaganda with the median level of stupidity of the populace and the availability of processed food; no one should be surprised that this nation is filled with tons of people (literally) that are nothing but fat sacks of crap.


I found a link to the post below on MDA, there is no realm that the Lame Stream Media won’t get wrong and their propaganda won’t infect.



Seriously, US News?

By on January 9, 2014in Articles


Every year, US News and World Report comes out with their report on the best and worst diets of the year. Every year, they’re pretty similar, and this year is no different. DASH, TLC, and the Mediterranean Diet are always top ranked, with some diets frequently falling near the top, such as Weight Watchers and the Flexitarian diet. No surprises here, since many of those diets have been tested using large, well-funded studies and come out demonstrating what we all know to be true: that these diets are far better than the standard American diet (SAD) that most people in this country are eating.

I readily acknowledge that moving from SAD to something like DASH or the Mediterranean diet would be a beneficial change for most people. After all, these diets recommend a significant increase in fresh vegetables and fruits, fatty fish, a reduction in fried and highly processed food and sweets, and an attention to moderate exercise and portion control. It makes perfect sense to me why these diets would make it to the top of a list developed by clinical dietitians and cardiologists, among others. Not that I’m endorsing these diets per se, but I can see why they’d show a benefit over SAD.

What I just can’t wrap my brain around is the rest of the list. Here are a few of the ranked diets, with an explanation (in quotes) that US News provided as justification for the rankings.

#9 – The Ornish Diet: “The Ornish diet got a mixed reaction from experts. On one hand, it’s nutritionally sound, safe, and tremendously heart-healthy. On the other, it’s not easy for dieters to adhere to the severe fat restriction the diet demands.”

#13 – Slim-Fast: “Slim-Fast is a reasonable approach to dieting, experts concluded. It outscored a number of competitors on weight loss and as a diabetes diet, and being highly structured, it’s fairly easy to follow. But it scored lower than many other diets on heart health.”

#18 (tie) – The Engine 2 Diet: “Experts handed out a below-average 3 stars. Though they acknowledged its benefits for heart health and diabetes control and prevention, they faulted the program for being unnecessarily restrictive and “gimmicky,” and called for more research into some of its claims. “I fail to see anything unique, innovative, or useful with this diet,” one expert said.”

#18 (tie) – The Vegan Diet: “Overall, the health experts were lukewarm on veganism despite giving it fairly high marks as a diabetes or heart disease diet. It is extremely restrictive, doesn’t offer built-in social support, and may not provide enough of some nutrients.”

#25 – Medifast: “Experts were likewise unenthused about Medifast. It scored above average in short-term weight loss but was dragged down by lower marks in most other categories.”

#29 – The Raw Food Diet: “The experts conferred solid marks on the diet for weight loss, both short- and long-term, but considered it all but impossible to follow and its nutritional completeness and safety were concerns. “Doing it well involves considerable commitment and effort, knowledge, and sacrifice,” one expert said. “And there are diets that require less of all these that are likely to be just as healthful.” ”

#31 – The Paleo Diet: “Experts took issue with the diet on every measure. Regardless of the goal—weight loss, heart health, or finding a diet that’s easy to follow—most experts concluded that it would be better for dieters to look elsewhere. “A true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants,” said one expert—quickly adding, however, that duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult.”

Hold the phone. Paleo came in dead last, and out of 32 diets, Slim-Fast was ranked #13? What planet are these “experts” living on?

This blog post would be way too long if I were to go into detail about every single diet that was ranked higher than Paleo and describe the various shortcomings of the diet. I’m sure I don’t need to explain to my readers that plant-only diets like Engine 2, Veganism, and the Raw Food diet are lacking key nutrients like preformed vitamin A, choline, zinc, iron, omega-3s, and vitamin B12, among others. And the Ornish Diet, though it includes some animal foods like egg whites (ugh) and fatty fish, a 10% fat diet long term could lead to unstable blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, lowered testosterone, fat soluble vitamin deficiencies, and fatty liver from choline deficiency, and doesn’t reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer. Not to mention when compared in a study, a low carbohydrate diet beat the Ornish Diet (among other diets) for weight loss and metabolic benefits. For more information on why low fat diets like the Ornish Diet can be unhealthy, or even dangerous, see this, this, this, this, this, this, or this article.

In the interest of brevity, I’ll just stick to dissecting one diet that was highly ranked but is so off the mark, it’s absurd: Slim-Fast.

Slim-Fast Shakes

Slim-Fast shakes

Here are the ingredients of one of the Slim-Fast shakes:


Looks delicious, right? Let’s shine a little light on a few of these ingredients in particular.

FAT FREE MILK – Skim milk is basically nutritionally worthless, since all of the fat soluble vitamins have been removed. Also, this is not organic milk, and industrial dairy farming is one heck of a horror show. For more information on why skim milk is so terrible, check out Butter Believer’s post on the topic.

SUGAR – Makes sense for a “healthy diet” drink to have sugar as the third ingredient, no? While sugar in small amounts is relatively benign, excessive amounts of refined sugar can lead to abdominal weight gain, blood sugar dysregulation, and has been linked to cancer and an increased risk of heart disease. I don’t have a problem with an occasional treat with sugar in it, but Slim-Fast wants you to drink two of these drinks a day (~18 grams sugar per bottle), plus two of their bars (~11 grams sugar per bar), adding up to 58 grams of sugar on a daily basis. That’s more than you get in a 16 ounce bottle of coke.

CANOLA OIL – Ahh, canola oil… One of the most popularly touted “healthy” oils today, and yet it’s highly processed, full of pesticides, is usually GMO, and is prone to oxidation. As Diane Sanfilippo points out in her 2010 post on canola oil, “The refining process involves degumming, neutralization, drying, bleaching, and deodorization. Crude oil from extraction has to be refined to obtain a high quality oil. Natural impurities of crude rapeseed oil include water, dirt, phosphatide gums, free fatty acids, color matter, odiferous and flavorous substances, natural breakdown and oxidation products of the oil itself.” Gross. Not an oil I want to eat, thankyouverymuch.

CELLULOSE GEL/CELLULOSE GUM – Another name for wood pulp. Or cotton fiber. While there are no known health effects associated with cellulose added to foods, its completely undigestible and really has no benefit to the body.

HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL – Somehow, Slim-Fast found an oil worse than canola oil to add to their product. Hydrogenated soybean oil is generally used to create a creamy, buttery mouthfeel in a product. While technically not a trans fat if fully hydrogenated, soybean oil is very high in oxidized omega-6 fats, and comes from GMO soybean plants covered in pesticides, much like canola. Plus, unless the label specifically states “fully hydrogenated”, it’s still possible that the ingredient contains trans fats: the terms “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” can be used interchangeably. Hydrogenated oils can increase insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome in comparison to regular oil. There’s really no reason to be consuming this stuff.

CARRAGEENAN – This is an indigestible polysaccharide that is extracted from red algae, and is most commonly used in food as a thickener or stabilizer. Chris Kresser recently discussed whether or not carrageenan is a harmful ingredient, and concluded that it’s likely safe in small amounts for healthy people. However, it’s hard to know how much of it is in Slim-Fast, and since carrageenan is potentially carcinogenic, consuming it twice a day is not a great idea, in my opinion.

SUCRALOSE AND ACESULFAME POTASSIUM – These might be the worst ingredients in the bottle, because there’s a significant amount of evidence that these artificial sweeteners may be dangerous. Sucralose has been found to promote insulin resistance, kill beneficial bacteria in the gut, and may interfere with the metabolism of pharmaceuticals. It was recently downgraded from “Safe” to “Caution” by the CSPI after a long-term feeding study found that the sweetener caused leukemia in mice. As for Acesulfame Potassium, this artificial sweetener contains a known carcinogen and is broken down into acetoacetamide, which may affect thyroid function. None of this is something you want to be happening on a daily basis.

