What I’ve been up to

Since this site is about hard work, I thought I would brief you on either my progress or my training. Ever since my son was born, my wife and I have been struggling to get good sleep, well planned meals, and some exercise. This has been a struggle. Not impossible, but a conflict of timing. I hope this post provides some insight on how a family should work together to make sure we are all on task eating nutritive foods, moving about and getting good quality sleep.

Ever since Emil was 2 months old, he’s been very colicky. His sleep patterns are, well miserable. He goes to bed at 7pm, wakes at midnight and is ravenous for a meal. Since my wife breastfeeds, this has been great for me, but certainly not fair by any stretch. We tried pumping, but that is a real commitment and she just doesn’t like the dairy cow factor to the experience. We’ve since supplemented with a few feedings per day with formula and that seems to be working well for him. At first he seemed to react poorly when Monique had dairy in her diet, and then we were dealt with acid reflux with him so dairy had to be out of the equation. He still wakes arond 11pm-1am. Feeds, then sleeps until 3-4am ish. I’ve been helping out with the feedings, but he just seems to be so hungry we just don’t know what to do. Anyway, it’s just been tough on both of us with Monique heading back to work.

We’ve decided to take another shot at 100% nutrition, and fitness along with getting Emil involved. We really strive to be an active family because my upbringing I was not. Besides, I want Emil to have a 40 year old dad who is shredded. (I just wrote on my white board, “10% BF by 40″) It’s gonna happen.

I’ve been reading lots from various sources and trying to pull in consistent data and I’ve come up with a methodology I seem to like. Primal/paleo obviously. You can read more about these methods linked below.

My day goes something like this:

The Daily Plan
630am: Wake
800am: Drive to Daycare; 8oz black coffee
830am-12pm: Work, lots of water
11:45am: 10g BCAA whey + 5g creatine in water
12pm-12:30pm: *Training
12:30pm-12:45pm: Post workout, meal #1= 60% total calories (mostly protein, slow carbs no more than 20g) water
12:45pm-6pm: Work with Meal #2=10% total calories (protein only), water
8-9pm: Meal #3: 30% calories (mostly protein, slow carbs) either glass red wine, or vodka if evening allows for it. This is last meal of the day. Fasted state until 12pm next day.

Day 01
Training: Everything Day 5x(5 clean/press/squat@60#; 10 burpees; 10 pullups)

Day 02
Training: Arms: 3x (5 @ of curls bar70#; 30# DB full sup; 25# DB tri-xtensions; chin ups)

Day 03
Rest or yoga

Day 04
Training: Kettlebell protocol: 3x (10@ 2 h swings, TKU, )

Day 05
Training: Outdoor activity 1hr

Day 06
Training: Cardio/sprinting/speed rope

Day 07
Training: Outdoor activity 1hr

Now I know what you are saying; “Where is breakfast?” Well, that is what I am trying to tweak here. I’ve been eating the same breakfast every day for almost 2 years and the human body loves adaptation. I seem to hit a pretty big weight loss plateau and my lifestyle is to blame. I’ve gone way low carb (less than 50g) for the last 3 days and plan at least a week of this. I am working out during a 15 hour fast which really helps with metabolism. You can read about that here

I’m also chowing a ton of meat and slow carb veggies such as greens, cauliflower and other non-sweet type veggies. I need the fiber, but cutting the carbs to get into ketosis. Well, full blown ketosis is under 20g and I may get that today, but I’m pretty sure the tb of honey I had in green tea on Tuesday was keeping my blood glucose where it needed to be.

The last 2 days have been great. No signs of GERD, completely not taking any meds for that anymore, and I’ve experienced zero (nada) bloat before, during or after mealtime. I have also not really been counting my calories either. My concern here is keeping the carbs at bay for a while to reset insulin levels and metabolic rate. I seemed to be stuck and this fasting may be the trick. You can read more about it here from another perspective.

I’m also knee deep in Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. It’s a great read and an awesome resource if you want to get really nerdy with nutrition and fitness. You can get the book here for your Kindle or your hands.

As I promised, here are a few sites I frequent in case you need to verify if what I am doing actually means anything or if you just want to argue with me that I have no idea what I am talking about. Either way, read.

Leangains is Mark Berkhan
Free the Animal is Richard Nikoley
Mark’s Daily Apple is Mark Sisson
Robb Wolf

POSTED BY Daniel Merk | 07:09pm 11th-Feb, 2011

Feeding babies and bad journalism

Let’s start here:
Feeding babies solids too early may make fat toddlers
Link to CNN

Reading the headline, which most people only do; you’ll notice that there is a huge pink elephant in the room. Let me expalin:

Feeding a baby solid foods too early in life may increase his risk of becoming obese before reaching preschool, according to a new study in Pediatrics.

