New Blog – Sign Up to Follow at MattDever.com

I migrated my old blog from mattdever.wordpress.com to mattdever.com.  This should be more convenient.  There’s one less word to type in the URL!  Seriously, I have many good quick habit descriptions on the new site.  Follow the new blog at mattdever.com.

Thanks for supporting me and my old blog.  The new one will be even better.

Happy Reading Everyone,

Matt

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Dodging Fat by Mitigating the Insulin Spike from Carbs

Do you eat carbs?

Check.

Do you want more muscle?

Check.

Do you want less fat?

Check.

Before eating your next high-carb meal, complete 4 sets of:

  • 10 Air Squats
  • 10 Wall Presses (Standing Push-Ups)
  • 10 Standing Reverse Lateral Raises

That’s it.  It takes less than 5 minutes.  You can do it in the bathroom of a restaurant…if it’s a well-kept establishment.  Your blood sugar will not spike as high.  Less insulin will be released.  Insulin promotes fat storage, so less insulin leads to less fat.  Plus, Squats, Standing Push-Ups, and Lateral Raises build muscle.

Details

Why does this work?  Exercise increases your insulin sensitivity.  What does that mean?  Normally, I need 1 unit of insulin for every 10 grams of carbohydrates I eat.  If my blood sugar is 100 and I eat 10 grams of carbs and give myself 1 unit of insulin, I expect my blood sugar to be 100 3-4 hours later when the effects of the insulin and food are complete.   If I exercised just before I ate the 10 grams of carbs, I might only need 1/2 unit of insulin to remain at a blood sugar of 100 or I could eat 20 grams of carbs and take 1 unit of insulin.  These are the basics of insulin sensitivity considering only a few variables and a simple example.

See the spikes.  That's what you'll avoid with this protocol.  Remember, spikes are bad...especially on porcupines or teenagers...
See the spikes. That’s what you’ll avoid with this protocol. Remember, spikes are bad…especially on porcupines or teenagers…
Research indicates that part of the reason for the increased sensitivity is that glucose is shuttled to muscle cells for storage after being burned when working out.  In other words, your body likes to keep a full supply of glucose stores in your liver and muscles and prioritizes replenishing storing glucose in your muscles over your your fat cells.  There’s a limit to this benefit, since there’s a finite amount of glucose that can be stored in your liver and muscle cells.  This is typically 400 – 500 grams (about ten 12-oz Cokes).

Why do squats, wall presses, and lateral raises?  Big muscle groups.  Legs, butt, chest, arms, upper back.  Without much effort you can trigger these useful metabolic processes, because you’re using multiple muscles with a big surface area.  The extra glucose from your meal is sent to the muscles you just trained, not fat storage.  Woohoo!

Instructions

How do you do squats, wall presses, and lateral raises?

  • I’m not explaining squats.  They’re the king of exercises.  Look it up.  Find a trainer.  Your life will be better with squats.  Guaranteed.
Squats
Alright. Fine. Here’s a squat. Keep an eye on this guy. He’s got tattoos. And excellent squat technique. Notice his hips are below his knees, Just do it!
  • Wall presses are like a push-up against a wall (i.e. a vertical push-up with a slight angle).  Stand two feet from a wall.  Lean in with your upper body.  Push away.  Repeat.
Watch out for banging your head directly into the wall.  Note - red arrow through the back of your neck optional.
Watch out for banging your head directly into the wall. Note – red arrow through the back of your neck optional.
  • Reverse lateral raises are like the bent-over dumbbell lateral raise, but who has dumbbells easily accessible?  Stand upright with your arms shoulder height straight out in front of you.  Bend your elbows slightly.  Pretend like you’re pulling apart a giant rubber band as your hands travel back and out to your opposite sides with the same slight bend in the arm.  Contract your rear delts, rhomboids, traps, and lats as you pull.  Easier said than done.

