Archive for the ‘Barefoot Running’ category

Fat and the screwed up medical community

August 12, 2011

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes provides a much more in depth explanation of the dynamics of fat storage than was in my last posting, but it goes well beyond that as well. Taubes is pretty scathing in his description of how off track the medical community got with respect to diet since World War II, and to the great detriment of the average American’s health.

If you believe, as most people seem to today, that carbs are the chief culprit, it’s absolutely shocking to look with fresh eyes at the food pyramid. Introduced less than 20 years ago, the explicit recommendation was for 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta vs 3-5 servings of vegetables! No surprise that the FDA replaced it in June with MyPlate, a much saner guide though still probably off for someone trying to lose weight. In the meantime the obesity problem has achieved epidemic proportions.

A lot of smart people got caught on the wrong path with two overly-simplistic models: Cals in v. cals out, and If you eat fat, you get fat. And, implicitly, if not explicitly, they cultivated the view that obesity is a symptom not a cause. Of what? Why of gluttony, sloth, and a lack of willpower, of course.  The reality is that some people have a tendency to get fat and some don’t. Most of us who are over 40 know that our current selves are in the former, and that our former selves didn’t have to think about diet. Why is it so hard to believe that a fat guy has an inherent problem, not a lack of willpower. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet in the book. If you tend to fat, you can’t eat carbs; if not, you can.

The implications are pretty well aligned with the diet I’ve suggested for losing weight. But there are a couple of differences. First of all Taubes would take issue with my suggestion that counting calories can accelerate weight loss. I’m not sure I buy it, but he poo-poos that whole notion. And, while he suggests that exercise is great for a bunch of other reasons, diet it the dramatically dominant factor in weight loss. One of the key dynamics he cites is the relationship between exercise and eating. Most people eat more when they exercise more which offsets the weight loss benefit. Finally, he’d have you eat more meat than I was suggesting; no reason to limit at all. I suppose I could test all this by putting 40 pounds back on and giving it another go…nah!

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Barefoot calorie counting on both sides of the equation

July 31, 2011

The simplest model of body weight dynamics says there are g’zins and g’zouts and to lose weight the g’zouts must exceed the g’zins. So, if you are really aiming to lose some weight, it’s an excellent idea to track your caloric intake versus output. For me, that practice turned the daunting endeavor into a game with my score reported by the scale every morning. My competitive juices provided the discipline to keep the calories down and the exercise up.

Years ago my mom would diligently look up various foods in a little paperback pamphlet. Today, if you are at all technologically bent, software makes it a lot easier. Google “counting calories” and you’ll find scores of options. Most are free web apps where you get an account, enter your stuff and it tracks it for you. They all are pretty similar; the key is to find one with a good database. Piecing together what’s in a salad from McDonald’s is tedious, but if you need only enter “McSalad- Southwest,” that’s easy. Some of the sites have social media aspects, so you can “friend” with other dieters and build a support group. For me a key feature was having an iPhone app available, so I could carry my tracking software in my pocket. I did a little research (more…)

Barefootin’ on Boston TV

July 27, 2011

One morning in mid-June, ten or so of the New England Barefoot Runners faithful gathered by the Charles in Cambridge for our TV debut. Channel 5 weather guy (and avid runner) Dave Brown was working on some stories about running in Boston for Chronicle and had contacted Barefoot Preston Curtis who put out a casting call.

Although we didn’t get a great workout, it was fun and interesting to see how local TV sausage gets made. Dave and his photographer started by interviewing Barefoot Mama, Therese Withee, the first woman to run a barefoot Boston marathon. Next up was Todd Byers, a buddy of Ken Bob Saxton’s, and the world record holder for barefoot marathons with 102 under his belt. Both are great folks,
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Barefoot running may not be the whole answer

July 5, 2011

Ok, here’s a little secret: My knees still bug me a little. Like many barefooters, I shed the shoes for health reasons, among with others. In my case there we no acute issues, but I did have the sense that my knees and hips could impede my running one day. I can unequivocally state that I don’t even think about the hips any more.  And, I’ve definitely improved on the knee front, but more, maybe, from shedding pounds than shoes. So, I’m broadening the discussion here to diet and general health, as that’s where my research and attention have been going of late…still doing 15 miles of barefoot running per week.

Sadly, casual running alone is no longer sufficient to keep my weight in check. I have difficulty not consuming large volumes of food, perhaps in part due to being active, and my metabolism ain’t burning the cals it did when I was a younger man. Most guys I know observe that the ol’ bod  significantly downshifts at 40. No doubt getting exercise is a net positive, but nonetheless, last December 31, I found myself weighing 228. For context, I’m 6’2″ and over 50 (uggh) and that weight was 30 lbs over my soccer/rugby, in-shape weight, 25 lbs over my unstated goal, (more…)

Barefoot running’s big questions after a year

May 17, 2011

I am now well past the one-year mark.  Perhaps my perspective on some of these questions will evolve over time but I suspect my views on the big questions about afoot running are pretty well settled in. So here we go:

Metro Boston Barefoot Crew (me on left)

Why?

For me it’s mostly about the fun, but also the ease on the knees and hips. Running feels better when you are barefoot.

Don’t your feet hurt?

Running on smooth concrete feels great. Great! Hitting a small pebble wrong can provide a quick ouch, but it only lasts for a few steps. A surface of one-inch chunks of gravel surface is doable. I’ve seen Barefoot Ken Bob glide across a really gnarly parking area, and I followed (more…)

First female Boston Marathoner

April 22, 2011

Just quick one. This is a nice article and an inspiration.

Born to Run with Barefoot Rockstars…Naked

April 17, 2011

Barefoot Preston and the New England Barefoot Runners organized a tremendous  pre-Marathon fun run with Chris McDougall and other barefoot rockstars. Chris was in town with Born to Run: The Naked Tour, “a nationwide celebration of running’s bare essentials” and promo for the paperback version of the book that started me and most other barefoot runners.

The weather was less than stellar, but cool for running. We gathered at Marathon central on the steps of the Boston Public Library. Two days before the big event, the town, particularly the Back Bay, was buzzin’ with runnin’ fever.

Chris blew in with a bang, just before noon. At 6 foot 4ish with shaved pate and Hollywood smile, he’s not hard to spot.  He’s about the most positive, engaging guy in the world and quickly whipped the crowd into a barefoot froth. After a little time with reporters and cameras, he pulled everyone together and introduced a number of other notables from the community: Tony Post, the Vibram CEO. Michael Sandler, the amazing (more…)