Wait, WHA?! Are you kidding? “Food” makes babies fat? How can this be? Should I begin starving my brand new child because someone named Leslie told me so?

Ok LESLIE, let’s take a look at how your degree at Clemson U in Journalism compares to my degree in Visual Communication Design over at Kent State. In my education, I was taught to look at all evidence and not toss out something to make a great story. Here is what you wrote and completely missed when you dreamed up that horseshit headline.

In paragraph 2 or even just the second sentence:

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that new mothers breast-feed their babies for at least six months and introduce solid foods between 4 and 6 months. This new study finds that among formula-fed babies, those who were given solid foods before age 4 months had a higher risk of becoming obese.

Seriously. Are you that terrible of a journalist that you ignore what you are writing to gain success in your lil CNN Blog?

Let’s break down what formula is; ok?

Similac Advance
D Nonfat Milk, Lactose, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Coconut Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate…

That is enough. The rest is a bunch of supplements and states “less than 2%’ so I won’t even worry about those ingredients.

If you are going to evaluate some research about obesity, you better leave the medical profession and take a look at evolutionary biology for a moment. Cow’s milk is the first ingredient. I can tell you that the same association that provides this statement to all new parents about feeding your child cow’s milk says this:

Cow’s milk also does not contain the healthiest types of fat for growing babies. For these reasons, your baby should not receive any regular cow’s milk for the first twelve months of life. Healthy Children.org an AAP supported website

There it is. We can feed a milk based formula made from low fat cow’s milk but are not allowed to feed a child cow’s milk until they are at least 12 months old. Irony? You betcha. Follow the money.

The next bank of ingredients are a mystery to me. Soybean oil, safflower oil and coconut oil. I like the coconut oil for it’s medium chain fatty acids, but the soybean and safflower oils are not well received in the body and clearly lead to systemic inflammation. Safflower oil contains conjugated linolic acids (CLAs) and this has been a recent hot topic in nutrition. Here is a summary from a study about supplementation of CLAs and inflammation.

Supplementation With Conjugated Linoleic Acid Causes Isomer-Dependent Oxidative Stress and Elevated C-Reactive Protein
Conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), a group of fatty acids shown to have beneficial effects in animals, are also used as weight loss supplements. Recently, we reported that the t10c12 CLA-isomer caused insulin resistance in abdominally obese men via unknown mechanisms. The aim of the present study was to examine whether CLA has isomer-specific effects on oxidative stress or inflammatory biomarkers and to investigate the relationship between these factors and induced insulin resistance.

^ a b c Ulf Risérus, MMed; Samar Basu, PhD; Stefan Jovinge, MD, PhD; Gunilla Nordin Fredrikson, PhD; Johan Ärnlöv, MD; Bengt Vessby, MD, PhD (September 2002). “Supplementation With Conjugated Linoleic Acid Causes Isomer-Dependent Oxidative Stress and Elevated C-Reactive Protein”. American Heart Association Journals 106 (15): 1925. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000033589.15413.48. 01.CIR.0000033589.15413.48v1. PMID 12370214. http://intl-circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/short/106/15/1925. Retrieved 2007-02-1

Diabetes. Right there. If the 3rd ingredient has been linked to causing diabetes in humans, then it’s pretty safe to say that there are other factors in the case of childhood obesity; NOT feeding solid foods.

Leslie, I have a suggestion. Skip the journalism for now and go back to school to understand how research works, how evolutionary biology works and most of all understand how business is run. Dollars always leads to the health problems.

I want to make this clear that I am a parent of a new child. We (my wife) breastfed our son so far up to 9 months however a month ago began feeding formula. Every parent has a choice to feed their child the way that best works for their lifestyle. I am in no way making a statement that formula feeding is bad or should be avoided. I am merely pointing out that with every decision there may be consequences whether good or less than perfect. We as parents do the best we can and we certainly do not need a lousy CNN article telling us that we’re doing harm with our children by feeding solid foods.

CNN, you should be ashamed.

POSTED BY Daniel Merk | 10:15am 7th-Feb, 2011

How to stretch your dollar at the table

The last eight months have been a really tough time (financially) for us. Monique has been working at home caring for our son and I’ve been working from home as a full time designer for the company I work for. We had some money saved up that helped us through the first three months, but when she was not able to go back to her former career, we begin tightening up the belt a bit more. One of the last places we had to lean up was where we were buying food. I know this is probably not the place where a budget should come from, but after cutting out date nights out to dinner and dumping cable T.V., we had no other choice. This meant we had to go to the mega mart quite a bit and even places like Costco for bulk buying. Costco carries most organics yet at the expense of transportation from its growing region. At least it was grown properly so that gives us piece of mind at least.

