INTERMITTENT FASTING

I’m hungry.

It’s 7:30 pm, I haven’t eaten since 4, and I want to punch James Altucher for suggesting that skipping dinner was an effective way to release weight. Well, I also want to shake his hand and thank him for the advice. Somehow, skipping dinner has been difficult, but far easier than any other diet I’ve tried. It’s also produced noticeable improvements in my figure (though I am not yet thin). This is important since I have a deadline coming up and the Universe demands that I meet it.

The end.

Just kidding. What is this deadline, you ask? I, Savanna Steele, am to have developed a healthy, fit, slim body by February 28, 2017 (originally, I selected February 30th, and then remembered that date never existed, but I could do with more time). This is the statement I have been writing down daily for the past month and a half, along with several other statements, the most important one being, “I, Savanna Steele, have achieved Financial Independence by December 30, 2017, or sooner.” This means that I will have developed enough income from alternative revenue streams that, if I wanted to, I could say good bye to my day job and not worry about paying the bills. 

Where have i gotten so far with building alternative sources of cash flow? So far, not far, in that I have nothing coming in.  One might say that the goal of achieving “FI” (as the mad “Fientist” refers to it) is lofty, but I remain convinced that if I continue to write my goal down every day, I will some how make it come true (God willing). This is why I sit here typing and starving. If I cannot meet my goal of developing a healthy, fit, slim body by February 28th, then I might lose faith in the strategy of writing down my goals, and I might have to face the reality that FI is further away than the end of this year. I will report back on February 28th with news, good or bad. Wish me luck!                                                                                       -Savanna Steele

Check out more from Savanna Steele at SavannaSteele.com

 

Love to Learn? Teach Your Children to Love it Too!

You're Nobody! It's Okay, So Is Everybody Else

Carl Sagan's commentary on the "pale blue dot" is one of the more remarkable observations of the individual's relationship with his place in time and space. The "pale blue dot" of course is the planet Earth and the vantage point is that of NASA's Voyager One, a little over 25 years ago. Just after it passed Saturn, the antiquated space robot turned it's cameras around and instead of looking forward to its exploratory mission, looked back at its roots. Mr. Sagan described the importance of the resulting image with artistic perfection in his book:  Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

The Pale Blue Dot is seen as a speck in the far right Line. Photo Credit NASA

The Pale Blue Dot is seen as a speck in the far right Line. Photo Credit NASA

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

Photo By Alago

Photo By Alago

Consider your place on this "mote of dust." How many times do you find yourself wrapped up in the drama of your life's unfolding story? Events come and go with the passing of time. Some seem overwhelmingly impossible to get passed and plague us through sleepless nights and days of distraction. How many times have you brought yourself to the point of frustration because something didn't work out the way you planned it? How often have you laid in bed contemplating your place in the world, in life and maybe even in history? One of the most profound realizations I had in my life occurred while studying the Roman Empire back in college. We were discussing Pompeii and I remember looking at a photograph of a public street with its uneven cobblestones, rudimentary crosswalks, and abandoned storefronts. Something struck me about the mundane nature of this picture which at one time bustled with activity for nearly 800 years (more than 3 times longer than America has existed) around 2,500 years ago. Simply put, people walked these streets to and from work; to and from the market; to and from the homes of friends and family. They had their own problems which robbed them of sleep and distracted them from their days. They lived, loved, lost and died as quickly and quietly as the ticking of a second hand around a clock. The overwhelming majority of these folks were forgotten by time. These individuals looked like us, laughed like us, cried like us and existed in every way like us. This made me reconsider the value and meaning of my life. A quick scroll through social media reveals people who feel their lives have to be filled with fireworks, rainbows, and unicorns! That they have to write a great novel, star in a blockbuster film or record a gold record. Our 80 or so years of existence on this planet is but a grain of sand on the shores of human history with a negligible impact on anything beyond friends and family. And as Mr. Sagan eloquently describes, even the greatest and most powerful characters in history are but "momentary masters of a fraction of a dot." This perspective is reassuring and somewhat cathartic. The majority of humans that lived on this planet were at most, important to only a handful of others. And the few who broke the mold and touched thousands or even millions of other lives, were still only important to a handful of souls, relatively speaking. If you are worrying about your place in the world or your place in history, be comforted that in only matters to the few close and special group of humans you are lucky enough to share a bond with at this place and this time. So rejoice in the mathematical impossibility of existence and worry only about those people around you that you're lucky enough to love because history's second hand is ticking away.

