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Wellness Wednesday for January 4, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

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What's the flu situation in your neck of woods? It seems to me that most people I've talked with have reported that they've had non-Covid flus that might not have been particularly dire but have been annoyingly sticky, lasting weeks at an end, with symptoms coming and going. We certainly had one of those, as a family. Something particular going on, or just people not remembering that this is what flus are like after the Covid-era "influenza pause"?

Doc here, the "official" answer here is that a few things are going on (at least in the U.S.).

-Healthcare resources are overwhelmed, especially pediatrics.

-People have forgotten what respiratory illness is like and have been taught to fear them because of COVID (Flu is really uncomfortable and always has been) leading more people to seek care.

-Lots of problems with people not seeking vaccines for the obvious reasons (get your fucking flu shots please).

-Immune systems are weak.

-Kids in particular are always prone to respiratory disease, but it's even worse than normal due to the obvious reasons, leading to transmission of adults at higher rates (including stuff like RSV which isn't usually an adult problem).

So it's a little bit of subjectively worse (after years of not being sick and being told to fear sickness...) but also a bit objectively worse due to more things being out there and lazy immune response. Hospital utilization has been high, and while mortality is still low it's higher than usual.

Also we have another COVID bump.

These things are supposed to also happen in "seasons" but this also has been fucked up severely over the last couple of years.

Edit: I should also add that we've had Acetaminophen shortages, which is like the most basic medication available (although it shouldn't be) and kinda tells you how bad things have been.

Is it best to have antioxidant foods with inflammatory foods that you already eat (grains/meat), versus on their own? Eg, black tea and ginger with red meat, versus black tea and ginger in the morning and red meat at night?

Dietary science is garbage, even the notion that red meat is inflammatory or unhealthy is heavily suspect nowadays. Ancient humans also had vastly different microbiomes than we do, so even the question of what we evolved to eat is highly suspect in a modern context.

I think around diet it’s best to just use the most blunt force weapons at your disposal: avoid refined sugars, processed meats, alcohol, otherwise just live your life. If you’re enterprising, my guess is that use of CGMs to minimize your insulin response might be fruitful.

Given "meat" was a human dietary staple for a million years, and "grain" has been a dietary staple for (some for) 100k, both have dozens of useful dietary components with complex effects, and "inflammatory" in this context means "some response to harmful stimuli", and the scientific backing for their inflammation being, variously, observational diet-survey studies and questionable in vitro experiments - the claim that "meat and grain are inflammatory" isn't very useful.

Similarly, the claimed antioxidants in black tea and ginger also coexist with dozens of other compounds (although not useful ones), their antioxidant efficacy was demonstrated in in vitro studies with little relevance to human consumption (as distribution and metabolism significantly affects those compounds), said antioxidant effect has no proven relationship to whatever the claimed inflammatory mechanism of grain or meat was, and even if those antioxidants were effective, they'd be much less efficient at preventing oxidative damage than the evolved biological mechanisms for doing so - like catalase, glutathione, superoxide dismutase - complex, finely tuned proteins, as well as others.

So - evening, naturally.

  1. synthetic antioxidants can be more potent than the endogenous ones

  2. many popular polyphenols not only act as direct antioxidants but upregulate the production of some of the endogenous ones.

synthetic antioxidants can be more potent than the endogenous ones

this is of course technically true, but not true of the 'healthy antioxidants' people refer to. any specific examples you mean?

many popular polyphenols not only act as direct antioxidants but upregulate the production of some of the endogenous ones

That seems unlikely to be relevant to health overall? I suspect the studies supporting this are not good.

but not true of the 'healthy antioxidants' people refer to

I mean vitamin E and C are quite weak but there are plenty more interesting ones that are semi-popular.

I'm pretty sure a few popular polyphenols are more potent than GSH. I mean I haven't checked since a long time but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that EGCG (from tea) is more potent or equipotent.

That seems unlikely to be relevant to health overall?

Haha funny. What could be more relevant to your health than the thing that drives 90% of your body degradation, the multiplier of our decrepitude, the root cause of ageing, oxidative stress!

You have no idea what this evoke in my mind, I have read more than 10000 papers in pharmacology, including a few thousands in gerontology. Oxidative stress is the root cause and the co-factor to most age related conditions/diseases to exists. Even more, it is a cofactor in most human diseases.

There is nothing that is more relevant to your health, and there is nothing that is supported by as many corroborating studies on earth.

Now if your question was more about polyphenols than oxidative stress in general, I don't see a salient distinction.

The potency of some is comparable or superior to the endogenous antioxidants and their upregulation of them is indeed relevant.

However an optimal antioxidant prophylaxis does not necessarily involve polyphenols, they are good candidates though.

The potency of an antioxidant does not matter that much in practice as there are even more important criteria, such as:

  • the half-life, many antioxidants have bad half life, however their upregulation of endogenous ones, such as does the prodrug NAC, do last a long time.

