Bits and Pieces No.3

Honesty is the best policy, right? So now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll let yall know that I’ve got 5 hours of sleep and 0 cups of coffee in me as I write this, so I may or may not be on top of my game.  Some exciting things are on the menu for my weekend (including work, but that’s fine, I like being my own sugar mama), and I hope yall are planning to enjoy yours, too.  Today I’m continuing this new little Friday tradition of sharing some of the best links I’ve seen this week…and like my sleep, this is probably going to be a little on the short side.

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4 Basic Movements for Kettlebell Workouts —> This is great for anyone interested in using kettlebells.  They’re a really fun way to shake things up and add a new dynamic to your workout (due to the unique shape and balance of the ‘bell), and working out with kettlebells always feels like play.  This kettlebell strength circuit is a fun one…and a doozy!

Stop Texting: It’s Actually (Scientifically and Psychologically) F*cking Up Your Life —> Yes, it’s from Elite Daily, but this had solid arguments. My inner curmudgeon was cheering as I read this.  I hate having conversations over text – don’t get me started on man-children who only text and never call – and I hate feeling tied to my phone.  (Ask my friends…I’m a terrible texter.)

Mindy Khaling calls B.J. Novak the “One Who Got Away” —>  Mindy is my spirit animal, so this was kind of a big deal. Also, who else is dancing their pants off with happiness that The Mindy Project is back??

Staten Island Crossfit —> I don’t know a soul from this box, but they shared my post on resistant starch (the possible new superfood), so I thought that was neat.  Thanks, yall!

Man With Cerebral Palsy Paints Masterpieces Using Only a Typewriter —>  Ok, technically I first saw this a couple weeks ago, but I just have to share it.  This man is truly amazing, and even more remarkable than his talent is his attitude and his faith.  He is a testament to the fact that your perspective can make you or break you, and just how much can be accomplished when you make the most of the body you’re given.

 

Like I said…short and sweet.  Make your weekend one for the books, and I’ll meet yall back here on Monday!

Food Is More Than Fuel

We’ve all heard that familiar saying: “Food is fuel!”

Recently I came across this article from Precision Nutrition, which argues the exact opposite: Food is not fuel.

It was one of the best nutrition articles I’ve read in a long time, because it took into account the dynamic nature of the human body and health, and how those dynamics affect the relationship between a body and the food that fuels it.   As my research (as well as my own experience) has taught me, food is more than the sum of its parts calories. If health is a house, your food is the foundation.  A foundation should fit the measurements of the house, of course, but a foundation’s value is not based merely on size.  It has to have integrity, it has to provide stability, it has to be balanced, it has to provide the base off of which a quality (read: health) house (read: body) is built.  Likewise, food needs to provide energy in order for the body to survive, but it is the parts of food that cannot be measured in kilocalories that provide the body what it needs to thrive.

food is not fuel

You can check out these links for more on how food affects neurological health, fertility and reproduction,  depression and anxiety, acne, alcoholism, other addictions, and insomnia, among so many other issues.

On top of all that food does for the body in terms of health, it’s also something to be savored and enjoyed.  Unlike putting fuel in your gas tank, having meal is an opportunity to enjoy good company and community, which is an investment in your social, emotional, and relational health.  (Mediterranean cultures are well known for this.)  Treating food as something that is a source of energy and nothing more downplays its value and its role in our lives.

Obviously, I may be biased…mama likes to eat, you know?…but I think that most of us would do well to appreciate food beyond its capacity to give us energy.  After all, the fact that we can have food on the table at all is a blessing that is too-often taken for granted.  Let’s make the most of that blessing.  Maybe it’s time to stop slowly starving yourself. Maybe it’s time to unglue yourself from the calorie-counting apps.  Maybe it’s time to start choosing foods that promote health rather than just a quick jolt of energy.  Maybe it’s time for more homecooked meals and less Lean Cuisines.  Maybe it’s time to stop calculating “if it fits your macros” and start considering “if it promotes your health.”

Grab some friends, stir up some soup, break some bread, and boost those seretonin levels. (Can’t really do that at the gas station, can you?)

Beauty in Strength

Hey yall, some personal things came up yesterday and I ended up having less time to blog than planned.  My family has had this sweet old golden retriever since I was 15, and he’d been pretty sick (and getting worse) over the past couple months, so finally we had to put him down.  It was sad for all of us to lose the old guy, but makes me so happy to know he’s not in pain anymore.  It was pretty heartwrenching to see him declining.

