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Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

CrossFit is a Sport…

Monday, May 20th, 2013

…and sports are dangerous.

This looks worse than it is.  But it looks pretty bad!

This looks worse than it is. But it looks pretty bad!

There’s an injury risk for any sport that you play.  And while it’s been said that sitting on the couch is way more dangerous than doing CrossFit, the fact remains that people get hurt doing CrossFit.  This is one of the biggest points that CrossFit’s detractors make on a regular basis.  ”Exercise isn’t supposed to hurt people, but CrossFit does.”

It’s a valid point that exercise shouldn’t cause injury, but the problem is that CrossFit isn’t just exercise.  Sure, we do movements that you see in other exercise routines, such as push-ups and running.  But we also do movements that are entire sports, such as weight lifting, and we do them in a competitive setting, constantly trying to beat our last time, or to win against other people in the class.

Just like many people play other sports, like softball, to get exercise and stay in shape, us CrossFitters “play” the sport of CrossFit to stay in shape.  It has the advantage of including a combination of functional movements from many other sports, so it gets us in good shape to play many other sports, but, like all other sports, it has a risk of injury.

So, my answer to people when they ask about whether or not CrossFit is dangerous is, yes, it’s a dangerous sport.  But so is soccer, cycling, track, and wrestling.  The key here is to remember that when you’re doing CrossFit, you’re participating in a sport, you’re not just working out.  This is one of the reasons that we’re including so much ancillary and mobility work: those things help keep you mobile and strengthen the parts that are most likely to get injured during the WOD.

Pay attention to your mobility and other work.  Avoid injury by training and playing smart.

Gradually Awesome Weight Loss

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

A while back I wrote a post on how to improve your diet.  I called this approach, One Bite at a Time.  A few months ago, the guys over at Eat To Perform posted an article in the same vein, entitled “The Gradually Awesome Approach to Extreme Fat Loss.”

Why is this picture here?  I dunno, it's nutritional and in the public domain.

Why is this picture here? I dunno, it's nutritional and in the public domain.

The article makes the case that good things– like CrossFit, Paleo, etc– if taken to extremes too quickly can cause damage.  They talk about the dangers of combining deficit diets with CrossFit, as removing vital nutrients from the diet and performing high intensity training is a good way to hurt yourself.  They also talk about basal metabolic rate, and an interesting and counter-intuitive hack for weight loss.  Of course, it’s all about a gradual, scaled approach.

The “Gradually Awesome” approach is the antidote to the “Gradually Awful” approach they were formerly utilizing.  Nobody became obese overnight; it usually takes years of mindless eating and sedentary living to add on hundreds of pounds and no amount of self-abuse through excessive exercise will change that.  In fact, it will make you sick and set you back.  Take my advice and chill the heck out!

I completely agree.  Let’s take our time and do this thing right, folks!

Workout for May 12, 2013:

A) 10-10-10 back extensions / 10-10-10 standing barbell twists / 10-10-10 v-ups / 15 sec - 15 sec - 15 sec ring support

B) 10 minutes hip mobility

C) 12-min AMRAP: Run 400m

D) 5-minutes ankle mobility

E) 30-30-30 double unders rest 1-minute between efforts (scale up as needed)

Changes in Obesity Over 25 Years

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Here’s an eye-opening and very short article in The Atlantic about how quickly the obesity epidemic took off in the US.

Height to waist circumference for Normal, Overweight, Obese.

Height to waist circumference for Normal, Overweight, Obese.

The animated .gif shows changes in obesity in all 50 states over the 25 years between 1985 and 2010.  It’s absurd.

We don’t always see how bad this obesity epidemic is because we live in an area that is in the top ten metro areas with the lowest percentage of obese people.  According to the article, the population of the San Francisco area is only 18% obese.  But does anybody have any idea why 4 of the cities on that list are in Colorado?  Two are in California, and it seems that the South hasn’t fared nearly so well.

Let’s keep spreading the word about fitness and sensible eating habits and work on reversing this frightening trend in our little corner of the US.

Workout for May 5, 2013

A) ”Cindy”: 20-min AMRAP of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats

B) Shoulder Mobility

C) 8-minute EMOM: 20 double-unders / 3 hang power snatches

D) Go home and celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Are You Sure About Your Weight?

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

According to this article in The Guardian, there are a lot of people who just aren’t aware of their body composition.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index

The article references a non-scientific study in which approximately 300,000 people took an online poll asking them to estimate their BMI category– underweight, normal, overweight, obese– then enter their height and weight.

Specifically, the poll discovered that there is a significant difference in perception between men and women.  Men tend to be twice as likely as women to underestimate their weight, where women tend to be a little more likely to overestimate.  Given cultural norms about weight, this seems to make sense.

The poll also discovered another interesting trend, “healthy” people tend to be more correct in guessing their BMI category, and when they were wrong, they tended to overestimate their weight.  In addition, the higher their BMI, the more likely they were to be wrong.

So, while I understand that BMI is a terrible way to measure health and fitness, the findings of this poll are interesting because they suggest, contrary to the documentary, Fathead, that people don’t really know that they are fat.

Robb Wolf on Kidney Disease

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Have you ever heard that high protein diets such as Paleo cause kidney damage?

These are... kind of important.

These are... kind of important.

Recently, a friend of mine (who does not follow the Paleo template) had a bout with some kidney stones.  She ended up winning, whatever that means, but her doctor told her to eat more grains and less meat.  I found this strange, and decided to do a bit of research.  In the process, I came across an interesting article from Robb Wolf.

