The Way We Eat

Well, it’s been more than a month since those New Year’s resolutions.  How’s it been going?  If you’re like most people, not so well.  My own life has been hectic with our move from the big city to a rural community.  Bernadette and the kids are making a longer commute and I’m left alone most days to plan dinner and this new phase of my life. We are happy though.

One thing that I bet we have in common is figuring out an eating plan.  Notice I didn’t say “diet”?  The longer I’m in this game, the more I hate the word.  I prefer to talk about “a healthy way of eating.”  We’re not going to be successful until we substitute routines and healthy habits for quick, faddish fixes.

Part of this search for a healthy way of eating involves a desire for freedom.  Freedom to wear the clothes we want, freedom gained from more energy, freedom from high blood pressure, freedom from high blood glucose levels (leading to Type 2 diabetes),freedom from cravings, freedom to be sexually attractive, etc.

The health benefits of eating right combined with this annoying tug of vanity that I can’t seem to shake, have gotten me back to a regimen of fasting.  The video below is long but worth watching.  The punchline is that you don’t have to do any of the ridiculous fasts that involve epic deprivation.

Have you fasted before?  What kind?  Did it involve enemas or cabbage?  The method I use is closely related to the one described in the video.  It’s called “Eat Stop Eat.” I have used it off and on with success for body composition over the last few years.  As I get older, I think I am going to make it more of a staple in my routine because that aging well “thing” is tugging at me almost as much as my vanity.

BTW, if you are interested in fasting my way, go to Eat Stop Eat. That’s my affiliate link and I get a couple of dollars to buy myself some sexy yoga shorts.  If you buy through that link and want some help getting started, let me know and I’ll give you a free implementation session over the phone or Skype.  Summer will be here sooner than you know it!

Lose The Weight For Summer

2DU Kenya 77Those 12 extra pounds I told you about didn’t just appear one day. It took me several months to gain them. I’ve had to exercise restraint in pursuing their quick release. I say “release” because the term “weight loss” is problematic. When you “lose” something, the normal reaction is to look for it and get it back. We don’t want to do that with body fat, do we?

Ironically, part of my problem is that I have been under eating. I started tracking my calories and I am regularly under 2,000. My guess is that this has slowed my metabolism. So what I’m doing is increasing my caloric intake. I want to get it to about 2,500 calories daily. The extra calories will come from good fats like avocados. I’m also going to increase my protein.

I’ve been doing a version of something called “carb cycling”(see above photo-get it? carb cycling!). For breakfast, I have two cups of coffee with heavy cream or grass fed butter and coconut oil. My next meal is fat and protein. I save my carbohydrates for the evening and the kind of carbohydrates I eat are determined by whether I have worked out that day. Carb cycling makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. Most people should not eat carbs in the morning. You’re setting yourself up for cravings and energy swings if you do.

Let me know if you want more details on carb cycling. It’s one of the things I’m geeking out on – especially now that I I have yet another certification. This one is a Level I Precision Nutrition Coach certification.

We’re all n=1 experiments. For me, it’s frustrating and fun. It’s an exercise in awareness and hopefully evolution. How’s your experiment going?

P.S. On a personal, non-fitness note, it looks like I’ll be heading up an NGO that works with street children in Kenya. I’m excited and I’ll let you know more as I proceed.

P.P.S. – I ‘ll be taking on ten clients for online health coaching.  Send me an email ( if you’re interested.

Sure you’re sexy but how’s your insulin sensitivity?


Big Steve

Big Steve had huge arms – about 20 inches at the biceps. He had always been well proportioned and muscular but there was that one-year when his body seemed to explode.  This was the early-80’s.  Those of us at the gym knew that he had to have had some chemical assistance.  It didn’t matter.  He moved to the elite level in the local bodybuilding circles.  He had hopes of taking it to the national stage.

On one of the slower days at the gym, a few of us sat around and talked about the world of competitive bodybuilding.  I had competed in a few contests and did well enough to compete in Vegas in the “couples” section (that’s me with hair in the photo).  I was tiny compared to these other guys.  They saw that I worked hard and none of them ever tried to pressure me into using steroids.  I was in law school after all, and was going to make my mark in the legal field instead of on the posing dais.

It seems that Big Steve (and a couple of others at the gym) were using ridiculously high levels of oral anabolics.  These were even more dangerous than the injectable steroids.  Someone asked him why he would take such crazy chances with his health.  Wasn’t he afraid of dying in his 20’s from a heart attack, a stroke, or his muscles exploding out of his skin?  Steve gave a quick laugh and said the only thing he cared about was that they “bury me massive.”

Knowing What You Want

You had to respect a guy who was clear about what he wanted.

I’m not sure what happened to Steve.  I don’t know whether he got his wish or revisited his goals.

My health and fitness goals have evolved.  I still have one eye on aesthetics when I train.  I have to maintain a certain level of sexiness so my wife doesn’t leave me.  But I have other concerns that are even more pressing.