  • the tissue dispersion, you want liphophilic ones and hydrophilic ones, or at least an amphiphilic.

  • reactive specie specialization, such as the key role of SOD for superoxides.

  • oral bioavailability, e.g. EGCG needs omega-3 and vit C for absorption and maybe piperine.

  • not paradoxically being pro-oxidative in various body conditions, a common phenomenon

One of the most potent antioxidant all arround is emoxypine, which not so surprisingly is btw the most potent anti-hangover agent.

The most neutral and effective mainstream antioxidant to take is NAC (gsh)

But why stop there?

NAC is a potent endogenous antioxidant.

however the limitation with antioxidants is that they dilute in your body and therefore are everywhere but in small quantity.

For various reasons, including antioxidative stress, you can't litterally saturate your body with antioxidants and therefore their effectiveness, while real, is often mild.

Some researchers have made a brilliant observation, 98% of our oxidative stress is generated in the mitochondria, as a byproduct of oxy(gen) energy generation.

The other observation to make is that the mitochondria respirate and that it is cyclycally, the only membrane in the human body to be electronically negatively charged.

Based on that observation, via an electron donor, they have been able to design a substance that specifically enter, magnetically, into the mitonchondria and accumulate in it.

Therefore for the first time in medecine history, we can saturate the mitochondria with an antioxidant, SkQ1, the biggest disruption of the century, which is empirically found to be 1000000 times more potent than NAC.

SkQ1 prevents alzeihmer, parkinson, tumors, and most age related diseases, in vivo.

What could be more relevant to your health than the thing that drives 90% of your body degradation, the multiplier of our decrepitude, the root c ause of ageing

Yeah, that would be relevant. But looking at wiki for causes of aging, 'oxidative stress' is one of many. And different kinds of oxidative stress need different responses!

If you've read so many papers, can you point me to a review that backs up your claims?

The potency of some is comparable or superior to the endogenous antioxidants and their upregulation of them is indeed relevant.

When asked which specifically, you said "pretty sure a few polyphenols" and "wouldn't be surprised ... EGCG". Any sources? Because I highly doubt.

Therefore for the first time in medecine history, we can saturate the mitochondria with an antioxidant, SkQ1, the biggest disruption of the century, which is empirically found to be 1000000 times more potent than NAC. SkQ1 prevents alzeihmer, parkinson, tumors, and most age related diseases, in vivo.

Is SkQ1 really a bigger disruption than ... sequencing the human genome, or human gene editing? Have you heard an ad for a scam medical product before? "The Atomic-Magnetic Nebulizer cures coughs, colds, canker sores, coagulation, cephalization, carcinization, and cataplexy! One of a kind! Only $99.99.99, terms and conditions may apply."

So, the grains in common use 20k years ago are not the same as today. Most common grains eaten today are inflammatory, causing oxidative stress.

Ancient humans ate a variety of fibers and plant matter consistently, which we do not. They may very well have combined natural anti-inflammatory herbs etc with large meals. Garlic and meat is a good example. Your comment is not useful to my question. Antioxidants from green tea and cocoa are healthy, and my question is whether the combination of these healthy natural “fighters” of oxidative stress with exogenous anti-inflammatory compounds is good for health.

I suppose, on revisiting my question, it’s a good idea to combine inflammatory food with anti-inflammatory plants as this is how most ancient societies cooked

The idea of doing an opposite mechanism to fight a given toxicity is trivial and indeed a good one in theory.

People have a fuzzy understanding when they talk about inflammation though.

One would be symptoms of exogenous toxicity such as indeed oxidative stress. But that is not per se what inflammation denote, it denotes an autoimmune toxic but potentially useful reaction, mostly mediated via some Interleukins, TNF and IFN.

I'm not talking about inflammative or toxic/oxidative food but I don't think long term anti-inflammatory is consensually a sound strategy for increasing lifespan. After all in most cases autoimmunity is supposedly useful.

However you should at least take everyday potent antioxidants to increase your lifespan/healthspan.

Essentially Skq1 + nac coadministred.

SkQ1 is the discovery of the century but it needs nac to cancel its ironically prooxidative effect on mitochondria bioenergetics.

So, the grains in common use 20k years ago are not the same as today

I agree! I'm a big fan of ancient grains. But

causing oxidative stress

This is mostly meaningless without a ton more context. Many critical biological processes cause oxidative stress, which is why we have catalase, peroxidases, etc. To claim they cause more of a specific type of oxidative stress, or do so in a specific way, might be interesting, but requires actually making that claim. And "black tea and ginger" are not going to prevent the kinds of 'oxidative stress' that they might cause.

