Tag Archives: zombie

The Infinite Monkey Theorem

28 Mar

An infinite amount of monkeys, locked in a room with an infinite amount of typewriters. Eventually, one monkey will accidentally bang out the complete works of Shakespeare ( the rest will produce documents as relevant as the USDA “My Plate” nutrition guidelines). I can relate to that one monkey…

Earlier this week, I received a completely random email, from a completely random person, that stumbled across my blog and rather enjoyed it. My first instinct was to question this individual’s sanity but upon further review of this email they seemed to be genuinely inspired by what I had to say. It is quite remarkable to me that anything that I write could have an impact on another human being, as I often struggle with just writing things that can actually be read and understood by people that speak some form of the english language. I can only chalk this up to the Infinite Monkey Theorem. To prove my point, I will now type the remainder of this post with my forehead. Enjoy.

 I had an EKG done and the results were…less than encouraging. My resting heart heart was 46 beats per minute, way outside the normal 60-80 that is expected. I had a definitive “third sound”, a noise other than the “BA-DUM” heart beat sound. I was told this could be a heart murmur. Even the electrical impulses coursing through my heart were abnormal. The EKG revealed a Right Bundle Branch Block meaning that electrical signals where not traveling along the path along the right side of my heart. This by itself is not an issue but could be an indicator of disease. I would have to wait for an echo cardigram (a sonogram of the heart) before any diagnosis could be made.

I returned home to stew over my fate. I felt fine. BETTER than fine! I felt like I was in the best shape of my life! Vigorous and capable of remarkable physical feats. Certainly the doctor was mistaken.

Several weeks later I showed up for my echo cardiogram. The results were….less than encouraging.

The echo cardiogram revealed that my heart was slightly enlarged and the walls were thicker than “normal”. This looked eerily similar to the disease my Father was diagnosed with, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. The cardiologist was also concerned about the velocity at which my heart pumped blood. Almost as though it was beating “to hard”. She asked if I was a runner. I despise running. I answered honestly, sort of.” I lift weights a couple days a week and run a 10k once a week”. A lie. I run a 10k maybe once a month. I didn’t want to hear, “you need more cardio”, so…. I lied. She seemed satisfied with my answer. I was scheduled for a “stress echo”. They wanted to see how my heart would do under load. A couple weeks later I arrived at the hospital wearing Vibrams and gym shorts.

The test would be done on a treadmill. I hate treadmills.

It goes a little something like this: Several nurses come in and shave all the dignity off of your chest (it took me 28 years to grow that hair) then hook up all kinds of fancy gadgetry and start you walking on the treadmill with a slight incline. Your heart rate and other vitals are monitored as they slowly increase both the speed and the incline of the treadmill. The idea is to achieve your maximum heart rate (220 – your age, mine is 192), at which time they will quickly pull you off the treadmill and perform an echo cardiogram (heart sonogram). Periodically the ask your perceived exertion level to make sure your not gonna croak mid-test (my words, not theirs…).

I ask how long the test will take. The nurse informed me that most people make about 7-8 minutes. The test times out after 15 minutes and she had only seen one person make it the entire 15 minutes. He was a 45 year old marathon runner. I hate running. I decided at that moment that on this day, she would see a 28 year old, bacon eating, cross trainer make it as well. Why? Because I’m stubborn as hell and I like a challenge (blame it on my Ackerman DNA). Only, as the test wore on, I realized it was not very challenging at all!

After 12 minutes, the treadmill was full tilt. Completely maxed out on speed and incline. I was trying to start a conversation with the nurse partly to fight off the hampster wheelesque boredom induced by the treadmill and partly to prove to her that I was unfazed by this “test”. As I ran my heart rate was steady at 142 beats per minute. After the complete 15 minutes I was pulled from the treadmill and the echo cardiogram was performed. 152 beats per minute was all the treadmill could muster, a far cry from the 192 they were looking for. Beast mode confirmed. I would have to wait two weeks for the doctor to analyze the results of this test.

The official diagnosis? “Athletic Heart Syndrome”. Not a disease at all but a physiological changing of the “normal” heart to cope with the increased demand of repeated athletic activity. A big, muscular heart capable of moving a large volume of blood when asked. During rest the heart rate drops dramatically due to increased efficiency. The “third sound” was no heart murmur but caused by a higher volume of blood flowing through the heart chamber. The Right Bundle Branch Block was merely a harmless rewiring of the heart found in nearly half of people with Athletic Heart Syndrome.The results were surprising to my cardiologist. Normally this diagnosis is found only in “highly trained individuals and distance runners”. Not 28 year old, bacon loving, cross trainers that might run 10k every 60 days… The relief I felt was unimaginable. Everything that seemed to indicate disease, dysfunction, or abnormality, was actually a physical change for the better. My heart was better than “normal”. If it sounds like I have a chip on my shoulder, it’s because I do. I was made to believe that something was wrong with me when in fact, there was no problem at all. Why did this happen?