Standing Band Pulls
This is the basic idea, but I described this without the band. Use your imagination. Close your eyes. Imagine you have a band. Wait…open your eyes. I think I lost you…
If you want more details, read The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.  I picked up this trick from his book and slightly modified the exercises.  I don’t know all the details behind the science, but my blood sugar isn’t spiking as high and I have 24 hours of data to prove it.  Ask me to show it to you on any Sunday after my Saturday carb binge.  That’s another productive (and addictive) experiment to explain another time.

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.ˆ

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

My CrossFit Open 2015 Recap and 2014 Accomplishments Recap

The 2015 CrossFit Open is over.  I did’t make it to Regionals…again.  That’s okay.  That’s not my goal.  I got better.  I got stronger.  I got faster.  Physically and mentally.

2014 Accomplishments Recap

Most importantly, with each skill I focused on I blew myself away again, and again, and again.  All year long I surprised myself when after all those moments practicing, “it” finally clicked.  What was “it”?

“It” was:

  • Handstand walking 10 feet
  • Hitting 10 straight Butterfly Pull-Ups
  • Hitting 7 straight Muscle-Ups (Thanks Joe Botta and the 10 Muscle-Up Club!)
  • Snatching 165 pounds
  • Overhead squatting 190 pounds
  • Cleaning 225 pounds (Thanks, SummerSlam team!)
  • Finishing “Annie” in under 3 minutes
  • Hitting 200 Dubs straight

There were others, but these are the big ones.  I’m proud of these.  Each of these took approximately 40 days of training over 1 year [MATH ALERT! ((6 days training per week / 7 days per week) * 365 days per year) / 8 accomplishments = ~40].  Some took a bit more and a few a bit less.

40 days is a lot, but it’s worth it to me.  Achieving a goal is small progress day-by-day, darkest before the dawn, driving the details home.  It’s all worth it for those AHA! moments when “it finally clicks.

Matt focused.
This is me focused. Don’t get in the way of my focus. It’s like a high-speed train.

2015 CrossFit Open Recap

My strategy was to do the workouts once, usually on Sunday.  I practiced a heavy version (i.e. extra weight on the bar or a weight vest) of the workout on Friday with half the volume (i.e. cut the time in half).  That gave me a lot of confidence going into the workout.  At times the weight felt lighter during the real workout from the heavy training, but some of these are just too hard to get much benefit from the heavy loading “trick” I played on myself.  Also, I spent an hour warming up, stretching, foam rolling, lacrosse-balling.  It’s amazing how much easier these moves are with a proper warm-up…not easy, easier.

Here’s how I finished in each Open workout.  Check out the CrossFit Games site for the workout descriptions.

15.1

My score was 158 reps on Part A (i.e. 5 complete rounds of the workout below plus a little change).  This felt good.  I’m glad I practiced the toes-to-bar with a weight vest for a few weeks before this.

My score was 200 on Part B, which was great considering my max clean and jerk is about 215 many months ago when I was fresh, not sucking air through a straw.

Matt's snatch.
This is the beginning of my snatch. This is hard.

Part A

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 9 minutes of:

  • 15 toes-to-bars
  • 10 deadlifts @ 115 pounds
  • 5 snatches @ 115 pounds

Part B

  • 1-rep-max clean and jerk

6-minute time cap

Matt's snatch.
This is the end of my snatch. Much happier.

15.2

My score was 128 reps (i.e. I made it into the 3rd round of 6-9 minutes and completed a little over 1/2 the reps in that round).  This was fun and I felt a little better than last year, although my score was very similar or slightly better.  My favorite part of the workout was getting tired on my last set of overhead squats, losing my control just a little, and gradually spinning rep by rep to face the other side of the gym.

Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete:

From 0:00-3:00

2 rounds of:

  • 10 overhead squats @ 95 pounds
  • 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups

From 3:00-6:00

2 rounds of:

  • 12 overhead squats @ 95 pounds
  • 12 chest-to-bar pull-ups

From 6:00-9:00

2 rounds of:

  • 14 overhead squats @ 95 pounds
  • 14 chest-to-bar pull-ups

Etc., following same pattern until you fail to complete both rounds

15.3

I scored 367 reps.  This was in my “wheelhouse”.  I was made for these movements.  If only they doubled the time limit to about 30 minutes, I really could have dominated…but probably not walk for a week.

