Monday, December 31, 2012

Continuous Improvement

Are you thinking about New Year's Resolutions? Dr. Greger has some good ideas:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

You Choose

Hey, nobody is perfect, so don't we all have room for improvement? Don't we all have the choice to make the world a better place by the little decisions that we make every day? The creator of the video below thinks so and apparently believes in cosmic karma.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Scream and Shout

"I wanna scream and shout and let it all out, you are now rockin with Will.I.Am and Britney Bitch!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Amend Obama Care to Lower Health Care Costs


The 2012 elections showed that our country is almost equally divided on the role of government versus personal responsibility. Central to this tug o war has been Obama care (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), the biggest overhaul of the US health care system since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Obama care's primary aim is to reduce health care costs by increasing the number of insured Americans. It will increase coverage by including mandates, subsidies and tax credits to both employers and individuals over the next 8 years.

My criticism of Obama care is that it doesn’t address the demand for health care. Increasing the supply of health insurance is only half the problem. US health care costs totaled $2.6 trillion dollars in 2010. The CDC estimates that about 75% of those costs can be attributed to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, strokes and cancer. That's $2 trillion dollars spent annually on treating chronic diseases. In our current health care model, individuals expect that as they grow older they will have to rely on medicine, surgery or other invasive treatments against chronic diseases. Imagine the outcome on health care costs if Americans took greater personal responsibility for their own health by implementing healthier lifestyles such as not smoking, not being overweight, being physically active and eating more fruits and veggies and less meat. Imagine that these changes could reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases by 50%, a savings in health care costs of $1 trillion dollars.

I propose that Obama care is amended to provide tax credits to individuals who achieve target goals for good health markers such as low BMI scores (ratio of weight in Kg over square of height in m^2), low cholesterol scores, low blood pressure and nicotine/drug testing. Tax credits will financially motivate Americans as they age to prevent chronic diseases by making better lifestyle choices, and the huge savings in health care costs will outweigh the cost of the tax credits.


An argument against this proposal that I want to address is the family tree. It goes like this, “My parents and grandparents had chronic diseases. Making better lifestyle choices isn’t going to help me. It’s in my genes.” There’s likely some truth in this argument, but how much effect can a healthy lifestyle really have on preventing chronic diseases? A recent TEDx presentation addressed this question. One of the primary references was a journal article which was coauthored by doctors from the CDC and the German Institute of Human Nutrition. The article reported findings from the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition) about the role of lifestyle choices on chronic diseases.

The EPIC study tracked 4 healthy lifestyle factors and 4 chronic disease responses of over 23,000 German men and women between 35-65 years of age from 1998 to 2006. Each participant was either ranked as healthy (1 point) or not healthy (0 point) for each of these lifestyle factors:

4 Lifestyle Factors

· 1 point = never smoking
· 1 point = BMI < 30 (ratio of weight in Kg over square of height in m^2)
· 1 point = physical activity > 3.5 hours per week
· 1 point = healthier diet above median of the population
Less than 5% of participants had 0 lifestyle points, about 35% had 2 points and nearly 10% had 4 points.

About half of the participants never smoked and one third had more than 3.5 hours of weekly physical activity. More than 80% of the participants had BMI scores <30.

The healthy diet factor was the most ambiguous. Participants reported on a food frequency questionnaire the number of grams intake daily for fruits and veggies, whole grain bread and meat. The mean and standard deviation of each food categories’ gram intake was determined so that each participant was given a z score = [value - mean]/standard deviation. The three z scores were combined in such a way that eating more fruits and veggies and whole grain increased the z score and eating less meat increased the z score. Median scores (intake grams) were not reported, so it was not specific what kind of diet was considered healthy, other than a diet dominated by fruits, veggies and whole grains.

Other potential confounding factors were taken into account. The data set was adjusted for age, sex, education and occupational status. Data was also collected on the following variables, but were determined not necessary for adjustment: marital status, number of adults and children living in the household and alcohol consumption.

4 Chronic Disease Responses

· Diabetes
· Heart Attack
· Stroke
· Cancer
Risks for chronic diseases were calculated relative to the baseline of participants who had 0 healthy factors. Participants who had:

· 1 healthy factor reduced their risk of chronic disease by 49%
· 2 healthy factors reduced their risk of chronic disease by 63%
· 3 healthy factors reduced their risk of chronic disease by 72%
· 4 healthy factors reduced their risk of chronic disease by 78%
However, not all chronic diseases responded the same way to healthy factors. Diabetes was the most preventable chronic disease while cancer was the least preventable chronic disease. Participants who had 4 healthy factors:

· reduced their risk of diabetes by 93%
· reduced their risk of heart attack by 81%
· reduced their risk of stroke by 50%
· reduced their risk of cancer by 36%
Similarly, not all healthy factors had the same effects on reducing the risks of chronic diseases. Not being overweight (BMI < 30) had the greatest effect while a healthy diet had the least effect.