When I reflect on this ordeal I can’t help but wonder what guidelines are used to determine a “normal” or “healthy” human heart. It seems that “normal” means small. Weak. Inefficient. Untrained. It seems the “normal” human heart is the “sedentary” human heart. A heart built from too much ass time, a life lived in climate control, a life where you put the master bedroom on the ground floor so you dont have to climb the stairs twice a day. I would argue that the heart beating in the chest of our ancient ancestors was not “normal” at all. Much like that of this 28 year old, bacon inspired, cross trainer.

 

 

Advertisements

The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Impending Zombie Apocalypse

16 Jul

The December 22nd deadline for the end of life as we know it is fast approaching. Will you be prepared for life without government, law, electricity, petroleum, food, clean water? What about the ravenous hordes of undead intent on devouring your face? Get yourself prepared for the fall of civilization by learning a few lessons from someone who survived for  a hundred thousand generations without civilization. That’s right, none other than Paleolithic Man!

Paleo Man, despite having an awesome super-hero-esque name, did not have any actual super human powers. Yet in a world fraught with many dangers he was not only able to survive but to thrive, spreading to every corner of the globe and setting up the framework for modern humans to become THE most dominant creature on the planet. How did he accomplish this feat? Using modern scientific techniques (conjecture and pseudoscience…) we can determine that Paleo Man had a few distinct advantages over us modern, more “sophisticated” humans. Knowing these advantages very well could make the difference between escaping the horde or becoming zombie chow!

Advantage #1: Paleo Man was lean:

If Paleo Man was built like the average American, he would have tripped over his giant spare-tire gut and most assuredly been a tasty ( and large) snack for a saber tooth tiger. Much to the disappointment of the saber tooth tigers the world over, Paleo Man maintained body fat percentages in the single digits. Perhaps during the fall months he would carb up a bit and pack on a few extra pounds for the leaner winter months ahead but still never exceeded 12% -14% for any length of time. How did he achieve this chiseled physique? Hours on the treadmill or stationary bike? Calorie counting? Jenny Craig? Perhaps the” Special K Challenge”?

Americans spend $43 billion dollars a year on fad diets and exercise equipment. At any given moment an estimated 49 million Americans are following some sort of “diet” regiment. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the majority of these people are doing some form of calorie restriction and steady state cardio because “that’s the best way to lose weight”. Despite all of this, 68.4% of Americans are obese or significantly overweight and this number is steadily climbing. Is there something wrong with us? Or does the problem lie in the American diet and fitness model? (hint: it’s not us)

Calorie restriction as a weight loss solution does not work…. sort of. As any emaciated horse on those Animal Planet tv shows will tell you (that is, if emaciated horses could talk) starvation does indeed lead to weight reduction BUT a slight decrease in caloric intake, short of all out starvation, leads to excessive production of the stress hormone cortisol. Excessive cortisol causes your body to store fat (along with doing alot of other really bad things…) particularly in the mid section. Weight loss will be hard to come by and the majority will be from your body cannibalizing your own muscle to supply necessary fuel. Muscle is metabolically active, so the less muscle you have, the fewer calories you require to exist ( also the fewer calories you burn just to survive, known as your “resting metabolic rate”).  Am I making any sense? Keep in mind the human body is not a steam engine. Digestion/ weight loss is not as simple as calorie in/ calorie out. I could yammer on for days about this but I would actually like for you to finish reading this….so…. The question remains. What did Paleo Man do to maintain his lean, powerful physique?

He ate real food: low carb, high fat, high protein Ancestral diet as outlined here. He ate as much as he wanted, as often as he wanted and never gained a pound. He did not “diet”, he did not restrict calories. Good genes? Well yeah! But his genes are your genes! Contrary to what you may believe about inheriting your Uncle Joe’s lard ass, your genes do not want you to be fat (your jeans don’t either). You are genetically wired to be lean and strong, capable of survival in even the darkest, most dire circumstances.

Advantage #2: Paleo Man was strong and athletic

Apparently, people (much more intelligent than myself) have studied the bones of ancient humans and determined that the average pre-agriculture human was much larger and more muscular than their relatives that lived after the advent of agriculture. Grains not only made us dumber, they also made us smaller and weaker! Paleo Man was as strong and athletic as our most elite athletes today. A lifetime of climbing, carrying, digging, sprinting after prey, sprinting to avoid becoming prey, gave our ancestors a body that puts Magic Mike to shame!