Thank you Joe Botta for the 10-Muscle Up Club challenge this year.  I didn’t quite make it to 10 in a row, but getting 7 straight was enough to breeze through this part of the workout.  Jumping rope and throwing a ball at a high target isn’t a challenge for a tall Boxer.  Still, Wall Balls are slow…for everyone.

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 14 minutes of:

  • 7 muscle-ups
  • 50 wall-ball shots with a 20 pound ball to a 10 foot target
  • 100 double-unders

15.4

I scored 38 reps.  I said beforehand that I’d get 40 reps or 70 reps.  38 was due to the new handstand standard.  When I get tired doing handstands, I do a reverse scoliosis move with my back that makes me about 2 feet shorter.  With the new standard, that’s a “No Rep!”  I will be stronger next year.

Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of:

  • 3 handstand push-ups
  • 3 cleans @ 185 pounds
  • 6 handstand push-ups
  • 3 cleans @ 185 pounds
  • 9 handstand push-ups
  • 3 cleans @ 185 pounds
  • 12 handstand push-ups

Etc., adding 3 reps to the handstand push-up each round, and 3 reps to the clean every 3 rounds.

Matt's handstand push-up.
“Being tall is not all it’s cracked up to be…”

15.5

I scored 9:42 meaning I finished the 72 calories on the Rower and 72 Thrusters in 9 minutes and 42 seconds.  I enjoyed this one.  It was the last Open workout.  It was going to be painful anyway.  I collapsed in a heap and contemplated the beauty of the paint chipping off the ceiling…and started planning my improvements for the next year.

27-21-15-9 reps for time of:

  • Row (calories)
  • Thrusters @ 95 pounds

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

– Henry David Thoreau

When second is better than first…

Who wants to be second?  In the hyper-competitive American society in which we live – no one.  To the winners go the spoils…or so the saying goes, but sometimes first and second isn’t about winning and losing.  Sometimes, second is better than first.

<Logic breaks down.  Worlds c-r-u-m-b-l-e.  ANARCHY!>

Despite the math not adding up, many examples show us the value of second.

  • Second provides the underdog advantage.
  • Second gives you the motivation to improve.
  • Second removes the pressure to perform.

Remember “The first bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”  Worm or cheese?  I rest my case.

Most importantly if you’re the second child, your parents already practiced on the first kid.  Number one lived all their mistakes.  Now they know what works…or at least they know one option that doesn’t work.  The probability that they’ll guess right this time is higher.

And so the luck of the Irish is with you Declan Andrew Morris.  Take all of the good in us and none of the bad.  Show us your best.

Cheese!!!
Cheese!!!

Stoicism

Stoicism is defined as:

  • the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complain
  • an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium.  The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain. (source: Google)

You may think that a stoic is an unfeeling robot, which sounds a lot like me.  Stoics (and soon robots) have feelings, but strive to set them aside that when taking action.

I’m pre-disposed to like what I learned of the stoics both by my roboticism and views on the nature of the universe.  You may or may not be so inclined, but may find the compact practical principles from The Obstacle is the Way useful.  What follows are my favorite extracts from this book’s and stoic philosophy’s simple concepts to mind-bending questions.

Introduction

  • Whatever we face we have a choice: Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?
  • When you have a goal, obstacles are actually teaching you how to get where you want to go – carving you a path.  The things which hurt, instruct. – Benjamin Franklin
  • Bad companies are destroyed by crisis.  Good companies survive them.  Great companies are improved by them.  The same is true of great individuals.  They turn weakness intro strength.
  • The diagnosis is terminal for all of us.  A death sentence has been decreed.  Each second, probability is eating away at the chances we’ll be alive tomorrow; something is coming and you’ll never be able to stop it.  Be ready for when that day comes.
  • Advancing through obstacles has three critical steps: perception, action, and will.

