You are Wrong to Think Eating Healthy is More Costly

People are crazy who claim that it costs more to eat healthy than to eat unhealthy. This is wholly untrue. Now, if you’re buying hipster food from some yuppie health food store, you may be right. But if you’re buying basic needs of the common person from a bulk food store, it is a whole lot cheaper to eat healthy. Please note what I listed below is probably far below what an unhealthy person eats. In fact, they probably eat more like 3,000-4,000 calories on any given day spending a lot more money. And the healthy person diet below is probably way more than they usually eat (see chart at bottom).

Keys to eating Cheap & Healthy:

  • Buy in bulk
  • Buy generic
  • Invest in a deep freezer
  • Go for calories and nutrition, not flashy labeling or name brands
  • Beware of ends of shopping aisles and front of store gimmicks
  • Compare price per ounce or per-serving, not overall cost
  • Pre-plan & pre-make meals
  • Go big on left-overs – make in bulk and save
  • Drink lots of water
  • Never shop hungry
  • Beware of high markup places – convenience stores, street vendors, fast food
  • Beware of yuppy stuff – “Organic”, “Non-GMO”, … (not regulated–long story)
  • Plant your own home garden
Unhealthy Diet per person
calories cost
burger king cinnamon roll 300 $1.59
Starbucks Iced Caffe Mocha Grande 230  $          3.65
big mac meal 1350  $          5.99
small bag of Doritos 150  $          3.00
2 slices Little Caesars pepperoni pizza 248 $1.25
16 oz Coke 190  $          1.89
1 package Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup 87 $1.99
 Total 2025  $        19.36
One month $580.80
One year  $  7,066.40
Healthy Diet per person
2 cups of white rice 412  $          0.10
1 cup of sweet peas 70  $          0.61
chicken breast 8 oz 220  $          0.99
1 sweet potato 162  $          0.49
8 oz 2% milk 122  $          0.09
tilapia fish fillet 100  $          0.78
Quaker oats cereal 200  $          0.27
Ham 203  $          0.99
banana 105  $          0.13
peanuts one serving 180  $          0.13
one white potato 283  $          0.07
 Total 2057  $          4.65
One month  $     139.50
One year  $  1,697.25
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To Rest or Not To Rest

samsthiti

That is the question.

I still hear the prevailing wisdom that says that you absolutely need to chill out and rest at regular intervals. As in, do nothing, sit, sleep, nada!

OK, I’m on board with that. But let me throw a few nuggets your way that may change your mind.

There is a lot we don’t know about rest, recovery, and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). If you think about it, there are several ways that we gain and grow from exercise. One is the predominant idea that if you get sore, you have broken your body down so much that when you heal, you’ll be stronger than before. Another idea is in creating physiological and mechanical efficiencies in your body. If you repeat a movement, like running, rowing, or lifting, your body builds neural frameworks that enable that to happen better. In addition, if it has a heart pumping element, then the heart is continually laying down new cells and those individual cells become more efficient at pumping blood. I believe this all to be true.

The latter case where you’ve had a neurological or physiological challenge that improves efficiency, its quite possible that less recovery is needed. There isn’t a structural component that needs to be “cleaned out”. But for the former, where it is possible that muscle breakdown has occurred, fibrin and collagen and healing lymphocytes are sent to the site of trauma and a more defined recovery needs to take place. Picture the arms that connect an old choo-choo train’s wheels to make them rotate. Each one of these arms is now clogged up with gunk, whether sludge, mud, or other debris. You can either sit and wait for the rain, wind, or other natural processes to wash the gunk away. Or, you can go in there and clean it up manually.

First of all, I’m a firm believer that sleep is the numero uno (#1) priority in recovery. You don’t get any bragging rights for sleeping less. If somebody tells you they function just fine with 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, they are blowing smoke up your nether-regions. You need those repeated 90 minute cycles that lead to hormone growth producing REM sleep. Each cycle is progressively deeper and more effective. Without this, you’ll not grow or recover and you’ll likely end up sick and injured. Sleep, then nutrition, should be your first priorities. You can’t make hormones if you are not eating healthy fats, proteins, and carbs.

So back to the choo-choo train’s clogged levers. Old school exercisers and mothers around the world would tell you to rest (aka do nothing). In the old days, the doctor would put you in a cast and tell you not to move for weeks if you had broken something. Now, we know that leads to frozen shoulder types of ailments. Today, you can get a major hip replacement and the next day the doctor has you walking laps around the 5th floor of the hospital. Its a totally different mindset from what was previously thought.

ACTIVE RECOVERY should be your mantra today. If you feel sore from doing Murph (run 1 mile, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, run 1 mile for time), the answer is not to lay down for 3 days and let your body recover naturally. You need active recovery. That is, go for a walk, a run, get a massage, take an Epsom salt bath, or, heaven forbid, do a workout.

