The Problem with Wheat

In my job as the “coach” in Trail Runner Magazine I have the great pleasure to communicate with top scientists, sports royalty, and the authors of the books I read. Some very famous and more importantly smart people actually talk to me, mostly because I write for a national magazine.

Cardiologist, and New York Times best selling author of “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” Dr William Davis was an expert for a question in my column about wheat. His full response was worth sharing here… so here it is.
It’s not just every runner who has a problem with wheat, but every human has problems. And it is not just about gluten. Let me explain. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, efforts to increase the yield of wheat via a variety of genetic techniques resulted in the creation of an 18-inch tall high-yield, “semi-dwarf” strain that boosted yields by up to 10-fold. But the changes introduced for increased yield resulted in changes in many other genetic and biochemical characteristics of the plant. 

One protein that has undergone extensive change is gliadin. In addition to causing mind “fog,” addictive relationships with food, and appetite-stimulation, it is a highly inflammatory protein. Research at the University of Maryland, for instance, demonstrates that gliadin opens the normal intestinal barriers to foreign substances in the intestinal tract and thereby leads to inflammation of many organs, including joints. This is at least part of the explanation for why wheat consumption is associated with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditism. 

There’s also wheat germ agglutinin. In addition to causing direct bowel toxicity that can be experienced as acid reflux or bowel urgency, it also gains access to the bloodstream and inflames joints, causing joint stiffness and pain. 

Then there’s amylopectin A, the “complex” carbohydrate unique to wheat that acts more like a simple sugar like sucrose, sending blood sugar sky-high after just 2 slices of whole wheat bread. High blood sugars cause an irreversible change to the proteins of the body called “glycation.” The proteins of the cartilage of your joints, such as knees, hips, and back, undergo glycation, making cartilage stiff and brittle, leading to cartilage erosion and, eventually, arthritis. 

That’s just a sample of what modern semi-dwarf wheat, the creation of genetics research, can do to humans, runners included. So it is no surprise that, by eliminating wheat, you felt better in a number of ways. The key: No human should be consuming this product of genetics research, else you pay a substantial health price. Because runners are among the healthiest of people, given their devotion to exercise and health, elimination of wheat is among the most powerful strategies to adopt for overall health and performance. 

Bill”

An interview on CBS with Dr. Davis.

Wasatch Backcountry Photos – December 2012

December, in the Wasatch Backcountry… on skis.

Can I ski more than a three year old? I hope so, but the running joke has been that I am being handily beaten by Ann and Andy’s three year old daughter for days on skis. I may have gotten a late start, but I’m making up for it (plus, I’ve learned how to trash talk a lil’ kid). I just can’t let these photos wither on harddrives, to be forgotten — so each month, I’ll share the best shots we get.

Days Fork Tree Dec 12: Photo by Andy Paradis
Evan Caplis droppin’ a knee: Photo by Andy Paradis

Chad Brackelsberg setting the bookpack, he enjoys this type of thing. Photo by Matt Hart
Ann Paradis charging, she enjoys this type of thing: Photo by Andy Paradis

Chad Brackelsberg & Andy Paradis skinning up, to ski down: Photo by Matt Hart

Andy & Chad bootpacking to Lake Peak; He dislikes this type of thing: Photo by Matt Hart
Chad Brackelsberg skinning: Photo by Andy Paradis
Peter Adler West Couloir Kessler Peak: Photo by Matt Hart 

Evan Caplis, buried: Photo by Andy Paradis
Andy Paradis schralping: Photo Matt Hart
Matt Hart & Andy Paradis skinning in White Pine Dec : Photo by Evan Caplis

Peter Adler & Matt Hart about to ski the Catcher’s Mitt off Kessler Peak – Dec 30: Photo by Evan Caplis

What I Read: Alex Hutchinson

Someone who doesn’t read gets about the same education as someone who can’t. Where you get your information seems of vital importance to how you see the world. We are bombarded with information, and misinformation all day long. I’m fascinated by how people wade through the deluge, when and where they consume, and how they structure their work-life around it. TheAtlanticWire has this wonderful series called Media Diet that I read religiously. They focus on the reading habits of “prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world”. I’m going to steal this idea from them, however my focus will be on prominent figures in athletics, nutrition, and health.

