LGN 65: Predator & Prey

Inside: This is long; Real food; Runnin’ with the big dogs; Fat vs. fit and self image; Jason Statham is too a bad ass; Save yourself a lot of grief and pain and get fit now.

Funny how when I sit down to write all of my ideas leak out of my head.  I’ll just start and see what happens.  (Hi, Vanessa.)

Food Rant

It is one of my goals to be positive and constructive.  I’ve done plenty of rants in the past and occasionally get one in.  I’m tired of “everyone” complaining on the internet, he complained.  All of this entitled, privileged sense of self.  Rude, cursing, dismissive.  Even the clever ranters and culture critics — sarcasm for days.  Clever, foul-mouthed sarcasm = snark overload and that gets old.  So even when I think there’s something that could use some complaining I keep a lid on it.  I take that lid off every once in a while and I think now is a good time.  So let’s go.

I read food labels.  There are things I do avoid and there are things I try to avoid.  Food companies are going to try to maximize their profits by using non-food or things that are mostly edible by most people and therefore qualify as food.  That’s what they do.  I don’t like it but at least I can look at a label and make an informed decision.

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/food-fraud-watchdog-group-raises-concerns-18290097

Or not.

Then I read this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/9-most-misleading-food-la_n_538868.html#s81059&title=All_Natural

For example, I don’t eat Fruit Roll-Ups but it irks me to no end that strawberry fruit roll ups don’t have any strawberries in them.  Pear juice concentrate, corn syrup, dried corn syrup and other things.  But no strawberries.

It drives me nertz that whatever company (even though this isn’t the gist of the article, it’s my gist) sells walnuts was fined by the FDA(?) for stating that walnuts are good for your health.  Because, apparently, a claim of a food being, say, “heart healthy”, would qualify it as a drug.

Granted, a lot of companies make claims to sell their products even if their products are mostly sugar and water.  But it says so much about how toxic our culture is when it comes to food and health.  It shows how much money and political influence can accomplish and how people trying to do right for themselves and their family end up on the brown end of the poop shovel.

I just want to know what’s in my food so I can make an informed decision.  If the genes have been tweaked — if fish DNA has been spliced into a tomato — I want to know.  Tell me.  So I can not buy your product.  A lot of people will because the product may look better or last longer or be cheaper.

If the hamburger meat has horse meat in it, I think we have a right to know.

I mean, when it comes down to it it’s my problem to find something on the healthy side of the spectrum.  It should be my choice if I want to pay more or drive further or wait until something is in season (or for farmer’s market season).

If something is organic it should be organic.  Not “organic” by some legal definition that lobbyists have paid for and defined.  But organic.

So many people are overweight and/or out of shape and are trying to right the ship.  We have all of these debates and political diatribes about health care and how much it’s impacting our economy as the Baby Boomers are becoming elderly.  And yet, we are sabotaged as we try to practice prevention as the best medicine.

And for some reason it’s allowed.

Oh well.  I suppose I’m going to use this ranty anger.  I’ll eat well just to spite these greedy food company mofos and their politically corrupt enablers.

End rant.

I Must Look Tasty

I went for a bike ride today exploring the Cross County Trail near the new place.  I didn’t get very far, which is fine.  I took the camera and big lens just in case.  I saw a fair number of birds but … not much luck.

Anyway, I decided to walk the bike so I could keep the camera out and ready to go.  I explored the area back there behind Flint Hill School, saw a few species of woodpeckers and things.  But no photo luck.

Then I saw a guy a ways off with a dog on a leash.  And two more dogs not on a leash.  I made sure to make some noise so I wouldn’t startle them.  One of the off-leash dogs saw me and came running in my direction.  Joined by the other.  My first thought was, cool!  I flicked on the camera, tapped the shutter release button to make sure it was ready to go.  One of them had different colored eyes.  This is going to be a great photo.

But I never raised the camera because they both were growling and woofing.  Two 90-100 lb.  Husky-type mixes maybe?  They looked a little wolf-like.  And edging closer while adding a little snarl here and there.

Hm.  I made sure the bike was between us.  The owner eventually saw where they had run off to and whistled for them.  They stopped immediately, looked back at me, and then ran back to him when he called.