· BMI < 30 reduced overall risks by 57% (greatest effect on diabetes)
· Never smoking reduced overall risks by 33% (greatest effect on heart attacks)
· Physical activity > 3.5 hrs/wk reduced overall risks by 24%
· Healthy diet reduced overall risks by 21%
I think the results of these relative health factor risk rankings should be viewed with skepticism. The two greatest measured effects, BMI and smoking, were easily determined and the most accurate. Physical activity and healthy diet were estimated by the participants. If I were asked about those two health factors during the last 8 years of my life, the physical activity would be a rough estimate and healthy diet would be a guess. Even if the participant kept a food journal for 8 years, it's doubtful that they could accurately estimate the grams of each food group, and it's very unlikely that their diet didn't vary over 8 years. This skepticism is also fueled by the result from the combination of physical activity and healthy diet. Participants who had just those 2 healthy factors reduced their risk of chronic disease by 66%, up from 21% and 24% for each of these health factors separately.

Comparisons to Other Studies

The risk reductions of chronic diseases have been observed in other studies with similar health factors and similar results:

· Nurses Health Study (84,000 participants) reduced risk of heart disease by 83%, reduced risk of stroke by 79% and diabetes by 91%.
· Women's Health Study (36,000 participants) reduced risk of stroke by 55%.
· Health Professional's Follow-Up Study (43,000 participants) reduced risk of heart disease by 87% and reduced risk of stroke by 69%.
· Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (16,000 participants) reduced risk of heart disease by 35%.

The EPIC study showed that adapting just 1 healthy lifestyle will reduce the risk of chronic disease by 50%. This is low hanging fruit. Adapting 4 healthy lifestyle factors reduced risk by nearly 80%. The challenge to achieve these results and drastically cut health care costs is to persuade Americans to make these changes. Americans have become too reliant on advanced treatments. There needs to be a paradigm shift towards simple preventions. Obama care could be that paradigm shift if tax credits for good health markers like low BMI, low blood cholesterol, low blood pressure and no smoking/drugs were added to encourage the reduction of health care demand while widening the pool of insurance supply.

How much should the tax credit be? Given the total costs of chronic diseases at $2 trillion and that there are roughly 100 million Americans with chronic disease, America is spending on average $20,000 per patient. Take 10% or $2000 to apply to tax credits. Even in the unlikely scenario that every American taxpayer (about 200 million) was motivated and achieved good health, that’s $400 billion dollars, much less than the $2 trillion dollars spent on health care today. And the positive impact on improving the nation’s health through prevention instead of treatment is priceless.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our Neighbor Eats a Vegan Diet

Victoria and I walked over to the neighbor's yard to share fruits and vegetables with em.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Music City Half Marathon

Chip Time: 1:33:44
AG: 4/40
Overall: 22/509
Pace: 7:10/mile
Course Conditions: Shelby Bottoms Greenway (mostly flat for Tennesee)
Weather Conditions: Cool and Cloudy (upper 40s, lower 50s)

It's been a few years since I've run a half marathon due to nagging injuries, so I was looking forward to running the Music City Half Marathon today in Nashville, TN. The weather cooperated for running. It was a little chilly to be honest, or at least it felt that way after setting record breaking temperatures this summer. But a few light layers, long sleaves and a pair of gloves, and I was good to go.

The good news is that there were no bad surprises. I ran pretty much how I expected to run. And I'm still uninjured. The bad news is that there were no good surprises. It's a good feeling when you discover you can take it to your next level.
My pace was even throughout the race. I relied heavily on my Garmin to run consistently which is something that I normally don't do. Typically, I run by feel. My pace varied from 6:30 to 7:30, but it was usually between 7:00-7:10


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Joe Cross's "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead"

The documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" is about an overweight guy named Joe Cross from Australia who goes on a 60 day juice fast under the supervision of Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

The idea of Dr. Fuhrman's approach is to consume lots and lots of fruits and vegetables that are full of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and few macronutrients (fat, proteins and carbohydrates). The idea is to consume so many fruits and vegetables that it's easeier to juice them than it is to eat them.

Joe was very successful. He lost 82 pounds in 2 months and quit taking prescription drugs for his autoimmune disease called chronic urticaria.

The most interesting aspect of the documentary to me was the ripple effect. Joe met an extremely obese truck driver named Phil Staples. After some time passed Phil asked Joe for help, and Joe helped him. And so Joe's journey turned into Phil's journey. Phil was successful too, losing "six bowling balls" in 60 days and getting off his meds. And his ripple started community fasting, as well as his brother who suffered a heart attack.

There were some funny zingers in the documentary. Joe asked a guy how long he thought he would live. The guy rubbed his belly and replied, "I don't know, but I hope God has ribs in heaven." Phil was talking to his brother who was also obese about just trying 1 week of juice fasting. His brother responded, "I would try to juice a steak, that's my problem."

There were also some tear jerker moments near the end of the movie. Both Joe and Phil lived more balanced lifestyles after losing the weight. Watching both of them run while INXS's "New Sensation" played in the background brought tears to my eyes. And when Phil started his journey, Joe gave him a goal to fit into a yellow T-shirt that clearly wouldn't fit him without big changes. At the end of the movie, Phil was running in that yellow T-shirt. Awesome!

The full movie can be viewed on Hulu:

or watch this trailer on Youtube:

If you want to try the "Mean Green" juice from the documentary, then check this out:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Baby Steps

A coworker recently became motivated to lose his belly. This meat and dairy loving guy showed me his lunch today: salad, yogurt and grapes. He typically gives me grief for obstaining from meat, so I had to give a little back. When he showed me his salad I replied, "That's not a salad, that's a bowl of shredded cheddar cheese with lettuce flavoring."