This essay is from Alex Hutchinson, a former physicist and national-class runner, who writes Sweat Science for Runner’s World MagazineAlex has won a National Magazine Award for science journalism, and his latest book is called Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Fitness Myths, Training Truths and Other Surprising Discoveries from the Science of Exercise.  ~ Matt Hart


I should start by saying that my media diet is affected by the fact that I’m currently (but temporarily) living in Australia. It’s funny how that changes what I read. I’ve been dividing my time between Canada and Australia for four years now, while my wife completes a degree. It means that paper subscriptions to magazines are essentially an impossibility, and that means that I miss a lot of stuff that I would check regularly if I were stably based in one place. It’s not that it’s impossible to get those things here – it’s just that a bit of minor inconvenience is enough to drop some otherwise good content off the radar.

On the flip side, it can be pretty valuable – and surprising – to learn what you can live without. Like many people, I’m sure – especially people who write for a living – I sometimes find it a struggle to get the right balance between staying informed and spending all my time reading (and envying!) other people’s work.

I wake up reasonably early, around 6 or 6:30, and immediately flick on my computer to check email and respond to anything urgent before the end of North American business hours. Then I check the websites of The New YorkTimes and The Globe and Mail, both of which I pay to subscribe to online. I’ll read a few articles, then head out for my run with my wife. For the rest of the day, I’ll be checking those two websites very regularly, as distractions/breaks between bits or work. I tend to read most of what appears on the main page of the Times, and rely heavily on the most-emailed list, which I find is a pretty damn good filter of what’s interesting. (In contrast, the Globe’s most-emailed list tends to be dominated by anything remotely titillating. I haven’t figured out whether that’s a difference in audience or site moderation!)

Most of my work these days involves writing about scientific research related to fitness, training, and health. I try to keep up with some of the journals in the field – primarily British Journal of Sports Medicine, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, and European Journal of Applied Physiology. I’ll do a round to skim their tables of contents and preprints once every week or two. I also do a round of blogs to see what people are saying – people like Amby Burfoot (whose exerscience Twitter feed is also a great resource), Yoni Freedhoff, Pete Larson, Steve Magness, the Science of Sport guys, the Obesity Panaceaguys, Stephan Guyenet. I also find Twitter often sends me to interesting places, and I’ll end up spending half an hour reading a blog that I don’t follow regularly.

As a big running fan, I also end up checking Letsrun and the Runnersworldsite, among other places, pretty close to hourly. Say what you will about Letsrun, but they do a very good job curating good content from across the runningsphere. There are a lot of excellent running sites that I don’t need to check regularly, because I’m confident that Letsrun will flag the stuff I’d be interested in.

For pleasure (I can make a case that the running stuff is “work,” though it’s pushing it a bit), my first go-to is The New Yorker, which I read essentially cover to cover every issue. That’s what I’ll read over lunch, if I need a break during the day, and in bed before sleeping. I bought a Kindle specifically so that I could get The New Yorker instantly, wherever I happen to be in the world – and carry as many issues of the inevitable backlog as I need to! These days I read less fiction than I’d like to; the last novel I read was “Cutting for Stone“, by Abraham Verghese. I do find myself reading a fair amount of nonfiction that’s peripherally work-related; right now I’m in the middle of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. (Both are great, by the way.)

I don’t consume much of other forms of media. I don’t like video on the web, at least for information that could be conveyed just as well with text, like interviews. It’s just way too slow and inefficient. My wife and I will typically watch a half-hour of TV after dinner to unwind. Sometimes it’s something being broadcast, but mostly it’s a series on DVD. And if there’s a good marathon or track meet being streamed from somewhere in the world, we’ll find time for that!

Runner’s World Magazine: Alex Hutchinson’s “What I Read” essay 


Others from the Media Diet: What I Read Series



Matt Hart
Endurance Coach, Athlete and Writer


Dr. Ben Lewis
UltraRunner, Doctor and Banjo Player

A Master in the Art of Living

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

~ Francois Auguste Rene Chateaubriand (French writer, politician, diplomat and historian)

Running in Southern Utah

Some great last minute advice from a friend made these photos, and an amazing few days in the desert even better. Two days and about 40 miles of amazing trail.

Druid Arch
photo by Evan Honeyfield

photo by Evan Honeyfield

Confluence Overlook
photo by Evan Honeyfield

photo by Evan Honeyfield

“Fast” Evan Honeyfield put together this video, which happens to cover two weekends of running with Sarah and I, check it out.