Mr. Sagan closes his thoughts on the Pale Blue Dot masterfully and beautifully. 

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

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Stay tuned to Episode #35 with Tom Bell, an archaeology student who discovered the small pendant which turned out to be the oldest Mesolithic art in Great Britain. To hold this pendant in his hands tens of thousands of years after it's previous owner wore it is a lesson itself in our place in time. 

 

 

References:

SaganCarl (1994). Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1st ed.). New York: Random House

Sagan, Carl (September 9, 1990). "The Earth from the frontiers of the Solar system - The Pale, Blue Dot"PARADE Magazine

Pale Blue Dot Image from NASA: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=52392

Pompeii Street By Alago - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3130379

How Walking Like A Monkey Saved My Spine

"Imagine never doubting yourself physically. Always being up for activities as experiences present themselves. Waking up everyday without any worries about nagging pains or limitations. Instead, you feel anticipation for the possibility of fun and exploration in the day ahead." - GMB Fitness

 

Survival of the FITest

Medically speaking our bodies are very aware of the abuses sustained over time and are quite “vocal” when things are seem to be going awry. “Vocal” of course is a metaphor for the screaming pain of tendonitis, arthritis, and any other “-itis” which serve as a warning signals of dysfunction and ensuing catastrophic failure. As a medical provider, I've seen tons of cases where chronic musculoskeletal pain, often termed overuse or repetitive motion injuries, have resulted in traumatic tendon ruptures, sprains and spine injuries. Our bodies are magnificent machines which work well dynamically. This means, they are best utilized when the environment constantly changes; e.g. uneven ground, climbing, jumping, running, squatting etc. Presently, the majority of us slouch at desks while tapping away at keyboards. Though society has come a long way with technological advancements we've lost touch with one of our body's most basic human functions: movement. We forgot how to move properly, as nature (“evolutionarily” speaking) intended it.

Photo by 00Mate00/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by 00Mate00/iStock / Getty Images

Let's address the fact that humans have been around for about 200,000 years. That's a long time to hone and perfect our organic-meat-machines. The “survival of the fittest” mechanism fine tuned our cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, and digestive systems for the marathon pace of our ancestor's nomadic migrations and stressful sprints of the big game hunt. We adapted body composition and metabolic processes to adjust for summers of plentiful bounty and winters of famine. Our bones were strengthened against the pounding of our limbs during long treks to gather food and water. The skin on our hands and feet were thickened and calloused for grip while walking on unpaved pathways and climbing unforgiving terrain. Our arms and legs were naturally strong when it was necessary to carry our food and water in our arms rather than carry them in packs. This was the way of life for millennia after millennia until we slowly invented ways to increase the efficiency of movement by reducing workload. Take a look over the past 100 years of first world development. The reliance on strength and stamina for agriculture made way for the modern consumer driven supply chain. Today, very few in our society find themselves working the land or trekking for resources. The physiological mechanisms which took tens of thousands of years to evolve and kept us alive have been made obsolete in a fraction of the time.

Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA and creator of Nutritious Movement, elegantly describes the modern limitations imposed on our body's natural abilities as casts, similar to the medical casts we apply to broken limbs. A cast purposefully limits the mobility of a broken bone in order to reduce mechanical stresses to allow the bone to heal properly. She applies this theory to include everything which limits our bodies natural movements. Take for instance athletic shoes. Athletic shoes are a type of cast which constricts the natural contours of our feet, they reduce inefficient movements and isolate single muscle groups. This is not a good thing as it ignores the process of adaptation. Our feet are designed to take a beating and when they are constantly cushioned, they basically turn weak and floppy. The idea of casting can be applied to almost every area in our lives. These casts weaken once strong muscles and the resulting dysfunction leads to abnormal wear and tear setting us up for injury and chronic pain.