He said, "I'm trying." He's right, baby steps.

It reminds me of the small steps that I have taken in the last 12 months:
  • September 2011: added more carbs back into my previous low carb diet via starches thanks to a wake up call from Anthony Colpo.
  • December 2011: added more fruit back into my diet and removed more meat from my diet when my cholesterol was consistently higher than 220 mg/dL.
  • March 2012: added even more fruit to my diet (morning green smoothies and all fruit for lunch) and removed almost all meat/dairy from my diet after watching a lot of raw vegan Youtube videos.
  • April 2012: removed diet soda completely from my diet, mainly to eliminate bad flatulance (and it worked).
  • May 2012: stopped using shampoo in my hair (only rinse with water).
  • June 2012: started running about 5-6 days per week after 4 month rest period.
  • July 2012: started drinking orange juice daily after my China trip.
  • August 2012: started eating mono meal fruit lunches for easy digestion.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Grow Veggies in Cheap Raised Beds

A few months ago, I shared a view of this summer's garden in my backyard. Being the cheap guy that I am, I started the garden by just digging up a plot of land with a shovel with the intention to plant some starters. But, I didn't get very far. Our house is in built on the side of a hill as are most homes in Tennessee. The soil is rocky and proved challenging to shovel "dirt". So I created a couple of raised beds, 4'x8'. I spent more money than I cared to on the materials.

I should have known that Youtube would provide a better, cheaper solution than what I dreamed up. I particularly love the ingenuity of the raised beds in the video below. These kids from Berkley are very creative, and quite generous as they give their food away to those who are more needy.

If you want a more in depth tour of their farm, Urban Adamah, then check out the second video below by John of John's Youtube channel provides a wealth of information on how to grow fruits and veggies in raised beds, or what he refers to as square foot gardening.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Why Are You Even Living Here?"

Larry David not curbing your enthusiasm to vote.
Register to vote at if you're not.

Or why are you even living here?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Veggie Tacos

These veggie tacos are a simple, but pleasing meal. They consisted of:
  • corn tortillas
  • homemade refried beans (soaked pinto beans, garlic, onion, olive oil - cooked)
  • jasmine rice
  • homemade guacamole (avocado, lemon juice)
  • homemade salsa (garden tomatoes, green onion, celantro, garlic)

Lunch in China

There are a few more videos that I will post from my trip to Wuhan, China in June. This is a quick one from the canteen at our factory. Meals are provided to the workers as a part of their compensation. I ate all of my lunches at the canteen, and sometimes dinner depending on how long our day was at work. I must say that the food was delicious. We ate well. Not much calorie restriction occurred.

A few observations about my food experiences:
  • All of our meals were served family style. Everyone used their chopsticks to pick at the food from common plates and into their bowls. Luckily, I'm not a germ-o-phobe.
  • Rice is most definitely the staple food in China. No doubt.
  • Soda was not commonly served, but orange juice could be found at every meal.
  • At least in Wuhan, they like their food spicy. Plenty of red peppers could be found in most dishes.
  • If you are a visiting American, your food is "Americanized". This means that you are served an unusually large portion of meat with your meals. As I looked around at other tables, the Chinese workers had just a little bit of meat, as if it were a flavoring for the rice and vegetables. As I am trying to transition to a whole plant based diet, I only sampled dishes with meat in order to be polite to my hosts. But I would have much rather preferred to eat the un-Americanized food that the Chinese folks were eating.
  • When Chinese eat meat, it seems that any meat will do. One Chinese worker told me that they will eat anything that has legs, except for the dining table. The Chinese are not vegetarians, but maybe not too far from it. Having said that, I think as the Chinese middle class grows, more Chinese will be able to afford to eat more meat.
  • Watermelon is a common desert.
There are pros and cons to visiting China. The food was a huge pro for me.

Check out the video below from one of our lunches.

Yellow Crane Tower

Across the Yangtze river from my hotel in Wuhan there was one of the four great towers of China, The Yellow Crane Tower. It was only a 3 km walk, most of which was across the first Wuhan bridge over the Yangtze river. The mile long bridge was built in 1957 after the Chinese civil war. It was built as a memorial to the success of the new democratic revolution.

The current Yellow Crane tower was built in 1981. It was first built in 223 AD, but was destroyed and rebuilt several times by wars and fires.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mo Farrah, Galen Rupp Go 1,2 in the 2012 Olympic 10,000 m

Mo Farrah and Galen Rupp, the training partners under running coach Alberto Salazar from Portland, Oregon, take the gold and silver metals, respectively at the 2012 Olympic 10,000 meter. Listen to them describe their race and training together.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Nike Free 3.0 First Impression

I mentioned a few days ago that I was considering Nike Free 3.0 for my next running shoe. Well, I bought the shoes. What sold me on this shoe is how well they fit on my feet. The uppers conform to my foot like a sock. The entire upper is a continuous flexible material. The shoelace just provides a snugger fit. The sole is extremely flexible. It is cut into several deep grooves the length of the shoe and across it. Oh, and they aren't very heavy at 7.8 oz. Running in these shoes is like running...ah, it's like a barefoot shoe. Take a look.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cholesterol: My View

An anonymous commenter on my post "Bill Clinton: A Sucker or Smart?" left a link to Robb Wolf's blog post "Cholesterol: We Are Dumb". My Clinton post was about his diet change to a plant-based diet to lower his cholesterol and reverse his heart disease. I also shared my concerns about my own cholesterol levels at the time. The commenter only left the link, so I can only assume by the context of the link that their intention was to reassure me that it's ok to have high cholesterol.