ARTIFICIAL COLOR (RED 3) – This food coloring is genotoxic in in vivo and in vitro assays and is an known carcinogen, yet the FDA still allows it to be used in foods. It may cause breast cancer or ADHD. I’m not sure why the FDA has banned Red #3 from cosmetics and external drugs but not food and ingested drugs. It just seems like avoiding consuming this food coloring would be a good idea.

Snack Bars


After reading all about the ingredients, I really don’t think people should be drinking two of these drinks a day as a replacement for meals. But if that’s not enough, here are the ingredients in one of their snack bars:


Again, let’s look a little closer at some of the ingredients contained in this bar.

SUGAR – Why is this the first ingredient in this bar? Oh right, because the ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance by weight, so that means that sugar is technically the main ingredient in this bar. Perfect.

ENRICHED WHEAT FLOUR – Otherwise known as white flour. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why white flour might be a problem. If you want to read more, Dr. Mercola has written about white flour health concerns. While white flour may not be the worst substance known to man, I certainly wouldn’t consider it a health food, and don’t believe its something people should be eating on a regular basis.

FRUCTOSE – It’s uncommon to see pure fructose as an ingredient, since most products use high fructose sweeteners such as agave or high fructose corn syrup, which still isn’t even close to 100% fructose. Naturally occurring fructose is perfectly healthy when found in fruits, and fructose only becomes a problem when calories are consumed in excess. This may be one benefit of the Slim-Fast plan: since calories are so low (~1200 per day!) it’s unlikely that the metabolic derangement that commonly comes with consuming excess fructose will occur if the daily caloric allowance is adhered to. I’m not excusing the ingredient, just putting it into context.

LACTOSE - This is a common ingredient used in low-quality milk chocolate. Not the worst thing in the world, but certainly not something you’d want to be eating if you have lactose intolerance or any GI condition like IBS.

SUNFLOWER OIL – In an amazing twist of irony, US News just ran a post on their Eat + Run blog on January 3, 2014 (6 days before the writing of this blog) called “The Shocking Truth About Sunflower Oil” – in it, the author describes the reasons why sunflower oil should not be consumed. The biggest reason is that sunflower oil has one of the highest omega-6 contents of any oil, making it an inflammatory oil. I just can’t believe the hypocrisy here. Does US News pay attention to the information they’re sharing with their readers? Anyone reading with even a remotely critical eye will notice that they’re contradicting themselves by telling people to avoid sunflower oil – that “it is not a healthy option at all” – and yet they say that Slim-Fast is “relatively nutritionally sound and safe.” Anyone else notice the contradiction here?

ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN – Soy protein isolate (SPI) is a super cheap way to bump up the protein content of a packaged protein bar. However, beyond the fact that it comes from soy (which is not a health food in most commonly consumed forms), there are many reasons why SPI is a horrible ingredient. It’s likely from a GMO source, since over 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, meaning it’s filled with pesticides. The intense chemical process used to create SPI often leaves behind toxic substances like aluminum and hexane. Highly processed soy foods may affect your fertility. If you need more information on why processed soy foods should be avoided, check out this fantastic article by Sally Fallon-Morrell and Mary Enig.

ARTIFICIAL COLOR (YELLOW 5 LAKE, BLUE 1 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE) - More potential carcinogens, used simply to give the bar an “appealing” color. Yellow 5 contains compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that have been linked with cancer, and may cause hyperactivity in children. Blue 1 may have neurotoxic properties, and has been shown to increase the rate of kidney tumors in rats. Blue 2 has been linked to brain tumors. The fact that these colors are “lakes” is even more appalling, as the Environmental Working Group explains: “In industrial production of colorants, “lake” is a term used for pigments or dyes that are precipitated with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, barium, or others. Some of the lake dyes may be derived from naturally occurring plant or animal ingredients but the vast majority of lakes is synthetically produced from coal tar or petroleum.” Is it really that important to have the right color on this bar to risk these adverse effects? I don’t think so.

INVERT SUGAR SYRUP - Invert sugar is sucrose (a disaccharide of glucose and fructose) that has been broken into free glucose and free fructose using acid hydrolysis or enzymatic inversion. As far as I can tell, it’s not really any worse for you than regular processed white sugar, though it does make products sweeter. And the sweeter your food, the more rewarding it is, and the more likely it is to contribute to the accumulation of body fat. Again, the significant caloric deficit encountered on the Slim-Fast plan may be enough to prevent the accumulation of body fat, but it’s not a good idea to be getting used to eating such highly sweetened foods.

CORN SYRUP - How many sweeteners does this product need to have?? I mean come on, sugar is the first ingredient… why add fructose, lactose, invert sugar syrup, AND corn syrup? The main problem I have with corn syrup is that it’s likely from GMO corn, since at least 85% of the corn grown in the US comes from GMO crops covered in pesticides like Roundup.

CARAMEL COLOR – The CSPI argues that caramel coloring is a carcinogen and should be banned from food substances. They explain that this additive is “made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures, resulting in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats.” Caramel coloring may also significantly increase the risk of high blood pressure and has been shown to have immunotoxic effects in rats. Yet another completely pointless ingredient with potentially harmful effects. Nice one, Slim-Fast.


I hope I’ve made it clear that Slim-Fast products are full of unhealthy (and potentially harmful), highly processed ingredients made from GMO crops. Sure, you might lose weight on a Slim-Fast plan, but that’s mainly because it causes a significant calorie restriction if you follow the plan exactly. The plan recommends 1200 calories per day, which will obviously lead to weight loss, which is the primary goal here. But Slim-Fast seems to be prioritizing weight loss at all costs, even above the health of its customers. This isn’t even just because of the disgusting ingredients used in their products. It’s also because the calorie allotment on the plan is unsustainable and unhealthy in the long term.

1200 calories per day is pretty darn low, especially if you’re even moderately active. The Minnesota Starvation Experiment considered 1,560 calories per day to be “semi-starvation.” This diet caused severe weakness, depression, fatigue, anemia, bradycardia, and edema in subjects; full recovery from the diet took 8-12 months of eating 2,500-3,500 calories per day. The World Health Organization defines starvation as anything less than 2100 calories a day for men and 1800 a day for women. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines the average person’s minimum calorie requirement per day as approximately 1,800 calories.

Significant undereating causes a reduction in metabolic rate, which can slow the rate of weight loss over time. Go Kaleo thinks the diagnosis of adrenal fatigue is really just a cover for undereating. (I do think adrenal fatigue is a legitimate condition but undoubtably can be caused by severe, long-term caloric restriction.) Dr. Emily Deans says low calorie diets can literally cause you to “go crazy”, leading to anxiety, dizziness, food obsession, depressed sex drive, poor concentration, and more. Former diet coaches have apologized for putting their clients on such a low calorie plan.

I need to stop here, because this calorie-restriction issue could really be another blog post in itself. A 1200 calorie per day diet plan based on highly processed, synthetic nutrient-fortified junk foods is not a healthy diet. And the fact that US News and World Report, with the help of it’s supposed “experts”, ranked the Slim-Fast diet as #13 on it’s list of healthiest diets, with Paleo ranked dead last at #31, BLOWS MY MIND.


The worst part is that the criticism of Paleo that gets repeated over and over is that “by shunning dairy and grains, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot of nutrients,” or that “diets that restrict entire food groups are difficult to follow,” or that its too expensive because “the produce section and meat counter are among the priciest corners of the grocery store.” Yes, eating healthier is more difficult than eating garbage, and more expensive as well. And since when did humans need grains and dairy to get the nutrients they need? (As an aside, I believe full fat, organic (even raw) dairy products are healthy. But we know that’s not the kind of dairy these folks are talking about.) Can these “experts” please tell me one nutrient – just one – that you can’t get without consuming grains?

