Sunday, September 24, 2017

DON'T WAIT - preorder your Fall Shirts now!


Lauren finalized her winning design and we have it all set to print. For our special edition Fall Shirts we are offering a long sleeve baseball shirt, a lightweight (t-shirt weight) hoodie, short sleeve shirts (men's and women's), and tank tops. Custom Ink's new website gives us many more options for our group order forms, so we can offer you many more choices.



You have one week to get your order placed. If you preorder now, you'll get the shirts at cost. If I order any extras, you won't be able to get them at cost - you don't want to be the only one without the new design.

Lauren - don't order any shirts, I'll place yours separately since you're the winner and you get them free!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Democritization of Healthy Foods


I've been thinking about changes in the marketplace recently. My (sub-)generation has a unique perspective on the world. Those of you who were born +/- a year or two from me grew up in a pretty tech-free environment (you remember card catalogs and getting paper copies of things at the library), but you were young enough when tech exploded that you were able to learn it well and integrate it into your life seamlessly.  I remember the single semester in college that the entire campus shifted from dial-up modems to talk to the VAX to a fully networked Windows NT campus (that would look familiar to the kids these days).

In the world of computers and media this transition is "done". If you're older than me, you are comfortable having three choices for TV (NBC, CBS, and ABC). You got your news from one of those three places, and you watched sitcoms from one of those three places. The lack of choice meant that there was only money in the hits. You couldn't afford to offend anyone and you had to appeal to the everyone's taste. It also meant that it drove tastes and the country was much more homogenized because of it.  If you're younger than me, you watch what you want when you want on Netflix. Since there are virtually endless channels, there's actually more money in the tails - that is, if you add up all of the non-hits that are watched, there are more total people watching non-hits than hits.

This is old news popularized in the book, The Long Tail and well-monetized by Amazon. Remember when Amazon was just a book seller? Rather than having to cater to hit books at physical stores, Amazon could have a deep catalog of non-hits, and that obviously worked out for them.  Hidden in the Amazon (and Netflix) model is that they have "big data", which means that not only do they have aggregated data on how many people buy/watch something, they also know who bought/watched what, when, how many times, and what else they liked. Netflix actively produces content to contain attributes that their big data tells them will be popular - that is, your TV (binge) watching habit determines what will get produced, rather than the old producer-centric model where you watch what you were given.

So what does all of this have to do with food? You're going to see a similar change in food production/consumption that I saw in media production/consumption. And I think this is a great change that's going to have a dramatic (positive) effect on our health. Right now the majority of people (those not in our weird Boulder bubble) go to either a Safeway or Kroger store (they own just about everything) and get the same pre-packaged food from one of the major suppliers (Tyson, Nestle, Kraft, General Mills, ConAgra, ...). There's only money in the hits. Everyone eats the same thing because everyone is offered the same thing. It's just like media consumption of my childhood. Fundamentally, that's why its hard for folks like me to make a change in your diet - your choices are limited to what you can buy. Culturally, you don't want to be the weird one with a weird diet - if it's at the supermarket, it's normal.

So now we have Amazon buying Whole Foods. Amazon, the king of big data analytics and long tail marketing. Whole Foods, the king of food quality, food choice, and most importantly, transparency of the whole food chain (where most places what to hide what you're eating, you can get SKU-level detail from Whole Foods on anything they have in stock). Whole Foods is profitable selling to the long tail, whether you're a hard-core meat-eating paleo caveman or a raw vegan, you can easily find what you need there.

Netflix flipped the media to be demand-driven rather than producer-driven. I see the same thing happening in food. There are enough of us in the long tail, and Amazon has the purchasing power that we can change the food system to be demand-driven. If we want grass-fed steak and non-GMO veggies, we can get it.