One of the toughest decisions I had to make was having to buy more commercially raised meats. This is something I had a hard time with, but I made sure that I kept up on my Omega 3 protocol. We chose not to eat the fatty cuts and buying more leaner cuts, then adding your healthy fats in when cooking. Beef pairs well with grassfed cow’s butter or home made ghee. Chicken and fish work well with coconut oil. Go lean and add your fats in later.

Below is a list of meats you can buy that are quality cuts and leaner forms of protein.

Eye of Round Breast Tenderloin Canned Salmon
Top Round Breast Tenders Loin Herring
Tri-Tip   Loin Chops Canned Tuna
Flank Steaks      
Sirloin Roast/Steak      

We own a few freezers and are able to store meats for a long period and save on buying in bulk. Before we had our son, we were on a schedule of buying whole animals and storing for up to a year. It’s a great way to save on pastured food, but I can say that the start up costs are quite the investment. We were not able to save for a cow this year (2010) so we had to resort to the mega-mart meat. I can say that this month we’ve since put in an order for a 1/2 a cow and made this a priority to budget. I’ve posted a few new recipes for the new year so be sure to check those out.

POSTED BY Daniel Merk | 04:22pm 11th-Jan, 2011

Do you value your health?

I think there comes a time in a person’s life where they realize that the path they are leading is not productive or not conducive for personal growth. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. It’s part of our human existence. When life becomes the mundane or less challenging we go into a routine and completely forget about goals or perhaps where we’ve come from. It seems like every few weeks I seem to stumble in that direction.

I’m no elitist. I’m not perfect. I fall. We all do. For me, I’ve been really light on working out. Eating things that are not food. Getting inadequate sleep due to extreme television watching. It’s the part of my past I wish I could erase, but you can’t and you should not beat on yourself because of where you came from. Recognizing that I came from a past where food came from a box, and entertainment came from a television. It’s what made me today. My parents did the best they could and I would never blame them.

So what does this all have to do with fitness and nutrition? Well, this is the part where the two parts to a healthy life meet— the brain. Psychology.

I’ve been immersed in a positive fitness culture for over two years now along with 7 years or more with failing in a gym. I have experiences that have led me to discover some really great new direction in my life with all of this. Call it what you want, but “primal” or “paleo” seems to be a great moniker for all of this. It speaks to honing in on the essence of what we are as a species. We are still primates on this planet yet the problem is with most, we’ve not adapted to this era. Simple things like farming and transportation are two very important things we seem to keep making mistakes with; unfortunately at the expense of our quality of life.

The concept of farming is great; having food readily available during any given season in plenty for us to survive. Transportation is also incredible; being able to mouse click around the planet from our desktops to have new human experience in order to gain information to turn into knowledge at the expense of experience. We’ve replaced much of what we were designed to do with convenience. (Don’t worry, I am not going to make this another case to become a Luddite, I happen to love technology. Hell, you’re reading a blog I probably wrote using my smart-phone.)

For many of us, it takes trauma in order to get off-line for a moment and press that reset button. In my case it was learning that I became insulin resistant, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension at age 30. Today I am 38 years old and struggling with simple lifestyle decisions in order to correct this behavior. I have over 30 years of behavior modification to work through. It’s tough.

A very close friend of mine has been telling me that I should write a book because of my passion for all of this. Sure, the world needs another book about self-help or nutrition. Then it hit me— perhaps what I should focus this blog more on is helping people with the psychology of fitness and nutrition. I follow so many authors and bloggers who are very knowledgeable about fitness and health, but there is not much out there that speaks to the brain chemistry or even the human experience behind why we all know that eating a box of Cheese-its is bad for us, but we all seem to do it at one point. (I just had a visual of me once eating a whole bag of Flamin Hot Cheetos and then having blood red fingertips for two days.)

This up coming year 2011, I plan on focusing more on the why, and no so much the how, of nutrition and fitness. With hopes of being able to reach out to someone out there who is also struggling. I’ll keep on posting tips for working out, cooking recipes and videos; but I wanted to help more with the “I’m here for you” because we are at a point in our existence where help is much needed.

Our children are at stake; our security is at stake. Our evolution is at stake. Come with me.

(As I typed this blog post, I just received an email that a vendor just dropped off breakfast for the office– donuts and bagels. God help us all.)

POSTED BY Daniel Merk | 03:41pm 20th-Dec, 2010

On the road, paleo style

Hey there! I travel a bit for my career to our main office and I wanted to show you that even business travel can be an opportunity to stay the course for your health. I shot a quick video to show you that by packing some foods you can still follow your path to health. If you fly, then I suggest hitting the nearest grocery store and staying in a room with some form of refrigeration. I hope this helps some of you out. If you have any questions, feel free to comment.

POSTED BY Daniel Merk | 01:27am 8th-Dec, 2010


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