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A Book Review: In Defense of Food

Wow! Over 90 hits on my new bike post. I’m glad my readers are as excited about the new addition to my family as I am : ) Val and I are hitting up Skyline Drive tomorrow! I’ve never been on it, but it should be scenic, fun, and educational.

So, I finally got around to reading one of Michael Pollan’s books – I chose In Defense of Food.

Even though most of the ‘rules’ in the book were nothing I didn’t suspect or already try to keep in the back of my mind when I shopped for food, this man puts together some fine sentences. I found myself wearing out my highlighter because every few pages had a great quote I wanted to be able go back to.

The book condenses down to the following – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The first snippet of that gets the most attention from Pollan as he details how most of our food isn’t real, but highly processed. And the food we should be eating is the pure stuff our great great grandparents would recognize as food.

I got some good insights on the history of nutrionalism and what goes into the ‘scientific’ studies of nutrition. It’s pretty disheartening and had great parallels to my biological research – keep finding smaller and smaller components, periodically declare this part is bad or awesome, depending on the label remove it from everything or fortify everything with it, and then monitor the consequences (which were rarely good, because we don’t REALLY understand the whole system).

“Like so many ideologies, nutritionism at bottom hinges on a form of dualism, so that at all times there must be an evil nutrient for adherents to excoriate and a savior nutrient for them to sanctify” – Pollan

I also really liked the idea of food synergy – that maybe a whole food is more than the sum of its nutrient parts – therefore fortifying could be a waste of effort?

Also scary to note that the food we eat now has less nutrients than it did 100 years ago!

A couple more quotes from the book that got a fist pump from me – things that annoy me about the way America eats:

“Much more so than the human body, capitalism is marvelously adaptive, able to turn the problems it creates into new business opportunites: diet pills, heart bybass operatoins, insulin pumps, bariatric surgery.”

“Apparently it is easier, or at least more profitable to change a disease of civilization into a lifestyle than it is to change the way civilization eats.”

It’s one of those books that makes me want to change the world. But, since that’s not happening today, I have renewed determination to carefully examine the ingredients in my food and make sure I’m living as clean and unprocessed as I can. It’s a book worth reading, especially if you eat a lot of processed foods now. Pollan also supports the idea of eating meat more as a side than a main course, something I wish was more poplar in this country.

To celebrate finishing the book, I had a salad using stuff I got from my crop share – All freshly picked from Virginia by the local Menonites. The mix included Bibb lettuce, blueberries, cucmbers, tomatoes, walnuts, and feta with some delicious corn on the side. The corn was so sweet and juicy that it would be a crime to put anything on it. I just boiled for 3 minutes and that was that! Nom nom!


Eastery Workouts

Yeah, yellow is the bomb

So, I’ve got a couple more workouts to report briefly before I return to the nightmare of group projects and test studying. I celebrated Easter by dressing up cute in a yellow dress, driving around to the grocery store in my yellow car, and getting a run in. I was SUPPOSED to get a 20 minute run in, but breathing became an issue around minute 10. I haven’t been using my inhaler in the last week and I think the spring flowers and increased distance worked their magic this time. So I ended up doing:

Walk 5, Run 10, Walk 2, Run 3, Walk 1, Run 3, Walk 1, Run 3, Walk 5

I thought I ended up with a cumulative of 20 minutes of running, but looking at it now it’s like 19. Nothing to sneeze at, but I suppose I can’t do simple math when I’m sweating like that.

Today I left work midday to get a workout in, since I plan on staying here all night. It was a Jillian Michaels DVD – No More Trouble Zones. I guess you know you’re getting a decent work out if you’re screaming ‘FUCK YOU JILLIAN’ at the end of every circuit. And yeah, I was. My arms are dead right now!

On a lark, I decided to weigh myself again today, and I’ve lost another 1.3 pounds since last time (~3 days ago). Great motivation! My stomach is looking better for sure. I’ve been doing a lot of things different this week – Increased walking 3-4 fold, doing more strength workouts, eating right. So, not the most controlled study, but if it works, who cares! I feel great!

Ahhhh, Peace out chickadeees.

The One Where I’m Kind of Tired of Being a Weakling.

Wow. Definitely got distracted by the interwebs for the last hour when I should have been working on some physiology homework. So, this update will be briefer than originally intended.

I managed to squeeze in a 20 minute circuit workout – Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1. This DVD basically has 3 circuits of: 3 minute strength, 2 minute cardio, and 1 minute abs! Damn. I felt those push ups. I have like no upper body strength – a fact that I once thought would prevent me from graduating from high school.

I kid you not. The gym teacher told us if we couldn’t pass the Presidential fitness test we couldn’t graduate from high school?! And the gym teacher was totally an amorphous blob of an obese woman who sat in a recliner the whole class and yelled at us to run. Luckily, I’m not that naive and assumed there was no way they’d keep me from going to Penn just because I couldn’t do 2 pull ups.

Anyway, I’ll probably write a better review of the DVD at a later point. But, I’ve been meaning to get some more strength training in, and I’m sure this will fit the bill. I def felt some muscle burnage in my shoulder, biceps, and quads. MMM MMM Good!

Peace out,


Warrior Aspirations!

So, you may remember one of my goals for this year was to enter one race to complement the running thing. Well, today I signed up for that race. But, instead of doing your typical 5K or 10K I opted for the….wait for it…..WARRIOR DASH! This 5K run includes obstacles like the lame ‘Tunnels of Terror’ and ‘Enchanted Forest’ but also some cool stuff like crawling through mud pits and jumping over fire. At the end you get your very own medal and viking hat and get to feast like a viking with ample meat and beer. If nothing else, it’s a way to check off my goal while providing ample facebook profile pic fodder at the same time (always in the back of my mind, folks!). October 9th can not come soon enough! Anyone brave enough to join me for the MidAtlantic location?!

What about now?!

Anyway, for today’s workout, I was going to run again, but ended up seeing one of my roommates for the first time in a couple weeks, and by the time we adjourned our chat the gym was closing in 20 minutes (darn spring break schedule). So I opted for a workout DVD: Biggest Loser Yoga.

This little guy is a surprisingly tough workout, strength wise. My quads, arms, and abs were all quivering at some points and I definitely worked up a nice sweat. Moreover, Bob is great at queuing. I was playing the DVD on my laptop in the corner, so it wasn’t exactly convenient to look at the screen. In spite of this, I was able to accurately do all the positions by just listening to Bob’s instructions, which was really nice.

One negative about the video is it’s not really yoga. Yeah, a lot of the positions are yoga poses, but yoga is really about the breath and flow to me, and that is just not there with this DVD. Bob really focusses on strength and weight loss,an in doing so kind of loses the essence of what yoga is. Even corpse pose was rushed! I do think I’ll try to incorporate it in my routine more though because I can really use some strength building to complement the running, especially if I wanna be able to climb those walls in the Warrior Dash (that’s the only event I’m really worried about).

Anyway, it’s a good day! I’m glad that I actually got my body moving when I felt like I was pretty close to skipping a day.