Step 1 – Perception

  • Definition
    • How we see and understand what occurs around us – and what we decide those events will mean
    • Context: a sense of the larger picture of the world, not just what is immediately in front of us
    • Framing: an individual’s unique way of looking at the world, a way that interprets events
  • Perspective is everything.  When you break something apart, it loses its power over you.
  • Where the head goes, the body follows.  Perception precedes action.  Right action follows the right perspective.
  • Quotes / Stories
    • Choose note to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed.  Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.  – Marcus Aurelius
    • Don’t let the force of an impression when it first hits you knock you off your feet; just say to it: Hold on a moment; let me see who you are and what you represent.  Let me put you to the test. – Epictetus
    • Our problem is that we’re always trying to figure out what things mean – why things are the way they are.  As though the why really matters.  Emerson put it best: “We cannot spend the day in explanation.  Don’t waste time on false constructs.”  What matters is that right now is right now.  Remember that this moment is not your life, it’s just a moment in your life.

Step 2 – Action

  • Definition
    • The energy and creativity to break down problems and turn them into opportunity
  • People who become great at things start.  Anywhere.  Anyhow.  Despite the conditions.  If they can get momentum, they can make it work.  Courage at its most basic level is taking action.  Create momentum by getting up and getting started.
  • Those who attack problems and life with the most energy and initiative usually win.
  • When people are where we are, what we’re doing, how that “situation” is coming along, the answer is clear: We’re working on it.  We’re getting closer.  When setbacks come, we respond by working twice as hard.
  • What is the meaning of life?  The world is asking you this question.  It’s our job to answer with our actions.  Right action – unselfish, dedicated, masterful, creative.  That’s how to find meaning in life and turn obstacles into opportunities.
  • Quotes / Stories
    • We must all either wear out or rust out, every one us.  My choice is to wear out. – Theodore Roosevelt
    • Nick Saban: “Don’t think about the championship.  Think about what you need to do in this drill, on this play, in this moment.  Focus on the task at hand today.”  Follow the process.  Do what you need to do right now.  Do it well.  Move on to the next thing.
    • Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment.  – Viktor Frankl

Step 3 – Will

  • Definition
    • The cultivation and maintenance of an inner will to handle defeat and difficulty
  • Things will go wrong.  The only variable we control is ourselves.  Turn what we must do into what we get to do.
  • You must never lower yourself to being a person you don’t like.
  • We’re not special or unique simply by virtue of being.  We’re all the subject of random and often incomprehensible events.
  • Quotes / Stories
    • This too shall pass. – Lincoln
    • Thomas Edison tried 6000 different filaments to find a material for incandescent lights that would work.  He even tried beard hair.  What set Edison apart was the steady dedication with which he applied himself towards solving problems.
    • My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, in all eternity.  Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it…but love it. – Nietzsche
    • A man’s job is to make the world a better place to live in, so far as he is able – always remembering the results will be infinitesimal – and to attend to his own soul. – Leroy Percy

Conclusion

  • Some obstacles may be impossible to overcome.  We have to be the type of people who try to get things done, try with everything we’ve got and, whatever verdict comes in, are ready to accept it instantly and move on to whatever is next.
  • Life is a process of breaking through these impediments.  Each time, you’ll learn something.  Each time you’ll develop strengths, wisdom, perspective.  Each time, a little more of the competition falls aways.  Until all that is left is you: the best version of you.
  • Perception, action, will
    • First, see clearly.
    • Next, act correctly.
    • Finally, endure and accept the world as it is.
  • You can always remember that a decade earlier, a century earlier, a millennium earlier, someone just like you stood right where you are and felt very similar things, struggling with the same thoughts.  They had no idea that you would exist, but you know that they did.  And a century from now, someone will be in your exact same position, once more.

France Vacation

France is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I loved it!

I just read the book, Essentialism with the theme “less but better”.  That’s not quite yet my mantra, so there are two versions.  Pick your poison, Long or Short or Both.  Below that are more details that can’t exist only in list form.