Dude, You Fucked Me Up a Little Bit

This clip from Joe Rogan’s podcast spoke to me so much I had to share it. It’s a conversation between two stand-up comedians, but it’s infinitely applicable. I can’t distill it any better than it is already presented here. I could have said this word for word to friends Jared Campbell (after last years Barkley) and years ago to Steve Copson (at the beginning stages of my [former-life] software career). Thank you both.

You must surround yourself with these people.

“Dude, I gotta be honest with you. You fucked me up a little bit.” 

“My friend is doing something really special here. I know I have something in me, and I’m not living up to it. And being around him reminds me of the fact that I’m not living my fuckin life.”


“100% of all haters in the world are unrealized potential.” 
“There is no scarcity.” 
… thanks to Bobbie Hackenbruck for sharing this video.

What I Read: Dr. Ben Lewis

Ben Lewis

Someone who doesn’t read gets about the same education as someone who can’t. Where you get your information seems of vital importance to how you see the world. We are bombarded with information, and misinformation all day long. I’m fascinated by how people wade through the deluge, when and where they consume, and how they structure their work life around it. TheAtlanticWire has this wonderful series called Media Diet, that I read religiously. They focus on the reading habits of “prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world”. I’m going to steal this idea from them, however my focus will be on prominent figures in athletics, nutrition, and health.  ~ Matt Hart


When my polymath friend and running partner Matt Hart asked me to write an entry for his series I quickly agreed to contribute to what sounded like a neat project.  Some quick accounting in the following minutes however led to some bleak conclusions: that after eight fairly intense years of medical education and now two years of fatherhood my consumption of the written word is not particularly broad nor — discounting the specific reading I do to stay current in my medical field — deep. I spend a good amount of time these days with Goodnight Moon[1]. More incriminating, I spend more than my fair share of time in bed in the evening watching Netflix on my laptop, perusing YouTube clips of Zach Galifianakis, or scanning inane running blogs while my wife is wholly immersed in some imposing looking work of modern fiction[2]. If nothing else, writing this piece (and reading other entries on Matt’s blog) will jar loose some of the rust and nourish my now atrophied and stilted brain.  

This state of affairs is not without precedent. I would estimate that until the age of 18 my predominant sources of the written word were Calvin and Hobbes, cereal boxes, and my well-worn and yellowed copy of Once a Runner[3]. An unusual preamble to becoming a literature and philosophy major but there you have it.

I’m now an inpatient psychiatrist at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute so a good portion of my reading these days centers around staying current by reading major journals in the field and papers relevant to patient care — the details of which are likely uninteresting for a wider audience. I co-teach several courses for resident physicians including a psychopathology course and a psychodynamics course and so end up doing some reading in these domains so as to have at least one or two intelligent things to say. My research interests are in the philosophy of psychiatry and I do a fair bit of reading and writing in this area — as of late focusing mainly on the application of Daniel Dennett’s work in philosophy of mind to certain questions of classification and methodology in psychiatry and in how issues of social construction come to bear on conceptualizations of mental illness (relevant books here include Consciousness Explained, The Intentional StanceSweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness, Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds, Freedom Evolves by Dennett or The Social Construction of What? and Mad Travelers by Ian Hacking).  My default interests are in philosophy so I’m generally not very far from some book or set of papers in this domain.  Currently I’m reading Free Will by Sam Harris#.

I should read more fiction.  Favorite authors include Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, Milan Kundera, Virginia Woolf, Wallace Stegner, Vladimir Nabokov.  

All things considered I’m a pretty skeptical dude and this carries over even into my professional life.  Over the last several months I’ve been on a kick of reading several recent popular press books largely critical of psychiatry and psychopharmacology as a whole: Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker, The Loss of Sadness by Jerome Wakefield, The Emperor’s New Drugs by Irving Kirsch, and Unhinged by Daniel Carlat.  While I can’t fully ascribe to all of the critical arguments put forth in these books, I find — and always have found — it important to expose oneself to a variety of positions and to be ready to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water if needs be, however threatening that prospect is.

We also subscribe to a number of magazines — the enumeration of which is likely not dissimilar to scores of other white, liberal folks with college degrees who enjoy indie rock, farmers markets, and NPR: The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, Scientific American, and The Economist.[5]

Regular online reading I do includes the NY Times, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Huffington Post, www.thelastpsychiatrist.com, Pitchforkmedia.com, The Onion, Alex Hutchinson’s blog at RunnersWorld, RunningTimes, iRunFar, Letsrun.com, The Science of Sport,  Twitter-pated nuggets from Matt Hart, Trailrunner magazine,  www.scienceofrunning (Steve Magness’ blog), a number of familiar running blogs, VeloNews, Beer Advocate, and various and sundry Facebook status updates from estranged and unfamiliar high school classmates about what they ate for breakfast.