And it gets more absurd. US News wonders “Can you get used to the idea of breadless sandwiches? Or having your milk and cookies without either milk or cookies?” How the heck are milk and cookies considered to be an important part of a healthy diet? I’m all for moderation and enjoying food, but are milk and cookies part of the DASH plan? I suppose milk and cookies makes up about two-thirds of the Slim-Fast plan, so maybe that’s why it got so highly ranked.

This kind of statement, however, is just so ridiculous that I’m not even sure how to respond to it. You can eat as much dessert as you want on a Paleo plan. The whole point is that dessert is a treat, not a health food per se, and just because Paleo eaters typically eschew grains and dairy doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying their real-foods diet. I must say, pastured eggs cooked in grass fed butter with a side of pastured bacon and a piece of fruit sounds like a far more delicious breakfast than a 200-calorie Slim-Fast shake and a Slim-Fast bar when you’re starving an hour later.

I’m mostly angry about this not because Paleo is getting crapped on (again), but because the mainstream media, with help from dimwitted medical “experts”, are brainwashing the public to believe that a calorie is a calorie, that food quality doesn’t matter as long as you’re not eating too much, and that grains and low-fat dairy are an essential component of the diet but that animal fats and meat are not only optional but best to be avoided. It’s so backwards it makes me want to puke.

I keep thinking there’s going to be a mindset change coming in our culture at large, but this kind of event puts a damper on my optimism. I just hope that I can play a small part in reaching as many people as possible with information about what constitutes a truly healthy diet, before our country goes down the crapper from exorbitant healthcare costs due mainly to our horrible diets. And with misleading articles like US News’s “Best Diets” report, things are just going to get worse before they get better.

US News, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do…


Original HERE.


Simply Find A Way To Win

T-Nation is one of the health/fitness sites I visit regularly mainly for the strength training information.  This particular article focuses on nutrition and the paleo mindset.  I particularly like how the author attacks the cult-like followers of every dogma.

go paleo

The Paleo Hybrid Diet

by Nate Miyaki

Here’s what you need to know…

The ultimate Paleo diet for lifters is a caveman-based diet with the re-introduction of a few starchy carbs and workout nutrition to support weight training.

There’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, but tell that to the guy who’s combining high amounts of anaerobic training with no carbs and whose ding-dong has been lifeless for a year.

The anaerobic energy production pathway runs on glucose/carbs. High intensity muscular contractions require glucose.

The true value of an ancestral approach to nutrition is what it cuts from the average person’s diet.

Let’s make this simple. The optimal eating approach for merging health with performance and physique enhancement is to follow a caveman-based diet – animal proteins and veggies, no junk – with the re-introduction of a select few starchy carbs and peri-workout nutrition to support weight training. That’s it.

It’s a revamping of the classic “don’t eat crap, adjust the macronutrients to the demands of your modern sport” nutrition plan. And while the mainstream is starting to catch on, as evidenced by the legions of new paleo converts who ponder whether a caveman would’ve had access to rice cakes or quinoa, the dust is far from settled. Many office workers still follow high-carb diets better suited to athletes, and many strength trainers follow no-carb diets better suited for sedentary populations.

The principle of specificity has been lost in the dogma-thumping, and people across the board are as confused as hell.

Paleo Pondering

What’s lost in all of the intellectual pontification and academic posturing is what should be the true goal of any educator – giving people simple, effective, actionable strategies that will help them produce results in the real world.

So let’s allow the gurus to hash it out for dietary supremacy. You should focus on finding the most efficient path given your individual situation and goals.

The Paleo Way

The caveman theme is a simple theme. It works for practically everyone, from advanced athletes who have been information-overloaded by the fitness industry, down to complete beginners who don’t know (or care) much about nutrition and need a simple approach to get started.

Paleo simplifies the overcomplicated and gives people actionable steps, instead of being frozen with “paralysis by analysis” listening to scientific debate. Cut out refined garbage and eat more plants and animals. I bet that will take 90% of people 90% of the way.

Paleo calls bullshit on much of the “health” industry that preys on uninformed consumers. Organic crap is still crap. Gluten-free crap is still crap. Organic, gluten-free cookies are still cookies, and are not that great for your health or body composition goals. Wild salmon and spinach are gluten free as well.

But apparently, in some elitist athletic and academic circles, you can’t even say the world “paleo” or “caveman.” Doing so would make you appear less cutting-edge or advanced, and certainly wouldn’t grant you access to the V.I.P. parties where everyone circle jerks over their credentials. So we have flowery language, unnecessarily technical diet strategies, and obsession over minutia. Aren’t you more interested in getting shit done?

While the science behind them is crazy complex and could take a lifetime to fully master, the most effective diet and training programs are the simplest ones on paper.

Crap-Loading and Other Crap

Diet numbers are the most important variable to get right for physique results, so if that’s all you really care about (that’s all I cared about when I was 20, too), then crapload away: eat whatever junk food you want. But that doesn’t necessarily merge your physique goals with long-term health enhancement.

Take it from someone who has worked with clients of all ages and former athletes who have messed themselves up with uninformed or extreme methods. It’s the cumulative effects of your diet over a lifetime that matter, not any 10-week timeframe. Serge Nubret once said, “Every sickness comes from food.” I think genetics and environment also play a part, but food is the thing you can fully control.

Beyond theory, marketing material, “study wars,” and pointing to that one genetically gifted guy who can pull it off, you can’t tell me that when you step back from it all and just use pure common sense that you think shit-loading every day can be good for your long-term health.

There are many athletes that look great on the outside but are train wrecks internally. They’re extremely unhealthy and dealing with side effects such as sleep disturbances, depression, elevated disease risk factors, metabolic damage, and digestive disorders. Ever wonder why there are so many dicks in the fitness industry? Maybe that’s part of it.

Like it or not, food choices are important for optimizing overall health. If you still want to eat pizza and Pop Tarts every day, be my guest.

Low Carb Is for Couch Potatoes

The paleo approach certainly isn’t the only way, and it’s definitely not the only method I use, but it’s effective for certain demographics.

A sedentary person isn’t exercising and burning through muscle glycogen stores (300-500 grams), so he doesn’t need to worry about replenishing them on a daily basis. High-carbohydrate diets (300 grams or more) are more appropriate for athletes and regular exercisers that undergo the cyclical depletion and repletion of muscle glycogen stores.

Sedentary populations really only need to worry about providing adequate carbohydrates to support liver glycogen stores, which regulate normal blood sugar levels and fuel the brain and central nervous system at rest. This can be accomplished with roughly 100 grams of carbs a day. You don’t have to memorize any of that; just remember that athletes and lifters can handle a lot more carbs than office workers.

That’s why research shows that lower carb, caveman-style diets may be the best approach for improving body composition and biomarkers of health for obese, insulin resistant, and sedentary populations.

Take Home Message

If you’re severely overweight, insulin resistant, and/or sedentary, a paleo-style diet may be the best approach for you at this time. Get in a calorie deficit mode, eat adequate protein, get roughly 100 grams of carbs from vegetables and whole fruit, and make up the rest of your calories from healthy fats.

Where All The Cults Go Wrong

Let’s talk about the paleo diet in terms of its most generally accepted, well-known version – the low-carb, higher protein and fat version (eat animal protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, and healthy fats).

There’s no single “paleo” diet, and food choices and macronutrient percentages vary among time periods and regions (Inuit versus Kitavan, etc.). I know that’s not really fair to the whole paleo movement, but this article is about simplifying and giving people actionable strategies, and putting it in terms they know.

