On my mind #2

Taking a break from science this weekend, here is what’s on my mind right now:

Information Obesity: Take responsibility for your media

Here’s a video on information over-consumption that draws some nice parallels to the obesity/nutrition field. Once you get through the awful 30 second-long chicken joke, this video is actually worth it, so hang in there to the end, trust me. It’s refreshing to see an argument on information overload that doesn’t hinge on ‘analysis paralysis’ and end in a general recommendation to stop reading everything (my blog excepted of course).

Taking a different angle, Johnson highlights that it’s not an oversupply issue, but one of quality as well. Most importantly, and one point that I hadn’t really thought of, is that every time you click a link you’re essentially voting for that type of content. Every time we gorge our brains on a celebrity gossip site we’re letting those producing the content know that we want more and more of the Kardashians in our lives.

From a professional and training standpoint his quote ‘they don’t really want to inform us, they want to affirm us” is most salient. Remember that progression both in and out of the gym requires deliberate practice, and reading article after article that affirms your pre-existing thoughts and beliefs won’t help you. It’s important to test the boundaries both in the gym and in all the work you do outside of it, and to take time to think for yourself. That means reading articles outside your comfort zone, expanding your network to individuals who may not agree with the majority of your ideas (I’m surrounded by endurance athletes), and taking time each day to actually struggle with a weight, an exercise and an idea.

Cutting the cord on Facebook

Facebook is without a doubt the most the popular and controversial site around. Outside of sketchy IPOs, the site is either an internet-marketer’s dream, driving hoards of users to small-time blogs around the web, or an inescapable, time-waster sapping any semblance of productivity from your day.

For me, I never really got into facebook, in fact my wife was the one who made my account for me years ago. Over the last month or so I made a bit of an effort to connect with more people with it, but it still just didn’t take. So I decided to shut it down and focus my efforts on Twitter and writing for the site. I figure one social network is more than enough for me, at least for now.

Now some will call this blogging suicide, and I’m sure at some point I’ll return to Facebook as I do agree it’s a valuable tool in the social media world. But no matter what those social media strategists come up with, there’s some girl on MTV’s ’16 and Pregnant’ that has more Twitter followers and Facebook friends than all of us combined. At this stage in the game I just need to spend more time training, researching, and writing than I do browsing Facebook.

Concentrate for Mac

If totally removing yourself from Facebook is a bit extreme, software like Concentrate for the Mac could come in handy. I’ve been playing with it over the last couple months and it helps me hone my focus when I’m either not in the mood to write or can’t seem to cut out distractions.

The program is pretty simple, you can set up different activities and the program will open any software you need automatically, stop unwanted programs from running or close unrelated apps while you work, and block access to any distracting websites you may be tempted to visit, too.

Obviously it’s only as effective as the user behind it, and you can easily stop if you’re fiending for that Facebook fix, but adding that extra layer is often enough to keep me on track.

Layne Norton’s Low Carb Protein Brownies

While on the topic of over-consumption, I feel it’s a good time to admit I’ve probably crushed at least six batches of Layne Norton’s low-carb brownies since discovering Protein Pow(d)er a few weeks ago. I haven’t ventured through too many of the other recipes, but the site is definitely worth checking out. I won’t look at protein powder the same way again.

Instant, excess muscle

To round out the excess, here’s an account of a 40 year-old bodybuilder (using ‘builder’ loosely here) who, frustrated in his quest for excessive muscle mass, turned to site-specific injections of sesame oil to pump up his biceps.

Synthol fail

I guess in some sense it worked in that he managed to build an amorphous blob of a bicep that measured 70 cm (27″). On top of barely resembling muscle, what’s worse is that it sticks out like a sore thumb as his arms are ridiculously disproportionate to the rest of his physique. In actuality, he failed miserably as this looks nothing like muscle , and obviously required medical treatment to rid his biceps of the oil-filled cysts and resultant necrotic tissue.

What’s the lesson learned? It takes time, dedication, and most importantly WORK to build a muscular physique. Site-specific injections of oils like Synthol will never get you the muscle you want.

Dumbbells at last!

After dodging some nasty Toronto traffic last night, I finally managed to pick up our new Powerblock dumbbells for the home ‘office’. Being a bit of a purist when it comes to my equipment I didn’t think I’d ever end up with something like this in the gym, but here’s how the decision went down:

I opened negotiations with my wife with the Watson ‘Animal Pro’ dumbbells. Think oversized handles, shiny metal, and unforunately a $20,000 price tag. After seeing Nadine’s reluctance with my intial offer, I countered with what I felt was a fair comproise, a single 135 lb (minimum weight), shot loaded monster bell from Slaters Hardware. Again shot down, my better-half prevailed and we finally arrived at a reasonable ‘compromise’ of the Powerblock U-90 set to 125lbs. Easier on the wallet than my other options, 2.5 lb loading increments, but most importantly a compact footprint. This small form factor is a major plus as the home gym comes in at a fairly compact 310 sq ft, so space is at a premium.

The only drawbacks I see is that they aren’t quite the same as a metal dumbbell (nothing beats the real thing), and you have to be a little more careful setting them down than you would with a conventional dumbbell. I’m not saying I go all Branch Warren on my equipment, but I’ve been told that I am a bit of a rough player.

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Dan Ogborn