Ancient humans ate a variety of fibers and plant matter consistently, which we do not

Again, agree! But

Antioxidants from green tea and cocoa are healthy,

They aren't so by functioning as 'antioxidants', because of the reasons above

No one claims that the oxidative stress from modern grains are healthy. Oxidative stress from eating is generally always considered unhealthy. The stress from exercise is healthy so that your body repairs muscle damage. The endogenous antioxidants are not sufficient for combatting the spike in oxidative stress from eating which is why fasting and food sources that reduce meal-related oxidative stress are correlated to health

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "oxidative stress from modern grains" - what specific kinds of oxidative stress do modern grains cause, with some evidence? Maybe connect the 'food sources that reduce meal-related oxidative stress' to specific dietary antioxidants, with studies linking those to health? And for 'correlated with health' - large observational studies observing correlations between diet and health are not great evidence, and multiple of them often report inconsistent results!

From wikipedia

The USDA removed the table showing the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods Release 2 (2010) table due to the lack of evidence that the antioxidant level present in a food translated into a related antioxidant effect in the body.[70]

The rest of the section has more on ways 'antioxidants are good' might not be accurate

The systems are more complex than scientists think which is why you shouldn’t supplement exogenous antioxidants outside of their natural form. Nuts consumption is strongly tied health, E supplements are not. Natural vitamin c is healthy, taking 2000mg will negate your exercise for that day.

Re E: https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/30/truth-about-vitamin-e-vitamin-e-safer-implied

Surely you don’t believe that the endogenous antioxidant mechanism is sufficient for health, because then the inflammation from refined grains would be easily dealt with, right? So the only question then is whether natural exogenous antioxidants taken with inflammatory food reduces the inflammatory effect temporally

I don't think the harms of refined grains occurs primarily via 'inflammation' that needs to be treated by 'exogenous antioixdants'. When you say "Strongly tied to health", I think you're referring to methodologically poor studies.

I actually agree that vitamin supplementation is in many ways worse than eating whole, natural foods.

Natural vitamin c is healthy, taking 2000mg will negate your exercise for that day

Do you have a source for this?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4001759/

There’s a lot, just search “vitamin c blunts/reduces exercise/adaption”. Plug them into scihub to access for free

Also check out the studies on hormesis /

More comments

I've done the most clichéd thing ever and bought a gym membership in the first week of the new year, and I'm looking for suggestions for exercises and routines to follow.

My main motivations for working out are to improve my mood, and vanity. I'm not interested in getting "huge" or "shredded", but I would really like to get rid of my beer belly and look generally leaner and more toned. I'm also planning on running a marathon at the end of this year, so any exercises which would assist with that are also welcome.

I don't really know anything about strength training, so currently my only goal is to be able to deadlift my body weight (~83 kg) in a few months' time.

My main motivations for working out are to improve my mood, and vanity. I'm not interested in getting "huge" or "shredded", but I would really like to get rid of my beer belly and look generally leaner and more toned. I'm also planning on running a marathon at the end of this year, so any exercises which would assist with that are also welcome.

If that's your goal, getting to the gym will increase your cardiovascular health but won't do much for that beer belly. To tackle excess fat and weight it's all about calorie intake. I find these steps are great for starting weight loss:

  1. don't eat out

  2. don't drink alcohol

  3. all food is made from scratch - minimize prepared frozen meals/pizzas, etc.

  4. when you make food, portion it out into meals

  5. switch grains for veggies

Thanks. The infuriating thing is that I've lost a load of weight over the last few years via diet, exercise etc., but can't shake the last bit of belly flab.

I don't really know anything about strength training, so currently my only goal is to be able to deadlift my body weight (~83 kg) in a few months' time.

This is extremely unambitious, unless you're 155 cm tall and obese. The first day I tried deadlifting, I worked up to a very easy 80 kg (my weight) and did 100 kg for a few sets of five a few days later. That's not bragging; deadlifting your body weight really is that easy.

Deadlifting a lot of weight is not as hard.

Deadlifting without breaking your lower-back or giving yourself a hernia is harder.

I've been stalled on deadlifts for over a year because I know my form isn't good enough to go heavier, but have no way of knowing how to fix it. It's annoying.

Well, Hex Deadlifts pretty much solve that problem for you, once I switched over to them, it quickly became apparent just how unnatural the standard barbell deadlift is for the human body, whereas people pretty much instinctively know how to hex deadlift with close to perfect form. I strongly recommend them if you're not competing in powerlifting (where they arbitrarily chose the deadlift as once of the 3 core lifts).

That shows you just how much of a novice I am, I really have no idea how easy or hard deadlifting is. I'm relieved to find that it won't be as difficult as I expected!

Only 2 things matter when you're starting out - Fun & ease. Do an easy exercise routine, ie. it should be short, repeatable & form advice should be easy to implement. If it isn't fun, you won't keep doing it, period.

If you are already doing deadlifts, you're probably comfortable with barbells & full body work. Then barbell OHP, Squats, Deadlifts, Curls, Rows & Bench Presses will cover basically everything you need. Maybe add pullups & chinups to round it out. The only negative is that I find these to be a little intimidating in terms of form sometimes and gym squat racks can be a little hard to get for a full 1 hour workout. Standard recommendations of (6-12 reps x 3 sets) per exercise apply. Try to find a weight that lets you fatigue in that range. Early on, go lighter and focus on form & being able to engage the right muscle.