Specificity Matters

The problem occurs when any nutritional approach becomes a religious-like cult – rabid teachers preaching it as the only way with no possible modifications based on individual goals; hardcore followers condemning all other methods; brainwashed students that may be inhibiting their progress or even doing themselves harm by dogmatically adhering to the tenets of an inflexible system, instilling fear that if a starchy carb ever touches your lips, the wrath of the four winds is going to swoop down and destroy your village.

You’ll never convince me that a 300-pound, obese, insulin resistant, sedentary office worker trying to save his life should be eating the same thing as a regular exerciser or athlete that wants to reach peak physical condition. Yet that’s what you have to believe if you buy into the dogmatic adherence to a one-size-fits-all “system.” Cookie-cutting only works in the cookie-making business.

The true value of a caveman or ancestral approach to nutrition is what it cuts from the average person’s diet – high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, trans fats, high n-6 vegetable oils, etc. – rather than a religious-like adherence to one specific macronutrient distribution pattern regardless of individual activity levels, metabolic condition, or goals.

Why? Because 100% paleo eating (as it is most commonly defined) just doesn’t account for variances in activity levels, individual metabolic factors, overall health, and the differences between average and elite physique or performance goals.

Starchy Carbs and Avoiding Skinny-Fat Syndrome

Animals and plants provide us with the essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and micronutrients we need for survival and normal functioning. Everything else is about providing us with the energy we need to fuel our daily activities.

“Added fats” are an energy source, not an essential nutrient. This can be good or bad depending on your total calorie requirements and goals, and the composition of the rest of your diet. Starchy carbs are an energy source, not an essential nutrient. This can be good or bad depending on the type and amount of training you do. A healthy and active human body is adaptable and can do well on either one.

Low-carb diets are great for certain demographics – sedentary, obese, insulin resistant, etc. – thus they should be the default status for probably 70% of our population.

However, exercise creates a unique metabolic environment, an altered physiological state, and changes the way your body processes nutrients both during activity and for up to 48 hours after completion of a training session. If you train intensely three or more days a week, then your body is virtually in a recovery mode 100% of the time. It’s in an altered physiological state 100% of the time and its nutritional needs are completely different than that of couch potato populations.

In a sports nutrition context, carbohydrates are thus considered conditionally essential. I do get that there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate, but tell that to the guy who’s combining high amounts of anaerobic training with no carbs and whose ding-dong has been lifeless for a year, or to the girl whose thyroid levels and metabolism are shot.

I believe starchy carb intake should be directly tied to your high-intensity, glycogen-burning activity levels. Fats should then be adjusted up or down accordingly to stay within your allotted calories. If the training program is different, the diet should be different. Beyond dietary dogmatic creeds, that’s just common sense.

The anaerobic energy production pathway runs on glucose/carbs. It can’t use lipids or ketones. While the body can use fatty acids as fuel at rest (and the brain ketones), and even those who train only in the aerobic zone can become “fat adapted,” high intensity muscular contractions require glucose.

Therefore, chronic carb depletion combined with anaerobic training can impair performance and eventually lead to muscle loss: skinny-fat syndrome. The body will break down amino acids as a reserve fuel to provide the necessary glucose to fuel high intensity activity. You know how they say fats and ketones are more “muscle sparing” than carbs? Not necessarily, when you factor in anaerobic training.

And low-carb diets combined with consistent high intensity activity can have a lot of metabolic, hormonal, and physiological drawbacks including impaired thyroid production, low Testosterone and sex drive, decreases in metabolic rate, muscle loss, skinny-fat syndrome, insomnia, depression, irritability, and low immunity.

For those who fear carbs during fat slashing phases, just remember that total calories are still the most important step. If you strength train while maintaining a relative calorie deficit, you can still include some starchy carbs in the diet while losing significant amounts of body fat.

The Hybrid Approach

Use the paleo diet as the baseline template for food choices, cutting out refined/processed foods and emphasizing animals and plants. Add back in some starchy foods to support your weight training. Try to minimize sugar, gluten, anti-nutrients, and toxic compounds. What you’re left with is root vegetables (yams, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes) and white rice. Maybe you do okay with gluten or dairy, but a large percentage of people don’t. Test and assess to see what works best.

For a simple educational template that‘s as easy to remember as the paleo diet, I recommend the traditional Japanese village diet, which consists of fish and meats, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, whole fruit, and rice and root vegetables.

I don’t really care if that’s historically or anthropologically accurate (i.e., what some village in 1678 actually ate versus what some village in another region in 1594 ate), it’s only meant to be used as a simple tool to give people actionable strategies.

If you don’t want to feel like you’re “turning Japanese,” the Irish Farmer’s Diet (meat and potatoes), Okinawans’ (pork, vegetables, and sweet potatoes), and Kitavans’ (fish, fruit, and root vegetables) diets are other good examples and templates. Carb-based diets minus refined shit is the overall theme.

Take Home Message

The natural bodybuilding standard of a calorie deficit, sufficient protein, vegetables and whole fruits for micronutrients, moderate amounts of fat as by-product of animal protein sources, and some starch to support anaerobic training (adjusted up or down based on progress), combined with hypertrophy-based strength training is far superior for fat loss than the current trend of low carb, high-fat diets combined with cross-training and boot camps.

Find a Way to Win

I encourage you to take some personal accountability and self-experiment to find what works best. Don’t be like a baby bird waiting to be fed whatever your mama regurgitates for you.

Maybe you consider that to be not taking a stance. Maybe you consider it bro-science. I consider it finding what works. And in terms of the true application of the scientific method, even research study conclusions really only give you steps one to three: question, hypotheses, and prediction. Every individual has to complete steps four and five – test and analyze – on their own.

You should use science and systems to give yourself an informed starting point, but don’t dogmatically cling to anything, regardless of the source. Simply find a way to win.

Original HERE.


Fragile, Resilient and Antifragile

The Art of Manliness is a great site that I visit sporadically that has a plethora of topics.  This article was picked up by LRC and it is probably one of the better ones I have read on A0M.

While reading this I thought the descriptions were extremely accurate but became overwhelmed by the number of people I know, meet and see that fall into the category of fragile.  I would categorize the majority of those who live in the US as such.

Much of the changes I have made in my life in 2013 have worked to make me more antifragile but I still have a lot of work to do to prepare for the “Black Swans” that are could come.

sword of damocles

Beyond “Sissy” Resilience: On Becoming Antifragile

by Brett & Kate McKay on December 3, 2013 ·

in A Man’s Life, Personal Development


What’s the opposite of a person or organization that’s fragile?

If you ask most people this question, they’ll likely say “robust” or “resilient.” But philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb would say that’s not the right answer.

He argues that if fragile items break when exposed to stress, something that’s the opposite of fragile wouldn’t simply not break (thus staying the same) when put under pressure; rather, it should actually get stronger.

We don’t really have a word to describe such a person or organization, so Taleb created one: antifragile.

In his book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder, Taleb convincingly argues that this powerful quality is essential for businesses, governments, and even individuals that wish to thrive in an increasingly complex and volatile world.

If you want to succeed and dominate, to separate yourself from the pack and become the last man standing in any area of life, it’s no longer enough to bounce back from adversity and volatility – to simply be resilient. You have to bounce back stronger and better. You have to become antifragile.

Surviving and Thriving in a Whirlwind of Volatility

First, some background.

Back in 2007, Taleb popularized the idea of “Black Swans” in his book of the same name. In a nutshell, a Black Swan is an event (either positive or negative) “that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.”

The mortgage crisis of 2008 was a Black Swan event, as were both World Wars. Hardly anyone predicted them, they all had huge impacts on history, and they all seemed utterly predictable in hindsight.

