Friday, December 17, 2010

Saint Cynic Tackles Fitness and Nutrition

This blog will be taking on a new subject, along with keeping to religio-philosophical criticism.  Saint Cynic will now also be tackling fitness and nutrition.  I have been participating in P90X and in a nutritional lifestyle called the Primal Blueprint, and I can say that both fitness models in combination have done wonderfully for me, so far.

Briefly stated, P90X proposes to "shred" fat off your body and help you build lean muscle mass within 90 days.  But to do this, a person has to follow the nutritional guide provided by Team Beachbody, the manufacturers of said program.  After leafing through their nutrition guide, my wife and I decided that it was not suitable to our physical needs.  Essentially, there is too much emphasis on carbohydrates in the P90X dietary guide, to the point where one could legitimately wonder, "isn't this the kind of diet that would be better suited to fattening up cattle?" 

Well, the argument certainly could be made that by taking on P90X's dietary advice you would have to make your whole lifestyle about working out.  Incidentally, that's also one of the criticisms about P90X in general: that it requires an overall lifestyle change such that everything you do has to revolve around working out, and finding the time to work out.  For those people who have that kind of leisure, that's fine.  However, there are those of us -- myself, for example -- who just don't have the kind of time that P90X demands.  Nor do I have any interest in eating in such a way that I'm constantly having to monitor my caloric intake, or working out to burn more calories than I take in (a poor bit of advice that I'll dispell at a later date).

So, to deal with both the nutritional end of things and the issue of time, I've taken on the Primal Blueprint for Fitness and for Nutrition.  In a nutshell, the Primal Blueprint draws attention to the harmful effects of "cereal" grains, and emphasizes the overarching importance of a fat-burning metabolism.  Thus, a person should not be eating grains, which sap the body of its mineral and vitamin stores, but should be eating whole foods, fermented vegetables, good fats, lots of protein from healthy meats, and discarding as much sugary intake as possible to avoid insulin spikes (which are correlated to an increasing rise in diabetes).

More though, Primal Blueprint speaks to fitness in a way that legitimizes an easy-going fitness routine that still maximises physical benefits.  Says Mark Sisson, the creator of Primal Blueprint:
Our exercises should make us stronger, faster, and more capable of accomplishing just about any physical feat the world throws at us. They should be enjoyable (pleasure-giving), brief (without sacrificing effectiveness), sustainable (lifelong), immediately accessible (to young, old, and untrained), and infinitely scalable (from beginners to elites). A fitness program, then, should meet these benchmarks.
So while it is that P90X will kick your ass and make you burn, ache, and sweat -- which is all very useful when getting fit -- it does not propose the fluidity of Primal Blueprint as described in the quote above.  Nevertheless, P90X can be used in conjunction with Primal Blueprint on certain days.  For example, if you're needing to "lift heavy things" (a category familiar to primal-goers), you could easily sub in one of the lift routines from P90X, or even just a portion of a lift routine.  Also, in the winter months, when it's really not easy on your body to run around outside, you could do one of the cardio routines from P90X, or, again, just a portion of one.

However you chose to approach the Primal Blueprint, P90X, if utilised appropriately, can be of great benefit.  As a stand-alone, however, I found P90X to be a little tedious and overly time-consuming.  In turn, the harsh time commitment of P90X nags a certain point: can I sustain such a rigorous routine in the face of everyday life from now until old-age?  My answer is "no".  And I suspect that may be the answer for a large number of people who would like to reap the benefits of P90X but just can't afford the time.

There is a solution, however, and it consists in making a hybrid of the Primal Blueprint for Fitness and Nutrition, and P90X.  And in my opinion, the relaxed pace of primal fitness is better adapted to the actualities of human living in the modern world where so much of our time is at a high premium, and where coping with even a minimal fitness and nutrition routine can rub us up against the demands of work, family, and other pursuits.

More to come...


K9-CRAZY said...

Thanks for that blog link, I did like it!

It's been over a year since I've been living a more primal life and following MDA.

Some of it was very easy as I already ate a lot of veggies, have no fear of good fats and love meat. (I have yet to source some grass fed beef but it's on my list of things to do.)

My biggest problem is the sweet tooth. It's really hard for me to "say no" when there is a plate of homemade peanut brittle at work calling my name or when Kevin buys bags of cookies that stare at me whenever I open the cupboard. I eat WAY too much sugar.

The exercise follows much of what I already do with the dogs, long slow walks, short intense bursts of speed and weight lifting.

Kevin isn't completely on board and he makes many of our meals because of his schedule, that is another obstacle I've faced. I'll convince him one day :)

Oh, and I DO still wear shoes!

K9-CRAZY said...

I still enjoy a bowl of cardboard & cheese every now and again. Good old KD :)

Kane Augustus said...


Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to you. Craziness here at the St. Cynic ranch.

It's hard to give up the sugars, fast-crabs, and easy calories. But you know that. Every once-in-a-while I find myself craving a chocolate bar, or something sugary and gooey, but I have to resist. (Though, I will admit that last night, while I was totally stressed out, I popped a couple of my neighbour's Christmas chocolates.) There are some chocolate bars that are basically fine to eat in moderation, but finding stone-ground, all organic, non-preservative laden chocolate also means you have to find a few extra hours at work to pay for them. Here where I live, I know where to buy them, but they cost $8.69/bar. They're unbelievably delicious, however, so when I crawl out of overdraft, I plan on celebrating with Imogen by buying one.

Yeah, I can see how you would be getting the right kind of exercise chasing after those dogs as a matter of practice. I imagine some days are more rigorous than others, hey? In all though, it probably works out to what it needs to for you to be keeping fit.

You know, if you wanted Kevin on board, you could always get home before him, dump the nasty stuff out of the fridge and cupboards, and then take him shopping for all the right stuff. I'm sure that once he feels the benefits of being on the Primal plan, he'll be happier to conform. :-)

As for shoes, I still wear them, too. But only in the cool and cold months. In the late spring and all through summer, I barefoot as much as possible. Have you ever considered these: Vibram Five-Fingers?

I'm not sure why they called them Five-Fingers. Seems they decided against the proper anatomy. But whatever. They look like a good deal of fun to me.

I haven't enjoyed a bowl of KD since I was 11. I stopped enjoying it then, and have never looked back. Now the thought of it repulses me to a beautifully horrific degree.