I like working with dumbbells more. So I end up doing all of those barbell exercises but with heavy dumbbells instead. Dumbbells allow me to do home workouts, don't need spotting and are just more fun for me.

A couple of caveats:

  1. I am yet to feel comfortable with heavy deadlifts because I have lower back pain. So I do barbell hip-thrusts (booty builder 2000) or cable-pull throughs (dick thruster 1000) instead. Yes, it does look a bit weird. No, literally no-one cares.

  2. Dead hangs are magic. I do them every single time without fail.

  3. If an exercise feels weird. Stop. There are a 1000 variations for every exercise. You don't have to do this one that feels wierd.


On one of my procrastination rabbit-roles, I ended up creating a hyper-optimized routine that covers every muscle, is effective and I like doing. I used Athleax as my source. Feel free to use it if you're interested.

Thanks a lot.

(booty builder 2000)... (dick thruster 1000)

Can't wait to find out if these are legit bodybuilding terms or if you're just being goofy.

Just being goofy, but they are apt. The Barbell hipthrust is famously the exercise of the decade, as every woman will be seen doing it for butt gains. The cable pull-through is literally a explosive thrust that looks straight out of a porn movie.

They're both excellent for your glutes + lower back. More info on both here. Most importantly, the pull through teaches good hinging mechanics which you can use to transition into a deadlift down the line. The hip-thrust gives you the best bang-for-your-buck as a glutes(butt) exercise.

So yeah, go ahead, make those names mainstream. They fit pretty well.

I've done the most clichéd thing ever and bought a gym membership in the first week of the new year, and I'm looking for suggestions for exercises and routines to follow.

If you don't end up going much, thank you for your service. It's only through the subsidy of non-user members that I can pay so little for access to a nationwide chain with full service 24hr facilities that I use 150x per year.

My main motivations for working out are to improve my mood, and vanity. I'm not interested in getting "huge" or "shredded", but I would really like to get rid of my beer belly and look generally leaner and more toned.

There are good suggestions in the other responses as to specific routines, my advice is do something simple that you can stick with for several months. The most common failure mode I see is overcommitment leading to injury or burnout, then avoidance. A lesser routine that you'll actually do is superior to that hardcore routine you won't. Have a minimal fallback routine you can do if you're really not feeling it; that'll allow you to maintain the habit. Preschedule the workout time and hold it as holy, especially for the first few months as you're developing the habit; I like very early morning, the gym isn't busy and the people are there are all business, no chitchat.

I've been doing a boring, lower weight 5x5 style workout for years with some stretches and accessory lifts (1 hr 2-3x / week) and swimming (1hr 2-3x/week) with consistent benefits. It's low weight because my back and knee are messed up and above a threshold I start doing damage. And yet, it's still effective, helps my mood and I look pretty good.

The swimming is good for upper body development and while doing squats is great for lower body, if you're doing it for vanity you'll be wanting to focus on the upper body; cues of upper body strength account for most of the variance in men's bodily attractiveness. I do some open water swim races and marathons in the summers but they don't buy me much aesthetically and are an excuse to swim a lot and eat more.

Thanks a lot for the suggestions. Dreading the thought of going to the gym before work but it does make a lot of sense to get it over with first thing so I can't make excuses for myself not to go.

Dreading the thought of going to the gym before work but it does make a lot of sense to get it over with first thing so I can't make excuses for myself not to go.

If you aren't an early bird, don't do this. You need to establish a sustainable habit of working out. If you hate waking up at 6am, you'll hate working out at 7am. Having a gym pal is the best way to ensure both of you show up.

I'm not interested in getting "huge" or "shredded", but I would really like to get rid of my beer belly and look generally leaner and more toned.

Gym won't fix your beer belly, diet will. You'll want to at least count your proteins and total calories.

I don't really know anything about strength training, so currently my only goal is to be able to deadlift my body weight (~83 kg) in a few months' time.

How many times a week do you plan to work out? If the answer is "one", then go gift your membership to someone else. Two is the bare minimum, plus you might want to do something at home.

The basic compound exercises are your best starting point:

  • pull-up (and pulldown and bent-over row)

  • bench press (and push-up)

  • squat (and leg press)

  • deadlift (and sumo deadlift and Romanian deadlift)

For the upper body exercises, listen to your body to see what you need to add:

  • wobble? Train your stabilizers with dumbbells or kettlebells

  • weak arms? Add some pushdowns or curls

  • not enough strength at the beginning or the end of the movement? Flies and pullover might help with a good stretch or a good contraction.

For the lower body you will probably be limited by your technique at first. While you're still learning to stabilize your core, use a Smith machine or a leg extension machine or a hamstring curl machine to tire out your muscles.

Thanks for the detailed advice. Planning to start off going twice a week and work my way up from there.