[1] Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
[2] We haven’t had television in over 10 years now. When confronted with discussions on pop culture TV I’ll mention this fact in an off-hand, if supercilious tone, not once acknowledging that I watched 3 back-to-back episodes of Louie on Netflix the night prior (which is hilarious and fantastic BTW).
[3] Which remains the best book on running ever written.
[4] One of my many heroes.
[5] Arranged in hierarchical order as to the proportion of the magazine read: I read The New Yorker cover to cover whereas I generally make it several sentences deep in any piece in The Economist before I am in at least Stage 3 sleep.  

Others from the Media Diet: What I Read Series

Matt Hart
Writer, Athlete, Coach

 

Alex Hutchinson
Runner’s World Sweat Science, National Magazine Award recipient for Science Journalism

Health Benefits of Running by Craig Lewis, MD

My friend and ultrarunner Dr. Ben Lewis forwarded this article to a few of his friends last week. His father wrote this originally for Central Maine Striders Newsletter, and has given me permission to post here.


Health Benefits of Running by Craig Lewis, MD
I have been collecting health-benefits-of-exercise articles for five decades.  But 2012 has been the Holy Grail.
Things had become embarrassing.  In recent years the health-benefits information has become so good that no reasonably skeptical person would believe it.  It is almost as if God herself  must be a runner and therefore wants to reward her special friends, fellow runners.  Why would Nature care so much whether or not we exercise?
But I no longer need to resort to metaphysical explanations.  I now, finally, understand why Nature demands that we exercise aerobically.  The explanation depends on our prehistory.  In fact, it dates back 500 million years.
In this country during this era we do not experience hunger or famine.  In the US even if a new Dust Bowl occurs, we will merely import our food from Brazil.  Perhaps we would not be so lucky if we lived in Somalia or Mozambique.  But through all of Earth’s  history there has been periodic bounty and cornucopia of food choices at times, and blight, drought, or just bad hunting at other times.  All species, and all multicellular organisms, not just humans, and not just animals, must have a strategy for dealing with an environment that is alternately generous and sparse.
Mediating over this fickle and often cruel world is an enzyme complex called TOR (Target of Rapamycin).  Just as the hormones insulin and insulin-derived growth factor regulate extracellular body resources, TOR controls intracellular resources.  Yeast TOR and human TOR are nearly identical.  When genes do not mutate much over half a billion years, then those genes necessarily serve some essential function.
Telomeres cap the ends of chromosomes

When the rains are good and the food gathering goes well, enzymic TOR activates.  When food supplies are abundant, organisms must stock up in anticipation of the next, say, poor hunt.  It is TOR that performs this service.  When TOR turns on, cells multiply (expending telomere length, unfortunately), organs regenerate and grow, fat cells plump up.  And it makes sense that during these good times, cell housekeeping functions are postponed.

