Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Death of the Food Specialists?

Quick update on the Primal Challenge.
Diet wise I’ve been right on course eating plenty of vegetables, meats, and healthy fats. The only real snag here is I really got walloped by withdrawal symptoms of transitioning from burning glucose to burning ketones and really felt like only 2/3s of my brain was online during the day. My sleep sadly isn’t up to where it needs to be and that also has kept me from exercising because I’ve just been too tired. My hope is going into the weekend will allow me a bit more flexibility to fix my sleep schedule.

The Death of the Food Specialists ?
I’m someone who really likes to plan and strategize so when I decided to throw myself headlong into this Primal Challenge I started looking at ways to improve not just my dietary choices but also the quality of the ones I did make.  One biggie is the quality of the meat and fish I purchase – now by that I mean where is it from, how is it raised, and what did it subsist on?

In this country we’ve seen a massive consolidation of not just food shopping but all shopping. Unless you need something really specific all the weekly shopping can be knocked out in one trip to a Super Target or Walmart Supercenter. I remember for many years when my parents went shopping it was always to the grocery store then either Wal-Mart or Target and that was it. Then around the late 90s a Walmart Supercenter opened nearby and it turned into our one stop shop for potatoes to paper towels.
The unfortunate side effect of this consolidation is a real lack of specialization and personally I think this speeding up of the buying process has also hurt quality. If you want to buy a steak, first off the odds of it being pasture raised and grass fed is very unlikely, and rather than talking to a butcher you just grab a pre-wrapped steak out of the fridge case. I used Bing and Google to try to search for butcher shops in this area and sadly wasn’t able to find much of anything. Going back not even all the way to my grandparent’s time but early in my parent’s there was a lot more specialization – they went to butcher shops, fish markets, etc. Then Supermarkets kind of took over and the trade skills of butchers and fishmongers turned into dying arts. An equally scary statistic is that the average age of most farmers in the US is the late 50s and there just aren’t many new ones up and coming.
All this said it appears there are some regions, the Northeast comes to mind, who still appear to embrace the concept of the specialist. It would be interesting to see why that is, or am I mistaken? What is also interesting is I talk to people who live in Europe and other countries and they appear to have seen less of this consolidation, I am definitely curious why that is. Is it because they place a higher value on quality and that specialized experience that we do here in the US? It often seems like we Americans only care about cost and everything else is trivial to us.

I am going to keep up my search for a butcher in this area, I have been able to find farmer and fish markets here and there are meat markets which might be what I have to settle for in the end.
Do you patronize local food specialists like butchers, fish markets, and farmer’s markets? Why? It is harder to find these types of establishments now?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tackling the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge

Over the summer I got plugged into the blog Mark’s Daily Apple, written by Mark Sisson who is advocate of what he refers to as primal living. While it is a diet he also takes a much more macro approach to things, such as getting proper sleep, reducing stress – it isn’t just diet it is also a lifestyle. My big problem is falling off the wagon or getting distracted, which is something that has been going on for the last 2 weeks, so I’m using this as a motivation to get back in the saddle.

I’ve dabbled in this as well as other low carb diets trying to really home in on the ideal one for myself but I’m going to take this challenge head on for 21 days. What I like about this is the idea of an entire lifestyle change because reading a lot of his work has really thrown into sharp relief how utterly screwed up the way I'm living right now is. I don't sleep enough, I'm always stressed out and I imagine the excessive coffee consumption due to lack of sleep probably isn't helping either. Since I'm someone who thrives on structure I need to get into a routine and then a lot of things will just fall into place.

The Plan
Exercise - I'm going to walk every morning for about 40 minutes, which will come out to just below 5 hours a week, falling within the 3-5 hours the plan states. In terms of heavy lifting I'm going to keep it simple and just use weights at the gym here. Lastly when it comes to the once of week of going all out I will do cardio boxing with this simulator I have for my Wii.

Eating - The only real thing I need to fix here is stop eating fast food and stop eating processed stuff. That means of course cooking everything from scratch - something I've done before but as I mentioned before kind of fell off the wagon over the last two weeks.

Sleeping - This one will be tough because my sleep schedule is really screwed up, but I'm going to try to force myself to not sleep at odd hours and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

While this is going on I'll keep you all updated with how this is going and any other interesting things that come up.

I'll end this with a challenge, hold on while I put on my motivational speaker hat. What is something you know you need to change in your life but have been kicking the can down the road? How long do you think you'd have to force yourself to into that change? Give it a try!

Marks Daily Apple
2012 Primal Blueprint 21 Day Challenge
Primal Blueprint 101


Welcome to both my first post and the one I like writing the least due to the sort of navel gazing that tends to come with such introductions, but I’ll bear this burden and then get on to content that is actually meaningful.

What’s in a name?
Probably the biggest question that needs answering is why I choose the title “Watch Out For Flying Ninjas” truth is it was an effort to break away from the norm when it comes to blog titles that deal with subjects such as nutrition, diet, and lifestyle. Also it is to serve as a constant reminder to myself not to take things too seriously. In terms of inspiration it comes from reading a myriad of diet books and other literature over the years and being promised the moon and the stars – in fact in a lot of cases they do everything short of promising to make you a flying ninja – hence the name of this blog.

What topics I intend to cover most frequently are related to diet, lifestyle, nutrition, and if I’m feeling really brave – biochemistry. I also will periodically address off-topic stuff if I find something particularly interesting to write about – which I will dub “random musings” – because who wants to write just about one all the time? In terms of diet topics my focus will be on low-carb diets due to the fact I personally have had a lot of success with them, both in terms of weight loss and biomarkers.

Well Ok, what diet is the best?
The most specific answer I’m willing to give is a low carbohydrate diet, because that can mean any number of things. What I mean is there are many different schools of thought on this, some believe you need more protein than fat, others more fat than protein, beyond that there are more specific things such as the amount of carbohydrate than can be consumed daily, what kind of fat sources should be used, what kind of meat and vegetables can be eaten and so on. My goal here is to look at different aspects but from a perspective that anyone can use them – not just me or someone doing an eating plan like I am choosing to do. Also I want to touch on lifestyle stuff, because one of the real downfalls I think of most diets – well actually two things, the first is doing something you can’t stick with indefinitely, but the other is partitioning that part of your life off in a box. I just really don’t see that working because of both my own experience and just from a practicality stand point. I also promise to address this more in depth later on.

At minimum I will have updates on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – but will have more if I find things worthy of mention. My #1 goal to be consistent with posting here, so enjoy the ride!