Many folks walked away from reading The Black Swan with this takeaway: “Sh** happens, so don’t bother trying to predict things.” But as Taleb recently tweeted, that’s the conclusion “imbeciles” reach (one of the best parts of Taleb’s writing is that he doesn’t mince words). Rather, the main message of the book is this: “Yes, sh** happens. The trick is to put yourself in a position to survive and even thrive when it does.”

In his most recent book, Antifragile, Taleb offers some simple heuristics to help businesses and individuals thrive in a life swirling with volatility. Before he does that, though, Taleb makes the case that people/systems/organizations/things/ideas can be described in one of three ways: fragile, resilient, or antifragile.

Which category best describes you? Let’s take a look at the triad.


The Fragile

“Now, what is fragile? The large, optimized, overreliant on technology, overreliant on the so-called scientific method instead of age-tested heuristics.”

Things that are fragile break or suffer from chaos and randomness. Fragile systems/people/things seek out tranquility because they have more to lose than to gain during volatile times.


Taleb likens the fragile to the story of the Sword of Damocles. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this Greek myth, Damocles was a courtier of King Dionysius II who greatly envied the king’s life of power and luxury. The king offers to let him try out holding the throne, so he can see for himself just how great it is. At first Damocles revels in his newfound wealth and finery and relishes having servants administer to his every need. But then Dionysus places a razor sharp sword — hanging only by a thin horse hair — directly over Damocles’ head.

At any moment the hair could snap and instantly kill him.

Suddenly, being king didn’t seem so great.

Damocles begs Dionysius to let him leave. He realizes he doesn’t want to be as “fortunate” as the king after all.

With great power and success come great peril and anxiety. As Shakespeare put it, “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” When you gain in status and wealth, your responsibilities increase. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Moreover, you have to constantly be on guard for challengers who want to dethrone you. Which is why the Sword of Damocles is such a great metaphor for fragility. When you’re king or in any position of power, one small jostle could bring down your house of cards; you’re actually more fragile than you might have thought.

You don’t have to be in a position of power to experience the Sword of Damocles effect in your life, though. The sword could also be something like debt. When you’re in the hole everything is hunky-dory so long as things are relatively stable, but add in a bit of volatility — you get sick or your car breaks down — and the sword falls.

So we know that fragile things break or suffer from adversity or volatility. But what is it exactly that makes something fragile? Here are some of the qualities that Taleb argues contribute to a person’s or organization’s fragility:

Fragile things are typically large. Size often offers a false sense of security, but large organizations, such as giant corporations and big governments, typically aren’t agile enough to survive, let alone thrive during times of adversity. There are too many complications and layers of bureaucratic red tape to allow for quick action.

Large entities are much like the Titanic on the night that it sunk. By the time the lookouts spotted the iceberg, it was too late to take corrective action because the liner’s turning speed was so slow and the radius so wide. To successfully navigate toward a safe direction, more time was needed – and time is a luxury not often available during a crisis.

Thus in stressful times, it pays to be small and agile.

Responses to variability and stress come from the outside. If something is fragile and it’s exposed to stress, there’s nothing built in to help fend off that stressor. The response must come from something external to it.

For example, if a porcelain teacup were to fall off a table because the table was jostled, the only thing that would prevent the teacup from breaking would be some external force or object — a hand catching it or a foam pad to blunt the impact.

The same applies to people or businesses. A fragile person will likely require outside help when they hit life’s rough waters because they lack capital — be it financial, social, or emotional — to help them weather the storm.

Fragile things are overly optimized. Fragile businesses, people, and organizations are often too smart for their own good. Our modern world is obsessed with efficiency and optimization. Businesses seek to crank out as many widgets as they can on tight timeframes and with as little cost as possible. Similarly, individuals are told to be as efficient as they can with their time.

And it works…if everything goes to plan. But everything rarely goes as planned. Randomness is the rule, not the exception.

The central problem with being overly optimized and efficient is that we can’t predict when problems and errors will pop up. And as Taleb notes, when these random errors or fluctuations occur in overly-optimized systems “errors compound, multiply, swell, with an effect that only goes in one direction — the wrong direction.”

Here’s an example:

You sign up for a European cruise. It’s scheduled to set sail from Venice, Italy, but you live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so you’ll have to take an international flight to catch your cruise. You optimize your itinerary for getting there with both time and money in mind — the first flight leaves late enough that you can get in a half a day of work, and you’ve minimized your layovers between connecting flights.

Your efficient flight plan hinges on razor tight margins. With 30-minute layovers, you can’t have any hitches.

You make your first flight with no problem, but the next flight is delayed, causing you to miss your flight to Rome, and thus your entire cruise. Because you left absolutely no time in your schedule for hiccups, your well-intended attempt at optimization turned out to be very costly.

I’ve seen the problem of over-optimization in my own life with my weekly planning. I’ve often planned my week to a T, under the naïve assumption that no unforeseen tasks or distractions will come up.

But of course, unplanned problems do happen, forcing me to change my schedule. Because it was so “optimized,” one change forces another, which forces another, which creates a boondoggle for me. I made my schedule fragile by trying to cram too much in.

Fragile people and systems seek to eliminate variability, noise, and tension. Because fragile people and systems don’t have built-in responses to stress and variability, they naively try to eliminate it completely from the equation.

But trying to eliminate randomness and variability is a loser’s game. It’s simply not possible. Remember, randomness and variability are the rule, not the exception.

Not only is trying to eliminate stress and variability a lost cause, it ends up making an already fragile person or system even more fragile.

Taleb calls these folks who quixotically attempt to eliminate volatility “fragilistas.” Helicopter Parents are great examples of fragilistas. In their attempt to make life as safe as possible for their children, they actually set them up for sometimes debilitating failure when they inevitably face adversity on their own. Human psyches require variability, adversity, and stress to become strong. By depriving their children of stress, Helicopter Parents “fragilize” their future.

The Resilient

The resilient, or robust, don’t care if circumstances become volatile or disruptive (up to a point). They remain steady in times of both adversity and tranquility.

Taleb likens resiliency to the mythical Phoenix. The Phoenix, if you remember, is an immortal bird that dies by fire and is reborn from its ashes to its initial state. The Phoenix doesn’t get better or worse from its cyclical death and rebirth. It just stays the same. Hence, resilient.

People can be resilient when they stay cool, calm, and collected during periods of stress. Buddhism and Stoicism promote psychological resilience, as both philosophies teach indifference to change. When you’re mentally resilient, you don’t care if you’re rich or if you lose your wealth in a single day.

Resilience, or robustness, is certainly more desirable than fragility. We should do all we can to make ourselves, our businesses, and our society more resilient in the face of volatility. But Taleb argues that to aim just for resilience is a “sissy” move because you’re essentially settling for the status quo. Sure, when things are resilient, you bounce back from adversity, but you just bounce back to the state you were in before the fall.

To be truly effective in a world swirling with complexity, randomness, and risk, you can’t stop at sissy resilience. Whenever you can, you should always find opportunities to actually grow from disorder, volatility, and adversity. The goal should be to move beyond resilience to becoming antifragile.

The Antifragile

Things that are antifragile grow and strengthen from volatility and stress (to a point). When people or systems are antifragile, there’s more upside than downside when Black Swan events occur. Antifragile systems feed on chaos and uncertainty like a primordial god.


Taleb likens antifragility to the Hydra from Greek mythology. The Hydra was a hideous multi-headed lizard monster. Whenever a hero cut off one of the Hydra’s heads, two would grow back in its place — the Hydra became stronger with adversity. (That is until Hercules learned he could stop the process by cauterizing the wound immediately after chopping off the head. Even the most antifragile system will collapse when exposed to too much stress.)