15 September 2014

Instead of rushing through the topic I wanted to write on, I’ll save that for later this week when I’ve got time to do it justice.  In the meantime, I’ll leave yall with this short video that ties in so very well with yesterday’s subject.  I hope you enjoy, and as always, I’d love for you to chime in with your thoughts.

Beauty in Strength

Discuss:

What are your thoughts on the intersection of training/fitness/beauty/sexuality/all-of-the-above?

(Loaded question, I know…but it’s a pretty loaded topic!)

PS…I’ve seen a lot of new readers popping in lately, so hello and thanks for dropping by! I hope to see yall around more often, and I’d love to connect on twitter or instagram, too.  Don’t be shy!

50 Shades of Fitness: The Pornification of The “Fitness” Industry

It seems the fitness industry is inching closer and closer to the porn industry.

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic.  Maybe I misunderstand because I haven’t done a figure/bikini/physique competition.  Maybe I’m just a prude.

But you tell me…when a “fitness” competition requires women to pose like this, is it about sports, or is it about sex?

bikini competition rear pose

Obviously, I’m going to step on some on toes here.  And while I definitely lean more conservative when it comes to sex, most of my friends will tell you that I’m not a prude. I’m practically a semi-practicing nudist at times, and I could certainly keep up with a group of sailors when it comes to telling bawdy jokes (and drinking whiskey).  I’m all for bringing sexy back, and having a sexy back, and admiring sexy backs.  But this is one issue that has bothered me for a long time, and as I’ve seen it become more prevalent (or perhaps I’m just becoming more aware), I’m compelled to address it….And I’m not going to apologize for my opinion.

Let me be clear – this is not about body types, aesthetic appeal, athleticism, or personal choice.  I am not saying that people participating in fitness competitions are too small, or too muscular, or too manly, or too artificial, nor am I saying that they are not athletes or that they should not be able to compete however they please.  I have friends who have competed in fitness competitions, and from talking with them and doing my own reading, I know that such an endeavor requires incredible discipline and personal sacrifice.  Although it’s not something care to do, I don’t see any problem with fitness competitions.  The issue is how the industry merges fitness with sex. 

In other words…

Parts of the fitness industry have become indistinguishable from softcore pornography.

There’s no getting around it, and truthfully, it’s evident enough that it shouldn’t take much explanation. The amount of skin exposed, the kinds of posing used, and the focus on sex appeal – rather than, say, athleticism – are a page straight out of the porn industry’s playbook.   While this probably is a bigger problem in female fitness competitions, the men are not exempt from it, either.   Although the sexualization of fitness is blatant in fitness competitions, it’s not limited to the stage.  Many fitness brands use sex to sell their products, and they’re not subtle about it.

gaspari nutrition ad crotchshot

Gaspari Nutrition prefers subtlety to blatant objectification.

equinox ad sexual

Equinox: In case your health wasn’t enough of a reason to go to the gym, there’s always the chance that you might have the opportunity to star in an independent porno.

ad woman resistance bands overly sexual

I’m not sure what’s being sold here, but I’m fairly certain it’s not those resistance bands.

Social media is positively swarming with competitors, both amateur and professional, flooding their feeds with gratuitous “glute” shots and “abs” photos (which for the women almost always include breasts, as well).  Of course, there are plenty of non-competitors, folks who are just fitness enthusiasts, who do the exact same.  Post what you want, but please don’t pretend that you are sharing your progress when you are really just sharing your bits.  I wish I could tell you how many “fitness” accounts I’ve seen on instagram that are really just self-shot softcore porn collections, charmingly hashtagged with things like #fitness, #strength, #strongnotskinny, #dedication, #progress, #inspiration, and #healthyliving…but at this point, I’ve lost count.  This is perhaps one of the most bothersome parts, because fusing fitness with sex and stamping the whole package with words like “strength” or “dedication” conditions viewers and participants to see those terms solely in that light.  “Dedication” becomes a matter of 4:30am workouts and tupperware meals of tilapia and broccoli, “inspiration” gets measured in pounds and inches lost, and “health” is seen as a consuming regime of workouts and diets and supplements and the occasional glittery bikini/banana-hammock.  (This, in particular, gets me riled up.  You want real inspiration? Look at this family.  You want to see real dedication? Read this man’s story.  You want real health? Create sustainable habits…and taking pictures of your own ass is not one of those habits.)  It makes people think that these oversexualized images (often featuring bodies that are achieved by means of incredibly damaging diets/training) demonstrate the pinnacle of fitness and health, and insinuates that they should be a goal towards which we strive.