In it, he makes the following claims:


2-Chronically elevated BLOOD GLUCOSE levels DO cause kidney damage.

3-Dietary fructose REALLY causes kidney damage.

4-Many kidney issues have either a hyperinsulinemic characteristic, an autoimmune characteristic, and or a combination of autoimmunity or hyperinsulinism. A standard, low-ish carb paleo diet can fix most of these issues.

5-For serious kidney damage a low-protein, ketogenic diet can be remarkably therapeutic.

6-If you get kidney stones that are from oxalates, reduce your green veggie intake (spinach for example) and have other types of veggies.

7-If you get kidney stones that are from urate salts, you are likely NOT following a low-ish carb paleodiet, you likely have insulin resistance and your liver is not processing uric acid.

He then goes on to explain why he makes these claims, and to provide some evidence for them.  It’s a pretty good, and only moderately technical read, but well worth it if you have some interest in this subject.

What are your thoughts and experience with kidney issues?  Any doctors out there care to chime in?

Soda Kills

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Recently, a woman in New Zealand died of a heart attack.  That wouldn’t ordinarily be a big deal, except that the medical examiner who did the autopsy attributed her death to her addiction to Coca-Cola.



According to the article from Discovery News, the woman drank up to 2.2 liters of Coke per day, and her family described her as suffering withdraw type symptoms if she ran out.  Apparently, she suffered a variety of serious health issues due to the sugar, caffeine, and phosphoric acid in the drink.  The article says she had fatty deposits in her liver, cardiac arrhythmia, and had lost all her teeth.  In addition, one of her children was born with no enamel on its teeth.

While this is clearly tragic, I can’t help but have a morbid interest in the physiological effects of overdosing on Coke.  You could say that any soda is bad just on account of the vast amounts of sugar in it, but Coke and other colas are particularly nasty because they pack a triple punch of sugar, caffeine, phosphoric acid.  The last two in particular can work to offset electrolyte levels in the body.

Her family said that they didn’t think her Coke habit was dangerous because there was no warning labels on the drink.  Now, this brings up a question of responsibility.  I feel that you can be dumb as a rock and still understand that drinking an excessive amount of soda is unhealthy.  By the same standards, you shouldn’t need a warning label to understand that fast food, alcohol, and cigarettes are bad for you.  These are things that, I feel, are common knowledge.  At the same time, people didn’t always know that cigarettes were bad for you–my aunt was told to smoke during her pregnancy by her doctor in order to “keep the birth weight down and make for an easier delivery.”   It took a major paradigm shift, legal fights and legislation, advertisement campaigns, and labels to finally get the public to realize how bad smoking is for you.

What do you think?  Do we need to go a similar route with soda and fast food, or should it just be common sense?

Medical Service Pricing…. Broken

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

A while back I posted “Health Care Costs Are Our Fault” It is a discussion that the dominant costs in our health care system go toward treating completely preventable conditions. No matter how you look at it, health care costs are distributed. If you have health insurance you are covering costs for other people. You pay taxes which a portion of go toward health care related services. Even if you don’t have health care, if you use health services you pay ridiculous prices to help pay for other people’s health care costs.

There is no question the market surrounding health care is broken and operates like no other business in our economy. It continues to get worse, and may really take a massive effort by many of us to get things to change. It already damages our economy and has the potential to reduce the quality of life and wealth of everyone significantly if we are not able to fix the system.

The following is a long article, but a worthwhile read.

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

Any suggestions on how to fix this?

Sleep Deprivation

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Here’s an article from the BBC News about why sleep is so important.


We’ve known for a long time that all kinds of bad stuff happens when you don’t sleep well.  This article points out some new research that suggests that the detriments are quite profound and are caused by alteration of up to 700 different genes.  One of the main things that happens during sleep is tissue repair.  When you don’t get a good night of sleep, you can’t fully repair your systems which might lead to increased inflammation and degenerative diseases.

In the study, people were allowed less than 6 hours of sleep for a week, and the article points out that many people are already getting less sleep than the people in this study.  I know plenty of people in the gym who don’t get enough sleep.  Sleep is just as important as working out and eating well.

Try cutting out the caffeine and making your sleep schedule a priority!

Should You Go Gluten Free?

Friday, March 1st, 2013

This article from the New York Times was suggested by Amanda N.



The article does a decent job of explaining what gluten proteins are and that some people seem to have a sensitivity to gluten that exists outside of a diagnosis of celiac disease.

The article points to an Australian study published in the American Journal of Gastrointerology, in which some non-celiac, gluten free patients suffering from irritable bowl syndrome were given baked goods.  The study was double-blind, and some of the patients were given regular baked goods, while others received gluten free muffins.  While the sample size was pretty small, only 34 people, all of the patients who ate the gluten reported feeling worse, which suggests that there is more to it than a placebo effect.

After that, the author tries very hard not to take a side on the issue, suggesting that most people probably don’t have a gluten sensitivity, and using the disclaimer that you should check with your doctor before going gluten free.

One point that I appreciate is the mention that just because it’s gluten free doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  Many gluten free foods are just as loaded with sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals as their enriched wheat flour friends.  It’s not enough to just stop eating gluten, you need to make sure that you’re getting plenty of micronutrients from vegetables and fruits, too.

I have yet to meet somebody who hasn’t noticed improvements to their health from removing gluten, but what do you think?

Don’t Wear Flip-Flops

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

I have my own reasons for hating flip-flops, which may or may not have to do with them being “tactical.”  But in this classic Kelly Starett clip, the author of MobilityWOD explains why athletes should not wear flip flops.  The weather is getting warmer, keep your feet out of these torture devices.