Well, that was off-putting.  I like dogs.  Love dogs.  I used to be a proud pet guardian myself so I know that feeling of wanting to let your dogs run off leash like they were meant to.  Free and full of that doggy joy to run and jump and get dirty.  But I also remember my dog throwing shade at other dogs for no good reason.  Or running off after squirrels or a deer and intentionally ignoring my calls.  Or you know, some things take precedence.

So while I was feeling bad for thinking of the dog-owner as a jag-off, the dogs came running back.  Growling, woofing, snarling.  Getting closer.  Again, I made sure the bike was between us.  Then one of them maneuvered around me so there was one on each side.  I angled the back of the bike so it was between us and took a step back.

I’ve been chased by dogs before.  I’ve been “confronted” by large, snarling dogs in full freak out mode.  I’ve gotten the warning growls.  I’ve been nipped once by a small-ish dog.  I’ve gotten “the look” from a Doberman Pinscher or two.  But 99.9% of my dog interactions are friendly “hello let’s play”.  This was not that.

Again, after an uncomfortable amount of time the owner called to them and they went running.  He saw me from a distance and gave me a friendly wave.  It was a typical dog owner wave like, “Hello there.  Pardon my dogs and their playful frolicking.”

I wanted to tell him that he probably shouldn’t have those two dogs running around together in the woods off-leash because they seemed a little too feral.  But he was too far away to verbally communicate with.

I don’t speak dog, really, but I understand a little dog.  And that got me thinking afterwards.

You know how I talk about people going crazy or the criminal predators out there in the world.  How when they attack someone to rob, mug, beat, assault, rape or whatever they have the upper hand because they’re already psyched up.  They’re mentally ready to go and may even be on drugs to give them an edge.

Meanwhile, your average Joe or Jane Blow is distracted, thinking about lattes or reality TV shows.  Some drivel.  And then we feel helpless.  “Why did that happen to me?  I have a right to not be victimized.”

I felt really stupid.  Just a walk in the “woods” right behind a golf course, a high school, and houses.  Totally caught off guard.  One of the many reasons that I workout is to be physically capable and formidable.

What troubled me is that when predators are looking for something to do, they make a decision.  Like, “I think we can take this one.  The two of us?  Yeh.  Together, we almost outweigh him.  And our alpha’s right back there with Big Fred.”

And my mind went to the worst case scenario.  “These sons of bitches want to goad me into doing something stupid so they can bite the s— out of me.”

‘Cause you know.  When dogs get in that pack mode they can easily and temporarily forget that they’ve been domesticated.  They wanted something to chase and toy with, I think.

And since I have that typical sense of “I live in civilization” I was thoroughly mentally unprepared for confrontation and chaos.  That irks me.  For all this physical fitness that I’m working on … the mental thing.

Oh well.  It’s just one of those things.  We shouldn’t be walking around all the time ready to go into literal beast mode at the drop of a hat.  Can’t walk around the suburban greenery carrying sharpened sticks, wearing leather armor and hunting knives and machetes.

And I suppose I did the right thing.  Use your brain, try to calm them, don’t challenge, don’t do anything that could be interpreted as a rise to their challenge (like point a big ass camera lens at them).

Anyway, my point is that I don’t like the idea that I’m walking around like sheeple.  Safety, security, technology and all of the benefits that civilization holds for us (relatively speaking) are awesome.  But they’re also a thin veneer over a pretty brutal scheme of life and death.  And in my worse-case imagination, a thin line between “Ooo, a Pileated Woodpecker!” and “Oh God, two oversized wolf-dogs are trying to sever my Achilles tendons!”

Haha!  Gary Young in “The Gray 2: Toy Terrors”.

“In a world where toy breeds and lap dogs roam the once bucolic landscape of Northern Virginia in hordes of tiny, adorable, vicious packs of bloody mayhem, one man takes a stand.”

[Cut to man facing down a snarling Shih Tzu as they charge one another in a final battle of life and death.]

Yeh.  What Jason Statham said

I like Jason Statham because he makes balding look cool.  He also looks like he smells like cigarettes and garlic, but I assume that’s charming when you’re a bad ass.  Maybe that’s what I assume Europeans smell like.

Anyway, I still see the same arguments on the internet about fitness and diet.  About weight and fat.

The most disparaging thing to me is how we, culturally, can’t seem to talk about weight, fat and fitness without immediately going to extremes.  We then have conversations based on our insecurities, social trauma and defensiveness instead of … reality.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Fitness has many shapes, sizes and proportions.  Your best physical you is not going to look like someone else’s.