If you're a complete beginner that doesn't have a lot of time, try high-rep antagonistic supersets:

  • superset means you do two exercises back to back, the only break you get is the time you need to walk from one machine to the other

  • I am not sure if antagonistic is the best term here, but you should target two completely different groups of muscles: chest press, then pulldowns, for example. This lets you take very short breaks between supersets as well, 30s or so

  • high-rep is 15-20 reps, so don't stack these plates. Instead, concentrate on the form, by rep 10-15 you should feel the burn that you will have to power through

In just 20-30 minutes you can do four compound exercises that will leave your whole body fried. Ten minutes for a warmup and a stretch before, and you have 20 minutes left to work on your arms or other muscles you want to target.

For solid endurance training, get a ruck sack and put some miles under tension down. It's somewhat lower impact by virtue of stride and body mechanics, and ruck sacks are just generally useful tools. Obviously you gotta run some to train for a marathon, but incorporate rucking into your routine as a useful training tool.

So far as lifting goes, I swear by powerlifting if you are starting from nothing. This is the routine I'm using at the minute, as somebody somewhat new to lifting myself. Compound lifts have absolutely given me a new lease on life as a desk jockey, and I swear to God they work like a charm.

For those who care for reciepts, I (260lb, 5'11", male) maxxed recently a 330lb squat, a 375lb deadlift, and a 225lb bench, all up from the empty bar in the summer of 2022. I'm up about 20 lbs from about 6 months ago, so I'm overweight to be sure, but I feel way better than I did last summer. More explosive, more flexible, much stronger, I can actually dead-man carry my wife now if need be which I couldn't say a year ago.

The site I linked has a lot of great information and basically guides new lifters through the process. Let me know if you have any questions, this forum has a lot of great knowledge hidden behind the esoteric culture war stuff and I'm sure the rest of the meat heads would gladly pitch in.

Do you have any research info on rucking as an activity as far as calories burned? I've always kind of liked it but my brain demands science.

If rucking worked, fat people would never get fat.

Thanks a lot!

This is probably a really stupid question, but I assume you mean a rucksack full of heavy objects right?

Yes, usually about 40ish pounds or around there. Some back racks exist where you can put plates on, but a normal rucksack with bags of sand or something similarly cheap and heavy are perfectly fine.

And if you've never done something like it, get something that has a hip strap, a regular backpack will eventually cause shoulder and back problems. It's important to get a rucksack specifically.

Thanks again, really appreciate the advice.

https://www.themotte.org/post/269/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/49044?context=8#context

This comment from @JhanicManifold yesterday is a better knowledge dump than I can give you.

https://www.shabu.co/

This is pretty much the rock solid basic beginners lifting program. It's worked for others, it will work for you. You can critique it or try to optimize it, but it works. And once you graduate, you'll be ready for anything else.

The only other thing I'll say personally, is that the number one thing is to believe in the program you're doing and stick to it. There are literally dozens of varieties of good programs out there, high frequency and low frequency, high intensity and lazy bear, work out twice a week for two hours vs work out every day for 30 minutes, One Lift a Day vs ten lifts a day, focus on one lift vs body part splits, bodyweight and barbells and kettlebells. They can all build you a bad-ass body if you stick to it and believe in it. 90% of the value of all the fluff about "scientifically proven" "Soviet sports science secrets" "Ah-nold did this back in the day" "Navy seals workout" whatever the fuck is just to get you to buy in, the effort is what counts.

Also, don't hurt yourself, getting injured is the best way to stall progress. Ask me how I know. At the same time, don't be a weenie and worry forever about every ache and pain and form question. Take your time, it's a marathon not a sprint, I know guys in their 50s still hitting new PRs in powerlifting.

Any workout is a Navy SEAL workout if you fix your hair in the middle and then write a book about it.

"Operation Glute Force: My War in The Squat Rack"

Thanks a lot!

Starting Strength. Has a YouTube channel and a few related books.

Important caveat: Stick to the program, but adjust at the margins based on your own feedback loops. Rippetoe gets dogmatic and I understand why [^1]. Do your thing ... but also be aware of the extent to which you've drifted from the program. Bicep curls are the devil.

I would recommend against the marathon. It occupies this place in western pop-fitness as a great symbol of overall health and fitness when it is, in reality, a hugely specialized performance. For overall fitness, resistance training is the base and cardio should be varied but mostly below 45 minutes in terms of duration. If your 5-mile time falls below 35 minutes, then you can go train for a marathon, which will mostly be a lot of boring long runs.

[^1]: Rippetoe exists as the anti "amazing new fitness routine" anchor of the world. His entire career is "do the basics right and consistently for years." Which is what is appropriate for >95% of people. When Muscle and Fitness publishes an elite bodybuilder's routine, it make no sense for the average lifter because that bodybuilder's routine is designed to move him or her from the top .1% to the top .07% of lifters. They're extreme because they're at the very limits of diminishing returns. Most people will never get there, so using it as a starting point is useless. Where Rippetoe fails, imho, is in letting people who have put in a baseline of work with the basics tweak based on their own feedback loops.