When the DNA of cells is heavily mutated from a variety of sources, such as cosmic rays, PCBs, muon showers, or X-rays, or when cells expire their telomeres, those cells become nonfunctional.  We call them “senescent cells” or “zombie cells.”  Mutated cells present a potential existential threat because they are especially prone to malignant transformation.  These damaged and useless cells must be cleared away and there are simple systems available to allow them to undergo self-suicide, hari-kari, if you will, for the sake of the whole organism.  But if the body is anticipating the next famine, TOR instructs these cells to delay their self-immolation.  After all, in a period of hunger, these useless cells make good eating.  In times of hunger it is preferable to consume senescent cells rather than functional vital organ cells.  Recent human history is the only time in the history of our planet that organisms can traverse an entire lifetime and never once perform this essential housecleaning function.
When TOR is activated for long periods, senescent cells accumulate in all organs.  They sit there and release inflammatory mediators.  They sap the strength of muscles and make them sore.  If you’ve ever wondered why your pitiful nonrunning friends complain bitterly during a 200 yard jog, this is the explanation–their muscles are laden with senescent cells.  It is as if they all have fibromyalgia.
It is not just senescent cells that demand cleaning up.  Mitochondria, the cell powerhouses, gradually undergo oxidative damage.  Their cristae become ratty.  Activated TOR blocks the disposal of damaged mitochondria.
When the protein beta-amyloid misfolds in brain neurons, this protein and tau protein gum up neurons, which undergo degeneration and eventually die.  Eventually, Alzheimer Disease or other neurodegenerative syndromes ensue.  By the time most Americans are 25, tau and beta-amyloid are starting to accumulate.  By the time most Americans are 40, sulci, the spaces between their brain folds, are starting to widen.  These neurodegenerative diseases are a horrible waste.   As long as TOR is switched on, the body postpones clearing away beta-amyloid and tau protein.  Thus, the brains of your nonrunning friends, who don’t experience this cellular cleaning, are a veritable nightmare.
When starvation intervenes, TOR is switched off and these saved up resources start to be used.  It is as if a vacuum cleaner has been switched on.  Senescent cells, deformed proteins, and decrepit mitochondria are swept away.  And when TOR is off, then cell multiplication is kept to a minimum, preserving precious telomere length, thereby improving longevity of the individual.  You will recall that distance runners have 1/3 the telomere velocity of nonrunners.  Older runners have much longer telomeres than others do and this accounts in part for 16 years of greater longevity, their relatively youthful appearance as they age, the minimization of the period of disability during extreme age, and because of preservation of the immune system, some 20-fold decrease in infectious disease death rate.
Presumably, we could reap the benefits of a low-TOR state by perpetual near-starvation.  But this is nearly impossible to do and is extremely unpleasant.  What good would it do to live longer if you’re miserable?  Have you ever seen a person with anorexia nervosa smile? And a just-released primate study showed that  extremely low calorie diets did not improve longevity.  Perhaps the stress of daily hunger counteracted any potential longevity gain.  Whether periodic fasting would work remains to be shown–I suspect it might.  But if fasting does work, then how often and how long?
Running and aerobic exercise trick the body into thinking that it is resource deficient.  Running switches TOR off.  But unlike starvation, running makes us feel good, not bad.  And folks on extremely low calorie diets cannot run–they have no energy. 
Minimizing cell division and preserving telomere length may be a good overall strategy, but this might not work in all organs.  Especially in the brain it is important  to maintain new neuronal growth throughout our lives.  Because  low-TOR  blocks cell division, brains must have separate mechanisms to allow cell division even if TOR is low.  This is why the brain releases neuronal growth mediators during aerobic exercise.  There is actually an overcompensation.  I am a runner:  My hippocampi (responsible for short term memory) are the size of walnuts, shell on.  My nonrunning friends have hippocampi the size of pistachio nuts, shell off.  My neuronal mitotic index throughout my neocortex, but especially in my frontal lobes, is 3 times higher than for my friends.   Because cell division in brains is so much less than in other organs, telomere exhaustion is not an issue for brains as we age.
An enormous percentage of our population suffer depression.  Many of these folks are treated with SSRI’s–serotonin reuptake inhibitors– such as Prozac.  It has been believed for a long time that their mechanism of action is that they boost the concentration of serotonin in some synapses.  The inconvenient truth here, however, is that naturally there is a down regulation of post-synaptic serotonin receptors.  But there is now reason to believe that SSRI’s actually do their work by promoting neuronal growth, especially in the hippocampi.  It has always been true that a far more effective method of treating depression than medication has been daily aerobic exercise.
Until now our explanation for the necessity of exercise for the maintenance of health has been a hand waving  one that addresses human history back 1.7 million years, during which time our ancestors were not just runners, but universally ultra distance runners.  Now we know that systems that determine our mortality and morbidity long predate humans.
TOR research is in its infancy.  It gives us an enormously powerful tool to answer our most important health questions.  Until now to answer a question like, “Which type of exercise is most healthful?”  was impossible–you would need to follow 20000 people over 90 years.  For purposes of health, does the intensity of exercise matter, or is long slow distance just fine?  Could you obtain the full health benefit working out 3 days a week?  And how much is enough?  Is there an optimal mileage per week?  How does diet interact with exercise?  If you run, does it matter what you eat?  To answer these questions now you no longer need many test subjects–all you need is one person and a reliable TOR activity assay.  There are now hundreds of articles per year on TOR worldwide.  Within a few years there will be tens of thousands of research papers each year.  This new information will revolutionize exercise physiology and will profoundly affect all of medicine.

