Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No Dame Good

Given the recent story about the Notre Dame linebacker who placed second in the Heisman race and his non-existent dead online girlfriend, perhaps Notre Dame should consider a name change: How about No Dame or, better yet, No Dame Good.

Heroes often fail. And apparently so does the media. Start with checking facts. Media gets burned in three-way script. Dead girl supposedly attended Stanford, a team the hero's team defeats in one of those last-minute-it-could've-gone-either way games. Believed dead girl sends one of those made-for-the movies only dying messages:

"Yes, I'm fading fast but don't bother; the team and the Heisman needs you more. Besides you'd only get to hold me for short time. You can hug up to that Heisman forever, not to mention the signing bonus."

With a name like Charlie Rose you'd thought he'd have smelled something. Where's Hildy Johnson when we really need him? They just don't make real media people like they used to, ones who never end sentences in a preposition.

Now that all the Mele Kalikimaki has been blown out of this fairy tale, a burning question lingers. What if the linebacker had won the coveted Heisman? What would've the institution, No Dame Good, done then, conferred with the Pope before deciding on the right thing to do or rolled out Lou Holt to smooth talk their way out of it.

Now that one thinks about it the headline could go something like this: The Glib One Wins One For The Gipper. Talk about porous defenses. Forget Alabama. Anyway one slices it, Touchdown Jesus gave up a passel of points on this one.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cancer Cure

 In our soon to be published ebook Nutrition The Easy Way, we questioned all the money thrown the last 35 or so years into the black hole of cancer research arguing the return on the investment was, to put it in civil terms, subpar. Pathetic would most likely be more accurate, but we'll skip the acrimony for the present.

Now some heavyweight support in the form of James Watson, one of this nation's most noted scientists, apparently shares a similar view. Watson, now 84 years old, you might recall won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1962 as a co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA with his colleague Francis Crick.

In a paper published 1-9-13 in the journal Open Biology Watson takes issue with the current trend in the so-called war on cancer, suggesting that much of the money being spent "is not likely to produce the truly breakthrough drugs that we so desperately need."  What little progress there has been, according to Watson, many of the new therapies are effective for "just a few months," especially in cases where the cancer has spread or metastasized.

Here are Watson's direct words. "And we have nothing for major cancers such as the lung, colon and breast that have become metastatic." Statements like that, especially when one is talking breasts, could stir up a lot of pink feathers. Watson goes on to say that blocking a specific pathway by targeting DNA sequencing in effect just causes the cancer to seek and find another pathway.

One could postulate that given the above, cancer, like the human body itself, has its own form of homeostasis.

And Watson seemingly is not alone on this point. Cancer biologist Robert Weinberg of MIT apparently agrees, noting the "cancer cells activate a different, equally effective pathway." Watson and other scientists are advocating a different approach. Watson concludes his article that though the war against cancer faces obvious obstacles, "The biggest....(is) the intensely conservative nature of today's cancer research establishment."

Watson's choice of the term establishment in our view is no accident. Without any significant changes, Watson concludes,"curing cancer will always be 10 or 20 years away."


Monday, January 14, 2013

Watch Your Words

                                          Our words are often worse than we are.
                                                                                   George Eliot

Most of us are familiar with self-talk. If you're not, you should be. It's something all of us do everyday, carrying on a private conversation with ourselves in our head. A few of us even do it out loud.

Every time you make a mistake and cry out something like, "You dummy!" or even worse, that's one form of self-talk. Most self-talk goes on more privately, between you and yourself kicking it around in your mind. Psychologists say we have about 20,000 thoughts a day but are only aware of about 2,000. It's also been called self-coaching. Check out the literature and you'll can even find books about it.

Lots of you won't believe what we're saying here. That's okay. Folks didn't believe Columbus when he suggested the world might not be flat or Galileo either. The path of history is littered with examples of people and things once thought not to be credible only to find out later they were.

Keep in mind that lots of people try things just to prove they won't work for them. That's their problem, not yours. As an old chemistry professor used to say: "Render unto Caesar what's is Caesar's." If it doesn't work for you, fine. But that doesn't mean it won't work for others. Nor does it mean because it worked for others and not you it doesn't work or isn't real

In journalism there is an old saying: "The pen is mightier than the sword." Since we all live in the electronic age we might have to substitute computer for pen. But you get the idea, the power of words. Confucius, when asked what would be the first thing he would change if he became Emperor of China, replied that he would reinstate the precise meaning of words. For what's it's worth, it doesn't sound as if a lot of today's lawyers and politicians would've ever voted for Confucius.

Think if you will for second about these words. Words become thoughts and thoughts become the basis for all personal transformations. Words have power. A kind word can build, a harsh one destroy. Words become thoughts and thoughts become ideas and ideas, good or bad, often get carried out.

It's an established fact that the body is roughly 80 percent water. It's an established fact that the body's seemingly hard, solid bones are really porous with canals for blood vessels and nerves. Marrow, a relatively soft material in bone is actually responsible for creating blood cells. Even given the millions of blood cells floating around in the human body, blood is still mostly water. The vital organs that make up and help regulate the body are mostly comprised of, you guessed it, water.

So once again appearances prove deceiving. We admire rock hard six packs, rippled muscles, strong, firm bodies. Firm for most of us is in and flab is out. But if you extracted of the solid material in the human body it wouldn't amount to more than a small heap not several feet but less than a few inches high. The rest is water. Someone once observed that the strongest thing in your body is your thinking. It can also be your weakest. Shakespeare noted that there is little either bad or good but thinking makes it so. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius put it a little differently: "The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts." Most of us are aware of the biblical admonition about reaping and sowing. You can't plant corn and expect to get water melons, genetically modified grains notwithstanding.

