The latest from 'Humans Are Not Broken.'
How will you spend your time today?
This is perhaps the most consequential decision that we all make. Getting into routines helps to free us from having to think about this too much, but in the words of the famous Rush song:
“if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
Most of us strive to form healthy habits, principles to live by, and other shortcuts that help automate and guide our decisions. This is fantastic, as long as the results keeps us moving in the direction we want to travel. It’s important, though, to recognize that our habits, principles, goals, etc. are based on past decisions, desires, and evaluations—all of which aren’t necessarily appropriate for guiding us here and now. The line between principle and crutch is a fine one indeed.
As such, it’s important to reevaluate from time to time. After a solid round of this, I’ve decided to put new episodes of Latest in Paleo on hold for a while. Let me explain.
Even though the final product provides about an hour’s worth of listening, a lot of time goes into each episode. I’ve spent 50+ hours on some episodes. The main goal for me has always been to produce shows that I believe are worth listeners’ time and that I would actually want to listen to myself. The nature of the show is also time intensive, requiring much reading, selection, analysis, and editing to put together a cohesive product.
That’s not a complaint by any means, just the reality. I enjoy the hell out of what I do.
Counter to my own expectations, it actually takes me longer to stitch shows together nowadays than it used to early on. The efficiency gains that have come with experience have been outweighed by having already covered so much ground, so I have to dig deeper each time to keep things fresh and interesting.
Recently, I’ve found myself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Do I continue focusing on and sharing the latest health news, or do I devote substantial time to expanding on and sharing what I’ve learned and been so successful with over the last 6 years?
More and more, I find myself wanting to focus on the latter.
I’m in the unique position of having lost significant weight and maintaining this weight loss for over six years. This is rare. Less than 1% of people are able go from obese to normal-weight—let alone lean and fit—for long periods of time. Doing this while also soaking in the latest health research on a full-time can only be far more rare.
Adding my own anecdotes, ideas, techniques, tips, recipes, and interpretation of the literature won’t change the world or magically provide people with the motivation to make better choices. Maybe it could make a difference for some, though. Not to mention, I would personally find the exercise of organizing my own ideas to be quite useful to myself.
While I know tens of thousands of listeners might prefer that I continue focusing on the weekly show—I’m compelled to shift gears for a while. It’s sort of like being out on a beautiful hike down a familiar path and suddenly finding a new side trail has appeared—who knows where it will lead, but the itch to explore it is strong.
I’ve brought thousands of people into the Paleo fold, which I consider a good thing. Just about anyone who moves from a standard Western diet to eating a mostly whole-food diet is doing themselves a huge favor.
But there’s much more to it than that, and I’ve got a lot to say on the matter. Those interested in evolutionary clues about diet, lowering disease risk, weight loss (including that last 20), longevity, basic fitness, forming a good relationship with food, and passing on good eating habits to children while minimizing their risks of developing allergies and food sensitivities later on will want to stay tuned.
Some of this, I’ll be able to start sharing very soon, some of it will come later in the form of a book.
My to-do list over the next few months looks something like this:
- Create a new Plant Paleo blog for my flexitarian-ish take on Paleo
- Move Latest in Paleo to Dan Benjamin’s new (and very cool!) podcasting platform, Fireside.fm
- Publish a weekly article on the new blog
- Publish a weekly recipe (hopefully with video)
- Concurrently write a book synthesizing my ideas on health, fitness, and diet
- Publish occasional Latest in Paleo episodes, mostly with guests
- Publish occasional Health News Ticker email updates.
- Get caught up on a bunch of small, tedious, administrative tasks not worth mentioning, but that are a thorn in my shoe nonetheless.
Many of these are already underway, and now I’m simply devoting more time to moving them from in-progress toward done. So there it is. That’s what I’m doing today. I’ve always taken my own medicine; why stop now? Re-evaluate. Re-invent.
Just ahead of Cyber Monday, I’d like to share with you a few gift ideas for the kitchen. These are gadgets we use everyday at our house, and they’re all excellent values because of the time and money they will help you save. They make great gifts for friends, family, or for yourself.
If you enjoy club soda, the Sodastream is simply a must-have. There are few other products I can think of that provide as much convenience and savings.
Think about everything that goes into the process involved with store-bought sparkling water, especially the brands from overseas. They’re bottled in non-reusable plastic or glass. They’re extremely heavy and are transported around the world on cargo ships. They must then be distributed to stores via semi trucks. You have to physically travel to a store to pick them up, pay a premium, load them into your own vehicle, and eventually unload them into your pantry and refrigerator where they continue to take up space until you use them.
Or…you can fill a reusable bottle from your sink, place it into the Sodastream, press a button a few times and instantly enjoy a refreshing club soda.