So what makes something antifragile? Below are a few of this quality’s key characteristics:

Less is usually more with antifragility. To become anti-fragile, it pays to be small. With smallness comes increased agility and flexibility during volatile and chaotic times. If I were navigating a foggy sea filled with hidden icebergs, I’d rather be a passenger on a small, but maneuverable jet boat than a giant, but sluggish ocean liner.

Guerilla armies and terrorist organizations are devastating examples of how less is more when it comes to antifragility. With small amounts of manpower and money, they have the ability to cripple large states, economies, and armies. What’s even scarier, the more that large nation states try to suppress these small, loosely organized terrorist organizations (a fragilista move), the stronger these organizations become. They’re the Hydra.

Responses to variability and stress are built into the antifragile. Unlike fragile things that require an outside response to protect them from variability and stress, antifragile things have strength and protection baked right in. Our skeletal system is a great example of a built-in response to variability. Our bones actually require stress in order to grow and maintain strength, which explains why competitive bicyclists have lower bone densities than non-competitive bicyclists of the same age. Riding a bike doesn’t stress the skeleton the same way that running, lifting weights, or even walking does, thus a bicyclist’s bones can become more brittle.

Antifragile things have built-in redundancies. This point stuck out to me the most. Unlike fragile systems/organizations/people, antifragile things don’t make efficiency the primary goal. For the antifragile, thriving in randomness is the goal, which often requires being “inefficient” through layering redundancies.

As Taleb notes: “Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens — usually.”

Nature is filled with “inefficient” redundancies. Animals have two lungs, two kidneys, and two testicles, when one of each would work just fine. Since one in a pair of organs can become disabled through disease or trauma, it pays to have a spare.

Besides allowing you to weather storms, Taleb argues that redundancies also allow you to become stronger.

The perfect example of this is a survivalist versus a minimalist. Minimalism is aesthetically pleasing, but if the world went to pot, the guy with just 100 possessions would be screwed. The survivalist who has built-in redundancies — not just a fridge full of food but a stockpile of MREs, not just central heating but a wood burning stove, not just money but cigarettes for currency — will not only survive a disaster but thrive in it.

Redundancies don’t necessarily weigh you down — in the case of the survivalist, he may be very prepared to bug-in, but he’s also ready to bug-out.

Redundancies need not create the kind of lumbering largeness that can make systems so fragile either. As opposed to layers of bureaucracy, an antifragile person/organization has direct access to their capital and full control over the decision of when and where to use it.

Nature and tradition do a good job of creating antifragility. As Taleb points out several times throughout Antifragile, nature has done a fantastic job implanting antifragility into organisms and systems.

Our bodies have antifragility built into them in several ways. We already discussed our skeletal system’s built-in antifragility. Another example is how our body responds to fasting. When we go without food for long periods of time, our body releases hormones that actually make us stronger and mentally sharper. This antifragile response makes sense. Our caveman ancestors evolved in a time when food acquisition was scarce and random, so our bodies evolved to adapt to that environment.

Taleb also makes the case that human traditions have antifragility baked into them. For us scientific moderns, many traditions seem archaic and silly. But they developed for a reason and survived for so long because they served some purpose. According to Taleb, traditions are often just time-tested heuristics that make living in a random and volatile world manageable. For example, rites of passage have been employed in cultures all over the world to enable young men to have a clear sense of when they’ve become a man and should take on grownup responsibilities, instead of letting them confusedly drift into adulthood. Through these challenging and oftentimes painful coming-of-age ceremonies, a young man emerges stronger than before.

Becoming Antifragile

Taleb’s Antifragile has given me plenty of food for thought. I now look at everything through the lens of his triad. It’s a fascinating mental exercise organizing the world around you as fragile, resilient, or antifragile.

Applying this to my own personal life has been an eye-opening experience. Where am I fragile? How can I make different areas of my life antifragile? Can I do things to help my family become antifragile?

While I’ve long been a proponent of becoming psychologically resilient, I really like the idea of going a step farther — not just staying the same during adversity, but becoming mentally stronger from it. I want to learn how I can create an environment that makes such an outcome a possibility.

Most of Taleb’s book is filled with tactics and heuristics you can use to make your life and business more antifragile. Here are some of his tips, as well as a few of my own:

Intentionally inject stress in your life. Stress has gotten a bad rap; while long-term stress can have deleterious effects, short bouts of it can make you stronger and better. Your body and mind have antifragility built into them, but require stress for that antifragility to activate. A few ways to inject positive stress into your life: fast, take cold showers, do a challenging obstacle race, lift heavy weights, run instead of bike.

Add redundancies in your life. Start that emergency fund; add buffers in your schedule to take into account the inevitable volatility that comes each day; make that bug-out bag. The gains from redundancies increase as volatility increases.

Employ the “barbell strategy.” Taleb describes the “barbell strategy” as “a dual attitude of playing it safe in some areas and taking a lot of small risks in others, hence achieving antifragility.” Playing it safe reduces the potential downside of volatility and taking small risks exposes you to the potentially massive gains from the same chaos. For the Average Joe it could mean keeping your boring day job (the safe end of the barbell), while working on your side hustle at night (the risky end of the barbell). If the side hustle doesn’t work out, you still have your boring job, but if it does work out, you could live the dream of working for yourself and becoming wealthy.

Never take advice from someone who doesn’t have “skin in the game.” We live in a world in which people’s actions, opinions, and advice are divorced from consequences. We no longer force people to have “skin in the game.” This fragilizes society. Financial advisors on TV can give terrible advice and pundits can spout off wrong opinions but suffer no consequence for their erroneous predictions, even if those predictions harm others.

When determining whether or not to take advice from someone, look to see if they have skin in the game. If the person dispensing the advice or making the prediction has nothing to lose from being wrong, don’t listen to them. Pay more attention to people who have accepted risk and responsibility for their words.

Practice via negativa. According to Taleb, “the first step towards antifragility consists in first decreasing downside.” We do that through practicing via negativa – a phrase borrowed from theology. Instead of focusing your time on adding things to your life to make it better, focus first on subtracting habits, practices, things, people that fragilize you. A few examples: get rid of debt, quit smoking, stop hanging around toxic friends, eliminate unhealthy foods.

Keep your options open. Increase optionality in your life. When volatility and chaos increase, it’s the man with the most options who is the most antifragile. How do you increase optionality? Having money in the bank certainly increases your options; it gives you breathing room during economic downturns, but also provides flexibility to take advantage of positive unforeseen opportunities or to pursue goals. Increasing your skills gives you optionality as well. If one career goes bust, you have the skills to jumpstart a new one.

Many of these methods deserve more unpacking, and we’ll be revisiting how to become more antifragile in greater detail in the coming year. Until then, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Antifragile. It’s a great book that’s both enlightening and enjoyable to read.

Here’s to becoming antifragile in 2014.

Original HERE.


CrossFit: Exercise Or Training

I love Rips analysis on CrossFit.  I have seen people doing it and personally have no interest, it looks like asking for injury.  I prefer training and then having an active lifestyle, not spending time between surgeries.

strong people

CrossFit: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

by Mark Rippetoe

Here’s what you need to know…

CrossFit has done an incredibly good job at popularizing tough training using barbells.

CrossFit is fine “Exercise” but it’s not “Training”. The undoubtedly impressive CrossFit Games athletes don’t use CrossFit programming.

There are good and bad CrossFit coaches, but the certification farm CrossFit has become often produces more bad than good.

I was associated with CrossFit for about three years beginning in 2006, providing weekend seminars and instructional videos that demonstrated technique on the five basic barbell exercises. I ended my formal association with the organization in 2009 due to ideological and personal differences, and The Aasgaard Company started our own seminar product in January of 2010.