Staying Out Of The Home

In my mind, I’m still in my 20’s but I have too many people reminding me that I’ve been here for more than half a century.  I think I told you this before but I’m not relying on any of my children to look after me when I hit an age that most people would consider “old.” I have a pretty good idea of the strength and movement markers that will allow me to remain independent.  I’ve written about them here but let me know if you want more information on staying strong for longevity purposes.

There’s also stuff going on inside that we need to pay attention to.  I measure my heart rate variability (HRV) every morning to determine my level of activity for that day. I try to take my blood pressure regularly. I meditate and listen to binaural beats (ask me next time we talk).  My blood pressure is pretty good although I’d like to lower it down a few points to get in optimal territory.


Insulin Sensitivity

Another thing I pay attention to is my blood sugar levels and my insulin sensitivity. You are  insulin sensitive when your body needs only a relatively small amount of insulin to reduce elevated glucose levels.  This is a good thing.

Insulin resistance is associated with obesity and non-alcohol fatty liver disease(NAFLD).  It is also strongly connected to dementia.  You can test your insulin sensitivity by testing your blood glucose levels.  Let me remind you, I’M NOT A DOCTOR.  What I’m laying out for you is how I am bio-hacking my life.

I tested it yesterday shortly after waking up.  This is called fasting glucose. It was over 100.  Most doctors would tell you that a 100 fasting level is nothing to worry about.  A clear picture of the implications is also complicated by the fact that if you eat pretty low carb as I do, you can have paradoxically high glucose levels.

So I have a choice.  I can flex in the mirror and be happy that I have to buy new pants because my waist is a little smaller.  Or, I can pay attention to the research that shows that even if you’re blood sugar is just high normal, it can still be predictive of an up to 30% greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s.

My plan?

  • ONE glass of wine (at most) each evening.  Alcohol can have a negative impact on insulin function.
  • I’m going to slightly increase my carbs but keep them below 150 grams.
  • I’m going to add another 30-45 minutes of walking to my routine.
  • I’m going to increase my sleep by 30 minutes.
  • Take more regular glucose readings.  These will be post-prandial as this is a more accurate measure than a fasted reading or an A1c test.
  • I’m going to bring my omega-6:omega-3 ratio closer to 5:1, which means more fatty fish and paying more attention to my cooking oil which can increase the omega-6 levels.
  • I’m going to supplement with Berberine.  This supplement not only helps blood sugar control but it improves liver health. I’m excited about this one.

My guess is that these measures will also have a positive impact on my body composition and strength.  That’s not why I’m doing it.  I’m sharing this because I want you to take more responsibility for your health, too.  Don’t ever take what I say at face value.  Please understand that where you get your health and fitness information may be the biggest factor in evolutionary selection in the near future.  I can only tell you that I do my homework even if it’s just in pursuit of my n=1 experiment.

I don’t care that you’re younger than me.  After all, Bernadette and I might need you to take care of us one day.

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The Secrets To Long Life And Early Death


Here’s a simple formula from a guy in rural Bolivia. He’s reputed to be the world’s oldest person at 123 years of age. Carmelo Flores Laura said his secret was avoiding sugar and pasta, long walks everyday, a local wild grain and a staple of skunk meat (with pork and mutton on rare occasions).

The world's oldest man

Simple, huh?

Preventing Early Death

This one seems a little more complicated than not getting enough skunk meat.

This was a headline from mainstream media reporting on a recent study. What they don’t tell you in the story is that most of the participants who died before their breakfast eating counterparts also smoked, drank a lot of alcohol, were overweight and were old!

We Get What We Ask For

Sensationalism sells. Fear and greed always beat curiosity. So we get the hyped health and nutrition headlines that proclaim the latest finding from poorly designed studies that were paid for by Big Pharma and Big Ag.

You’ll hear about red meat causing cancer until some study claims that it’s actually fish oil that does. There’s a new herb that will “rip the fat off your body” and another supplement that will keep your muscles hard for four hours – after which you’ll need to see a doctor. Fear and greed.

These are all distractions. They’re the kind of things we fight against every day in our business. It’s why we’ve discussed instituting “a red velvet rope policy” for new clients or taking our training completely online. I feel about the fitness industry the way I have come to feel about the mainstream education mills. Self actualization and personal responsibility are the enemies of both industries.

Fitness has become a business that plays to Fear and Greed as it eliminates symptoms without attempting to cultivate wholeness. You have to develop compassion for all the different parts of your body if you want to become something more than an emotional and physical Frankenstein.

The Diet and Exercise Wars hide the fact that adherence is probably the most critical component for positive results. It’s not sexy so it won’t sell.

If you choose to get your news from the popular media you will be on the path to disability and an early death. This is usually what happens when you rely on a combination of “experts” and Fate. I may be aging but I’m not limited and neither are you.