Amazon didn't pay me for this article (though, if they wanted to, they have enough money to...Jeff are you reading?), I just live in the world of data and see how data can change production. I lived through (and helped to develop) the first data-driven revolution, and now I see it happening again. Keep buying your non-CAFO, non-GMO, all organic stuff - the algorithms will see it and we can change the production side.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

squat 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

2 pull-ups + 2 dips between strength sets

Group Workout

50 hand to hand kettlebell swing at a challenging weight

then

5 rounds:
10 Burpees 
20 weighted lunges
0:45 rest

then

2 minute plank hold, break into 0:30 sets of maximum tension and effort 



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Monday, September 18, 2017

The penultimate week of this strength cycle

Kevin - 48 kilo TGU (attempt)
This week we go up to heavy singles in the strength program. Next week we deload followed by retest. If you're thinking about joining the next cycle, now's the time to start thinking about it.




Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

clean 5-3-3-3x3

Accessory/Skill

2 windmills between strength sets

Group Workout

5 rounds:
10 double kettlebell clean
challenge yourself with weight

then 

5 rounds:
sprint to the red door and back
10 kettlebell swings

then

2 minute superman hold



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Friday, September 15, 2017

Why be Strong and Healthy?


Watching the Harvey and Irma coverage on the news got me thinking back to the times I have been evacuated for wildfires, mudslides (due to devegation from those wildfires), and even the inconvenience of having my basement flooded from the rains a couple of years ago. None of those has been as bad as what the folks in Texas and Florida have to deal with, but I do share some of their feelings. As I look back at those times, being physically strong and healthy made those events go so much better - I had to get out of the truck and move boulders in the dark to open the mountain road enough to get through while Amy was 7-months pregnant, for example.

Why do you train at the gym? Do you want to be the one that's out there helping folks after a black swan event? Or do you want to be the one who needs to be rescued - potentially endangering your rescuers? I know where I want to be (my brother always says that nothing cheers me up like a good disaster - I like to be out there, but I'm weird).  It's not all about vanity or even just living longer (good reasons to be strong) - it's about being able to be a service to your community.

Get strong, keep your mobility, and don't be the one who needs saving - be ready to get out there and help your community. Even if we don't get a real disaster, at least you can shovel your neighbor's sidewalk this winter.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

press 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

5 Bulgarian split squats between strength sets

Group Workout

spend 15 minutes climbing to a new kettlebell snatch max where POSITION GOVERNS WEIGHT - there is no point in sloppy reps

then

4 rounds:
5L, 5R one interval down from heaviest above 
rest as needed between sets

then

2 minute double kettlebell rack hold



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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hiking in Sandals


Earlier this week there were 3 of us who had on minimal shoes for class - that I noticed. As you guys know I'm a huge fan of any shoe that gives you no support or heel.

[Disclaimer: I love Xero Shoes so much that I set us up as an affiliate (check the link out below) and invested in their company - in either case your buying the shoes will make me a millionaire.


As the summer winds down we've been doing some extra hikes before winter claims our souls. Generally, I hike with Illy plus all of the extra water and snacks in the backpack. It's probably 35ish pounds on my back. Lately I've transitioned to the most minimal (and cheapest!) sandal that Xero has. It's just some paracord and a 5mm rubber sole. They've been great for me even with steep, rocky terrain, and a heavy backpack. I can actually actively use my feet to grip rocks and control the descent. I've never felt more stable - even in full mountaineering boots!  That's not surprising; I've talked before about how giving your feet direct feedback tells your brain what's going on and makes everything better. What did surprise me was the energy savings from my brain knowing what was going on.

Before, when I hiked in boots, especially with a backpack on, I would have to step up onto a rock, pause for a few milliseconds, catch my balance and then finish the step. I never really noticed the pause-and-rebalance it until it wasn't there. Normally I would credit my strong posterior chain from all the deadlifts for helping with the smooth step-up on rocks that I'm now experiencing, but I've been strong for more than the last year - so it can't be only that (though that does help a lot!).  The only way I can describe it is that I can walk up or down on rocky terrain just as smoothly as flat terrain. It's almost like I have wheels and not legs.

The energy savings was really noticeable on our last hike which started at 10,000 ft. Even after 18 years here, I still feel the effects of altitude pretty quickly, and climbing at 10,000 ft really sucks. As we started our climb, I was bracing for the slow grind up the rocks, but it never came. I just kept stepping and climbing - slowly but steadily - and I still had enough energy to yell at the crazy kids.