Several years ago when I was doing internal medicine I saw lots of patients every day with a variety of aches and pains from sore backs to arthritic joints to heart and stomach problems, to name a few. Many of them in complaining about their conditions would without the slightest hesitation unleash a fury of expletives on the particular area bothering them. Some of the names you wouldn't level at your mother-in-law let alone your worst enemy. But here they were calling their painful elbow a dirty so-and-so or their agonizing headache a lousy, rotten this or that.

Over time I began asking some of them how they would respond if anyone spoke to them that way. Despite the blank looks and an occasional leer, the most frequent answer, the one that always surprised me the most was: "I never thought about it that way before." My response was always the same: "Maybe you should start."

Storms rile up the seas just as a lack of wind creates calmness. If the human body is 80 percent water, it's subject to the same forces. So watch your words. Choose them carefully, especially when you're talking to yourself. Words affect your attitude and attitude influences your performance, in and out of the gym.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Book

Our new ebook will soon be available, Nutrition The Easy Way A Primer For Combat Sports.

Here's a brief description with a short excerpt. Originally, Nutrition The Easy Way was intended for coaches, trainers and elite athletes in weight-making or what is known as combat sports like boxing, MMA and wrestling, to name a few. Truth is the content applies to anyone from the average person to Type 2 diabetics to weekend warriors.

Athletes in weight-making sports usually face a time limit and quite often reaching their goal in that time frame involves some serious money. Failing can be costly. But you don't have to be an elite athlete facing a timeline to understand the costs associated with poor nutrition. Poor nutrition is about poor choices. And poor choices often stem from a lack of knowledge.

 Nutrition The Simple Way is about helping to close the gap in that lack of knowledge, hopefully enough to cause each reader to continue closing the gap to reach his or her  personal goals, elite athlete or otherwise.         

CHAPTER 4.                            THE TCQ FACTOR

TQC has to do with the timing, quantity and composition of the foods (macro and micro) one eats, all important factors when outlining weight-making plans for elite athletes. There are three actual tiers here: before, during and after workouts when you want lipid lysis and lipid oxidation highest while trying to manipulate fat storage during the day. Your nutritional plan should consider the daily training load accordingly.

For this reason fat-burning work like running should be done if possible early in the day before breakfast after your overnight fast. Both the pace and duration should be moderate. Recall that eating stimulates insulin production to balance blood sugar, but insulin also suppresses lipolysis, the breakdown of fat. So if your goal is to burn fat and build lean muscle mass, eating before you run is working against yourself. In fact, research shows that fat breakdown was reduced by nearly 30% for 8 hours during recovery if carbs are eaten before rather than after exercise.

That brings up another point, what researchers call substrate utilization, meaning what fuel source, carbs, fat, etc., provides the necessary energy for a certain level of exercise intensity. Research shows that once intensities reach greater than 65% of one's VO2 max, carbs are the body's fuel of choice. More important the longer exercise at moderate levels goes on free fatty acids from the breakdown of fat (lipolysis) not carbs become the fuel of choice.

This same principle doesn't necessarily apply to your other more intense, sport-specific training like sparring, high intensity (HIIT) or pad work. Here you will definitely need some fuel on board in the form of good low glycemic carbs preferably consumed a few hours before the workout. Note that your training and nutritional goals are to maximize fat loss during exercise and recovery while minimizing fat storage daily. In so doing you're manipulating work loads and food intake.

So you have to keep in mind that these levels of intensity will most likely ramp up protein oxidation causing possible loss of lean muscle mass, not something you want when you're seeking to generate power and explosiveness. Remember: power=(force x time). So your elite athletes will need much more protein than what is usually suggested and not all of your protein will come from food. You will need some supplementation, best in the form of protein shakes with both whey and casein. Casein is a slower acting protein and has a less insulin-producing effect thereby cutting down insulin's suppressive action on lipolysis or fat loss.

How much protein? Well, the vague answer is it's athlete dependent. What 's worked best for us to help maintain muscle mass and offset daily dietary deficits is 2-2.5g/kg of body mass. A 70kg man weighs 140lbs, so 70 x 2g = 140g and 70 x 2.5 = 175g. For the detractors, most of whom have never trained anyone, who might claim this is too much, remember these are elite athletes, not desk jockeys, who frequently train three times per day. To put it mildly they're tearing down some muscle--i.e.--protein. That muscle has to be rebuilt.

 We also use another formula. Say your athlete begins camp at 150 lbs and make-weight contract is 135. We invert these numbers usually starting off giving the athlete 135g of protein/day and increasing it to150g/day the closer we get to the weigh-in, perhaps adjusting it somewhat during the taper down period when we begin cutting workload. Much has been discussed and written about the importance of recovery. Proper rest is only one element of recovery. A lot of athletes, trainers and coaches don't  understand that nutrition is recovery; that after a hard workout it's the first step and it begins way before bedtime and sleep.

One of the first macro elements to get cut is carbohydrates. As previously noted one of the important roles of insulin, especially in the presence of carbs, is to decrease lipolysis; in other words, slow the process of breaking down fat, just the opposite of your intended goal of decreasing body fat and building more lean muscle mass. There is plenty of evidence in the literature showing that hard training in the presence of reduced carbohydrates actually accelerates fat loss by enhancing the oxidative power of skeletal muscle, ironically the exact opposite of conventional wisdom that one needs a high carb-diet to support intense daily workouts. So don't be too afraid to ramp up the protein to somewhat compensate for those reduced carbs. Those hard-working muscles will love you for it.