Bicep curls are fun, that's all they need to exist for.

I would recommend against the marathon. It occupies this place in western pop-fitness as a great symbol of overall health and fitness when it is, in reality, a hugely specialized performance.

Ahem...I think being able to travel 26.2 miles is a pretty good measure of something. Where I agree with you is that it's a bad race, I don't think taking a guy with a 4 hour marathon and getting to a 3:30 has the same value as getting that same guy's squat to a higher weight.

Point taken. And I'm not bashing the marathon as a silly goal. I just don't see it as a good measure of general fitness. It's not well-rounded.

Genuine question; What's more impressive; traveling 26.2 miles quickly a la a Marathon, or traveling 26.2 miles with 30% of your bodyweight in a sack on your back?

Answer: it's more impressive to Run a 5:00 mile, squat 500lbs, and then complete a marathon.

I hope to do a bitch-ass junior varsity version of that this year at the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon: do a nutso little workout, like a bodyweight snatch and a 5m KB snatch test to represent the battle of Marathon, then the 26.2 mile distance that the Athenian hoplites marched to get back to Athens to meet the rest of the Persian fleet before it could attack the city. Call it the Athenian Race, eat your heart out Sparta.

Eta: what I'm getting at is that I think a fit person should be able to complete a marathon, or at least a half, with minimal adaptive training. I see very little value in getting an elite marathon time by comparison. I have similar feelings on Spartan and obstacle races: super fun to do once or do with friends, super dumb to compete in.

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll check them out.

This will be my third marathon, but your concern is well-placed and I appreciate it.

I've been reading about attachment styles recently, and I'm starting to think my attachment style may be hindering me in my interpersonal relationships (particularly romantic relationships, but also platonic).

Does anyone have any resources they can recommend for how to work on (and ideally change) one's attachment style? I would prefer resources in the form of hard-copy books, as I want to spend less of my free time this year looking at screens, but recommendations for digital resources are also welcome.

I read up a little about it a couple of years ago. It was only internet searches and wiki/blog reading so no specific sources to point to. Eventually I ended up searching for "attachment theory criticisms" which yielded much more interesting material. Maybe it's my dismissive avoidance speaking but I can't avoid being a little dismissive of the theory. As you noted below it often seems like another formalisation of Forer statements: they're not untrue but they're not particularly insightful or explanatory either, and the theory fails to account for other competing factors.

The only benefit I've gained from my reading was having an additional framework to interpret my brief relationship with a woman I met shortly after, and which disproved the academic theory that an avoidant person like me would be gratified by anxious attention. Nope. The lowlight was her accusing me of being deliberately hurtful for not reaching out to her for a whole week after we'd broken up.

Adults with [anxious] attachment style often project their anxieties onto otherwise benign social interactions

-wikipedia

Bingo.

As to changing oneself, I'm not sure it's aiming at the right target. My avoidance of greater intimacy with the woman I mentioned before was because she was not a suitable person for greater intimacy. Why twist myself out of shape to pretend otherwise or alienate her with that explanation? I think it's wiser to cut losses and keep looking for better prospects. If these women you're meeting are genuinely good prospects that you regret pushing away attachment theory might however provide a framework for addressing the issue and making your behaviour legible to them, but that's outside my experience. I have a feeling it would either backfire or go very well depending on your compatability, which is useful in itself. Broaching the topic would likely benefit from some tact and discretion though.

while I do have friends, my relationships with them are rather shallow. There's really no one in my life with whom I feel I have a really close, emotionally intimate personal relationship

I was watching Vice's video on the story of Afroman's Because I Got High last night and he said something that resonated: a lot of really cool things can happen when you're alone. Sure that's not everything but it's not to be dismissed - if you understand and accept yourself you probably won't have a pressing need for someone else to understand you, and at the same time it makes it easier to be understood when the time comes.

If these women you're meeting are genuinely good prospects that you regret pushing away

That's precisely the issue I'm trying to address. I acknowledge that attachment theory may not be a particularly great method for resolving this issue, but I feel like I've exhausted every other avenue that's occurred to me and I'm running out of time and options fast.

I'm only an armchair psychologist but I suppose what I mean is that maybe attachment theory isn't necessarily meant to change you, maybe it's merits are in providing a means to explain to a potential partner why you might tend to behave in contradictory ways. If it's useful the use is putting it into practice as an aid to allow the other person to better relate to your individual characteristics. Would you want your partner to contort their inner self into a palatable presentation for your benefit (unhealthy, disingenuous) or simply describe their inner self and let you make a closer inspection for what it actually is?

