Monday, March 21, 2016

Ribeye Jerky

I've taken to making fatty "jerky" in the dehydrator from thinly sliced chuck steaks they sell at my local grocery store.

It looks like this:

It absolutely melts in the mouth as it is, though, believe it or not, I sometimes spread butter on it.

My local store also sells thinly sliced ribeye. This I consider a crime. There is no way to cook it to rare like that.

Yesterday, however, I was looking for the thinly sliced chuck and they had none. What they did have was thinly sliced ribeye, marked down for no apparent reason. I realised that it cost only slightly more than what I pay for the chuck, and a beautiful idea formed in my mind...

Here are some photos of the succulent result:

It's definitely not the best ribeye I've had, but it's easily the best jerky.

Meatless Mondays

What is it called when a carnivore doesn't eat meat?

A fast.

I've recently had a renewed interest in fasting, no doubt because of seeing Jason Fung speak at Low Carb Vail last month.

Shortly after that I was chatting with a friend about it. I said that I don't fast on a schedule, but that I often eat only one meal a day (most often two meals). I did mention that I've long thought it would be fun to fast once a week for a whole day — that would be more than 24 hours, since I don't eat during the night.

So for the first two Mondays in March, I did just that. (That is, I ate no meat. I did drink my usual coffee, and I had a few spoons of tallow in the afternoon when my energy was dipping.) In practice the first fast was 48 hours, and the second more like 42. I enjoyed it.

Under a fat-based metabolism, one doesn't normally feel hungry throughout the day. The liver takes care of glucose and all that, much better than for those on a glycolytic diet. So I wasn't hungry.

I lost a few pounds, and was down to my lowest weight in decades. I know from experience that weight loss from short term fasting is often transient, so I wasn't really worried about it, or counting on it staying off, but it was still fun.

This past week, however, I have been ravenous. My policy is always to feed my body when it's hungry. Fighting hunger is a losing battle. If you're hungry, there's a hormonal reason. It's a signal. You can't change it simply by not eating (except insofar as not eating changes your hormonal state). This is counterproductive. You have to change the signal.

Anyway, today I intended to fast again, but I was hungry and the tallow didn't help and by the time I got home I was ready to eat. So I did. Besides, I had ribeye jerky waiting for me.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mindfulness Strength Training

I first heard about slow lifting protocols around 2007 or 2008. I was reading articles about muscle physiology by Doug McGuff. Those articles don't appear to exist anymore, perhaps superceded by his 2009 book, Body by Science. At the same time I had happened upon Adam Zickerman and Bill Schley's 2003 book, Power of 10. I quickly then found that Fred Hahn, and Michael and Mary Dan Eades had also written a 2003 book on this topic, The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution.

Here are the fundamental concepts behind this powerful paradigm.

  1. Strength training is the most effective and efficient exercise to improve the biomarkers of health that best represent youthfulness, including muscle mass, bone density, body fat percentage, cholesterol/lipid profiles, metabolism, and aerobic capacity.

  2. Slow speed strength training is safer, more effective, and more efficient than lifting faster. It's safer because it minimises the effects of momentum and gravity, and allows you to respond immediately to any signals of damage, rather than finding yourself having already pushed through to injury by the time you are aware it is happening. It's more effective and efficient, because it engages all muscle fiber types to their maximum.

    Following this protocol typically takes 15-30 minutes once or twice a week.

    In fact, it is so effective, that trying to workout more often would not allow sufficient rest.

Naturally, I was intrigued and excited by this idea, but at that time there were no facilities in or near Boulder offering this kind of training. I did start a slow lifting free weight routine at home, but what with the myriad things in my life, it was difficult to keep up.

Not to make excuses, but I do a lot better in the exercise department when I have scheduled commitments, especially with a social component. It's been easier for me to go to a group class of traditional lifting where I know I'll be missed if I don't show up, than to keep to a schedule just for myself in a busy place with constant distractions and demands.

I also tried doing it at the YMCA using their machines, which worked for a while. Even a schedule to go to the gym with no social component works better for me than staying in the house! Still, it was frustrating, because it took so much trial and error to get the appropriate weight on the machine, and if I got it wrong, I basically blew my chance for the whole week.

What I really needed was an expert to guide me, who knew how to tell what weight was right and when to increase it, to know which muscle groups to work, to take care of the timing, and to watch my form and focus.

Last September I decided on a whim to see if any local places had appeared since I last looked, and to my great delight, one had!

I've been working with Chuck Bystricky at Inform Fitness since October 2015, and I couldn't possibly praise him too highly. He is knowledgable, enthusiastic, and experienced. He has answered my every question about the protocol or my specific training with as much depth as I desired (and I'm quite the geek). His passion and sincerity are clear.

As to my "results", not only do I feel stronger, I have lost some 10 pounds, and am a smaller size than I was last time I was at this weight, a year and a half ago. I'm going to have to buy new pants, because my current pairs are too loose. Poor me.

Slow lifting is intense! That suits my personality just fine. This quality has led me to start calling it Mindfulness Strength Training.

Unlike regular lifting I've engaged in before, I can't start my reps and then daydream about something else. It takes a purity of focus to think of nothing except feeling your muscles. It also takes a willingness to keep engaging when the "burn" sets in. It's not exactly painful, but it's not comfortable, either.

You have to take every exercise of every workout to its fullest. You stretch your ability to its limit. To do otherwise would be a waste of effort. It reminds me of the concept of deliberate practice, a method for attaining excellence most studied in the area of music performance.

I love it. I always leave the studio feeling fantastic.

Thank you, Chuck.