bikini competitor rear view

It misses the point entirely.  Fitness is about the ability to move well.  Sometimes that’s moving heavy weights, sometimes that moving fast, sometimes that’s moving your own body with great control, and sometimes that’s moving to the outer limits of your flexibility.  Health is about being well  – in body, in mind, and in spirit.  None of it requires you to “do sexy” well.  Your level of fitness and your level of health are not dependent on how sexy you can be.  Being fit and having a healthy body can make you feel good about yourself, and that kind of confidence is sexy.  Fitness and health are reflected in your physical appearance, and that can be sexy.  But you see, in that case, sexiness is a side effect of fitness, not the end goal.  And even then, for the vast majority of folks, it’s going to be a different kind of sexy than the kind promoted by the media (that goes for women and men).  we see on stage, on instagram, and on ad pages in a magazine.  “Sexy” doesn’t have just a single physical expression, and neither do health and fitness.

So my question is why are we not good enough as we are?  Why can’t we be sexy without being sex objects?  Why can we lift weights without being some kind of barbell-sporting-dominatrix? Why can’t we be great athletes without being sexy athletes?  Why can’t we be badass without being a hot piece of ass?

I know the simple answer is that “sex sells.”  In a culture that is becoming more and more desensitized, it takes more and more sex to sell.  Shorts get shorter, tops come off, and everything gets more explicit.  But that doesn’t mean we have to put up with it.  We don’t have to buy into the marriage of the porn and fitness industries and their sexy-fitness lovechild.  We can choose to decide for ourselves what is sexy, and ignore those that tell us it requires more spray tanner and more bedazzled bikinis.  We can choose to invest in health and fitness, and whatever physical manifestation that takes.  We can choose to be strong, to be flexible, to move often and eat plenty and sleep well and play freely and live a fulfilling life that is characterized by wellness and joy.  And we can make our choices, live our lives, and move on without a second thought to whether we are “sexy enough” by fitness industry standards.

And of course, when in doubt, a little naked dancing in the privacy of your bedroom will almost always make you feel sexy enough for anything.

Now go get on with your bad selves.  

I’d love to hear your thoughts and get a good discussion going!

Do you think the fitness industry has become oversexualized?

Have you ever felt pressure to be sexy in addition to being fit/athletic?

When it comes to “sexy-fitness,” do you think there is a double standard for men vs. women?

Resistant Starch – The New Superfood?

There has been quite a bit of hype lately about resistant starch.  Ok, maybe not so much among the general public, but certainly among nutrition nerds…and for good reason, it seems.  Resistant starch is a type of fiber that is indigestible, which means it makes it to the small intestine intact, where it serves as “food” for the bacteria living there.  Simply put, the fermentation of the starch in the lower digestive tract produces butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid which suppresses inflammation, improves metabolism, and increases the body’s ability to handle stress.  This is a good thing, as the health of your gut microbiome is a huge determinant of your overall health.  Some are even championing the idea that obesity is at least partially caused by a failure or imbalance of gut bacteria.   Lately, as more attention has been paid to the role of the gut microbiome and various health issues, it has become clear that gut health is tied to almost every other facet of health. Because of this, resistant starch – and truly, anything else that could potentially improve the gut microbiome – is a hot topic.  The evidence is thus far, while still not entirely conclusive, points to resistant starch being very beneficial for health.

For a very thorough explanation of resistant starch and how to use it, check out this page from Richard Nikoley’s site.

For a fascinating look at the role of butyrate and overall health, see this article from Dr. Guyenet at Whole Health Source (one of my favorite blogs).

For studies on the effects resistant starch has demonstrated on gut microbiome/body composition/overall health, see here and here and here (and find a list of  35 studies+links here).

For a more tempered view of resistant starch – particularly in regards to those with IBS or other chronic gut health problems – read this article from the Digestive Health Institute.

For a bit about resistant starch and it’s possible relation to weight loss, take a look at this guest post on Chris Kresser’s site.

The good news is that if you want to add more resistant starch to your diet, it’s relatively simple. You just need to make a point of consuming more of the relatively common foods that contain resistant starch (and be sure to prepare them in a way that maximizes the resistant starch content, such as cooking and cooling potatoes to cause retrogradation).  These food sources of resistant starch include potatoes, rice, plantains, tapioca, yucca, taro, unripe bananas, and the like.

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Plantains in the process of being made into baked tostones. Resistant starch never tasted so good.