Being overweight doesn’t mean that you’re bad or weak or lazy.  I think it’s often the result of bad habits in a culture of excess that accumulate year after year.  Habits can be reversed.  There are choices that are healthier than others.  Those choices add up.  For me, it’s a constant — it’s something I have to be constantly mindful of.

Having said all of that, statistically speaking (especially it seems for minorities), being overweight or obese has a high cost and isn’t good for you in the long run.  People can quibble over BMI or a few points of body fat percentage.  People can argue over whether talking about obesity = fat shaming.  I don’t care to participate in those ideological arguments.

People can opine about how society sets impossible standards.  There’s truth in that.

People can be angry about socioeconomic issues and racial dynamics and how that affects health and habits.  There are some very real things to consider and address.

People can decide that their body is wherever it is because that’s where it needs to be.  They can accept themselves, overweight and all.  It’s good to be comfortable in your own skin.  I think that sometimes that’s the only way that transformation can take root.

But I agree — as I continue this process of investing in my own physical fitness — with what Jason Statham says in a Men’s Health interview:

The world’s pretty clued-up these days about the benefits of good food and workout, and how to train for certain results.

We know more than ever how to take care of ourselves, but there are just two questions: Will you use the information available to feel good, and what level do you want to be at?

Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. If you have a healthy lifestyle, your diet and nutrition are set and you’re working out, you’re going to feel good. There’s a natural bi-product of doing those things, and that’s that you feel good. When you’re feeling good, you’re feeling confident, and that’s key to everything.

And this:

Take a martial art or a sport, something that gives you a skill, engages the body, and allows you the possibility of being great—or at least being active. You’ll find your confidence.

Perspective

The longer I workout/train the more important it is to me to be able to move.  Ideally, to move without tweaking things.  There are still areas I want to and will improve in and they’ll take a lot of work and a fair amount of workout pain, but so be it.

You know me.  I like to keep it real.  I don’t always look forward to it.  But I always appreciate it.

There were two health emergencies in my family this week.  Both symptomatic of possibly life threatening issues.  I visited a few hospitals in Baltimore the other day.  They were really busy and I thanked my lucky stars that, as far as I know, I’ve still got my health.

Between 30 and 40 years of age, our bodies change.  I guess it’s the metabolism slowing down.  You can still be active and all that, but you start noticing that you don’t have that brand new car smell, so to speak, that you did in your 20s.  You start gaining weight for no apparent reason and your lifestyle gets a little more sedentary.

From what I’ve observed, between 40 and 60 is an era of reckoning.  So in my opinion, the more of a head start you have before you get there, the better.  But after 40 is when the big health issues typically become apparent.  Your organs.  Your joints.  Neck and back.  You can still get out there and jog a bit.  Play a game of something every once in a while, but you’ll feel it.  Try being a weekend warrior and you get injured way too often for comfort.

After 60.  Well, in my family, a large percentage of the men don’t make it too far into their 60s.  But after 60 is where frailty becomes a thing.  That’s when medicine and medical intervention is the only thing standing between you and shuffling off the mortal coil.  Medications and pacemakers and the occasional ambulance ride.  Strokes, heart attacks, cancer scares.

After 80?  A fall can end your life.  The possibility of dementia hangs over you.  Your joints are a source of near constant pain.  Adventure and exploration are in the past.

That’s what I’ve observed.

But my family doesn’t exercise.  They try to do better but it’s not — it’s hard to let go of the exercise philosophy of the 70s and 80s when that’s what you’ve known for decades.  Low fat, jogging, aerobics.  All of the mixed messages in the media.

There are some longevity genes in my family, too.  Here and there.  I just imagine what our lives could be like if we had a family culture of physical activity and fitness.  Food health and grocery store perimeter shopping.  Y’know?  The possibilities.

I mean, this is life, right.  We all … expire.  We all have our time.  The question is, how much living are you going to do before that time comes.

Let’s be optimists and assume that we’ll live to a ripe old age.  Will we be traveling, learning and having fun up until the end?  Or will we be bed ridden or in intense pain for 10 to 15 years of physical and mental atrophy and decay and then die?

So regardless of circumstance or genetic expression (which is malleable, apparently), I want to invest as much as possible into my fitness account.  I think I’ll get out of this Winter in the win column again.  My eating habits have been all over the place, which I’m not proud of, but the net will be a gain.

Let’s get to it.

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.

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