Of course, you don’t get results like this on a treadmill, not on the bowflex, or the Ab Rocker Xtreme. It takes a smart fitness program that closely imitates movements and activities that our ancestors performed everyday. Activities that we are genetically wired to perform and therefore can reap maximum benefit with seemingly little effort. Sound to good to be true? Well, I promise I’ll never ask you for any money (unlike your good-fer-nuthin, lard-ass Uncle Joe….). So what might this look like? I plan on devoting a future blog specifically on the topic ( as soon as I can find a way to monetarily benefit…) but here’s the nutshell version:

Carrying firewood, butchering a mammoth, setting a deadfall trap:

Pick up something heavy. And I don’t mean using some type of “weight lifting-gym-machine-contraption”. Free weights, barbels, sand bag, dumbbells, kettlebell, whatever. The more awkward and hard to handle, the better. Woolly Mammoth hind quarters didn’t come perfectly balanced and equipped with handles. What is heavy? It depends on your fitness level. As long as it’s really hard to pick up, it’s working. Trust me. And I’m not talking about biceps curls or other lame isolation exercises. We want full body, compound movements ( performed barefoot) such as the deadlift, overhead press, squat thrusters, pull ups and the like. Sound like Spanish? Google up some You Tube videos and some jackass will be thrilled to show you how to do all of these with some of the worst technique imaginable. Be sure to leave him a comment telling him just how much you appreciate him taking the time to sacrifice his spine in the name of fitness.

Charge in for the kill, Avoid the Short Face Bear, Oh shit! my errant spear throw just knocked down that bee’s nest:

Sprinting! This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Your body expects to run like hell. Zombies and Short Face Bears are fast. You need to be faster. Take off your shoes, find some grass and get to it.

Digging for tubers, building a shelter, climbing for fruit and nuts:

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is caveman “cardio”. Trust me, an hour on the treadmill will seem like a leisurely walk in the park compared to 10 minutes of this. Fullbody movements, light to medium weights, at a blistering pace. This is the only “training” I did for 3 months and managed to knock 10 minutes off my 10k time. Without EVER running. Check out this ugly bald-headed guy showing you what its all about.

Advantage #3: A Fat based Metabolism

Zombies won’t get tired of chasing, so you better not get tired of running!

“But I didn’t get a chance to carb load the night before the apocalypse!?!”If your relying on carbs to meet your energy demands, you’ll be zombie brunch by 10:30am December 22nd. Fat is the prefered fuel of the human body.

“Fat!?! That stuff clogs my arteries and gives me thunder thighs!”If you still believe that I will first refer you here. Now, consider this…

We are taught that carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy . Athletes that skimp on carbs leading up to a competition will surely evaporate and die or something like that…. Your body can store up to around 500g of carbs. Jumping, running, stiff arming the undead all work to deplete these stored carbs. The more intense the movement, the faster the stores are depleted.  1 gram of carbs = 4 calories of energy so we can store about 2,000 calories of carb energy ( 500g x 4).

A fit, healthy, lean man with 8% body fat has about 15 pounds or 6795g of stored fat without “looking fat”. Fat is far more energy dense than carbs. 1 gram of fat = 9 calories of energy. Our shredded example above carries 61,155 calories of fat energy ( 6795g x 9).

Which one makes more sense to utilize as the primary energy source? Think about it. Your body isn’t conspiring against you by packing pounds around your thighs! Your spare tire isn’t its way of making sure you never get laid! Your body wants you to get laid! (continuation of the species, Man!) Fat is your body’s favorite energy source and its storing it for when it’s needed. The problem is that a diet high in carbohydrates impairs your body’s ability to access this stored fat and instead encourages your body to add to it.

Carbohydrates are sugar (as far as your bodies digestion is concerned). There is no difference between a banana, a bagel, a potato, honey, wonder bread, maple syrup, an apple, sweet tea, snickers bar, table sugar, you get the idea… When it hits your gut, it’s all sugar. Quick, easy fuel that doesn’t stick around long. After just a few hours, your left ravenous hungry. Skip a meal and your head is throbbing, you’re getting weak and shaky, your focus is off and you’re getting lethargic. Paleo Man often hunted on an empty stomach with boundless energy and keen focus. A fat based metabolism allowed him this advantage. Think that whole wheat bagel will be enough to keep you one step in front of the horde?

There you have it! The definitive guide to surviving the impending zombie apocalypse. I, for one, will be ready to jump down a couple notches on the food chain. How about you? I’ll leave you with this video of some courageous African tribesmen stealing a meal from about a dozen hungry lions. Never for a moment doubt our species’ ability to overcome.