The massage and bath are passive ways to recover. But they are very effective in that kneading those muscle fibers clears out the junk around the muscles. It also moves the lymph, which doesn’t have its own circulatory pumping mechanism. Lymph is what carries all those T-helper cells and other healing hormones. It also carries the bad stuff away, the toxins and broken bits of tissue. All of this makes sense in old school recovery and shouldn’t be overlooked today.

What is a newer concept is the active recovery. OK, maybe not that new. We know that running, riding your bike, walking your dog, or swimming can all be effective tools to recovery. They are doing the same things as passive recovery. What many haven’t explored, however, is the idea of actually working out again. I mean, you just broke down the muscles, how can you possibly go back and do more? But its true.

When I wrestled as a kid, I was always sore. But somehow, we’d run, do some exercises, and get our bodies warm only to go back on the mat and work at 100% every day. In Ashtanga Yoga, the Primary Series is called the healing series. When someone was tired or sore, the founder Pattabhi Jois would say “You Do!” And somehow, you get on your mat and find yourself all better again. There is something to hopping back on the horse and getting stuff done. Its not a macho or boneheaded kind of thing. It is a matter of physiology and mechanical efficiency. You gotta clean out those levers of the Choo-Choo.

Olympic weightlifters train up to 2 long sessions a day for 6 days a week. And remember, they only have two primary movements, the snatch and clean & jerk. Runners often run every day. And a carpenter swings a hammer every day. Get your sleep, eat well, and try to workout often. Travis Mash, coach and record holding powerlifter, says that youngsters may do better to take a day off now and then. But as you age, he says that we should lower the intensity slightly and workout more often, like every day! This keeps us well-oiled and functioning at full capacity.

Sleep, eat, and keep moving EVERY day!

Responsible Ownership

This could include anything that could cause harm to others. That is, a car, propane tank, knife, internet usage, relationship, hammer, welding torch, …

But in this context, I’m talking about firearm ownership. Whether you believe its a useful tool or not, here are a few things that come to mind. Mind you, the reason I write this was because of something I saw on an Instagram story post:

The video showed someone looking over the sights of a handgun pointed at and following an individual. The caption said “Should I?” I think it was meant in a joking way, but to me, it wasn’t a joke at all. Not only did she point at the person, but she had her finger on the trigger!!!

There were two immediate problems with what I saw. Here are two rules that should be obvious to most people with a little bit of common sense:

  1. Never point a weapon (handgun, nail gun, slingshot, BB gun,…) at something or someone that you might harm. Don’t even do it jokingly. You always assume a weapon is LOADED regardless if you triple checked it to be unloaded. Never EVER point unless you plan to shoot.
  2. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire the weapon. That means your finger should be pointed forward along the weapon and not on the trigger until the very moment you plan to fire. This has a major role in preventing accidental discharge.

Along with these rules, here are a few things I’ve been thinking about:

  • I am for the 2nd Amendment. But insuring a proper licensing process that excludes felons, minors, people with a history of domestic abuse, sex offenders, and others is an important step in the process. Every gun owner should have a FOID first (Firearm Owners Identification Card). This includes a screening process and an FBI background check. People who don’t know what their talking about think that anyone can easily get a firearm. This is not true. Then possibly a Concealed Carry permit only for those trained to safely use a firearm.
  • Always make sure a firearm is SECURED. This means securely on your person, locked in a safe and put away out of sight in a vehicle, or in a locked safe at home. Its an owners responsibility to prevent theft and take guns off the street out of the hands of criminals and minors.
  • Don’t be a HERO!! This was said over and over in my classes. Because you have a weapon does not mean you turn into the police or a good Samaritan for every situation. Find safety for yourself and family first, then call 911. Your weapon is only a last resort should all else fail.
  • AVOID – don’t get into violent situations. Don’t go to bars looking for trouble. Don’t carry to a pickup game of basketball where emotions can rise. Don’t carry to a party. Most of these things are against the law anyway. You don’t carry in those places. If a situation arises, AVOID the situation. Don’t get involved. If you are involved in a road rage incident, keep your windows up and drive away. Don’t honk and shout profanities. That only puts you into a fight.
  • DE-ESCALATE – if you are subject to a road rage incident or other situation. Make every attempt to soften the tensions. Tell them they are right and walk away. You know you are safer because you have a weapon. Don’t let your bravado get you into a situation. Walk away!
  • There isn’t a safe WARNING SHOT! I saw on the news where a person was prosecuted for getting involved in a situation they shouldn’t be involved in. They fired a warning shot to stop the altercation. It turns out it was two (black) mental health workers trying to secure an escaped (white) mental patient. There is a lot wrong with that. A warning shot can ricochet; a shot in the air means a bullet can come down anywhere; and it causes undue fear in the population. Not a single concealed carry class would encourage warning shots. Don’t do it! It is illegal and you will get prosecuted.