We keep three carbonation tanks on hand, and when we have two empties we exchange them at the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond (almost always with a 20% off coupon). With the Sodastream, you control the carbonation level. Each tank lasts us about a month with four sparkling water drinkers in the family.
We’ve used the Sodastream model pictured above daily for over 6 years, and I won’t even bother calculating how many dozens of times this thing has paid for itself. Even if you don’t have quality tap water in your area, you’ll still enjoy hefty savings by starting with filtered water, purchased by the gallon.
It’s good for your pocketbook, reduces waste, and it serves up major time-saving convenience with every quart. 100% recommended.
The Instant Pot is seven devices in one, but truth be told, I only use it for one purpose: pressure cooking on the manual setting. I also have to admit, I have been completely and pleasantly surprised by how often I use this device, and how much I enjoy using it.
If you haven’t used a pressure cooker before, you may think as I did, that the main benefit is quicker cooking time. You’d be partially right, because while it cooks food quickly, it also delivers massive flavor. I can make soup in under 30 minutes, yet it tastes like it was slow cooked for hours and it sat in the refrigerator, flavors melding overnight. It’s that good.
I use the InstantPot at least a couple of times a week. Gone are the days of unevenly and undercooked beans and lentils…and they’re done in about 8 minutes. Brown rice is perfect in 22 minutes. I can make chicken soup from frozen chicken in just 15 minutes—perfectly cooked garlic, celery, and carrots, tender meat, and rich broth. Instead of cooking bone broth all day, you can have gelatinous perfection in under 2 hours. Or how about a pot full of perfectly steamed potatoes in just 5 minutes?
I can’t help talking about the quick cook times, but seriously, the flavor is intense and just as important to mention. I also like the fact that I can easily run this device on our backup power generator during our frequent and sometimes sustained power outages out here in the country. Also, pressure cooking temperatures reach about 250º F, which stays below the 300º F threshold that creates harmful compounds in food.
In addition to pressure cooking, the device also serves as a slow cooker/crockpot, rice cooker, sautèing surface, yogurt maker, steamer & warmer. As of this writing, there are over 12,000 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4.7 out of 5 stars—and I wholeheartedly concur. Instant Pot recipes are abundant and are now easily found on the Internet.
Silicone Cooking Utensils
For years—no, decades—I’ve abused my non-stick cookware and cursed all of the manufacturers for making such crappy products that don’t live up to their promises of scratch-free longevity. Inevitably, even when using plastic spatulas and spoons religiously, they end up scratched, looking ugly, and eventually in the waste bin.
Well, it turns out an inexpensive set of silicone cooking utensils would have saved me hundreds of dollars in non-stick pot and pan replacements. Who knew?
I purchased the set above a few months ago, and since then, no more scratches on our ceramic cookware set. Such an easy fix!
I was worried about these utensils being too soft and bendable to really offer control when flipping an egg or stirring a thick sauce. However, these are rigid enough for everything I’ve thrown at them, and they’re a pure joy to cook with.
These make a great stocking stuffer for the cook in your life, and they’re definitely worth picking up a set for yourself if you use nonstick cookware at all. Now that I know I won’t be throwing away more money on cookware, I’m considering purchasing one more set of ceramic cookware—either another one of these sets that held up well, or possibly this one, because I want the 12″ frying pan.
Ever since I started making my own oil-free salad dressings, my Braun Immersion Blender has become my best friend in the kitchen.
Most of my dressings include some combination of seeds, nuts, avocado, fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar, spices, and another liquid such as salsa. This thing quickly transforms the ingredients into a delicious, creamy, nutrient-dense dressing ready to generously coat salad greens for a hardy meal or a nice side.
I could use a regular stand mixer to do the job, but the immersion blender is quicker and much easier to clean up. I do my blending in mason jars; just screw on the lid and leftovers are ready for storage. When blending oil-free mixtures, clean up consists of a quick rinse under running water and a couple of whirls of the blade. Done.
Dressings are my number one use for this device, but it also makes perfect homemade mayonnaise and whipped cream for the occasional treats. Healthy dressings, mayo, and whipped cream are relatively expensive when store bought, but the immersion blender offers far superior results along with total control of ingredients and portion sizes.
For example, when we make tuna salad for the kids, we can make just enough mayo for what we need, and we can use farm fresh eggs and good quality oil. No jarred mayo tastes better, period. We make whipped cream with organic heavy cream, honey, and vanilla beans—that’s it…and it tastes magical. Dressings, as I mentioned, are taken to a whole new level of healthy. This will be our go-to device for making our own fresh baby food as Benjamin grows, too.