During this seven-year period of time I’ve become quite familiar with the system and the people who developed it, I’ve watched it change significantly over these years, and I’ve come to hold several opinions regarding CrossFit. Some of them I will share with you here.

The Good

CrossFit is the greatest thing that has ever happened to barbell training, bar none, unequivocally and absolutely.

Since the invention of the equipment a hundred years ago, nothing has placed more hands on more barbells than CrossFit. This is what motivated my involvement with them in 2006 – I saw a huge amount of potential for the advancement of strength training.

Now, it must be said that P90X broke the ground with their infomercials, the first of their kind, showing people getting results with exercise that was actually hard. Previously, the primary criterion for exercise advertised on TV was that the DynoIsoThighMaster2000 folded up and stored under your bed. It was fun and took five minutes a week. And it was easy.

So P90X comes along and says that you have to get sweaty and tired if you want to get stronger and lose bodyfat, and it will help if you do their diet too. After a period of development that began in 2002, they started airing millions of infomercials in 2004, and within a couple of years every human being on Earth had been exposed to the idea that “hard” was productive, and that muscles needed to be “confused,” an idea first popularized by the Weider organization in the 70s. With the broad general public exposed to the ideas of “hard” and “random/muscle confusion,” the field had been plowed.

CrossFit began to get popular about this time. It has been called “P90X with barbells” – it confuses the muscles with random exposure to a variety of movements and equipment that P90X does not use, and it is very hard. CrossFit had an appeal that has subsequently ballooned into the fastest-growing business opportunity for gym owners in the history of the industry.

Each of these gyms (I’m sorry, but I cannot call them “boxes”) has bars, bumper plates, racks of some sort, and the platform space to do the basic exercises that comprise effective strength training. And each of them also offers a place to do the WOD that all the other CrossFitters around the world are doing that day. But if they’ll let you, each gym also is a place where you can do very productive strength training.

CrossFit also constitutes nothing less than a total revolution in the potential for the development of Olympic weightlifting in the United States, so far in excess of Bob Hoffman’s wildest dreams that the English language fails to describe its importance.

For example, in 2004 there was one place to do the snatch and the clean & jerk in the entire Dallas Ft. Worth Metroplex: Tom Witherspoon’s garage. Before, six million people/Tom Witherspoon’s garage. Now, 10 years later, there are no less than 40 CrossFit affiliates – probably 41, since I’ve been typing a while. USA Weightlifting has yet to capitalize on this unique opportunity, for reasons beyond the scope of this article. Nonetheless, the amazing opportunity remains in place.

So, no matter what other derogatory stuff I or anybody else says about it, CrossFit has provided more people with access to barbells and the motivation to lift them than any other single factor in the past hundred years. Our company (Aasgaard), Rogue Fitness, York Barbell, Lululemon, Robb Wolf, ten or so shoe companies and chalk and tape manufacturers, several dozen Olympic weightlifting coaches, hundreds of grass-fed beef suppliers, and tens of thousands of commercial space landlords have all benefited from the existence and phenomenal expansion of CrossFit.

We will all be forever grateful for the work.

The Bad

CrossFit – the program on the website and the methods taught at their “certs” – is Exercise, not Training. Exercise is physical activity for its own sake, a workout done for the effect it produces today, during the workout or right after you’re through. Training is physical activity done with a longer-term goal in mind, the constituent workouts of which are specifically designed to produce that goal.

Exercise is fun today. Well, it may not be fun, but you’ve convinced yourself to do it today because you perceive that the effect you produce today is of benefit to you today. You “smashed” or “crushed” or “smoked” that workout… today. Same as the kids in front of the dumbbell rack at the gym catching an arm pump, the workout was about how it made you feel, good or bad, today.

In contrast, Training is about the process you undertake to generate a specific result later, maybe much later, the workouts of which are merely the constituents of the process. Training may even involve a light day that you perceive to be a waste of time if you only consider today.

CrossFit is a random exposure to a variety of different movements at different intensities, most of which are done for time, i.e. as many reps as possible in a stipulated time period or a stipulated number of reps done as fast as possible. As such, it is Exercise, not Training, since it is random, and Training requires that we plan what we are going to do to get ready for a specific task.

Different physical tasks require different physical adaptations; running 26.2 miles is obviously a different task than squatting 700 pounds, and the two efforts require completely different physical adaptations. If a program of physical activity is not designed to get you stronger or faster or better conditioned by producing a specific stress to which a specific desirable adaptation can occur, you don’t get to call it training. It is just exercise.

For most people, exercise is perfectly adequate – it’s certainly better than sitting on your ass. For people who perceive themselves as merely housewives, salesmen, or corporate execs, and for most personal training clients and pretty much everybody who can afford a CrossFit membership, exercise is fine. CrossFit sells itself by advertising the random part: random is not boring, and not-boring gets people to come back. Coming back while doing the diet at the same time gets you abs. CrossFit is largely about abs.

CrossFit is also about the concept of “community” – the reinforcement of behavior through group participation and group approval. I understand this quite intimately, because I have met some of the best people I have ever known through CrossFit, the vast majority of whom are still friends even though I’m no longer associated with CrossFit formally. A better-than-average group of people that likes you and helps you be better is a very powerful motivator for improvement, and CrossFit: The Community provides this in abundance.

These two very powerful motivating factors – non-boring and in-group social dynamics – working together, do the best job of reinforcing workout adherence that has ever been brought to play in the fitness industry. In fact, CrossFit operates, in this important respect, in a way that is completely opposite to the industry paradigm of sell-’em-and-run-’em-off.

But this active retainment of members actually using the gym creates a unique problem for CrossFit facilities that no one else in the standard fitness industry has to face: the post-novice trainee.

As you are obviously aware (since you have memorized my books), a novice trainee is one for whom recovery from each workout is possible within a very short timeframe – 48 hours or so. This is because untrained people are unadapted people, and for unadapted people anything that’s harder than what they’ve been doing causes an adaptation.

This is why CrossFit works so well for the vast majority of the people that start it: for the first time, an exercise program causes them to experience rapid improvement… at first. Then the problem with CrossFit becomes obvious.

CrossFit is not Training. It is Exercise. And exercise – even poorly-programmed random flailing-around in the floor for time – causes progress to occur, for a while. For the novice, CrossFit Exercise mimics the effects of Training, because it’s hard and because stress causes adaptation. Then, progress slows, since the Laws of Physiology cannot be ignored. The more you adapt to physical stress, the stronger and fitter you become. And the stronger and fitter you become, the more difficult it is to get more strong and more fit, because the easy part of the process has already occurred.

This is called the Principle of Diminishing Returns, and is evident throughout nature and your own experiences, if you have paid attention. Once the low-hanging fruit have been picked, you have to get a ladder, and then you might need a helicopter – and each increase in complexity yields less fruit, dammit.

And this is precisely where CrossFit: The Methodology falls apart. Once a person has adapted beyond the ability of random stress applied frequently under time constraints to cause further improvement, progress stalls. And increasing the intensity of the random stress doesn’t work either – that just gets you hurt because you haven’t gotten stronger, and your heart and lungs can only work at about 200 BPM and about 50 RPM.

Further progress must be based on an analysis of the adaptation you want to create, and a program of Training for the purpose of causing that adaptation to occur must be correctly designed and followed. Beyond a certain point, random physical stress fails to continue to elicit a favorable adaptation.

CrossFit appeals to many people because it claims to be about doing everything well and nothing perfectly. Humans cannot excel at everything, as evidenced by the individual performances within the Decathlon as compared to the specialists’ performances in those events. But at some point, even people who don’t want to excel at anything in particular realize they aren’t really improving at anything in general. People motivated to get this far are also motivated to continue improving, and even if you want to be merely good at everything, there must be a way to continue to improve this general competence. “Mainsite CrossFit” cannot drive this improvement beyond a certain point.