Our Evolution

We will continue to evolve a business model that helps people live the largest story they are capable of telling. We will help the women who want the help to embody their original wholeness. Our plan is to do this through online training, retreats, workshops, and speeches.

For the women who ask “but what can I do about this jiggly part?” You’ll see us smile and give them another exercise for the “burn.

P.S. If you haven’t already, LIKE us on Facebook.
P.P.S. Should we evolve our business or just get better at eliminating the “jiggly parts?” Let me know in the comments or in an email.

Don’t Starve Yourself – Part 1

Starving Yourself
Healthy Food


Is there a time in your life when you were a model of healthful eating?

A Healthy Childhood

I never realized it until  I got older but my mother was not only a good cook, she was a very responsible and health conscious one, too.  When Swanson Frozen TV Dinners came out, us kids looked at it as a real treat. My favorite was “Salisbury Steak.” It was quite an advance that freed up Mom from the kitchen. It is also the kind of thing I wouldn’t touch now unless I was starving.

She indulged me in my own food experiments like drinking Malta Dukesa (a non-alcoholic beer that is popular in Puerto Rico) with a raw egg.  She and my father introduced me to escargot (yup, snails), frog legs (tasted like chicken), kumquats, and brussel sprouts.  They helped me expand my tastes.  This has served me well in places like Sudan where I ate freshly butchered lamb intestines that were given to me as the honored guest.  I pleased my nomadic hosts with the gusto with which I threw the lamb bits down my throat. I still wonder sometimes if someone set me up.

Into the Sewer

College and law school saw a dramatic decline in my ability and willingness to eat well. At first, freedom led me off the gastronomic garden path.  Pizzas, 48oz. sodas, Philly cheese steaks, and hoagies (the last two because I was in college in New Jersey) made up a large part of my meals.

My finances in law school determined my menu choices.  I lived in an abandoned building without heat or hot water and worked twenty hours a week as a personal trainer.  This was how I was able to supplement my law school scholarship.  I continue to use it as an excuse for my disappointing (to say the least) class ranking.  I ate one meal per day and it was usually pasta.  When I had extra money, the pasta had sauce.  I was also a competitive bodybuilder.

That’s a summary of my nutrition history between the ages of 18 and 25.

I had the stresses of little sleep, law school, a job, workouts, making up for lost time in my dating life, and terrible nutrition. Guess what? It didn’t make any difference to my energy and I looked “maaahvelous!” I was also starving.

Lessons Learned

Now older and somewhat wiser, I sometimes wonder how eating like that affected my long-term health.  But as you and I know, the past is just an illusion that punishes us with regret.  Staying in the NOW, I obviously make much better choices.  Ironically, current healthy eating for me resembles my mother’s balanced meals (didn’t eat much grain back then either) that consisted of real food.  There’s a problem now that I didn’t have 35 years ago.

Our food supply has been so compromised and soil so depleted that it’s virtually impossible to get all the nutrients we need from our everyday food.  That’s one of the reasons we use our Prograde supplements. It doesn’t matter how conscientious we are.  The absence of some of these nutrients can be crippling and in some cases deadly.

What are the most common missing nutrients in our food?  This has gone on pretty long  so I’ll tell you about those next time.

What are your healthy eating habits?

Go to the top right and sign up for fitness and health information to get you where you want to be.

P.S.  Every now and then we will recommend books and products-like Prograde-that we use and that we think might be helpful for you.  If you buy through our links, we make a couple of dollars and you get items that have the Brownstone Fitness seal of approval 🙂

Meditation and The Principle of Least Action

reflectionThere’s a principle of physics called the “principle of least action.” It kind of says that Nature will find the most efficient path from one point to another. This concept is easy to ignore in our workouts and as we make our way through the world. We look for quick fixes in every area of our lives. There are all sorts of “bright, shiny objects” in the worlds of diet and fitness that distract us from the most efficient path to wellness.

I received an email a little while ago from a distraught teenage girl desperate for help with her weight. She had stumbled onto the Brownstone Fitness website and is courageously reaching out for help. There are so many conflicting messages that this young lady has already received about what she is supposed to look like if she’s going to fit in and be popular. At times like these I am reminded that exercise programming and meal planning are only small pieces of the puzzle.

We pay for diet and exercise systems that we hope will get us where we think we want to go. There are at least two problems with this. One is that the conditions and environments that surround us (work, family, media messages, etc.) don’t allow us to work the systems.

A bigger problem is that a slavish adherence to a system blocks our awareness of the wisdom inside and around us. Find a time and a place every day to be quiet and listen for this wisdom. Accessing this wisdom calms the mind and allows the body to realize the healthy and vigorous state it was born for. Some people call this meditation.

Prayer happens when we talk to God. Meditation allows the space for God to talk to us. These may not be easy things but they are simple. You can discover for yourself the principle of least action.