Wolf made comments in his post like:
"most people who suffer a heart attack have...low cholesterol!"
and then in the next sentence, just to make his point:
"most heart attacks are in folks with...low cholesterol!"
Nowhere in his post does he describe what low cholesterol is? I'm a number's guy, so this bugs me. Wolf was referencing an article written by a UCLA newsroom which referenced an article in the American Heart Journal. The researchers measured lipid levels from about 137,000 (59%) people out 232,000 people hospitalized for coronary artery disease in over 500 hospitals from 2000 to 2006. They reported the following LDL cholesterol levels from those measurements.

from American Heart Journal January 2009
What were the cholesterol levels from the other 41% of the people hospitalized for coronary heart disease? Nearly half of the population wasn't measured for lipid levels. The researchers state that there is a potential for selection bias because not all patients were measured for lipid levels.Why would so many patients not have their blood lipids measured? Is it reasonable to assume that patients with higher cholesterol were resistant to getting their blood lipids tested?

Notice the shape of the LDL distribution of the population of patients that was measured. It's not a bell shaped curve. There is a tail on the high end of the curve. The results are skewed to higher cholesterol. This skewness of data can indicate that the sample of data (137,000 patients) doesn't accurately represent the total population of data (232,000 patients). It can also indicate that there is a natural limit for coronary artery disease at the low end of the distruibution (low cholesterol) that is not observed at the high end of the distribution (high cholesterol).

The results reported in this graph show that about half of the sampled population in the study had LDL cholesterol levels below 100 mg/dL which is considered optimal. Assuming there was no selection bias, the researchers concluded that these findings provide support for guideline revisions with even lower LDL goals. That's not what Wolf concluded, he stated:
"it completely calls into question the notion that we need to reduce cholesterol levels"
Wolf referenced a second article on statins. This study measured the effect of 20 mg daily of Crestor on people with LDL cholesterol below 130 mg/dL. In about 2 years, the participants lowered their LDL cholesterol by 50% and CRP levels by 37%. And compared to participants who took placebos, the statin users had half as many heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular causes. Wolf suggested in his blog post that the decrease in heart attack rates was due to the lower CRP levels, and not the lower cholesterol levels.

Rather than dismissing cholesterol as a risk factor for heart disease as Wolf apparently does, I think cholesterol has to be considered as a relative risk factor. Nothing is absolute. In other words, multiple problems contribute to heart disease. Cholesterol is not a reliable predictor by itself. That doesn't mean cholesterol is meaningless.

At least this is how I interpret the guidelines presented by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) referred to as the ATP III Guidelines (Adult Treatment Panel). They present three risk categories for heart disease: low, intermediate and high. In addition to LDL, a person's risk category depends also on issues like smoking, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, family history of heart disease, diabetes, age and being overweight. The LDL goal for the low risk category is less than 160 mg/dL, for the intermediate risk category is less than 130 mg/dL and for the high risk group is less than 100 mg/dL, but consideration should be given for less than 70 mg/dL.

However, there are folks found on the internet like Wolf who don't see cholesterol this way. Cholesterol is necessary they say. OK. But how much is necessary? It seems to me that some of the most ardent supporters of cholesterol eat a diet consisting of a high portion of meat. Have you every heard someone eating a high carb plant based diet say that it was no big deal to have high cholesterol? It was a year ago that I was convinced to give up a low carb diet. I replaced a lot of that meat with carbs from fruits and veggies. Here's what has happened to my blood lipids since then.

Just so you don't think that I'm stuck on just getting low cholesterol numbers, let me share a few other improved risk factors with my diet change to more whole plant carbs. My blood pressure reduced from 130s over 80s to 110s over 60s. My body weight has dropped by about 25 lbs. And, my resting pulse has dropped from the 60s to the 50s.

Meat provides protein (plants provide enough too), but what else did I do to my body consuming so much meat? I'm not willing to continue that self experiment. Meat certainly did not help my risk factors for heart disease.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nike Mayfly, Nike Free 3.0 and Nike Flyknit

Nike. Nike. Nike. I confess. I've been a fan of Nike for as long as I can remember. Nikes generally fit my feet well, and the Swoosh is cool. I've worn other brands over the years and I will again, but I'm usually happy with my decision to purchase Nike.

My current choice for running footwear (and I do choose footwear right now) is a rotation of 4 pairs of Nike Mayfly. "Four pairs of shoes!", you might exclaim."Did you win the lottery, Kelly?", you might ask. No, no. The shoes are reasonably priced. You can find them online for less than $50 per pair. No links here, Google it.