France Top 10 – Long  Version
(Bad Writer/Nonessentialist/Doomed Product Manager)

10. Books – Ben Franklin Biography, The Essentialist, Story of Philosophy, Lincoln: Team of Rivals

9.  Movies – Saving Private Ryan, Amelie, Schindler’s List, ER Season 2

8.  Emilie’s Cookies – Fight Club (Everything Bagel with a BLT, Cream Cheese, Ham & Cheese, Bakery Porn (pictures of female bakers molesting desserts on the walls – fully clothed though)

7.  Travel – Walking Everywhere, Economy Upgrade like 1st Class, Long Train Rides, Convenience of Metro, Hotel Upgrades

6.  Views – Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Pompidou, Arc de Trimphe, Sacre Coeur, Mediterranean, Nice Hotel, Catacombs, Notre Dame and Seine River at Night

5.  Food – Duck, Butter, Cheese, Espresso, Pasta, Bread, Simple Ingredients, Chocolate Souffle, Man-Sized Pepper Shaker like an SNL skit, Berthillion Ice Cream

4.  Menton – Lemon, Paella, Hotel, Beach, Small Town-Feel, Pizza, Olive Oil

3.  Culture – Slow-Paced, Connected, Quiet, Long Meals, Mindfulness, Louvre, Orsay, Monet’s Lillies, Street Performers, “Frosties” – I can explain in person, Music Everywhere, Monaco Monk Imposter/Founder

2.  Parasailing – View, No Fear of Heights, Exhilarating Take-off, Flying, Dropping like a Superhero

1.  Bria – Planner, Walking Partner, Food Connoisseur, Adventurer, Conversationalist

Honorable Mention – free tea at hotels, Sebastien the Host at the pink restaurant, Mediterranean only not better than the Jersey shore with no sand on the beach, Cow Gods at the Pompidou, dogs everywhere, grumpy cat on the Nice train, people watching, Capoeira street performer jumping over fire, finding 99% dark chocolate, tea stores like drug stores, the chicken restaurant…

 

I like the lion :()
I like the lion :()
Bria likes the hippo :)
Bria likes the hippo 🙂
That's Paddy knawing on a bone.  The light from this angle doesn't do him justice.
That’s Paddy knawing on a bone. The light from this angle doesn’t do him justice.
Arc de Triomphe - Thanks Napoleon!
Arc de Triomphe – Thanks Napoleon!

 

France Top 10 – Short Version
(Better Writer/Essentialist/Perfectly Imperfect Product Manager)

10. Ben Franklin Biography
9.  Saving Private Ryan
8.  Emilie’s Cookies Fight Club (Sandwich)
7.  Walking in Paris
6.  Catacombs
5.  Pizza, Olive Oil, Duck, Paella, Chocolate Souffle, Espresso (Anyone who knows how much I eat understands that I’m a horrendous Food Product Manager, but this could have been one meal in France…seriously…ask Bria.)
4.  Menton Lemons
3.  Connected, Slow-Paced Culture
2.  Parasailing
1.  Bria the Conversationalist

 

Is Paddy a Lion?
Is Paddy a Lion?

 

Is the Lion a Paddy?
Is the Lion a Paddy?

 

My Awesome Wife
Bria is awesome!  She booked a fantastic trip.  I’m a self-confessed goal collector, meaning that I’ll schedule 10 things to do each day and 5 places in 10 days to check-off all the things I want to do.  My wife knows this.  I was outlawed from planning anything in advance, which was a smart move by her.  She planned 4 days in Paris, 3 days in Menton, 3 days in Nice, and 1 final day in Paris.  Perfect planning.  Paris was a whirlwind of walking, culture, food and activity for 4 days.  We needed a break.  Menton, a small relaxing town on the Riviera, was it.  We picked up the pace in Nice for 3 days with a mix of beach and more activity.  We finished what we started in Paris.

