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The Vegetarian Myth, a book review by Matthew Romans

A few weeks ago a colleague sent me a video interview with Lierre Keith, who is a writer, small farmer, and radical feminist activist. The interview covered a wide variety of subjects, but discussed at length was the vegan lifestyle and philosophy, as well as modern agriculture. I have to admit that when I saw the subject heading of the video I was skeptical, but as I started to watch the interview I became more intrigued. I discovered that Ms. Keith lived as a vegan for twenty years, and in the interview she touched on how she got into that lifestyle and what eventually caused her to rethink her choices. I was so impressed by the interview that I purchased and read her book "The Vegetarian Myth", and there are some takeaways from the book that I would like to share with you.

The author explains the reasons why most people embrace the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, and the close links to the animal rights movement:

-First are moral vegetarians, who believe it is wrong to kill animals for any reason.

-Second are political vegetarians. According to Ms. Keith, "these vegetarians aren't looking for truths about sustainability or justice. They're looking for the small slice of facts that will shore up their ideology, their identities."

-Finally, there are nutritional vegetarians, who live the lifestyle because they believe it is inherently healthier than a more ancestrally-based diet.

While most vegetarians are sincere in their beliefs, they fail to understand a couple of things. First, nature has no moral code. As Ms. Keith says "nature is no more moral than immoral. It's amoral, by definition." Both animals and plants in the wild are either predator or prey, and all living things must eventually die. Second, we humans were not designed to live on a diet solely consisting of plants and grains. Cows can live exclusively on grass; the bacteria in their stomachs digest the cellulose from the grass, and in turn, the cow consumes the bacteria. This is how cows have evolved to live, but we humans are largely carnivores. We were designed to eat primarily meat and fat, and it in no small part contributed to our larger brains and our ability to reason.

Another concept that vegetarians fail to recognize (or willfully ignore) is that exclusively plant and grain-based diets are nutritionally deficient and can lead to a greater risk of the so-called "diseases of modern civilization", due to a higher insulin response (insulin must be secreted by the pancreas in order for the nutrients to reach the cells). These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and certain types of cancer. The author details the extent of the physical damage she suffered as a result of the vegan lifestyle: a degenerative disc condition in her back, crippling depression (as a result of eating no meat and very little saturated fat, which affects serotonin production and inhibits your brain's neurotransmitters), constantly feeling like she had an upper respiratory infection, and permanently damaged insulin receptors. Some of this damage was lessened or reversed as a result of switching to a more ancestrally-appropriate diet (plenty of meat, fat, and vegetables/fruits), but some of it is irreversible.

The section of the book I found particularly interesting was where Ms. Keith discusses the damage that modern agriculture has done to the topsoil. She talks about the dust bowl conditions in the midwest United States in the 1930s, particularly in Oklahoma (this should be familiar to anyone who has read John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath") as a result of overplowing cotton and wheat. This destruction of the topsoil has a disastrous effect on trees, grasses, and birds. The topsoil is the most nutrient-dense part of the soil, and planting crops like corn and wheat deplete the soil of valuable nutrients very quickly. Irrigation and artificial damming have had a negative impact on fish populations, particularly in the Mississippi River.

Something else to consider about modern agriculture's impact has to do with the U.S. government's policy of subsidization. Corn is cheap and readily available as a result of this policy, and large farms use it to feed their livestock, particularly chickens, pigs, and cows. While corn will make the animals grow much faster than their native diet, it will also make them sick. They have to be injected with antibiotics in order to combat the sickness prior to slaughter, and unfortunately those antibiotics get passed along to the consumer. This is why it is safer and more nutritious to buy meats from animals that are raised on their natural diet.

While I may disagree with the author on a few political points (particularly her opinions on climate change), I think her book is well-researched (she references a few authors of which I am familiar) and full of important information. "The Vegetarian Myth" provides solid evidence to support an ancestrally-appropriate nutritional philosophy based on human biology and evolution; it also ruffled quite a few feathers within the vegan community. Ms. Keith's twenty year experience with the vegan lifestyle gives her a unique perspective and credibility with readers. If you are interested in optimizing your health (as a Total Results client or prospective client, I know you are) or looking to explode myths, this is a book I highly recommend.