The price is attractive to me, but more so, they are a very lightweight shoe, around 5 ounces. There isn't a whole lot to the shoe. They are a minimal shoe, but not in that category. The Nike Mayfly is a racing shoe by design. Nike warns (on the shoebox and on the shoes) not to run more than 100 km in these shoes, or 10x 10Ks. They were not designed for durability which is why I'm rotating four pairs. They were designed to be fast.

The upper is a material uncommon to most shoes and unfamiliar to me. As best I can describe the upper material, it reminds me of a plastic shopping bag. The material seems like it would tear easily, but over the past few months, this has not been a problem. I've been running sockless in these shoes. On one occasion, I got a few blisters after a long run. I'm thinking about adding a thin sock (Softwick) for this reason, and for the fact that the shoes are getting pretty smelly. I intend to run a fall marathon with these shoes.

Is this shoe the end-all, be-all for me. Not really. It seems like runners are always thinking and planning ahead. When's my next race? Am I training appropriately? Am I fueling correctly? Can I get my body lighter? Should I wear shoes (Ok, not many runners ask that question, or answer it negatively anyway)? When should I get another pair of shoes? What shoe should I buy? Well, I'm no different.

I visited The running store in Cookeville today, Foothills Running Company. Brian Shelton opened it last year and seems to be doing pretty well. Brian is a very friendly guy and apparently loves to talk running. He was wearing a pair of Nike Free 3.0. That just may be my next running shoe.
Down the road, I'm really intersted in this new shoe Nike introduced this year, the Flyknit. But with these other Nikes that cost over $100 I may have to start playing the lottery, or just save my pennies. Or maybe I can convince Nike corp to send me a free pair in return for my "fair-and-balanced" review on my popular blog. Yeah right, as if. But I'll do my part for Nike, check out their creative shoe porn.

I'm curious. What do you think of Nike running shoes, or just Nike in general. Leave your commets below, and have a great day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Eat More Kale

You have probably heard in the news about Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, and his comments on family. He said,
We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
So, this successful businessman is taking some heat for his opposition to same-sex marriage. He is shunning at least what, 10% of potential customers who could be gay, and maybe more from folks who support same-sex marriage, but are not gay.

Same-sex marriage is definitely a hot political topic. I understand why the press focused on it, but I'm bewildered by his latter comment, "we are married to our first wives." First wives? So Mr. Cathy doesn't support divorced families? Is he interested in potentially shunning more than half his customers who are divorced?

Maybe he just doesn't choose his words very carefully. Or, maybe he isn't sensitive to people who don't fit into his ideals. Maybe he's a bully. Consider the video below, which humorously accounts Chick-fil-A's lawsuit against a T-shirt guy in Vermont for making T-shirts with the slogan "Eat More Kale".

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Watermelons in My Garden

Check out these melons. This is the first summer I've attempted watermelons in my garden. I'm not sure what took me so long. Well, maybe it was my nomadic lifestyle.

So I'm not sure when to pick em. They are getting big and green. I'm thinking of picking the biggest one off of the vine tomorrow to see how sweet it is. Any comments on what I should do?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Michael Arnstein The Fruitarian Finishes 16th in 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon

One thing I love about the internet is following obscure events that I would normally be oblivious to. For the past two days, I was following one of those events every few hours, the 2012 Badwater Ultramarathon. Have you heard of this one, that really long race in really hot temperatures that is mostly uphill. It starts in Death Valley, California in the middle of July at 282 feet below sea level and finishes 135 miles later at 8,360 ft on Mt. Whitney. For a better description, listen to Leslie Stahl of "60 Minutes":

If you finish it, your reward is a belt buckle. It seems to me that only really crazy people bother to sign up for this race. And so I thought it was fitting when I heard that a guy who only eats fruit signed up. Michael Arnstein, the guy who calls himself The Fruitarian, finished this race a few hours ago as I write this post in 16th place out of 96 crazy people runners. His time was just over 31 hours.

Michael Arnstein in middle, photo by BW135 RD Chris Kostman
Honestly, I don't think that Michael Arnstein is crazy. I admire his conviction and have been learning about his lifestyle through the internet. And look at the guy, does fruit make you fat? Yeah, he runs a lot and burns a lot of calories, but he also eats a lot of fruit (see my previous post about him). And he's in very good company. Check out his race pace compared to the overall BW135 champion, Mike Morton, as well as former champions Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed. I also added Art Webb's race pace to the graph. Art was a little slower. He's just some guy who has completed 14 Badwater races and set a personal best time and age group record this year. He did this at the age of 70.

It's curious that all five runners had a similar overall pacing trend. It's not a coincidence when you consider the elevation profile of the race route.

Michael Arnstein finished in 16th place, one place ahead of Pam Reed and four places behind Dean Karnazes. For awhile, as the pace chart shows Michael was ahead of Dean. Congratulations to all the Badwater finishers, but especially to the guy that I was rooting for, The Fruitarian.

I think one of Michael's motivations for all this running is to show what's possible on an all fruit diet. But I'm sure not everyone will share his perspective. Some will say, "Hey, he probably woulda beat Karnazes and others had he swallowed a plug of meat." What do you think? Does Arnstein's fruit diet help his running performance, doesn't matter or hurts it? Leave your comments below.