Plus my wife is allergic to mold, which we found out years ago after many more year of trials and tribulations, when I finally cooked her an omelette with moldy mushrooms.  Her health maladies now known, I can forever bask in the glory and praise from cooking a moldy omelette and ending the search for her mysterious disease.  The rewards for that discovery paid back doubly when we entered our original hotel room five blocks off the beach in Nice.  Despite the hotel’s sold-out status, it was only cursorily cleaned leaving the dirt and grime Robert Irvine wipes off the table at every other table on Restaurant Impossible.  I’m blind to such microbes, but my wife’s spider-senses detected them immediately before we sat down.  She booked another hotel for the same price on the beach.  I talked the grimy hotel manager out of charging us for their moldy room due to Bria’s affliction and off we went.  Our new hotel upgraded us from the city-view, bargain basement-priced room to a beach view on the top floor for the same price.  Did I mention we won the plane tickets for this trip in a $20 raffle?  Winning!

What I enjoyed most was having lots of time to talk with Bria.  The adventure was better with a “partner-in-crime”.

A little girl gave Bria this...she deserves a bed of roses.  Where is that little girl?
A little girl gave Bria this…she deserves a bed of roses. Where is that little girl?

 

Parasailing

Parasailing is ubiquitous on the Mediterranean in Nice.  We had to do it.  Didn’t we?  We did until I read about the dangers of parasailing right before we put on our bathing suits.  My wife thought I’d be deterred by my fear of heights, particularly after our 5th story hotel view kept sending me into mild vertigo.  Nope!  My fear of crashing into a pier is much stronger.  We made the trip out to the beach and when I saw that there was no pier, I felt relief.  Instead, I focused on the rope.  Are the strands fraying?  Are the knots tight?  Are we about to die?  Nope!  Death did not fist-bump our hand on this day.  Instead, you feel borderline weightlessness, a brief taste of the Mediterranean touching down three times in the ocean by a skilled French boatman, and a sense of ecstasy and relief at the final view dropping straight down in front of the beach from above our hotel.

"We're not going to die...right?"
“We’re not going to die…right?”
"This knot looks a little loose..."
“This knot looks a little loose…”
Touchdown!
Touchdown!

 

Culture
I loved the culture.  There’s so much I don’t understand, but I manically enjoyed the slow, deliberate pace of walking, eating, and conversing in a connected way all-the-time.  Food, people, life is much more enjoyable this way.  I’m keeping this way of life for as long as I can.  More dinners at the dinner table.  More lunches with nothing, but eating and maybe, just maybe a book.  More reading before breakfast.

Menton
You don’t know it.  I didn’t know it.  Luckily, my wife found it.  Menton.  What a place.  It offers neither the culture of Paris nor the flash of Nice.  It’s an old-world town with simple pleasures…an affordable beach, local shops, magnificent food.  The hotel greets you with fresh-squeezed lemonade upon arrival, the perfect start from “the lemon capital of the world”.  On the beach for lunch, you discover that there’s another part to a scallop that us non-seabound Americans don’t experience.  Fresh scallops have twice the protein!  Menton sits on the border of Italy and only joined France when a tax was imposed on lemon exports (“Sacrilege!”).  The people made the bandwagon play for France over Italy during another Napoleon’s expansion period.  And so, you get the best of Italy too with pizza that puts Pica’s to shame and olive oil that’s off the charts.

Menton.
Menton.

 

Catacombs
Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort – “Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death” (Sounds like fun…why not proceed?)

The Catacombs are a spiritual experience as the thousands of skulls and bones stacked head-height remind you that you too will soon be just a pile of calcium decay.  You walk for an hour underground and this is only 1/800 of the underground tunnels in France.  They like their tunnels, apparently much more than the tall buildings they can’t build because of all the tunnels.  Like a fighting brain-surgeon I inspected the skulls to see that “Yes.  The forehead bone is much thicker than the rest of the skull proving that it’s better to lead with your forehead when fighting than any other part of your head, but not  without your hands.  Always keep your hands up!  Especially, when fighting skeleton-zombies in one-way underground tunnels in Paris.  Run!”

