Archive for August, 2012

This Game Is Fun Goddammit!

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 29 2012

Why does it seem like some people are determined to fail at improving their health? I think there’s a little part of all of us that buys an ascetic ideal of health: we must deny ourselves pleasure, we must subsist on only what we need to survive, we must constantly suffer to get fit.

My issue with this is simply that a) it’s completely contrary to human nature, which has gotten us this far, and b) this is moving the goalposts away from the end zone. Meaning if you use this method to try to get fit, you’ll fail.

There are plenty of things that hold up a perfect ideal. They then try to sell you a bunch of shit that won’t ever get you there, and make you feel bad for not getting there. CrossFit shouldn’t be one of them.

I can think of plenty of examples of this, but one is the nutritional supplement industry. Super hot models holding up boxes of Myoplex and Hydroxycut, who are all actually on steriods.

A religious outlook that holds that man shouldn’t sin, yet somehow programmed sinning into man’s nature.

A political system that relies on trade to exist via taxation (at the end of a gun), then penalizes and demonizes trade.

Back to the health piece of this: I don’t know how folks get over an ascetic ideal if they suffer from it. If folks want to sabotage their health by putting demands on themselves that are impossible to meet, I don’t know how to fix that. Any suggestions?

[Cross posted on]

The Vegetarian Myth of Morality

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 28 2012

“The moral argument is the clarion call that rallies most vegetarians to the cause.” Lierre Keith, The Vegetarian Myth

The moral argument for vegetarianism usually starts at one of two points:

1) I believe the treatment of animals in the modern food industry is unjust.
2) I won’t take part in the killing of animals.

As to the first point, I totally agree with you.  I think we’re going to disagree on the object of that sentence, as I get as nauseous as anyone else when watching those undercover videos inside modern (and FDA approved!) slaughterhouses.  However, it is also unjust to the human consumer.

As we discussed last week, we face the choice of extortion or imprisonment to fund industries and businesses that the government has decided will be the winners (that makes us the losers by the way).  Those industries torture animals throughout their short lives  That seems pretty unjust to humans and animals alike.

As to the second point, it is a reality that most elementary school kids learn when their first hamster dies that death is a part of life.  The cornerstone of our entire food supply is soil.  For soil to “happen”, it needs death.  Death in the form of blood and bones, without which the 120 million nematodes, 100,000 mites, 45,000 springtails, 20,000 enchytraied worms, and 10,000 molluscs, that eat and shit in order to produce what we call soil wouldn’t exist.

Without the soil, neither the ruminants that I eat or the soybean that you eat would exist.  So there is no question that what goes into making hamburgers and soyburgers is the same process.  The only difference is that if you are eating ruminants you are participating in a process that is a) sustainable for as long as the sun shines, b) is a net positive for the environment as soy, corn, maize, rice, and wheat are all net detractors of soil, and c) not supported by government mandate that benefits a few small, already incredibly wealthy, businesses.

What did I miss in these points?

[Cross posted on]

Doctrinaire: No Greater Insult

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 27 2012

I’m trying to tie some ideas together and don’t quite now how to do it. Looking at warfare, political structures, commercial structures and biology.

What is the most succinct way to put these ideas together? When one does so, is it a withering critique of the Doctrinaire?

“War is not governed by the actions or decisions of a single individual in any one place but emerges from the collective behavior of all the individual parts in the system interacting locally in response to local conditions and incomplete information. A military action is not the monolithic execution of a single decision by a single entity but necessarily involves near-countless independent but interrelated decisions and actions being taken simultaneously throughout the organization. Efforts to fully centralize military operations and to exert complete control by a single decisionmaker are inconsistent with the intrinsically complex and distributed nature of war.” –Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting

“The eradication of the division of labor would quickly bring starvation and economic misery to all. The abolition of all structures of human interrelation would bring enormous social and spiritual deprivation to every person. And, even the alleged ‘artistic’ intellectual and creative development of all man’s faculties in all directions would be totally crippled by the ban on all specialization. How can true intellectual development or creation come without concentrated effort? In short, the terrible economic suffering of mankind under communism would be fully matched by its intellectual and spiritual deprivation. Considering the nature and consequences of communism, to call this horrific dystopia a noble and ‘humanist’ ideal can at best be considered a grisly joke, in questionable taste. The prevalent notion, for example, that Marxian communism is a glorious ideal for man perverted by the later Engels or by Lenin or Stalin, can now be put into proper perspective. None of the horrors committed by Lenin, Stalin, or other Marxist-Leninist regimes can match the monstrousness of Marx’s communist ‘ideal.'” -Murray Rothbard, An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought

“Once human beings started swapping things and thoughts, they stumbled upon divisions of labor, in which specialization led to mutually beneficial collective knowledge. Specialization is the means by which exchange encourages innovation: In getting better at making your product or delivering your service, you come up with new tools. The story of the human race has been a gradual spread of specialization and exchange ever since: Prosperity consists of getting more and more narrow in what you make and more and more diverse in what you buy. Self-sufficiency—subsistence—is poverty.” -Matt Ridley, Humans: Why They Triumphed

“One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” -Charles Darwin, On The Origin of the Species

Treat Yo Self

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 22 2012

I think folks that get into the Guilt/Redemption paradigm that Taubes talks about a lot are bound to fail in CrossFit and Paleo. If you are laying around playing video games, drinking and eating pizza for days, then feel real bad about it and come in and try to crush Murph, first nature is going to fuck you up and then you’re going to quit.

Also, if you are working on a big project at work that requires you to sit for 12 hours a day (you thought you were going to get out of being chastised didn’t you Type-A overachiever….), stress out constantly (oxidative stress), not get optimal nutrition, feel bad about it and come in and try to crush Murph, you are also going to get fucked up by Mama Nature and you’re going to quit.

For those folks that get it, stop reading now. Ok, right after this: you have fun doing CrossFit and you eat “clean” because ribeye is fucking delicious and vegetables are a great butter delivery vehicle. If you agree with that statement, stop reading and go crush Murph.

If your brain suddenly went into a spasm, then read on: being/getting healthy shouldn’t suck the life out of you.

Our workouts are punctuated stressors designed to improve your fitness after your body has repaired itself. That repair needs to be fueled with the proper food and sleep. But this shouldn’t be hard, it should be something that comes natural.

It’s easy if you think of CrossFit as “play”. The food is easy if kick your goddamn sugar addiction (which is what’s going on with all of you that aren’t eating Paleo). You kick that addiction and suddenly real food tastes, forgive me for repeating myself, MOTHERFUCKINDELICIOUS.

So stop thinking about food, rest, sleep and working out as a chore:

Slow Cooked Pork Roast with Apples and Onions -> Treat Yo Self!!!

Muscle Ups and Thrusters -> Treat Yo Self!!!

Meat Sauce with….whatever you want to put it on -> Treat Yo Self!!!

Sleep nine hours -> Treat Yo Self!!!

Bacon Wrapped Everything! – TREAT YO SELF!!!!!!

The Vegetarian Myth of Sustainability

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 21 2012

Great post on sustainable agriculture by John Welbourne that got me thinking about this in relation to vegetarians/vegans.  Vegetarians make the argument that meat eating isn’t sustainable because of factory farming.  And I’m in complete agreement on this, which is why I eat about 70-80% grass fed meat.

Grass fed meat is by definition sustainable for two reasons.  First because the grasslands are actually stronger, more fertile, and less prone to any kind of environmental damage because of herbivores (cows mostly) and the other wildlife that has a symbiotic relationship with the herbivore.  However, the herbivores must have a carnivore (us) in order to balance their demand on the grassland.  As long as this biosphere stays in balance, this is sustainable for as long as the sun keeps shining, or approximately 5 billion years.

Second, the grass fed beef “industry” (if you can call it that) and the pasture raised meat “industry” receive exactly zero subsidies from any governments.  Therefore there is no price distortion to drive prices down and demand up.

On the flip side of this soy, rice, corn, and wheat receive billions of dollars of money from the government.  If these subsidies didn’t exist, the cost of these foods would skyrocket.  Price is the natural determination if something is sustainable or not.  If the price of something is low, it is abundant.  If the price of something is high, it is rare.  However, subsidies grossly distort this very simple tool of using price to determine sustainability.

Also, soy, rice, corn and wheat are both net detractors of soil.  Billions of dollars of hydro-carbon based fertilizer are used to keep the vast swaths of land blanketing much of the mid-west (which is completely “unnatural” by the way – the only uniform areas of plant life on the planet are herbivore ingestible grasslands).