Monday, July 16, 2012


You may have noticed a little ad over on the right-hand side bar, or an add previewing my Youtube videos. That's because I added monetization to my blog and Youtube videos recently. This is more of an experiment than a get rich quick scheme. Maybe only if I acted like Youtube Fred would this be a get rich quick scheme.

I'm curious to know what the value of traffic is. My hypothesis is that a view is worth a fraction of a penny, like maybe $0.001. My blog has existed for just over a year and I've had about 13,000 views. So if I monetized from the beginning, I would have raked in $13.

There's one problem with this calculation. It's something called a payment threshold. Adsense (Google's monetization department) doesn't write a check until you have surpassed $100, or in the case of my hypothesis: 100,000 views. And I don't know if there's an expiration date on views or if it accumulates from month to month?

So can you help a brother out and click away?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hubei Provincial Museum

Wuhan is in the Hubei Province of China. During my stay, there were a few days were I had the opportunity to be a tourist. On one of those days, I visited the Hubei Provincial Museum.

Hubei Museum on Blue Sky

It is one of the best known museums in China with over 200,000 ancient cultural relics. I only digitally captured about 100 of those remnants.

One of the exhibits features artifacts from the tomb of Marquis Yi dated around 433 BC. Yi was the ruler of Zeng during a part of the Warring State Period (476 BC - 221 BC). The tomb was discovered in 1977 in Hubei when the People's Liberation Army was destroying a hill to build a factory.

The tomb was constructed of large wooden timbers and divided into four chambers for a total area of about 2400 square feet. The smallest chamber contained military artifacts. Another chamber contained the tomb of King Yi and 8 tombs of young women. A third chamber contained 13 more tombs of young women. The largest chamber contained the most famous discovery of the tomb, a set of 64 bianzhong or bronze bells along with stone chimes, flutes and various string instruments. Weapons, women and song: modern man hasn't evolved much compared to 2400 years ago.

We were treated to a bianzhong concert using replicas of the original instruments that were on display in the museum. The zhong bells have a special oblong shape which produces two tones depending on where they are struck. The bells can play a complete 12 tone scale, predating the development of the European 12 tone system by about 2000 years.

I walked away from the museum have a greater appreciation of Chinese culture. If your perspective of China is one of a developing country, bear in mind that they have had thousands of years of trial and error experience.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Adapting Cultural Norms in Wuhan

The guy with his shirt pulled up looked strange and funny to us, but it was a fairly common site. Other behaviors that caught me off guard were folks spitting on the sidewalks, hawking a loogie, standing too close and slurping their noodles. I don't want to give the wrong impression here. I enjoyed my stay in China and would readily visit again. I respect a culture that has existed for thousands of years, and there's plenty good about it, as my other Wuhan videos show. Sometimes, you just gotta laugh.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I dont have a shoe fetish, they were gifts.

"Eat & Run" by Scott Jurek

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. Unless you are a big fan of Scott Jurek, I would consider borrowing this book before purchasing it. For those readers not familar with Jurek, he is an ultramarathon running legend. He has won the Western States 100 Mile race 7x, the Badwater 135 Mile race 2x, the Spartathalon 2x, the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon 1x (as popularized in "Born to Run"), the Minnesota Voyageur 3x, the Zane Grey 1x, the Bull Run 50 Mile 1x, the McDonald Forest 50K 1x, the Diez Vista 50K 2x, the Leona Divide 50 mile 4x, the Miwok 100K 3x, the Silvertip 50K 1x, the Diable 50 mile 1x, holds the US record for the 24 hour race and has placed in the top 5 of too many ultramarathons for me to count.

My chief criticism is that "Eat & Run" just scrapes the surface on many events in Jurek's life. Perhaps the title has both a figurative and literal meaning, never spending too much time on one thing. There are 21 chapters, but each chapter is only about 10 pages long. I think the book could have easily been twice as long given more character development and story telling. In the end, it felt like Jurek and cowriter Steve Friedman strung together a list of race reports.

Besides Jurek, the main character development throughout the book is about his life long friend Dusty Olson and his mom. Dusty is presented in chapter 1 with the greeting, "Get the fuck up!", in reference to Jurek lying down on the Badwater course. Early in Jurek's life, Dusty was a competitor to Jurek, but later, he became Jurek's #2 as he was a pacer in many of Jurek's ultramarathons. Their friendship seemed strained which probably was not helped by Dusty's insults and disparaging remarks towards Jurek, or as he called him, "The Jurker". At one point they stopped communicating altogether.

Jurek's mom had multiple sclerosis. This appeared to have a great influence on Jurek's path, to the extent that he became a physical therapist after assisting with his mom's physical therapy treatments. Maybe due to his mom's illness, Jurek had to do a lot of chores around the house, from cooking and cleaning to stacking firewood. His relationship with his mom was better than the one with his dad. His dad was the disciplinarian. If he asked why he had to do something, his dad would reply, "Sometimes, you just do things." This became Scott's mantra throughout his ultramarathons.

One character who received little description was his exwife Leah. He mentioned how they met in Minnesota and some of their early years living in her parent's basement, but there wasn't much introspection about how their relationship fell apart. On that matter, Jurek only said that Leah told him he wasn't funny or interesting, that they married too young and that she fell in love with another man and wanted a divorce. That was a pretty heavy blow in only a few short sentences.