A theory that says your childhood attachment figures left you with formative emotional insecurities doesn't grant any ability to jump back in time and change it, only the ability to recognise and acknowledge it. Your challenge is how to address those insecurities: face on, or remaining evasive. I might be mistaken having never had therapy but my previous reading around therapists is that they work, often frustratingly, by holding back from prescriptively telling you what to do or how to change yourself and instead concentrate on exploring the issues and, pardon the cliche, raising your awareness. I'm not a therapist and you sound like you're already adequately aware of the problem. So my prescription is to face up to it and next time find a (sensitive, measured) way to let the person know who you really are regardless of what exactly might have made you that way. What other options are there?

If you need a low stakes run look for an opportunity to try talking around the topic with your platonic friends that you have similar issues with and see how that goes. Don't bottle it up and wait until you're already post-closeness self-distanced from a good woman and then ruining it by going zero to a hundred. Sharing adversity is often how we progress from shallow relationships to something more meaningful, but it won't work if it precipitates into an intense emotional purging.

TLDR The diagnosis is insecurity. The objective is security. The route is slow, progressive vulnerability. I don't think you can fix it with more reading and planning, if you're here you're probably a compulsive reader already. It's necessarily a two-party problem, so treat it as an opportunity to know people and be known a little better.

I'm starting to think my attachment style may be hindering me in my interpersonal relationships (particularly romantic relationships, but also platonic).

How so? I'm curious to hear what you mean.

I've noticed this pattern over the last few years of my life in which I'll meet an attractive woman who I quite like and get along well with, and initially everything is going smoothly and I'm having a great time. Then all of a sudden, usually after a few weeks, I'll become overcome with anxiety and panic, and will get an unbearable urge to push away the woman in question, even though I still find her attractive on a physical and interpersonal level. If this had happened once or twice it could be chalked up to personal incompatibility with that specific person, but the same pattern has recurred practically verbatim with so many different women that I eventually came around to the idea that it must be a problem at my end.

In attempting to resolve this issue (spending hundreds on therapy sessions in the process), it occurred to me that, while I do have friends, my relationships with them are rather shallow. There's really no one in my life with whom I feel I have a really close, emotionally intimate personal relationship. I used to have relationships meeting that description, but not anymore, not for years.

I recently encountered the concept of attachment styles, and reading the definition of "fearful-avoidant" was like looking into a mirror. I've done a few of these attachment style quizzes, and they consistently diagnose me as fearful-avoidant. Being someone who uses this forum every day I'm naturally mindful of Forer statements, but my understanding is that fearful-avoidant is actually rather uncommon, so presumably descriptions of this attachment style wouldn't resonate with everyone.

Anyway, that's the issue I'm describing in a nutshell, if it makes any sense to you.

I can really relate to your post, especially the first paragraph. Throughout my 20s I would repeatedly get into relationships where I liked the guy but after a few weeks or months I would make up some excuse to end the relationship. Half the time I just didn't like the guy, but the other half of the time it was because I didn't have the confidence or self esteem to believe that the guy I liked liked me back. So basically it was a self esteem issue at the end of the day.

I have also diagnosed myself with fearful avoidant attachment style and just reading about it from reddit searches and psychology clickbait blogs was interesting and illuminating to me, but I don't have any recommendations for hard copy books or academic research or anything like that.

I found the following video pretty helpful, it was pretty game changing for me when it made me realize that I'm not single because it's other people's fault, it's really my own fault (which sounds bad but actually made me hopeful because I realized I could change myself and my relationship with others, taking back the locus of control rather than feeling like a victim which I had done before)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=bvXF850K9Sc&t=1s

Thanks, I'll watch this video later.

I've been getting back into Stoicism, and reading the unabridged letters of Seneca and listening to some modern podcasts and audiobooks.

As I've been reading through, I've been thinking a lot about the different approaches to the world. I think it would be misguided to say that Stoicism has an apolitical dimension, but I do think to the extent that Stoicism advocates replacing mental perturbations/passions with good feelings, it can veer into a kind of apolitical existence where one just accepts the world as it is and makes no effort to change it.

I don't think this is actually what a Stoic sage is supposed to do of course. The four Stoic virtues of Wisdom, Courage, Justice and Temperance imply to me that a Stoic sage actually is trying to change the world. Acting to make it more just, more wise, more courageous, and more temperate - at least as far as one's actions and sphere of influence are concerned. But in order to do so effectively, the Stoic sage is doing what they judge to be necessary without regards for the actual outcomes of their actions.

I think the best illustrations of this are the letter of Seneca concerning slaves, Letter 47. It is fascinating to see someone at a time when slavery was an accepted norm, advocating for treating your slaves as people. He doesn't veer into full abolitionism, and yet he recognizes that it is unvirtuous and inhumane to treat our fellow people as less then because of the accidents of circumstance. He encourages us to befriend slaves, to talk with them and learn their character, and to realize that you're no better than them (especially if you are a slave to vice.)

This all makes much sense. Stoicism as it comes down to us is a philosophy for emperors and slaves alike. We can be either Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus.