What I Read: Matt Hart



Someone who doesn’t read gets about the same education as someone who can’t. Where you get your information seems of vital importance to how you see the world. We are bombarded with information, and misinformation all day long. I’m fascinated by how people wade through the deluge, when and where they consume, and how they structure their work life around it. TheAtlanticWire has this wonderful series called Media Diet, that I read religiously. They focus on the reading habits of “prominent figures in media, entertainment, politics, the arts, and the literary world”. I’m going to steal this idea from them, however my focus will be on prominent figures in athletics, nutrition, and health.

I thought it would only be fair to post my own “What I Read” essay before I ask others to open up. I realize I’m decidedly not prominent, but it’s my blog so I figured I had to go first.


I appreciate routine. I don’t mind breaking it however, because that can often lead to the very best of days. Generally though, I wake up and do the same things, often in the same order; wash up, open the curtains, start the water for tea, turn on NPR’s Hourly News. I then sit at my MacBook Air, facing my back yard, usually in time to see the neighbor’s dog have his first bowel movement of the day. It’s good to know he’s regular, since he is never walked, shown affection, or taken care of.

While my liberal updates play, I sip on yerba mate — the devil bean f’s me up — and settle into the computer. Before even looking at email I cast a wide net for my news consumption because I want as many perspectives as I can get. This way I can arm myself with both sides of the arguments, and make my own thoughtful decisions. This means I visit FoxNews’s video site, and I’ve recently added Al Jazeera; not comprehensive, but it’s a start.
I’ll use Hootsuite to scroll my twitter feed. This is where I get an idea of treading news stories based on my hand selected community. I end up reading some of the links, and saving others for when I have more time (Batching: Tim Ferris would be proud).

Which brings me to my own twitter. What the hell am I doing? I don’t always know. When I see news of an Afghani girl having acid thrown in her face for the offense of trying to get an education, I’m awash with anger. Which leads to me typing out a tweet like, “Faith is not a virtue, it’s a liability” then deleting it, then typing it out slightly different, and deleting it. I repeat that process a few more times until the feeling passes. Although politics and religion are often on my mind, I try to keep them off my twitter — this is hard for an opinionated asshole. I attempt to stick to nutrition, training, and sport in general. With writing taking up more of my time and thoughts recently, the topic has snuck into my tweets lately; I’ll tweet my favorite long form pieces, and comments on books I’ve read. If it looks like I’m on twitter 24-7, it’s an illusion created by the fact that I’ll schedule tweets to post while I’m asleep or not at the computer.

Twitter acts as a tension release for me, if I’m fired up or researching something I’ll tweet about it. I’m certain that some of my sponsors would rather I keep my mouth shut. However, this is exactly why most athletes suck at twitter, they are so generic and politically correct it’s nauseating (and not worth following); check out Ryan Hall’s twitter to see what I mean. Then check out Hall’s antithesis, Jenn Shelton — she’s hilarious.

I am on Facebook but don’t have a personal page any more. I used a request by a sponsor to create an “athlete page“, as a chance to deactivate my personal page. My attention is just too easily diverted by pictures of your baby, or your CrossFit hands — I apparently have the attention span of a squirrel.

I have a subscription to The New York Times so I’m not limited to the 10 articles a month. I love words, but I have limits to how much reading I can do in one day. To get some visual stim, I often use YouTube to research topics. Mostly I watch Christopher Hitchens HitchSlap Theocrats, or John and Hank Green drop knowledge bombs. Since I coach athletes online YouTube is invaluable to be able to link to videos of exercise movements, either my own or others.

When I’m driving or doing errands I’ll listen to podcasts. I never do it at my desk, instead I use the iPhone’s ability to listen to them at 1.5-2x speed. This is a great way to consume more in shorter period of time. Long hours in the mountains training lends itself to listening to books on tape or podcasts at hyperspeed. My favorites: WNYC’s Radiolab, This American Life, Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Podcast.

Since writing is a stationary pursuit, and we know sitting for extended periods of time isn’t good for us,  I get up a lot and run through some simple exercises; Ben Greenfield calls this “greasing the grove”. I do simple movements — jumping jacks, burpees, etc — at low reps multiple times.

Reading is not an indulgence, it’s a requirement. I love being exposed to new ideas, or even just good writing. If I stop to think about what I just read, or stop to laugh out loud, or stop to consider how lovely that turn of phrase was, the author has done their job well.

