fat-burning foods

Some foods may increase a mild metabolic increasing effect, a thermogenic effect, causing your body to burn more fat. Fruits in this category include apples, blueberries, grapefruit, peaches and strawberries. Some vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, celery, onions, radishes, spinach and tomatoes. Almost all proteins have a desirable thermogenic effect except proteins high in fat, lunchmeats, and processed proteins.

From the new Master Food List I put on mightykat.net

tuna roll-ups

These are very easy and quick to make, they taste great, present and travel well. Nutritionally, they're fabulous - tuna, whole wheat, veggie - minimal ingredients, low fat, with protein and quality complex carbs.

Morphed from Bea Cumming's recipe

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1/3 cup of olive oil
2/3 cup of liquid (water, soymilk, whatever)

Pour liquid into flour mix and stir.

Wet the countertop and put down a piece of wax paper. Put the dough on it and put another piece of wax paper over it.

Roll it out very thin and rectangular.

In blender, lightly combine
either one 12-oz. can, or two small cans of dolphin-safe tuna, drained
2 eggs
1 cup or 1/2 can of filler veggie - spinach, French-cut green beans, celery, whatever - drained
dash of salt
Drain well!

Spread paste evenly over dough.
Cut into strips about 2" wide and 4" long (vary to preference). These will expand a lot!
Roll up each like a jellyroll.

Place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 375 for 10 - 15 minutes (12 usually works in my oven, and mind you my oven may run 25 degrees hot, so you may need 400 - 450, as original recipe calls for).

clamps from the museum

Check these out. When you absorb equipment cast-offs, it's often like an auction - you take everything in the batch and don't even know what all you got until you get it home. To wit, here is a pair of clamps that a guy was using for bar clamps. I'll put them in the museum wing. What are these, pipe clamps before PVC was invented? They must weigh nearly 10# a piece.

I like gripping them around the star edge and raising to warm up my shoulders. You never get that particular grip with bars.

Announcing The Mighty Fit Review

Today I launched The Mighty Fit Review, a blog devoted to my reviews of fitness-related products and books. Go here for the unvarnished evaluations of one personal trainer/athlete/author who values biomechanically correct, sound, durable, effective equipment; potent, safe, hormone-free supplements; great reads; and generally fun, awesome, cool stuff.

I'm happy to receive recommendations for products to review. Unfortunately, spammers have ruined every direct contact tool I've used over the 'Net, so first-timers now have to post on my blog/s to reach me.

end of december woods

and to all a good lift

Since work outs are highly ritual by nature, anyone who works out and likes what they're doing is that can use the larger personal and societal calendars to pronounce work outs and produce significant experiences. That is, you can mark a holiday with a big work out session.

I knew a woman who ran; she ran five miles a day every day of the year and ten miles on her birthday. There was a story I read somewhere in which the narrator dutifully went to his daily running group's meeting point on Xmas morning not knowing whether he'd be the only one to show up, only to have another show, then another, and without any special arrangements, there they all were, as usual, to run on Xmas morning.

When my book launched, my friend Bill Boggs told me to celebrate with a good coffee and a work out, and how right-on this was. I hadn't thought of doing this, but I did and it was a great session.

On holidays at gyms, there's a special feeling. They're always packed with people who are off work and trying to get in a work out before the rest of the holiday stuff gets underway. They're beating the clock and come and go in a storm and can generally be irritants to the regulars. But in the quiet off hours, like late evening, when the regulars come in, there's a special feeling in the air. It's unspoken, tangible, warm.

What's cool about this is it is entirely organic. Celebrating by working one's body is free and available to everyone regardless of class, race or belief system. It's ancient - this is what dances are. And I know there are multitudes of people out there right now who are quietly looking forward to a big work out on Xmas. Whether it's setting a record, hitting an intensity threshold, reaching a goal or just being there and doing something, it'll be a special session that they'll enjoy and remember.

And to each of these Amazons and to everyone, I wish you a Merry Work out and a Happy New Lift.

me on Xmas day. broke personal records in Olympic lifting and worked the bag 'til it begged for mercy. great work out.

Athletic life of the woman who would be president

Former Congresswoman and nearly presidential candidate Pat Schroeder said on All Things Considered today that she couldn't figure out the strength part of the image for a woman presidential contender (ssh - granted running off the stage crying is not it - nevermind). Image is so important, she said, and how a woman can acceptably convey strength through athleticism in this role is unchartered territory. It's an interesting question for Americans. Male presidents run, flyfish, hunt and clear brush in the public eye to ridiculous extremes, and these are all given the nod. Schroeder said it's difficult for a female to pull these things off without looking silly.

On the surface, this sounds like a perspective I'd dismiss, but this isn't about "real life." Instead, this is a finite problem within a definite, arbitrary structure - a marketing problem within the American presidential candidacy business - and therefore I consider this a solid quandry. A fun one when you're nowhere near it. So let's consider:

What might be acceptable and even beyond that, what could successfully convey strength, power and authority?

I'm throwing running out. In fact, all strictly aerobic activities. Nobody cares about a female doing these. Not only do they not convey strength for our presidential contender, they indicate weakness, because she's surely insecure about her appearance (weight) and prioritizing her vanity over other things.

Weightlifting? Hmm. Maybe, if there's a subdiscipline in there that isn't too peculiar; obviously, bodybuilding is out, because it involves a conspicuous subculture with enough peculiarities to make her look at best inscrutable and at worst terribly odd. General lifting/exercise won't do much; Condi Rice works out each morning, but without a specific discipline, it's too weak an identity to do anything for her generally. Olympic lifting - not so much, because people will think she's in the Olympics and leave it at that. Powerlifting might be a possibility; although it has its subculture, it isn't too visibly offbeat. Mostly it stays in the gym; that is, compared to say, bodybuilding, there's no set costume for a powerlifter on the street, and in the gym, the garb generally isn't skimpy. So she could pass. The exercises she does are generally respected across the board, by lifters and those who would recognize the lifts from vague imprints in their subconscious (TV, high school, etc.). And most of all, the word "power" would work for PR, naming the actual concept they're trying to create. But she can't compete now or recently, and of course she's not big or overly mannish, which are rules of thumb for her in any situation.

Combat sports. Probably not presently, and probably not ever professionally, but if she has some degree of closeted accomplishment which could be leaked, that could work. There's a mystique that goes with the ex-boxer, ex-kickboxer, ex-anything for that matter, that generally isn't blocked by gender barriers. So let's have either private boxing training (like the old president of L.L. Bean, was it? something like that) at 4:30 every morning, and/or give her some amateur championship, like a great record in ground-breaking co-ed high school wrestling. While the pop-Asian combat fitness pursuits like Taekwondo would be more easily accepted, they would also be more easily dismissed (see aerobics). Karate might just be on the line, but I think the accepted/dismissed split would be along the lines of audience gender. Risk would outweigh potential benefit.

Ball sports? Can't do softball, she'll be labelled a dike for sure, and while America is willing to talk about the possibility of a female presidential candidate now, it's sure not ready for talk about a gay one. Most ball sports are either going to be seen as too much a men's world or simply as recreation, and we need to convey serious stuff here. Besides, unless she's a celebrity, in which case she'd never be a contender, it's very difficult to prove herself outstanding in ball/team sports. Soccer wouldn't convey what we need in this country, though she might be a hit with the European press. Hockey? Nah. I think it has to be individual or individual in the form of combat.

Skateboarding? No way.

Roller derby? That'd be awesome, but couldn't win any election.

Climbing? Now THAT's a great possibility. Keep that one on the table.

Marathoner or triathelete? She can't do it anymore or even recently, but if she had a few of these under her belt, that'd fare well.

Skiing? Curling? Tobaggoning? In order: too recreational (but would be good for vacations); too strange to register; too Olympic.

Yoga/tai chi/Pilates? Forget it. She doesn't have time for these trivial things now. Those are for the stay-at-home moms. And generally, nothing trendy, and nothing with a special "group fitness class" uniform, especially snug or revealing.

Nothing typically thought of as feminine - volleyball, gymnastics, ice skating.

Hunting of any kind (this includes fishing)? Going to be seen as a stunt and the opposition will tear it apart.

The Iditarod? That's be awesome, too. It might work if it was maybe ten years back in her past.

Rowing? No one would care but rowers.

Rodeo sports? No. Demolition derby? Huh-uh.

So, the shakedown from my initial brainstorming leaves these finalists for the female who needs to look strong through being physical in order to run for president right now:

  • in public - 1st choice climbing; 2nd powerlifting
  • in private - boxing or a combat sport that crosses for fitness pursuit today
  • in her past - lots more leeway. Marathons, triatholons, amateur combat sports

Hey, I'm not making the rules or the public opinion. I'm just a pragmatist with a sense of humor.

You know what would be really cool? If she had once worked as a welder or coalminer. Those always poll well. In fact, it'll be much easier for her to stage the strength role in her past work life than her past or present athletic life. Thank WWII for that, and Rosie.

Rosie the Riveter painting by Norman Rockwell

Me on the heavy bag

Something Familiar now in Powell's Books

Pleased to announce that Oregon's monolithic independent bookstore Powell's Books is now carrying my book and its fabulous reviews - see here.

But oh, if you really want it fast and with free shipping, order direct from the distributor, William, James & Co. Online or by phone. And yes, you can have it there by Xmas, or the end days of Hannukkah...depending where you are, even Solstice.

Also, you can look inside the book on Amazon now.

Wheatie at the bar

Pensive before his big lift

and plyo

Got adaptability?

So all you lactose-intolerant thespians and poets aren't necessarily weak, you're just slow to evolve, biologically kicking it old school. This is fascinating. More proof that we weren't built to drink cow milk, despite what the dairy marketers would have you believe.

Lactose Tolerance in East Africa Points to Recent Evolution

NY Times, Nicholas Wade -- A surprisingly recent instance of human evolution has been detected among the peoples of East Africa. It is the ability to digest milk in adulthood, conferred by genetic changes that occurred as recently as 3,000 years ago, a team of geneticists has found.

The finding is a striking example of a cultural practice — the raising of dairy cattle — feeding back into the human genome. It also seems to be one of the first instances of convergent human evolution to be documented at the genetic level. Convergent evolution refers to two or more populations acquiring the same trait independently.

Throughout most of human history, the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk, has been switched off after weaning because the lactase enzyme that breaks the sugar apart is no longer needed. But when cattle were first domesticated 9,000 years ago and people later started to consume their milk as well as their meat, natural selection would have favored anyone with a mutation that kept the lactase gene switched on.

Such a mutation is known to have arisen among an early cattle-raising people, the Funnel Beaker culture, which flourished 5,000 to 6,000 years ago in north-central Europe. People with a persistently active lactase gene have no problem digesting milk and are said to be lactose tolerant.

Almost all Dutch people and 99 percent of Swedes are lactose tolerant, but the mutation becomes progressively less common in Europeans who live at increasing distances from the ancient Funnel Beaker region.

Geneticists wondered if the lactose tolerance mutation in Europeans, identified in 2002, had arisen among pastoral peoples elsewhere. But it seemed to be largely absent from Africa, even though pastoral peoples there generally have some degree of tolerance.

A research team led by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Maryland has now solved much of the puzzle. After testing for lactose tolerance and genetic makeup among 43 ethnic groups in East Africa, she and her colleagues have found three new mutations, all independent of one another and of the European mutation, that keep the lactase gene permanently switched on.

The principal mutation, found among Nilo-Saharan-speaking ethnic groups of Kenya and Tanzania, arose 2,700 to 6,800 years ago, according to genetic estimates, Dr. Tishkoff’s group reports today in the journal Nature Genetics. This fits well with archaeological evidence suggesting that pastoral peoples from the north reached northern Kenya about 4,500 years ago and southern Kenya and Tanzania 3,300 years ago.

Two other mutations were found, among the Beja people of northeastern Sudan and tribes of the same language family, Afro-Asiatic, in northern Kenya.

Genetic evidence shows that the mutations conferred an enormous selective advantage on their owners, enabling them to leave almost 10 times as many descendants as people without such mutations. The mutations have created “one of the strongest genetic signatures of natural selection yet reported in humans,” the researchers write.

The survival advantage was so powerful perhaps because those with the mutations not only gained extra energy from lactose but also, in drought conditions, would have benefited from the water in milk. People who were lactose intolerant could have risked losing water from diarrhea, Dr. Tishkoff said.

Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, an archaeologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said the new findings were “very exciting” because they “showed the speed with which a genetic mutation can be favored under conditions of strong natural selection, demonstrating the possible rate of evolutionary change in humans.”

The genetic data fitted in well, she said, with archaeological and linguistic evidence about the spread of pastoralism in Africa. The first clear evidence of cattle in Africa is from a site 8,000 years old in northwestern Sudan. Cattle there were domesticated independently from two other domestications, in the Near East and the Indus Valley of India.

Nilo-Saharan speakers in Sudan and their Cushitic-speaking neighbors in the Red Sea hills probably domesticated cattle at the same time, because each has an independent vocabulary for cattle items, said Dr. Christopher Ehret, an expert on African languages and history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Descendants of each group moved south and would have met again in Kenya, Dr. Ehret said.

Dr. Tishkoff detected lactose tolerance among Cushitic speakers and Nilo-Saharan groups in Kenya. Cushitic is a branch of Afro-Asiatic, the language family that includes Arabic, Hebrew and ancient Egyptian.

Dr. Jonathan Pritchard, a statistical geneticist at the University of Chicago and a co-author of the new article, said there were many signals of natural selection in the human genome but it was usually hard to know what was being selected for. In this case Dr. Tishkoff clearly defined the driving force, he said.

The mutations Dr. Tishkoff detected are not in the lactase gene itself but a nearby region of the DNA that controls the activation of the gene. The finding that different ethnic groups in East Africa have different mutations is one instance of their varied evolutionary history and their exposure to many different selective pressures, Dr. Tishkoff said.

“There is a lot of genetic variation between groups in Africa, reflecting the different environments in which they live, from deserts to tropics, and their exposure to very different selective forces,” she said.

People in different regions of the world have evolved independently since dispersing from the ancestral human population in northeast Africa 50,000 years ago, a process that has led to the emergence of different races. But much of this differentiation at the level of DNA may have led to the same physical result.

As Dr. Tishkoff has found in the case of lactose tolerance, evolution may use the different mutations available to it in each population to reach the same goal when each is subjected to the same selective pressure. “I think it’s reasonable to assume this will be a more general paradigm,” Dr. Pritchard said.

windshield ice crystals

shooting this is why i was late for work this tuesday...

smoky windmill

more windmill pics. That's not fog, it's smoke. My neighbor decided to smoke us all out by burning leaves on an otherwise beautiful day. Kind of an interesting effect.

Everlast Gel Heavy Bag Wrap

See more of my fitness product reviews at The Mighty Fit Review

So I got myself an early present, the Everlast Gel Heavy Bag Wrap. I am not sold. This wrap is a much-needed idea, but the product needs work.

First off, it's slippery. Looks like they chose the fabric so the velcro hooks could grab. Slippery on the outside means when I try to land hooks or uppercuts, or if I hit just the slightest bit off square, my glove goes sliding right off the surface. This is dangerous to my joints. Maybe I can use it for aiming drills, but I won't want to use it for combinations all the time, especially if I'm going all-out with power and speed. For that I'm going to use a bag with leather or something similar, like bags are covered with. Secondly, slippery on the inside means that within a couple of minutes, the wrap is sliding off the bag. I have adjusted for a smaller opening at the top, to no avail. This shouldn't take a specialist to figure out that it needs a strap of some kind over the top to secure it.

The whole thing is stark black, save for the obligatory branding on a patch at midpoint. It needs markings similar to bags so I can fix on a point to target, and have some guides for bodypoints. The same company made my bag, with stripes positioned for this purpose, and even the logo works for this, so how'd they overlook this feature on the wrap?

Next is the sound. Ah, there's nothing like the smack of my gloves on a heavybag. But this funky slick material absorbs the sound, and I'm robbed.

The one good thing is that the wrap delivers what it's made to do: the cushioning is so effective that I scarcely felt like I was hitting anything. That's off-putting at first, to be sure, but the idea of being able to unleash my force without fear of bruised knuckles and injured hands afterward is why I bought this thing in the first place.

So I've boxed it up and am sending it in to exchange for the gel wrap gloves they're pushing; marketing says you can use them instead of handwraps, which I'm dubious about, but we'll check them out. They're $20, the wrap was $30. [ETA wraps arrived 12.27; will review soon]

Everlast, please take this one back to the drawing board. I'll be waiting for the improved version.

Marketing copy
Convert any heavy bag to awesome gel!

Helps extend the life of old bags or effectively cover tears or holes. Adjustable design with 4" hook-and-loop closure secures snugly to all bags - old or new.

Bethlehem soccer players persist despite resistance

Their country is resisting them, the border controls resist them, the concrete they play on resists them, yet this group of Palestinian grrls keep kicking. They grew up playing soccer, they're playing any game they can manage to get, and they're determined to stay in the game.

Story by Amelia Thomas, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

ages 12, 10, 7 - diagnosed with anorexia

This article by Deborah Haynes for Reuters raises awareness on how young children can get caught up with eating disorders. Body issues aren't just for teens and adults anymore. We're well aware that obesity is rampant in toddlers and children, so this shouldn't be a total shock.

If nothing else, please take away from this news item the idea that it can be a life-and-death powderkeg to say anything to anyone about their body.

I'm especially sensitive to this as a trainer. I've watched too many people plummet into self-destructive cycles because of an offhand remark from someone who wasn't even trying to be mean. Something that seems obvious to one person about another's physique may not be that person's reality or desire. It may be his or her demon.

No matter how well-meaning or casual the comment, if you don't know the person well, my advice is stop and hold your tongue. There's just no good reason to remark on how thin, thick, skinny or fat a person is. You have no idea how your comment may be taken and what may come of it.

Wheatie finds a sunbeam