If you’re interested in learning more about this myth of sustainability and vegetarianism, Lierre Keith does a great job of dismantling the moral, environmental, and nutritional arguments in her book “The Vegetarian Myth”.  Also, here’s a great article by George Will on what subsidies do to the environment.

[Cross posted on]

Mobility: The Low Hanging Fruit

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 15 2012

Kelly Starrett demonstrating the couch/wall stretch

The two biggest mobility issues we see, which frequently lead to injury, are tight hip flexors and shoulders.  My conjecture as to the reason is simply sitting at a desk.

The two simplest stretches that will make a world of difference are the lawyer stretch and the wall stretch.

Spend a minimum of two minutes on each of these stretches, and you’ll see drastic improvement in every part of CrossFit.  Anyone have any other good stretches or mobility practices for the most common issues?

[Cross posted at]

Buy In

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 15 2012

What we say day-in and day-out is that your “Buy In” to our program in terms of training, nutrition and rest is directly correlated to your results in terms of both how you look, feel, and perform.

I feel like by having a performance based measurement of success, we achieve our best gains with the least amount of “angst”. Rather than having a client constantly WORRYING ABOUT how his/her calves/abs/arms/etc, look, they are WORKING ON their performance through showing up and training hard.

On the flip side of that argument though is that a not insignificant number of folks that come and try us out are doing so because they are WORRIED about their calves/abs/arms/etc.

For those that experienced this early on, was there something specific that flipped the switch towards more performance based focus? For those that have switched, do you still worry about the stuff that caused you to come in in the first place?

[Cross posted on, where there were a lot of interesting answers]

Nature and Training

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 08 2012

In thinking about injury and training, I like to think in terms “Nature” with a big “N”.

You are part of this.  When you train, you’re trying to improve your health, but you can only do so by the Laws of Nature.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Hormonal production as it relates to macronutrient consumption
  • Efficient digestion based on proper functioning of your auto-immune system (which is largely based on sleep, stress and DIET)
  • Training frequency and volume
  • Functioning of the Standard Model of Physics to include micro-particle interaction within the Higgs-Field
  • Photosynthesis
  • Gravity
  • Not being stupid

For many folks that listen to their coaches and make decisions based on how well they are prepping for training through sleep, stress and diet, there will still be instances during or after a WOD where you say: “that was stupid.”  Hopefully, they will be rare.

For folks that don’t listen to their coaches and make bad decisions based on how well they are prepping for their training, that will happen more often.  Nature gets the final say on how much weight you can lift, how much volume you can handle, how complex your movements can be and how fast you can go.

If Nature decided to fuck you up, please reach out to us so we can get you back to training and most importantly, if this is called for, we can say “I told you so.”

[Cross posted at]

You Didn’t Eat Meat Today?!?!?!?!

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 07 2012

In thinking about how to pitch the Paleo Diet, I’ve tried a lot of approaches.  I’ve done the not-so-passive-very-aggressive-drive-by at the gym: “You didn’t eat meat today!?!?!?!?!?!”

I’ve also done about ten or so Paleo Challenges with a couple hundred people participating that eases people in a little bit more, creates a group centered around some common ideals, and recognizes achievement.

The Paleo Challenge certainly hasn’t been foolproof.  There’s been plenty of folks who either entered and didn’t finish, or finished and gave it up.

I abjectly refuse to soften the message that animal fat is good for you, you were designed to eat it, and eating a vegetarian diet is a death sentence.

I have two questions today:

1) What are the reasons you slid away from 100% Paleo?
2) Why do I try to rip the heads off every vegetarian that trains at our gym?

[Cross posted at Patriot]

True Grit and Relaxing

Uncategorized | Posted by Brian PCF
Aug 06 2012

The below was posted on on 120801. Jonah Lehrer resigned his job at the New Yorker the day before for making up Bob Dylan quotes for his book.

Listened to an absolutely terrific podcast the other day from Russ Roberts (EconTalk) with Jonah Lehrer about his new book Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Something that seemed to resonate with me that they discussed throughout was the idea of grit and relaxing.  We often look at training, nutrition, and stress through a Paleolithic viewpoint.  In other words: What Would Caveman Do?

I want to try to tie this to tribal structures/evolutionary psychology: do we form a more concentrated “tribe” when we do the Paleo Challenge and is that what convinces more people to try the Paleo Diet than my occasional passive aggressive badgering?

What do you think?  Why does the Paleo Challenge work?  Why doesn’t it work? [Ref: Easy There] -Brian PCF