To the casual observer on the internet, it would appear that Leah left Jurek for Ted McDonald, the barefoot runner whom Jurek befriended in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. The only mention of him in this book was in reference to the runners in the Copper Canyon Ultramarathon, "A man named Ted McDonald, who called himself Barefoot Ted because he recently started jogging without shoes." From the internet, it's clear that Barefoot Ted went to Greece with Leah and Jurek for the Spartathalon 2007, just months before Leah and Jurek split. Jurek devotes a chapter to this race in his book, but there's no mention of the storm that had to be brewing between the three of them.

Maybe I'm being a bit of a rubber necker here, but one of the theme's of Jurek's book is about how he had struggles in his life and how he overcame those struggles. A wife leaving you for a friend ranks pretty high for a struggle. I can only assume that Jurek is respecting their privacy or it is still too painful to analyze in too much detail. Or maybe I'm making too much of it. Sometimes shit happens and it doesn't matter who the names are.

"Eat & Run" ends with an epilogue about his record setting 24 hour run in France. I had the impression that this race was a redemption for him for both a personal and professional point of view. Personally, he spent his time in France content with his new girlfriend, Jenny. Professionally, he set a US record for a 24 hour run after a year of not winning any major achievements. He even transformed his mantra into, "This is what you came for." It was obviously the ending to his professional ultrarunning career as he stated that he had done what he set out to do and now it was time to rest.

My chief compliment to "Eat & Run" is that I appreciated Jurek's description of how he became vegan. The book was just as much about fuel for his runs as it was about how fast he ran. The book's title was fitting. He did go into considerable detail about how he fueled his runs, including recipes. It makes me wonder if this book will help popularize a plant based diet among runners.

In between reading chapters of "Eat & Run", I listened to a podcast interview of Dr. Timothy Noakes ( For those not familar with Dr. Noakes, he is the author of "Lore of Running", a well respected book on the science of running. In the podcast, Dr. Noakes explained his personal history with weight gain and how he lost weight on an Atkins low carb diet after reading an Atkins diet book and Gary Taubes' books. This is a huge reversal from his opinion (or scientific work) as described in "Lore of Running" on the running performance benefits from eating carbohydrates. Dr. Noakes even suggests for folks to rip out the nutrition section from his book, or if you wait, he is rewriting the book.

Dr. Noakes' view on a low carb diet for runners is the opposite of Jurek's carb-filled, plant based diet for training and racing and winning ultramarathons.What's interesting to me is that Jurek stated in his book that he reveres Dr. Noakes for his scientific work to explain endurance running, specifically in regards to the central governor theory ( I'd love to hear Jurek's thoughts on Dr Noakes' reversal on carbohydrates, or his reversal on hydrating in general (

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lychee Fruit and the Fruit Market

I've been veggin out the last few days on vacation. It's Tuesday, so here's a twofer from my Wuhan trip.

One of the things that I wanted to do in China was eat durian fruit. It's a tropical fruit native to southeast Asia. Some folks in Wuhan told me that durian is the fruit that smells like hell and tastes like heaven. Some people find the odor of durian so offensive that hotels in Thailand where it is popular post signs banning people from keeping durian fruit in their rooms. One description of the odor is similar to sweaty socks. That's curious to me because I always thought Doritos smell like sweaty socks, and people love the taste of Doritos.

Durian Fruit

Unfortunately or not, I didn't find any durian in Wuhan. There just wasn't enough time to search it out. Here's a video searching for the fruit in a market down a back alley.

I did find some lychee fruit. Here's what it looks like:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Modern Shopping Plaza in Wuhan China

Before I visited China for the first time, the video below was not what I envisioned a communist country would look like.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Electronic Markets In Wuhan

This aint your Best Buy. Imagine Radio Shack, broken up into a bunch of little shops, times a thousand or so. In China, if you want a camera, you can find one. If you want a computer, you can find one. If you want a radio, you can find one. If you want to build a radio, you can find the radio parts. Every size, shape and color. China lacks for nothing, except maybe some clean air, voting and internet access.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Running in Wuhan China

The hotel where I stayed in Wuhan, China was along the Yangtze river. This location provided some nice scenery for outdoor activites. 

Most days I ran outside early in the morning. I was a little concerned about the air quality in general, but at the ground level along the river with all the vegetation, it didn't seem that bad. At least I don't appear to be any worse for the wear.

The park pathway along the river was scenic enough that I brought my camera one day. The below videos from that run are my two favorites from the trip. The park was busy with people enjoying some daily exercise and other fun stuff. You may have heard the expression, "just move". That's what these Chinese folks represent. I wish I saw more of this stuff in the USA.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Chinese Wedding

While I was in Wuhan, China, I stayed at the Riverside Holiday Inn. It's a nice hotel, perhaps 3 or 4 stars. There's an Irish pub, a Chinese restaurant (duh), a Japanese restaurant, a Western restaurant, an executive lounge, a coffee bar, a karoake bar and a couple of reception halls.