It makes me wonder how the Stoics would weigh in on the modern culture wars.

I have seen people characterize modern social justice advocates as engaging in a sort of anti-cognitive behavioral therapy (or anti-Stoicism), where our passions are elevated to the status of absolute truth, and we uncritically accept that something that feels bad is bad. I have also seen people claim that there's a sort of status quo bias in a lot of people, where they accept that because the world is better off than it was in the past, there's nothing more that needs to be done.

I think the middle road of Stoicism would have to say that, obviously the people of our world are unwise, cowardly, unjust and intemperate in a number of ways, and this lack of virtue leads to much social disfunction. People are addicted to social media, think that slacktivism is the height of social justice, and haven't cultivated characters which are capable of achieving real change in the world without bending or breaking under the stress and strain.

A Stoic should never doom scroll. A Stoic should prudently seek to understand the world as it really is, do what needs to be done to correct any injustices in society and not worry about the outcomes of their actions. A utopia is a preferred indifferent to a Stoic - but acting justly and virtuously, and helping your fellow citizens and neighbors do the same is still important.

I've also been reading a lot about Stoicism. There is much in the philosophy that appeals to me, though I don't think I'm ready to say I have fully embraced it.

To me, the essence of Stoicism is accepting things that are outside your control (which is most things in life, really) and not allowing them to perturb you. So yes, for starters, a Stoic would never doom scroll, and would also ask why you are arguing with people online? Does any of this actually improve your life? Are you actually going to change anything by yelling at wokes or calling people bigots?

I am not entirely convinced that virtue ethics represent the greatest good in life, but I certainly feel like everyone (including me) could use a little more Stoicism in their personal deportment.

I often think about the SSC post on 'Bravery Debates'. It occurs to me that like Randian Objectivism and many other conceptions of virtue ethics, Stoicism could be a very useful lesson to the right person, and disastrous to the wrong person. Marcus Aurelius, despite his qualities, was also a very depressed and unpleasant man who berated himself for feeling sad over his son's death.

This ties in well with Aristotelian ethics - which holds that virtue is always a mean between two vicious extremes. Even qualities we think of as 'pure good' are limited and should not be pursued in excess. Excessive temperance leads to a pleasureless life and a scornful and judgmental attitude. An excessive zeal for justice is also dangerous, as is excessive courage and even excessive 'wisdom'.

What is the most important idea (regarding one’s mental or “spiritual” wellbeing) which is the most difficult to express and communicate? What lies at the intersection of “important” and “ineffable”?

What a question: Please communicate on a pseudonymous internet forum an idea that is difficult to communicate through rational language and concepts.

That said, here's my pick: Confidence, belief in oneself, manifesting, Amor Fati. The Romans called them personal genius or Tutelary deities which watched over cities and lineages, Roman Catholics adapted them to be tutelary saints, the Greeks thought special people had their Daimons of greater or lesser power, Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart has his personal god, The Secret has well The Secret, TRPers have frame or inner game, Yudkowsky has his Hero License, superstitious prots have notebooks and cross-stitches stating "I trust the next chapter because I know the author."

This state of mind is impossible to communicate directly, but as I get older I believe it is at the heart of all human achievement. What separates the successful lifter from the unsuccessful lifter is rarely programming and nutrition, but the lifter who believes that if he puts forth effort it will be rewarded by achievement. The worker who goes out to get a job believing jobs are hard to get fails, the worker who thinks it will happen succeeds. The single man who believes that women want him as much as he wants them is fighting girls off, the single man who believes that women don't want him cries about it into his discord chat. When I've taken tests like I was going to a little league baseball game, having fun, showing off my skills, I've crushed it; when I've gone into tests worried and anxious I've done poorly. Whether you think you can do it, or you think you can't do it, you're right.

Right now the whole universe seems to be bending itself to make a huge project I'm working on happen, and as long as I keep walking into every interaction believing this will happen, I think it is going to keep right on going and I'm going to achieve a massive personal success. I'm not superstitious, but I'm a little 'stitious. There's just no rational explanation available.

You can explain this to people over and over, but you have to feel it, balls to bones.

Isn't it just that generally successful people end up with lots of self-confidence?

To an extent, but there are also aspects of it that I've experienced personally, that there seems to be information communicated far below the level of the conscious mind that impacts outcomes to a huge extent.

Great comment. Core hippie / live love laugh tier ideas (chiefly ‘manifesting’ success and ‘gratitude) are the oldest self help philosophy restated. They are critical.

Anything referencing Things Fall Apart gets an upvote for me forever. You know Achebe was a powerful author when a nerdy white kid from the burbs is yelling "THIS YAM FARMER GETS IT" in 9th grade English.

Responding the original question: Practice comfort in uncertainty and paradox. Life is ultimately pointless and chaotic, but it's better to attempt to set order to it than to simply lean into the chaos. You will fail, but the trying also guarantees victory.

Gotta head over to my copywriting job at the fortune cookie plant...