Weather permitting I like to walk and read. I literally just roam a five square mile radius around my house in Salt Lake City, book in hand. The only problem with this, aside from tripping, is the odd phenomenon of testosterone filled high schoolers who scream obscenities from their cars as they speed by. In my experience Utah’s youth are far more likely to do this than anywhere else I’ve lived.

I think it’s important to place the proper weight on the source of your information. Yes, you can find anything on the internet, but is it really worth all those hours reading meaningless blogs, when there is so much great content being born every day to publications? I’ve recently backed off to recalibrate my reading matter, and the internet is certainly getting less of my attention these days. I now give published material far more time than the internet’s deluge of mediocre — yes, I realize I am complicit here.

I’ve read Genesis, it’s contradictory and confusing story seems like a childish, dated, best-guess. I therefore prescribe to the fact that we’ve evolved[1]. If you can believe that, there is a lot of good science that shows we evolved eating vegetables, meat, fruit and nuts, and we’re well adapted to pre-agricultural foods. I therefore follow some of the top guns in ancestral health; most notably Robb Wolf (with Amy Kubal writing a lot of great content for him) and Mark Sisson (an ex-marathon trials runner). Dallas and Melissa at Whole9Life are fantastic as well. All three of these folks have written great books that I highly recommend. With all that said, I always try to read the counterarguments, and enjoyed Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide for Athletes.

If you need to dive into verbose, in-depth, discussion on a health topic I think Chris Kresser is doing the best job of this. If you are avoiding eggs because of the cholesterol, you are under a misapprehension — grab some tea and dive in.

As for fitness experts, I like Ben Greenfield despite how cheesy and shirtless he tends to be. I will read anything Mark Twight writes. He owns Gym Jones, and is an awesome, abrasive, mad genius, as well as a talented writer. His content has recently retreated behind a pay-wall, which is understandable. I’ve also been a long time fan of Endurance Corner’s Gordo Byrn. My favorite sport scientist is Dr. Tim Noakes (author of Lore of Running), but Alex Hutchinson (who now writes for Runner’s World) is a close second. Ross and Jonathan at The Science of Sport are fantastic as well.

For my own writing I use the library, the above authors, Pubmed, Dr. Google, and I have a subscription to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

I love The Atlantic and will try to read as many long-form pieces as I can. The AtlanticWire.com will aggregate things for me with columns likes “Five Best Friday Columns” and their daily must called “Trimming the Times“, which is basically that days New York Times filtered through someone smart at the TheAtlanticWire. Being an old tech geek I have an affinity for CNET as a daily look at the latest tech news, and Scientific American for the latest in science news.

As for other magazines, I write for Trail Runner Magazine so I usually sit down when that comes and read the whole thing. The only other subscription I get is Free Inquiry, but I managed to get my hands on Wired Magazine every month; I’ve been reading it for the last 15 years. As a sometime-metrosexual (do people still use that term for guys who shave?) I have convinced myself that there is good writing in GQ and Esquire magazines, which I’ll read both online and via a hard copy. On that note at least once a month I’ll sit down in front of the magazine rack at B&N and just pick things that interest me. I feel like it’s homework for a freelance writer.

At some point mid-morning I’ll head out into the Wasatch mountains, or to the gym to train — sometimes both. After cleaning up I’ll then head to the library for a few hours. I need the change of scenery. I always leave with something I don’t have time to read — I’m working on it.

I was made to feel extremely stupid as a kid for my lack of historical knowledge, this is my excuse for almost exclusively reading non-fiction books. My favorite author is Christopher Hitchens (although he was an even better orator), my favorite book is Animal Farm by George Orwell. I love and appreciate anything and everything written by Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins. They have changed my perspective and nourished my mind in so many ways.

I don’t have a TV, well not one that gets any signals from outside sources. I have an actual TV, but it only works with DVDs, which I get from the Library. I do watch some TV shows online when I have time and or feel like lounging, or need to horizontally recover from training. I try to stay up-to-date with the “Daily Show” and the “Colbert Reporttheir writing staffs are brilliant.

My seemingly impossible daily goal is to be closing the computer by 8pm, and in bed reading until 10 or 11pm, so I can rise at an early hour on the morrow. One of these days I’ll finish with enough time to make it over to my neighbors house and walk that poor fucking dog.


[1] “Nothing in science makes sense except in the light of evolution.” – Theodosius Dobzhansky

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