The Braun is a well-built power horse, and has withstood near-daily use for years. The model linked to above comes with a whisk attachment that looks pretty handy, while more expensive models come with a mini-chopper that could be useful, too. We just have the stick, and it does the job, but for the price difference, I’d opt for the model with the whisk when purchasing again.
For the most part, kitchen gadgets are overrated and end up in the back of some cabinet rarely—if ever—to be used…but at our house, these have really become staples. They’ve all stood the test of time in our busy kitchen, and I can say without a doubt they’ve saved us time, money, and aggravation. If anything happened to them, I’d replace them quickly. Hopefully, you’ll like them, too. Most importantly, though, they deliver better results and make spending time in the kitchen even more enjoyable. Good health starts in the kitchen.
Have a Merry Christmas!
Promising research from a University of Newcastle team suggests that Type 2 diabetes can be cured in just eight weeks by diet alone. CURED. Their protocol is known to be effective in subjects who have had diabetes for up to 10 years, and they are optimistic about it working for some who have had the disease even longer.
The short term, very-low calorie diet was initially designed to mimic the rapid reduction of calorie intake that results from bariatric surgery—which is known to be effective in reversing diabetes very quickly. In 2011, the Newcastle researchers conducted their first study using the diet, and the results were impressive.
Participants who had diabetes for 4 years or less were placed on an 800-calorie diet. Daily food intake was limited to three liquid meal replacements (totaling 600 calories) and three servings of non-starchy vegetables (totaling 200 calories).
This year, the Ancestral Health Symposium will be held at The University of Colorado at Boulder. It’s taking place August 11-13, and attendee registration is currently open with an early bird discount. The non-profit Ancestral Health Society is behind the event.
I plan to attend this year. Hope to see you there!
A game called Mad Gabs turns simple phonetics into brain-twisting fun. You have to translate odd phrases like ‘Cohen Peas’ into the more common ‘go in peace.’ The answer to a game card that reads ‘Europe Art Tough Fit’ would be ‘you’re a part of it.’
You get it. Well, that’s how we announced Amy’s pregnancy to our family. We had a game day, played Mad Gabs, and we slipped in a custom clue for the grand finale. When they realized ‘Aim Ease Gnawed Cup’ translated to ‘Amy’s knocked up,’ well, let’s just say the looks on their faces were priceless.
Puzzle solved! But then, still puzzled…then excited, disbelief, squeaking, screaming, hugging!
I thought I’d share a little bit about what we’ve been up to this Winter, so read on, and you’ll learn why things have been a little quiet on the blog, see pictures of a few of our meals, and even get a 3D peak at the littlest one in the family.
An emerging body of research is suggesting that we can make some small changes that strongly influence us to eat less.
A review was recently published by the Cochrane group, looking at 72 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that were published through mid-2013. The research looks solid and offers some great advice on how to reduce portion sizes and overall food consumption.
Do low activity levels lead to over eating?
Sixty years ago, researcher Jean Mayer worked on questions like this and published results from studies performed on mice, rats, and humans. (Science 1953; 117:504-5 • Am J Physiol 1954; 177:544-9 • Am J Clin Nutr 1956:169-75)
His work showed that inactive rodents and humans actually tend to eat more than their active counterparts. A reasonable hypothesis is that low levels of physical activity dysregulate appetite, or somehow trigger the desire to eat more.
If true, working hard isn’t the only way to work up an appetite. Unfortunately, not working works up an appetite, too.
Now, a study recently published in The Journal of Clinical Nutrition helps add to the present body of research. It’s descriptive title is Low levels of physical activity are associated with dysregulation of energy intake and fat mass gain over 1 year.
Maybe you’ve noticed this too, but it’s the free improvements I’ve made to my health—like changing my diet, walking, spending time in nature, and getting good sleep—that have benefited me far more than any of the health or fitness products I’ve purchased.
But, if I had to choose one “thing” that I’ve purchased over the years that has helped my health and wellbeing the most, our family dogs would be at the very top of the list.
Where supplements, gadgets, special activewear, and equipment have failed to live up to their hype—and tend to perform consistently poorly in studies—the good ol’ family dog consistently outperforms our expectations, even in studies.
Bruce Lee died 42 years ago, and he remains one of the most well-recognized people on the planet. The legendary icon helped stitch together the cultures of east and west. He was also a renaissance man: athlete, martial artist, philosopher, teacher, actor, poet, and founder of Jeet Kune Do—a pragmatic, individualized fighting system, very much in line with his own philosophy.
A highly quotable man, this is one of my favorite Bruce-Lee-isms. He dedicated his book, Tao of Jeet Kune Do to the free, creative martial artist, and followed it with: