Friday, August 23, 2013

The Dangers of Sitting

Office chairs
Photo by nateOne
I've been a professional desk jockey for over 10 years now, spending most of my waking moments in front of a computer screen.  Oh, I knew the risks when I started this gig – carpal tunnel, eye strain, disapproving glares from attractive women  –  but the siren’s call of the white-collar job was too alluring.
Everything was fine for a couple of years.  I climbed the corporate ladder, hunkered down behind my keyboard all day, every day, enjoying a steady paycheck.  As time crept by, though, I found myself plagued by a variety of chronic physical problems:  weight gain, back pain and muscle spasms to name a few.  Now, after these many long years of suffering, I have come to an inevitable conclusion...

My office chair is trying to kill me.

I know it looks all docile and innocent sitting on its plastic roller-mat, but don’t be fooled by the fabric-coated facade – it has spent the last decade luring me into a sedentary death spiral.  And the chair is not alone in this dastardly endeavor; my sofa has been plotting my demise, as well (in cahoots with the recliner, no doubt).  How did I come to this conclusion, you say?  Elementary, my dear reader!  It’s simply because...

RIP Micah True, a.k.a. El Caballo Blanco (1954 - 2012)

Micah True, a.k.a. El Caballo Blanco
Micah True, a.k.a. El Caballo Blanco

I'm about a week late with this post, but I just found out about the passing of the legendary ultra-marathoner and all-around good guy Micah True.  For those of you you who don't know, El Caballo Blanco ("the white horse") was the wily, free-spirited main character of Christopher McDougall's book Born To Run.  This is a huge loss for the running community and the world as a whole.  He was a good man and will be missed.

The Traditional Hawaiian Diet (Hint: It's Not Spam)

Turtle Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Turtle Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Apologies if you missed me over the last couple of weeks (I had planned to get an article out, really!), but I just got back from completely immersing myself in the tropical paradise of Hawaii.  So rather than burn the midnight oil working on the ol’ Retro while on my big vacation, I decided to take a well-deserved breather and focused on consuming a serious amount of fresh pineapple.
On my quest for the spiky, golden fruit, I ended up at the Polynesian Cultural Center on the island of Oahu.  If you’ve never been, it’s a whole lot of fun and very informative.  Each of the traditional Polynesian cultures is represented by natives of the area in a series of demonstrations and activities that give you a good overview of their histories and customs.  My first stop was Samoa.

The Segmented Sleep Cycle

Sleeping garbage collector
photo by Harald Grove

Do you have trouble sleeping?
 Do you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep?
 Are you exhausted when the alarm goes off every morning?

Sleeping pills
photo by Brains In the Head

You need to buy the latest over-the-counter chemical du jour, blessed by the pharmaceutical industry and guaranteed to put you in a coma for 8 hours!!!

Or how about a direct injection of caffeine to kick-start to your morning??!? 

Sleepy kitty
photo by dominiqs
Or maybe you just need to learn how to sleep...
That we are not much sicker and much madder than we are is due exclusively to that most blessed and blessing of all natural graces, sleep.
Aldous Huxley

Barefoot Running (Love Your Feet)

Barefoot runningLet me ask you a personal question.  When was the last time you looked at your feet?  I mean when was the last time you really looked at your feet?
As it turns out, those fleshy little nubs at the end of your legs are actually marvels of bio-mechanics.  How about this for a stat sheet?  Each foot has:
  • 26 bones
  • 33 joints
  • over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • over 7000 nerve endings
Think about it:  your feet make up 25% of all 206 bones in your body.  These fascinating machines are responsible for balance, locomotion and occasionally kicking people in the head (if you’re Chuck Norris), and are truly masterpieces that deserve to be pampered and appreciated.  Yet we ignore them and hide them away, imprisoned in leather and rubber every single day as if we were ashamed for the rest of the world to see.
If you’re wondering, no, I haven’t just recently developed a foot fetish.  I bring it up because I’ve taken my feet for granted for my entire life and only within the last year or so came to realize that I never learned how to use them properly in the first place.  So I’d like to share a bit of my personal enlightenment with you and hopefully you’ll get to learn something new, as well.

Follow Up: The Paleo Diet

Thanks for all the great feedback from my last article about the Paleo Diet! If you haven’t had a chance to read it, you can find it here:
There were some questions that came up and I’d like to take just a minute to address a few of those...

The Paleo Diet (How To Eat Like a Caveman)

Caveman on a paleo diet
He’s starting off writing about the Paleo Diet?  Oooohhh....look at Mr. Trendy, jumping on the bandwagon for the Next Big Thing!  How original.
But, seriously...I’d like to take a minute to explain why this had to be done first – before I wrote a single word about any other topic.  To put it very simply:  because this is how Retrolithic was born.

About 4 years ago I started trying to improve my nutrition and overall health in an effort to stave off the daily insulin injections the rest of my family endures.  After a few months of research, that effort led me to Bill Philips’ fantastic book Body for Life.  It was somewhat of an epiphany for me, as it was really the first time I had seriously considered the importance of lean protein and vegetables in my diet.  It also emphasized moderate proportions of “healthy” carbs (potatoes, whole grains, fruit, etc.), but still not nearly what I was indoctrinated with on the FDA’s Food Pyramid (over half of your diet? really??).  And thus, my love affair with meat and vegetables began...
Soon thereafter I ran across an article talking about “eating like a caveman.”  What?  Why would I want to do that?  We’re more advanced and know more about nutrition than some neanderthals, right?  But the article talked about how we humans never really evolved to eat grain and about how beans and potatoes are toxic in their natural state.  Everything it was telling me totally made sense and suddenly it all clicked.  Maybe there was something to this Paleolithic Diet after all.