This is precisely why the advanced athletes who win and place at the CrossFit Games do not use CrossFit website programming to achieve advanced levels of the strength and conditioning necessary to perform at that level. None of them. This is widely known and freely admitted by everyone not involved with the company. All athletes at advanced levels must Train intelligently to advance, and CrossFit: The Methodology doesn’t do the job.

Strength is an excellent example of a physical characteristic that drives improvement in other athletic parameters. More strength means more power, more endurance, better coordination, and better everything else. This is why, all other things being equal, the stronger athlete is the better athlete.

You can get stronger for a while doing random exercise, but everyone who has tried it knows that at some point you have to put more weight on the bar and lift it on a regular, programmed basis that obeys the rules of adaptive physiology and logic. You have to plan to get stronger by doing things that require that you be stronger, while not doing things that interfere with the process. Random WOD CrossFit is not good at making this happen – or even allowing it to happen.

So, the program that’s very good at getting people to stay involved is also very good at getting people to the point where the same random exposure to hard physical stress no longer works, and must become non-random in order that progress continues to be made. For many CrossFitters, exercise will always be enough. But for many others, CrossFit takes them to the point where CrossFit isn’t good enough anymore. For them, Exercise leads to Training, and CrossFit is merely Exercise.

In other words, CrossFit has an inherent problem that it cannot seem to solve.

The Ugly

Why can’t CrossFit: The Business Model solve the problem? Because it doesn’t want to. Hell, it doesn’t need to: at eight to ten completely sold-out Level I “certs” every weekend, each of which may enroll 50 participants at $1000 each, it would be very difficult to convince any sane person that CrossFit has any problems at all.

Here’s one aspect of the problem: how many of these approximately 500 people failed? How many certified CF Level I “coaches” are actually qualified to coach CrossFit or anything else? How many have the experience to understand The Bad – the limitations of WOD programming – and how to correct it?

Any organization which grows this fast will have problems. Among the more serious problems that CrossFit has are the injuries. Shoulders, Achilles tendons, rhabdomyolysis, and all the other things that are the potential result of overtraining an athlete who cannot continue to adapt to randomly applied and sometimes very intense physical stress. These are potentially life-altering exposures to needless trauma that can be prevented by not doing stupid shit to people who don’t know any better than to do what they’re told.

NFL players get injured. So do almost all professional athletes. In fact, every competitive athlete faces the prospect of injury, because that is the price paid for shifting the focus from merely doing to winning. The risk/reward ratio has been calculated and allowed for.

CrossFitters get injured while exercising in the gym. Most are upset when this happens, but some of them regard these injuries as a marker of status – as though the injury itself confers some elite level of athletic accomplishment to a set of pull-ups. It may be a torn callus or a torn cuff tendon – any injury represents a setback in an actual training program, while for a CrossFitter it may be regarded as evidence that something wonderful has been achieved.

People working very hard at high-intensity high-volume physical tasks are going to get hurt, no matter why they’re doing the work. One of the reasons that Training results in long-term improvement is that it properly assesses the current state of the athlete and logically plans for improvement in a way that is sustainable, safe, specific to the goal, and therefore productive. Random exposure to varying levels of volume, intensity, rest, technical complexity, and power output cannot be sustainable, safe, specific, and productive.

You know the Hamill study, published in the JSCR that evaluates the risk of injury in various athletic activities? The one that found that “weight training” was one of the safest activities in the spectrum? CrossFit actually has the potential to change this.

The Ugly is that some freshly-minted CrossFit coaches recognize this Training/Exercise problem, even if they can’t articulate its cause, and attempt to address the situation by simply adding to the intensity. Adding weight to already fatiguing ballistic movements is dangerous, and you’re not being a pussy if you recognize the fact that this is not always a good idea.

Weighted high-rep 24-inch box jumps for time are a potentially very dangerous dose of stress, from both a metabolic and structural perspective, made even more dangerous in combination with several other high-rep movements that can fatigue the athlete in the short-term and produce high levels of tendon and muscle inflammation in the long-term.

Is everybody who passed that CF Level I Cert last weekend actually capable of evaluating which of the people in the class should do this workout, even if they can?

The Ugly is that one of the best things that has ever happened to strength and conditioning is also one of the worst things that can happen to some very good people. People who are committed to you because you have shown them progress and because they are part of your group will do things because you tell them to. This is unfortunately true, people being people, and it has gotten some of them badly hurt.

A Coach is supposed to know better than to place people in a position to get hurt by asking them to do things they can’t or shouldn’t do. The fact that everybody all over the world is doing these things today should not matter to a Coach.

There are hundreds of very good CrossFit affiliates across the country and around the world, staffed by very good coaches with more-than-adequate experience and excellent judgement about all matters regarding exercise and training, which to use, and who to use it with. I know many of these people, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that they know what they’re doing.

The Ugly is that there are many thousands of CrossFit affiliates around the world and hundreds of new “coaches” each weekend. Think about this very carefully.

Original HERE.


Why Grains Aren’t That Healthy



It Will All End With Thunderous Applause

Much has been written about ObamaCare lately.  One of the key points regarding this monstrosity of a law is what a failure it has been.  Rates are going up, it is discouraging doctors from continuing to practice, insurance companies are dropping plans and companies are laying off/firing people because of it.  To label it as anything other than an utter disaster that is still only in its epic fail infancy is to be a blind Obongo follower.

obama followers

Many of the coversative talkies are labeling it a magnificent disaster.  And in many ways it is, the utter failure may open the eyes of some fence-sitting hoi polloi.  They may take the red pill and realize that government fails at protecting our liberty, keeping us safe, running the post office, dmv etc… and lean towards smaller government.
But I am not buying that either, I lack faith in the delusional masses, particularly the ones that follow party lines.

delusional masses

The rethuglicans are not pro-liberty; they are pro-tyranny just like the progladyte libtard dimmwittocrats.  The difference being they favor their version of the welfare/warfare state.  They are not against coercion, only that it should be used to meet their edicts, not the demands of their criminals from across the aisle.

police state is here

I have a question, what does a failure by government almost always lead to?
Answer:  Government being tasked with finding a solution.  And many times the same people that caused or exacerbated the original problem are on these task forces and committees.

govt healthcare panel

Fuckers like this

When I witness a disaster like ObamaCare I have to ask myself, was it a result of incompetence or evil intentions (or some combination of both).  What if the Affordable Care Act and it’s implementation was a magnificent disaster by design?

government solutions

I can already hear Obama declaring that the ACA was a failure because it compromised the benevolent goal of truly socialized medicine/single payer system for all and the only path forward is to accept another solution.  The rationale trumpeted from the LSM will be that it simply didn’t go far enough and High Chancellor Obama will assure us this will  be rectified (which ironically will cause rectal pain for the majority of us).

obamacare suppositories

It has never been more important to become a healthy self-sustaining person.  Read books and learn valuable skills.  All the gold and silver isn’t worth jacksh!t in a chaos scenario, survival will be the only initial goal.  The smartest investment one can make is in themselves and their family; the human capital.  This is what we will all fight for until the bitter end and therefore the most valuable asset.  This is why those in power are hell-bent on destroying these things through television, social media and government schooling.
Learn to build things, repair things, shoot, fight, farm, think for yourself and become a healthy individual; meet and interact with like minded people.  I think the system and way of life we are accustomed to is not long for this world.

Once liberty takes its last breath it will likely be followed by thunderous applause of our sinister owners and the hoi polloi.  Chaos and unadulterated tyranny will be waiting at our doorstep.


Shut Up And Squat

shut up and squat

Squats are a great workout, hits multiple muscles, works on stabilizing muscles and is practical in the real world.  I highly recommend them:

girl squats more than you

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