 

Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death.   "Bria?  Where are you going?  Wait...WAIT...ZOMBIES!  RUUNNN!"
Stop! Here lies the Empire of Death.
“Bria? Where are you going? Wait…WAIT…ZOMBIES! RUUNNN!”
I feel so alone, going to end up A big old pile of them bones
I feel so alone, going to end up
A big old pile of them bones

 

Espressos

I like espressos, but not coffee.  That is all.

Long Train Rides
Can we get better public transportation in the US?  Please!  We watched Saving Private Ryan with the backdrop of the fields of scenery from the movie passing us in the distance.  I finished the bulk of a Ben Franklin biography, started one on Abraham Lincoln, and read Essentialism mostly on the train.  This beats driving or flying.  Also, they had a chocolate mousse for lunch with four ingredients: chocolate, cream, eggs, sugar.  Where can you find food with so few ingredients on public transportation or anywhere else in the US?

Besides simple food and better public transport, one more trait we can use in the US is more Ben Franklin-style compromise.  He was in France for the duration of my trip…at least I was reading the France portion of his biography most of the time we were there.  When he finally returned at the Philadelphia Convention he said, “Declarations of a fixed opinion, and of determined resolution never to change it, neither enlighten nor convince us.  Positiveness and warmth on one side, naturally beget their like on the other.”  When that didn’t work in forming the Constitution with no combined House and Senate yet designed to balance the power between small and large states and ferocious debate continuing, Franklin went with, “When a broad table is to be made, and the edges of the plank do not fit, the artist takes a little from both, and makes a good joint.  In like manner here, both sides must part with some of their demands.”  Jackpot!  Constitution formed.  States power balanced.  World superpower birthed.

Can we compromise a little on climate change, healthcare, guns, taxes?

Fight Club
This is not a movie…it’s a sandwich…the most glorious breakfast sandwich ever created.  And it’s made by pornographer bakers.  Okay, they’re not really pornographers, but there are borderline-lewd images of women thoroughly enjoying baked treats, while generally fully clothed (except for the one with the bagel-bra) on the walls of Emilie’s Cookies in Nice.  These ladies don’t just make cookies.  How can you make a BLT better?  The ‘Fight Club’ is a BLT on an everything bagel with cream cheese on top plus ham & cheese on the bottom.  Family, this is coming to a breakfast near you…soon.  Parfait!

Hmmm...bagels or cookies?
Hmmm…bagels or cookies?

 

I must apologize for the length of this blog.  If I had more time, I would make it shorter.

 

My favorite picture of us from the trip at Notre Dame
My favorite picture of us from the trip at Notre Dame
My favorite picture without us from the trip at the Seine River
My favorite picture without us from the trip at the Seine River

CrossFit Open 2014 – Weeks 4 and 5

Low blood sugar…

Persistent low blood sugar.

This was my life leading up to 14.4.  I was not digesting food at the rate I normally do, which is ultra fast.  In reading a book on diabetes recently, I learned that diabetics don’t produce a hormone named amylin that slows down the absorption of food in non-diabetics.  This explains why I have the urge to eat every hour on the hour.  That was not the case this week.  With my digestion slow, my blood sugars held steady between 70-90, meaning my brain could almost function normally…almost.  I likely had an infection of some sort.  I finally lowered my insulin levels after 3-4 days of gathering data.  Then the infection passed, my blood sugars skyrocketed, and I had to complete 14.4.

14.4

AMRAP in 14 minutes of:

  • 60 Calore Row
  • 50 Toes to Bar (TTB)
  • 40 Wall Balls at 20 pounds and 10 feet
  • 30 Cleans at 95
  • 20 Muscle-Ups
Matt rowing.
Rowing is fun.

The row is self-explanatory except that you’re rowing until you burn 60 calories.  Toes to Bar require you to hold onto a bar at the bottom of a Pull-Up position and touch both toes/feet to the top of the Pull-Up bar between your hands.  Wall Balls are squatting below parallel with a 20 pound medicine ball and throwing it to a target 10 feet high.  Cleans are…are…are too complicated to explain, so checkout the pictures at the bottom left of this link.  Think DeadLift into Front Squat.  Muscle-Ups are hard.   Grab gymnastics rings.  Perform a Pull-Up, then get above the rings and complete a Dip.  This separates the men from the boys.