Posted May 16, 2019 by Tim Rankin

Your Right to Healthcare

There has been an increasing call over the last few decades in the United States for universal healthcare. Certain groups say healthcare is a basic human right. What they are actually referring to is not healthcare per se, but rather free medical care, run directly or indirectly through the federal government. Of course, nothing in life is free; rather, it is just a matter of who pays for it. I do not know which way the political winds will blow regarding healthcare and the level of government involvement in the near future. Suffice it to say that governments in general move more toward collectivist solutions rather than away from them over time. It was true of the Roman Empire and the British Empire, and it is true of the United States.

Regardless of whether you support government run and mandated medical care or not, you need to understand your actual, indisputable, human right to healthcare, and it is this: You have the absolute right to "care" for your own health! That's it! You have to take care of yourself, because no person or entity cares about your health like you do.

You cannot rely solely on Doctors, or the government, or your insurance company, or your spouse, or your neighbors to promote or maintain your health.

No one mandates or forces you to eat poorly, or overindulge (even if government policies have often promoted exactly that - search for our post on gluten and food enrichment as an example). No one prevents you from reading labels, understanding what you are eating, or studying the science behind proper nutrition. Likewise, no one prevents you from exercising regularly. No government agency has yet announced a ban on walking regularly, or getting moderate sun exposure whenever possible, or going to bed early in order to get adequate sleep at night. Since no one can prevent you from pursuing healthy lifestyle choices, it is incumbent upon you to do just that. That is, of course, if you want to live a healthy and productive life.

Also, many of us voluntarily engage in activities that put us at risk of injury or illness. We participate in sports where an injury occur, or we spend time in the outdoors where we can get infections like poison ivy or tick bites, or we engage in risky behaviors (ex. alchohol and drug consumption, reckless driving, extreme sports, etc.) that can increase the odds of injury or disease or even death. These are personal choices each of us make and they are choices that often add to the richness of our lives. However, we must realize that since we made these choices for ourselves, we alone are responsible for living with the consequences. We must pursue our vices and hobbies in moderation and we must prepare for our own health-related expenses. This preparation might include having decent medical insurance and/or saving a portion of our income for potential medical expenses. Also, tying into the above discussion, by living a healthy lifestyle, we are able to recover much more quickly from injury or illness than someone who is less healthy. Having a strong health "constitution" will serve you well over the course of your life.

If we take these recommendations to heart, our encounters with medical care will be few and far between, and that is how it should be. If we fully exercise our right to care for our own health, we can live the most productive and happy life possible.

If you haven't been exercising your right to care for your own health, start today! Have a modest sized, healthy dinner. Take a walk after eating, and go to be early tonight. Plan on exercising this week (Give us a call at Total Results - we can help!) Enjoy your recreational time, but exercise caution.

That is much better healthcare than you could ever get at the hospital, and at a fraction of the price!

Start your own health care today!

Posted May 10, 2019 by Tim Rankin

Learning is a Continuous Process - by Matthew Romans

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you think you know for sure that just ain't so."

The above quote has been credited to both Mark Twain and Will Rogers, among others. No one can say for sure who came up with it, but I think it's a humorous way of saying that we should never truly think we have things completely figured out. I'd like to think that as we age and gain perspective we develop an appreciation for how much more there is to learn. However, there are lots of people out there who, for whatever reason, seem content with their current level of knowledge and are unwilling to keep learning. As I have mentioned in previous articles, this is an example of what Dr. Carol Dweck, author of the book "Mindset", calls the "growth vs fixed mindset." Those with the growth mindset believe that learning is a lifelong process, while those with a fixed mindset have the attitude that they have learned everything they need to be successful. I believe that learning is a continuous process.

