Random Considerations for Fitness New Year’s Resolutions

I hadn’t thought of these before and thought they were interesting and sharing for your consideration.

I think they both stemmed from Taleb’s Antifragility book, but I’m not so sure about the first one.

1. It’s good to eat a random variety foods rather than the same things every day, or week. Why? All foods contain some natural toxins. If you eat the same things, the levels of those same toxins can build up  in your body.

I have no idea if this is true but I don’t know of too many (any?) downsides in having more variety in a diet, so why not?

2. I just read this one in Taleb’s book (it triggered my memory of #1) and made me think of a personal experience:

Randomness in the quantities and macro nutrient composition (fat, protein, carb) of your daily intake may also be good for you.

Dietary guidelines and diets assume consistent quantities and proportions of things at each meal, or each day. I think we automatically assume that too.

But, Taleb contends our bodies get stronger, more fit, with a bit more randomness. Lots of carbs one day, all protein and fat the next. Skip a meal here and there. He notes most dietary studies are based on consistent intakes, while the effect of random intakes have escaped even being a consideration in those studies.

A personal experience:

As I lost weight 12 years ago, I allowed myself one splurge every five to seven days. I figured if I was “good” the rest of the days, one bender wouldn’t hurt too bad, and would help keep me good the rest of the days.

I would splurge on random things — but it was usually carbs. One week might be a banana split. The next might be a pasta dinner.

I expected to hop on the scale the day after my splurge and see a temporary reversal in my progress. Yet, I was often surprised, on occasion to see the positive progress had continued, sometimes accelerated.

I can’t say for sure how many times that happened. It wasn’t even something I considered that could be a cause. But, it happened enough for it stick in my memory.

I never thought much about that. I thought those were flukes. I was sure there was no way that the splurge would help me temporarily. That didn’t fit with any mental model on diet and weight loss that I knew about.

Then I read #2 and it made me wonder. Maybe that 5-7 day splurge helped more than as a reward for being “good” the rest of the time. Maybe it even played a bigger role in my overall weight loss than I ever imagined.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sugar and Exercise

Here are a couple other posts CrossFit visitors might be interested in reading:

1. William Banting figured out sugar and starch was bad…in the 1800s.

2. Economist Art De Vany wrote a book about his New Evolutionary Diet, which is a lot like the Paleo Diet, and inspired some new exercise thinking for me.

CO2 Makes you fat?

This story suggests a link between the amount of CO2 in our bloodstreams and weight. The theory is that it can affect some brain receptors that might cause you to eat more and not sleep optimally, which could impact your metabolism.

The researchers think that increasing C02 may have contributed to a shift in the Body Mass Index in the Denmark over the past several decades.

Interesting if true. I imagine some folks will immediately pile on CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

There could be other culprits too. Many people consume fair amounts of C02 directly in their carbonated beverages. Though, the researchers didn’t study this.

Also, since we’ve made our homes and buildings more airtight to save energy, CO2 from our own respiration can build up more easily. The article suggests opening a window once in a while. Wouldn’t that be interesting? Open a window and get out and walk around at lunch to help curb your appetite.

Though, I have my doubts. Other things have happened since the 1970s that could have also contributed.  Governments started providing diet recommendations, for example. I got fat from that. When I gave that up, I lost weight.

Also, the consumption of refined sugars and flour have increased. Again, from my experience, if you minimize that in your diet, it’s easier to keep the weight off no matter what else you eat.

On the other hand, I don’t drink a great deal of carbonated beverages and I get a fair amount of fresh air.

Why an infomercial may be better than a TV doctor

“Do you mind if I ask, what do you base that on?”

Learning to ask this twelve word question can improve your reasoning ability.

Many people put too much stock into what certain others say because “he’s a medical doctor” or “a scientist” or “an economist” or a “Harvard grad”.

You cannot determine if something is correct simply by establishing who said it.  That’s called the appeal to authority fallacy.  It is easily defeated by considering that other medical doctors, scientists, economists or Harvard grads say something different.  Discussion on such matters usually turn into an unproductive he said/she said.

One of physicist Richard Feynman’s specialties was reviewing the experiments of other people to find the holes in their experimental design and logic.  He once said:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself…and you are the easiest person to fool.

Even experts can fool themselves.

A family member recently mentioned diet advice that the TV doctor, Dr. Oz, had shared.  It didn’t sound right to me.  I asked if Dr. Oz had provided any reasoning or evidence to support his claim.  Did he explain why that particular diet would work or if anybody had followed that diet and had success?  No.  

So, I asked, Why do you believe him?  

She replied, He’s a medical doctor.

I researched Dr. Oz’s advice on the internet and I couldn’t find any evidence to support it.  I looked for studies and individual stories from folks who claimed success following that advice.  I found one study that did not support his advice.  And I found no individuals claiming to follow the advice with success.

I thought this was a good example to illustrate that just because someone who appears to be expert says something, it doesn’t mean it’s true.  Dr. Oz may be correct, but I’d like to know what he based that advice on.

I always put more weight on results over opinions.

Which brings me to the infomercial.  I recently saw a part of an infomercial for a set of exercise DVDs.  The promise was that if you follow these DVDs for 45 minutes a day, six days a week, you too could look like some of the people in the infomercial.

I applaud the creators of the infomercial for showing me actual results.  That’s why an infomercial might be better than a TV doctor.  The infomercial sells you on results.  The TV doctor relies on his credentials.