You can also look into using supplements, such as potato starch.  If you do choose to use supplements, just don’t scare the cashier at Whole Foods by explaining your digestive experiments to him (speaking from experience here…). When I’ve added more resistant starch to my diet (albeit it’s more of a casual experiment than a grand intervention), it has been beneficial, but nothing too spectacular.  As I experiment more in earnest with resistant starch, perhaps I’ll experience something more noteworthy…and if I do, I’ll keep yall posted.

Oversharing.  It’s what I do.

Discuss:

Have you heard anything about resistant starch before?

What are your thoughts on the benefits of resistant starch? (Anyone with personal experience??)

Bits and Pieces No.2

Last week I shared some “Bits and Pieces,” just a collection of the most interesting and most helpful and most hilarious links I’d found throughout the week.  This week brought another batch of really splendid internet finds (and a couple lovely real-life ones, too), so once again, I thought I’d share with yall.  Who knows, maybe this will become a weekly thing (let me know if that sounds wonderful or dreadful!)…

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Pre-workout brewskis with the broski last week. Let’s just say the workout that followed was not exactly my finest.

Fitness

One-Dumbbell Workout —> Great option for at home (sub a Swiss ball for the bench if needed) or when the gym is crowded!

The Olympic Weightlifting Squat —> One of the best squat articles I’ve come across in a long time.  If you squat, you should read this.

CrossFit Bodyweight Workouts —> My friend sent this to me after seeing my post on my Angie-ish WOD.  Great resource to keep on hand for days when you want to spice up your training with something new and need a little help getting that mojo going.

Nutrition

 Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Mug Cake —> This is delicious, and pumpkin-y foods are a requirement these days because it’s September, which is almost autumn, and apparently it is already starting to look all lovely and autumn-y in some areas. (Not that I would know…California’s summers last far. too. loooong.  Check back with me in November.)  If you’re not into gourd-flavored goodies, there’s always the chocolate version.

Vegan Banana Cream Pie Blizzards —> Dairy-free soft-serve goodness for those us who can’t have dairy and aren’t exactly experiencing autumn right now.  (ahem…)

Diet Research, Stuck in the Stone Age —> Dr. David Katz reacts to the recent study of low-carb vs. “low”-fat diets.  He does a good job of explaining the (glaring) problems with the study, and with nutrition science in general.

Life

“Unexpected Compromise by the NFL…”  —> Well, I’m officially a Bengals fan now. (Also, pray for the Still family…I can only imagine how awful that must be.)

What Women Need to Say to Each Other to Shatter the Dark —> Voskamp always has me on the fence.  Some posts I read and find myself nodding and thinking “Preach it, girl!”  Others I read and can’t help but grumble, “Daaaamn, hippie, can you just tone down the feels for a sec?  And what is with your syntax??”  But this was mostly a winner.

Anatomy of Songs —> Hilarious (and spot-on) chart.

7 Awesome Smartphone Photography Tips —> The underwater photo trick is my favourite.

Men Holding Kittens for the First Time —> Let’s be honest, I didn’t just watch this for the kittens.

When IKEA Outsmarts Apple —> Yest, this was clever, and yes, I am a sucker for a Nordic accent, but mostly I like it because it reminded me to disconnect a little.  Pick up a real book instead of spending my reading time on PubMed or WebMD (My name is Domi, and I have a problem.).  But really, yall, go read a book this weekend.  A real one, with pages.  And honestly, the IKEA catalogue probably doesn’t count.

 

Have a splendid weekend, yall.  I’ll catch ya back here Monday…and you won’t want to miss what I’ve got coming next week.  It’s a little, shall we say, feisty?

flag at half mast

13 Years

Taking a little departure today from the usual programming…

In honor of the anniversary of 9/11/01, I have just two thoughts to share.

Never forget.

And never stop fighting.

 America is different than she was 13 years ago.  In some ways better, and in some ways not.  But one thing that has not changed is the fact that we are blessed beyond measure to live in this great nation, and we’d all do well to make the most of that gift.  To serve wherever we’re able, to defend our freedoms, to chase the opportunities we are afforded, to be heroes, to live for a purpose that is greater than ourselves, and to give thanks for all of it.

So never forget, and never stop fighting. 

September 11 firemen raising Old Glory

For those interested, this firsthand account of 9/11 from the former Press Secretary of George W. Bush gives a pretty amazing perspective.  And for those who may have trouble remembering what we’re fighting for, I hope this short clip will help spark your memory:

And for those who want to test America’s patriots?  Well, a certain Mr. Keith put it best when he said “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”  So you’d best watch your back, because we’re coming for your asses.