I have certainly been guilty of having a fixed mindset many times in my life. When I was younger, like many people, I thought I knew everything about a wide variety of subjects. It's not that I purposely disregarded the advice of my elders, it's that I simply thought I knew better. When I completed my high school football career and wanted to play college football, my head coach and my family encouraged me to pursue a program in Division II or III. I was stubborn; I thought I was good enough to play at Division I-AA (now known as FCS) Towson University. I was not big enough and didn't have a strong enough arm to effectively compete as a quarterback at that level, and while I enjoyed my experience there, I could have had a much better playing career at a smaller school. I thought I knew, but I didn't know. When it came to weight training in my teens and early twenties, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing. I had taken physiology classes in college and read all the bodybuilding magazines. I couldn't understand why my progress was so slow and why I kept getting upper respiratory infections. I didn't know, and didn't know that I didn't know. Even after finally being introduced to proper exercise principles and eventually completing my Level One Super Slow Instructor certification, I thought I had arrived. I thought that having that certificate meant I had learned all that I needed to be an exceptional instructor. I didn't realize then that the learning had just begun.

More is learned from failure than success; most successful people would probably agree. Any great innovator or inventor will fail many times before he or she succeeds. That holds true for Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and Alexander Graham Bell. Arthur Jones and Ken Hutchins, two people that I consider to be engineering geniuses in the field of exercise equipment design, probably learned more from equipment prototype failures than they did from their successes. In fact, their successful designs wouldn't have been possible without numerous failures. It was through trial and error during the Nautilus Osteoporosis Project that Ken refined our exercise protocol.

At this point in my early forties, I'm at least smart enough to know what I don't know. As another saying goes ,"if you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room." This is why I seek out knowledge from a variety of sources and expose myself to opinions that often differ from my own. There is always something new to learn. At Total Results, we constantly question our methods, seek to gain greater insight, and search for a better way to give you the best exercise experience that money can buy. Our mission is your amazing, and since we consider ourselves to be teachers, we look to pass along to you the knowledge that we acquire. Even if you have been a Total Results client for several years, we like to think that there is always something new that you can learn.

Start the learning process today!

Posted May 09, 2019 by Tim Rankin

The Pulldown - by Matthew Romans

The Pulldown is the most comprehensive of the upper body exercises that we perform at Total Results. It involves all of the musculature of the torso and the arms, and while Arthur Jones (inventor of Nautilus and MedX exercise equipment) colloquially referred to the Nautilus Pullover as the "upper body squat", I think the Pulldown is a better representation of that sentiment. The prime mover of the exercise is the latissimus dorsi muscle, which is the largest muscle in the upper body and is responsible for scapular depression and internal rotation of the humerus, among other functions. Other muscles that are very heavily involved in this exercise include the biceps (elbow flexion), pectoralis (flexion/adduction of the humerus), and abdominals (trunk flexion).

This machine operates on a pulley system with a kevlar belt going over the perimeter of an eccentrically-shaped lobe called a cam;this cam is what varies the resistance based on leverage factors that determine one's strength curve. This enables us to be able to match strength with an appropriate amount of resistance in all positions of the range of motion. The Pulldown has three cam starting positions to accommodate varying heights and limb lengths. The instructor will determine your cam position by looking at where the belt goes over the perimeter of the cam when you are in the most contracted position (it should be over the flattest part of the cam). The resistance should feel heaviest when the arms are nearly straight, and lightest when the arms are most flexed.

One particular thing sets this machine apart from its predecessors and contemporaries: the movement arm handle. Most pulley attachments on traditional Pulldown or multi-exercise machines are straight bars; this can compromise proper head and neck position and abdominal involvement, since the pulley belt comes directly toward your face. Our machine has a box-shaped movement arm handle that allows you to maintain proper neutral head and neck position, and also allows for increased trunk flexion as you approach the most contracted position. The movement arm handles are slightly angled to minimize wrist and elbow irritation. Rotating roller pads restrain the thighs and arrest reactionary force to help you stay down in the angled seat during the exercise. There is an optional seat belt to provide assistance with reactionary force.

The Pulldown is performed in a vertical plane of motion with a supinated (palms-up) grip. Grip reinforcements can be used if necessary. The instructor will usually start the exercise in the most contracted position, so the bar will be handed off to the client and the exercise will start with the bar against their upper chest. A squeeze technique will be performed beginning with the third repetition. Once momentary muscular failure has been reached and a thorough inroad has been performed, the instructor will assist the client in returning the movement arm back to its resting position, and will help facilitate safe exit of the machine.