The reception halls are visible from the main lobby. They appeared to have a lot of activity. I caught one of those activities on camera, a wedding. I was told that it is very common in China to have weddings in hotels. This particular wedding had a game show feel, so I thought.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Traveling to Wuhan China

Over the next few weeks I'll post videos from my trip to Wuhan, China. These videos would have been posted while I was visiting China, however, there are restrictions. Sites such as Youtube, Facebook and blogs are not universally accessible. It was one of the few ways that I knew I wasn't in the USA, more on that later.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My China Study

Are you familiar with T. Colin Campbell? He is a well known proponent in vegan circles for a plant based diet. Even the Vegan-in-Chief, Bill Clinton, gives some credit to Campbell for his diet changes. Raised on a dairy farm, Campbell adopted a vegan diet after years of studying the effects of animal nutrition as a researcher at Cornell's department of nutrition. He wrote a book called "The China Study" which explained his career work with other collaborators in layman's terms. His basic message was that the diseases of affluence like obesity, diabetes and heart disease do not exist in places like China that eat a mostly plant based diet.

Not everyone appreciated his message. Among those, Denise Minger is a well known blogger in paleo circles for writing scathing reviews of scientific articles, specifically those in opposition to animal products. She has directed her attention more than once at Campbell's "The China Study". After reading her reviews, one could get the idea that Campbell misrepresented his data. Minger has been praised by the paleo crowd for debunking a giant of the vegan world, and drawn criticism from the vegan world for her lack of scientific training and experience.

I want to settle the debate for myself, so I'm going to do my own China study. I will go to China, work with the people and eat what they eat. What will a diet of mostly rice, vegetables and fruit do to me? You may ask me, "Kelly, why go to China to eat such a diet? Can't you just eat it at home?" Actually, I have been eating this way for several months. It has been a slow transition which started last August when Anthony Colpo challenged my low carb mindset. I'm quite pleased with the results. Soon, I should blog about the details, but for now, I'll just share that I'm losing body fat and serum cholesterol.

Ok, so the real reason that I'm going to China is because my employer is shipping me off. I'm assisting our Chinese coworkers with a new product launch in our Wuhan, China factory. When you think of Chinese labor, think of me. But I will be eating a mostly plant based diet. I'm sure I'll get adventurous and try a few mystery meats. I'm really looking forward to finding good fruit. I've never eaten durian, so that is one of my action items.

Here are some scenes from my last China trip. See if you can count how many obese folks are in the pictures:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Jonathan Mann of Youtube's Song A Day with Ivory King supply this artistic debunk of vegan myths. It's a catchy hook: "Plants! ... Plants! ... Plants!"

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Green Smoothie in Vitamix

Add the following ingredients to a Vitamix blender and pulverize until homogenous:

about 20 oz. ice water
2 ripe bananas (compost peels)
2 Medjool dates (remove/compost pits)
1 mango (compost peels)
2 heaping handfuls raw baby spinach

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Back in the Saddle

Today was a bit momentous for me. I went for a run, a long run. The mileage was even in the double digits. Ooooh!

I took a long 4 month break from running around January because I couldn't shake what my doctor later described as an ab wall tear (previously believed to be a groin pull). It was an injury that was incurred from the previous year. Despite a few long breaks from running, the pain kept coming back. Well, I think/hope I've got it figured out. I stopped doing core work outs, like sit ups, push ups, pull ups, etc. That whole cross fit scene is not for me.

My abs felt ok for a few months, so I came back to running a few weeks ago. I started running 3 mile runs in the morning. There were no issues, other than the apparent lack of fitness from being a sloth for so long. Today, I thought I would take advantage of the cooler weather in the mid 70s and go for a longer run. Six miles seemed reasonable. After about a mile and a half of running, I was feeling pretty good and took a right turn on Pippin road instead of a left (my usual 3 mile loop).

I figured that I would run to Broad street and turn around. It should be a 6 mile run. But when I got to Broad street I was still really feeling it. So I kept running onto Jackson to run around the Cane Creek Sports Complex and Park/Pond. I figured that would be 10 miles. Well, I was off a bit. Below is the map of my run and it was about 12 miles according to Google Maps.

The only problem that I had on the run was that I ran out of water in the last few miles. I became dehydrated as shown by my dark yellow pee later. Other than that I was quite pleased. There were no pains where there shouldn't be. When I bend down I can feel the soreness in my quads, but hey, that's a good feeling.

Besides giving up core work outs I have also given up on barefoot running, at least as a full time occupation. I don't think that barefoot running was the cause of my ab tear back in January of 2011, but I do believe it was a contributing factor. The injury occurred while barefoot running after doing a bunch of core. I think the core workouts made my ab muscles extremely fatigued and the barefoot sprints were the last straw. If I had shoes on during those sprints, it's possible that the injury would not have occurred.

Why? I was running barefoot on a cold, rubber track. It was in the low 40s that day and the rubber was hard and pointy. It felt like small gravel. In response, I was really exaggerating my gate in an effort to minimize the downward force on the rubber. In a muscular sort of way I was lifting my feet before they landed. I can't explain it any better than that, but it felt like I was really engaging my core as a result. I think I could have relaxed more if I had cushions under my soles. So there it is. It's my hypothesis. I could be wrong. But now I'm playing it safe. I wear shoes, while running. And they are stinky shoes.

I had a glow after the run. I thought yeah, I'm back in the saddle again. I'm back! I was reminded of how I used to get pumped before XC races while listening to Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle". So let's close this with...