Matt doing Toes to Bar.
Toes to Bar are not fun. Okay 1 is fine, but 50 are not. Just ask this Toe to Bar Gang.

Despite having to wait 3 hours due to the aforementioned debilitatingly low blood sugars and completing the workout with the subsequent skyscraper high blood sugars, I’m proud to say I’m #1 in the world at completing this workout with 3 Muscle-Ups.  In other words I’m not #1 in the world, because I only completed 3 Muscle-Ups and many completed many, many more, but of all the people that completed only 3 Muscle-Ups, I likely had the best split time.  The tiebreaker for people who have the same number of Muscle-Ups is the time you completed your Cleans prior to the Muscle-Ups.  My split time was about 10-and-a-half minutes.  Anyone who completed the Cleans quicker than that and could do a Muscle-Up likely did many more than 3 Muscle-Ups.  I clocked in at about a minute per Muscle-Up.  They’re hard, but a minute per Muscle-Up is pretty pedestrian.  I’ll be better next year, but for now I’ll take solace in that I can say I’m #1 in the world at something.

Matt doing Muscle-Ups.
Muscle-Ups…WEEEEEEEE!

14.5 was announced and jaws dropped, hearts raced, and feet trembled at the sight of a monster.

14.5

With no time limit, complete:

  • 21 Thrusters at 95 pounds
  • 21 Bar Facing Burpees
  • 18 Thrusters
  • 18
  • 15 Thrusters
  • 15 Burpees
  • 12 Thrusters
  • 12
  • 9 Thrusters
  • 9 Burpees
  • 6 Thrusters
  • 6 Burpees
  • 3 Thrusters
  • 3 Burpees

That’s 84 Thrusters and 84 Burpees.  Enjoy!  Thrusters are a Front Squat followed by an Overhead Press.  They’re the source of inspiration for my recent speech, “Jimmy the Giant” recounting how obesity could be solved by everyone doing Thrusters daily  They’re hard.  They’re sadistic.  They’ll rock your world.  Meanwhile, Burpees were invented by the Devil and Bar-Facing Burpees come from the Devil’s evil in-laws.  Jump over your barbell.  Face the barbell.  Drop to the ground until you’re at the bottom of a push-up.  Stand up.  Repeat.  Vomit.

Normally, the CrossFit Open workouts have a time cap.  Complete as many reps as possible in a certain amount of time.  This is the first workout that required you to complete everything in ten minutes, 30 minutes, or however long it took you to finish.  Some people looked like they were growing old before my eyes completing this workout.  Others were truly inspiring.  Rhonda could barely do a single Thruster with the 65 pound weight for women.  Instead, she did 84.  Pretty amazing!

I finished just under 14-and-a-half minutes, which was a pretty good score.  I placed myself closest to the garage door opening at our box (gym) to get more fresh oxygen and discounted the fact that gymnastics rings were hanging over my head.  My barbell got stuck in the rings on my 3rd rep, but once I dislodged it the rest of the workout was smooth and painful.  My first 60 Burpees were the best I’d ever done likely from watching this Carl Paoli video over and over again.

Matt doing Thrusters.
Doing Thrusters, hoping that looking up will make the bar lighter.

After the torture of 14.5 another CrossFit Open was complete and the post-Open party commenced.  I gathered a list of improvements for next year: Butterfly Pull-Ups, Long Toes to Bar Sets with Short Rest, Stringing Together Muscle-Ups, Heavy Overhead Squats, DeadLifts, Cleans, and Snatches.  I now know better what I do well: heart, focus, and strategy.  That’s the best part of competition – being inspired, recognizing accomplishments, and knowing clearly what you want to improve.  Now it’s time to get back to work!

Just because you fail once, it doesn’t mean you’re going to fail at everything.  Keep trying, hold on, and always, always, always, believe in yourself because if you don’t, then who will?  So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.

– Marilyn Monroe