Ken Hutchins (founder of our exercise protocol) once said that if you were in a time crunch and could only perform two exercises, the Pulldown and Leg Press would be the best ones to select. While most gym rats and bodybuilding enthusiasts place a high importance on the bench press and other movements specifically for the chest muscles, I believe the Pulldown trumps them all. It is an essential staple of the Total Results exercise philosophy.

Posted May 01, 2019 by Tim Rankin

What is happening when your workout performance declines? by Matthew Romans

Here is the scenario: Everything seems ridiculously hard in today's workout. You feel like you just don't "have it" today. It feels as though the weights on every exercise were raised by twenty pounds. You struggle to maintain focus and proper form, and you feel more fatigued than usual. Your instructor tells you that your time under load on most of the exercises was much shorter than usual; when you ask if all the weights were heavier, you are told no. While you did the best you could do, it was not on par with your performance in previous workouts. What could be the explanation?

The answer could be something as simple as a common upper respiratory infection, or even a night or two of poor sleep. One subpar workout performance isn't necessarily a cause for concern; after all, we are only human. While novice clients do often improve very rapidly (largely due to the learning effect), it's unrealistic to expect that experienced clients are going to turn in career-best performances on every workout. However, several subpar workouts in a row, combined with feelings of lethargy, decreased strength, and dwindling focus could be an indication that you're not satisfying your biological requirements between sessions. What is happening?

Several factors affect recovery, particularly sleep, stress, additional activity level, nutrition, and hydration. During sleep, other body processes slow down, and that is when the body goes about repairing muscle tissue broken down during the workout. Stress, and the lack of management of it, can make sleep difficult and contribute to a diminished workout focus. Being active outside of Total Results has many benefits, but excessive physical activity can put a strain on your recovery ability. Nutrition and hydration are fairly self-explanatory; the body needs raw materials in order to make the bodily improvements that are sought. The body also needs fuel in order to facilitate intense muscular effort; this fuel comes primarily from carbohydrates, which is stored in your muscle cells and liver as glycogen.

If you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, managing stress, not overdoing it with additional physical activity, eating an ancestrally-appropriate diet and drinking plenty of water, there is one most likely explanation for your decreased workout performance: you need to decrease your exercise frequency. It's important to understand what Dr. Doug McGuff (author of Body by Science) refers to as the "dose-response relationship of exercise." The workout is the exercise stimulus; that is what sends the message to the body to adapt (i.e.- get stronger, improve cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, etc.). Just like many medications, exercise has a narrow therapeutic window, which means that not enough exercise will not stimulate any benefit, and too much exercise will have a toxic effect. You want the minimum dose necessary to stimulate the desired result. If you reintroduce the stimulus before the body has completed the adaptive response, you will remain in a catabolic (breaking down) state rather than an anabolic (building up) state. This can lead to a cessation of progress, illness due to a compromised immune system, and overuse injury. Think about incurring a relatively superficial cut to your index finger. Provided the cut is reasonably minor, it will probably heal within seven to ten days. However, if once the cut starts to scab you pull it off, that will interrupt the healing process and make it take much longer, and could even lead to a scar. Exercising again before your body is properly recovered has the same metaphorical effect.

At Total Results, we go to great lengths to regulate the variables of exercise frequency, volume, and intensity; this is where precise record-keeping becomes critical. Every result of every exercise of every workout is kept in detail on a client spreadsheet. Since the body is fairly resistant to change, we need to exercise at a high level of intensity (work toward momentary muscular failure) in order to stimulate the body to adapt. Because of this higher level of effort produced, the workouts must be of shorter duration (30 minutes or less) and performed less frequently (no more than twice per week, with at least three days between workouts) than traditional weight training methods. If your weights and/or time under load are stagnating or significantly decreasing, you may be overtrained. Many of our longer-tenured clients exercise once per week, and we even have a few clients that exercise once every 10-14 days. Each person's recovery ability can vary.

Let Total Results find the right exercise dosage to unlock your body's potential. Schedule an initial consultation today!

Posted April 30, 2019 by Tim Rankin