This Gets Personal

Photo by Eraxion/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Eraxion/iStock / Getty Images

This winter I had personally battled a number of spine injuries related to my defiant attitude towards turning forty years old. To celebrate this completely arbitrary milestone, I decided to set a goal to deadlift 400 pounds before my odometer clicked passed 39 years, 11 months and 31 days. Some may say that this goal was merely fueled by the prototypical mid-life-crises and those individuals would probably be right! Despite a decade passing since my “twenty-something” perception of invincibility expired, I decided to set this deadlifting goal to become the strongest I had ever been. Unfortunately, no matter how much I ignored my body's insubordinate aches and pains, multiple injuries took their toll and prevented me from continuing. Somewhere between the numbness in my fingertips and the rational part of my brain, reality set in and I chose to scrub the 400 pound deadlift and readdress my fitness goals while I still had the ability to move my limbs.

I researched body weight strength and flexibility oriented programs to try and loosen up my rusty old spine and protect it for future endeavors. I avoided most programs which were too similar to others I had completed in the past. I had a lot of fun with crossfit programs and they work well in their ability to pound you into shape but if my body was still injury prone, what would be my motivation to continue with these? Aesthetics? Therein lies an important distinction everyone must address when considering a workout program. Am I doing this to look good or am I doing this to feel good. I had never taken time to consider feeling better as a fitness goal. My motivations were always aimed towards lifting heavier, going farther and getting faster. What if I changed that mindset to moving better, feeling better and increasing my flexibility

Enter the guys from GMB Fitness. I discovered their website after seeing a lot of chatter about them on twitter. They talked about mindfulness, listening to your body and exploring movements through various work flows. Their site showcased videos and images of athletes bounding around on all fours like monkeys, jumping through squats like frogs and balancing in contorted poses sometimes on one hand, one leg, or upside down and most importantly always with a smile. It was the first paragraph on the website caught my attention the most:

“Lately, the word “fitness” has been perverted to mean shaming yourself into doing things you hate to impress people you don’t like with a body that looks good but is too beat-up and tired to do anything fun.”

Hey, that sounded familiar. Why had I chosen the 400 pound deadlift as a goal. I wanted to prove that I wasn't getting older. But to who? The fact is, I am getting older and that's okay. Humility teaches us that most people don't care how you look and could care even less about how much weight you can lift. The creators of GMB Fitness, Andy Fosset, Ryan Hurst and Jarlo Ilano, developed their approach to fitness by embracing this very concept. Their backgrounds in martial arts, gymnastics and physical therapy allows for a program which combines medically appropriate movement, athletic flexibility and functional strength at the pace and intensity of the user.

Getting Back To Basics

Photo by alexemanuel/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by alexemanuel/iStock / Getty Images

One way to get back to our ancestral roots would be to strip off our clothes and run off to live naturally in the forest, walking barefoot, gathering berries and hunting elk. My guess is that we'd probably die very quickly from thirst, exposure and starvation. Let's face it, we're not as tough as our ancestors... hell, we're not even as tough as our grandparents! A better approach would be to relearn the ways our bodies were meant to move. GMB Fitness emphasizes that relearning movement is a process and takes discipline, motivation and mindfulness. Everyone alive once knew how to move, simply watch the way a child plays. Watch how they squat, jump, tumble and stretch without the tightness built up in muscles from years of “casting”. GMB has many programs which involve assessing your ability to do basic movements. Movements you probably haven't considered performing since you were a child. Once enrolled in their program, I put down my deadlift bar and kettlebells and found myself spending twenty minutes warming up my hands, fingers and wrists!? When was the last time you focused on how your fingers felt. My routine became bear crawls, monkey walks and frog jumps. I focused specifically on form and posture; how deep am I squatting, are my feet flat on the floor, are my calves tight? I tried bear walking for 5 minutes, after 45 seconds, I needed break! I could snatch a 32 kg kettlebell over my head but couldn’t walk on all fours for a minute! I am currently on week seven on a year long exploration of flexibility and movement. My goals are now measured in ability to perform an unassisted hand stand and the gold standard of body weight fitness... the planche! I'm motivated, I'm more flexible than I have been in years and I feel like I have a better understanding of my body and what it can do. I plan on incorporating these lessons throughout my life and hope to stay limber, strong and pain free.

 

Ryan Hurst, program director for GMB Fitness will be coming on the podcast to discuss the essentials of human movement and further talk about the GMB philosophy.