I'm a true minimalist, and that's why I like the Xero sandals, but Amy gets the same effect in the Prio shoe. The added safety from the control and the energy savings are direct benefits, but wearing a minimal shoe will also help your joint alignment for the long term.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

front squat 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

2 TGUs between strength sets

Group Workout

5 rounds at a challenging weight:
5 goblet squats
5 swings

then 

4 rounds:
10 inchworm + push up

then

2 minute hollow hold



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lauren Wins!


Lauren's design is the winner for the fall shirt. You guys are a grumpy bunch, this was the only design with more than 50% yes votes.

She's going to touch it up and then we'll get the pre-order form out. Pre-orders will get it at cost. It will be a limited edition and we won't print a second run, so don't miss out.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

deadlift 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

5 heavy swings between strength sets

Group Workout

EMOM 10:
10 kettlebell swings at a challenging weight 

then 

5 rounds:
15 box jumps
10 push ups

then

2 minute hollow hold



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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Don't go to a gym that looks like a gym

Image stolen from here.
My favorite math blogger (yes, I do have a favorite math blogger) posted this yesterday. It's a great introduction to an insidious bias that we encounter everyday but don't realize. The gist is that when you have a selection based on a sum of two independent properties that the properties become negatively correlated.

Huh?

The linked article tells the story of Hollywood actors. Let's say that there are two criteria that are needed to select a person off the street and make them an actor: 1) how pretty they are and 2) how talented they are. A very pretty person can get away with a small amount of talent and still be "good enough" to be an actor. Likewise a really talented actor can be not pretty if they are really good. What we see is that prettiness and talent are negatively correlated. But that's because we're not observing the entire population, we're only observing those who were selected.

When I read that, I thought I had a brilliant insight: don't go to a fancy gym because fanciness is negatively correlated with quality of instruction, or more simply: don't go to a gym that looks like a gym. A gym can either have a large fancy open space with the newest fanciest equipment that Rogue has for sale, cold-plunge pools, use awesome stock photos in their social media ads, and offer slick 6-week challenges (for a limited time only!) every other month. Or they can offer boring programming that slowly gets you strong with only barbells and a cranky owner who turns off the fans in the middle of summer because the noise bothers him. Of the gyms that survive, the fancy ones are necessarily worse than the boring ones - the math says so.

So after I wrote that, I read a comment on the original post that linked to a pre-print of a chapter in Taleb's new book entitled "Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons."  It's the same idea, you want folks who don't look the part because if they made it, they had to be that much better than those who do look the part. Of course the last section of that chapter is "Real Gyms Don’t Look Like Gyms."

So I wasn't original and clever at all!

Here's that last section copied here since I know most of you don't follow my links (go read that chapter, it really is worth reading!).
This education labeling – which provides a lot of cosmetic things but most certainly misses something essential about antifragility and true learning – is reminiscent of gyms. People are impressed with expensive equipment, fancy, complicated, multicolored, meant to look as if it belonged to space ships. It is made to appear maximally sophisticated and scientific – but remember that what looks scientific is usually scientism not science. As with label universities, you pay quite a bit of money, largely for the benefit of the real estate developer. Yet people into strength training (those who are actually strong across many facets of real life) know that users of these machines gain no strength beyond the initial phase – and have known that for at least two and a half millennia. In fact, by having recourse to complicated equipment that typically target very few muscles, regular users will eventually pear-shape and get weaker over time, with skills that do not transfer outside of the very machine that they trained on. The equipment may have some use in a hospital or a rehabilitation program, not for regular people. For, on the other hand, the simpler barbell equipment (a metal bar with two weights on both ends) is the only one that gets you to recruit your entire body for exercises – and it is the simplest and cheapest to get. All you need is to learn the safety skills to move off the floor the heavier piece of metal you can lift while avoiding injury.



Warm-up

row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips

Strength

squat 8-5-3x5

Accessory/Skill

2 pull-ups + 2 dips between strength sets

Group Workout

6 rounds:
5L, 5R kettlebell front squat 

then 

6 rounds as quickly as possible:
5 pull ups
5 push ups

then 

2 minutes of v-ups



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