Having a firearm shouldn’t make you more brave than if you didn’t have one. But it gives you security so that you are not a sheep waiting for slaughter. If someone threatens your child or spouse with deadly force, then you can respond with the same and not feel totally helpless. If you are against overwhelming odds in a bad situation, at least you have the ability to defend your right to live. But you are not a hero, you aren’t looking for fame, and you don’t show off your weapon or tell everybody you are carrying. Those are the people who shouldn’t carry. There was a report of a lady police officer who’s weapon accidentally discharged and killed an 11-year old sleeping in his bed in the next room. She was off-duty at a party with friends, drinking and joking, and for some reason decided to pull out her weapon to play with it and show off. Those are people who shouldn’t have weapons. If you do it right, nobody will ever know you carry. You don’t talk about it. You don’t show off. Its a serious matter that only will ever show up in a life or death situation. And hopefully that never happens.

Nearly all victims of rattlesnake bites are young men. Instead of avoiding a poisonous snake, they feel like they need to be macho and play with it. Most women are smart enough not to do that. So its stupid people who end up paying the price. Don’t play around with dangerous things, firearms included. They aren’t toys.

Yoga: What kind of music is appropriate?

When I took yoga teacher training, we were encouraged to not use music with lyrics in it. We were to use generic music or sounds that fit the tempo and tone of the class. A gentle class would present something different from a power class. And some styles, like Ashtanga and Iyengar, use no music at all. The deep breaths of ujjiya are all that is needed. I’m completely ok with that idea.

Truth be told, when I workout, I listen to the hard stuff. Its all about hard rock and metal, hip hop and rap, grunge and even house music to get my blood pumping. I go fairly extreme with my preferences. And when I practice yoga, which often precedes or follows my workout, it often involves the same music. Sure, I do some relaxing stretches while watching TV. I may do some self massage with rollers and massage sticks with classical or jazz music. But when I have the Rajasic energy that Yangs for energy, its the hard stuff.

I also know, a good number of our population doesn’t favor the hard stuff like I do. So I tone it down a bit when I’m sharing with others. Fortunately for me, Rocket Ashtanga Yoga was developed by Larry Schultz who was the traveling yoga teacher to the Grateful Dead. Classic Rock is the tradition for Rocket and I’m happy about that. Also, it started with the “San Francisco Sound” which refers to live rock music recorded in the mid-60’s and early 1970’s. It started with the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 where the likes of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and others were formed. It melded the Blues with adventurous and improvisational Jazz. It was the core of later Classic Rock.

So, before a general yoga class the other day, I was playing a playlist called the Breakfast Club. It has hits of the 80’s and 90’s. A lady told me “thank you for playing good music.” I’ve been complimented on some of my playlists before. I’ve seen people in child’s pose tapping their fingers on the floor to Smash Mouth and Eminem. While folding forward, I saw a yogi mouthing the words of Prince’s “Kiss”. I had one yogi say they weren’t feeling very energetic and didn’t know how they’d do another 3 sun salutation B’s. But when Led Zeppelin’s “Four Sticks” came on, he knew he could continue on. Music does for them what it does for me.

So maybe I’m a rebel in my choices of music. I know if I stuck to only one genre, then I’m not going to reach everyone. So I try to vary as much as I can. It provides the additional energy I need to make an energetic and powerful class. Sometimes, I’m slightly disheartened. One person said they didn’t like my music and another asked rhetorically what appropriate yoga music should be. But another time, a yogi said “that’s why I come to your classes”. The music plays a big role in my style. I’m a lover of music and it can do amazing things to you when you let it.

Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution

Know What You Don’t Know

The people who claim to know it all, know less than most

When I was a kid, I suppose I knew that I didn’t know everything. But then again, I was a kid. I didn’t care. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know how to do what my Mom & Dad did. I just didn’t care. I was too involved with myself at the time.

When I got into high school, I started to become aware that I knew things. I also started to find passion in certain areas more than others. I would come home and have this slight feeling that I knew more than my parents. I thought I knew higher levels of learning than my younger siblings just because of the fact that I was older.

When I got to college, classes were tough. But for classes that I excelled in, I felt I was really learning. I would come home with eloquent ideas from philosophy or whatever field that would flow off my tongue and into conversations that had nothing to do with my thoughts. The things that my parents did seemed a whole lot smaller. I felt like I knew something. I wasn’t quite aware of the things that I didn’t know. And, maybe I didn’t care about those things anyway. Biology to me was more important that English or Music or other sciences. So I had the opportunity to hold an elitist view of myself. I was on top of the world.

But when it came to getting  my Master’s degree, it wasn’t about biology. It was about a more specific field. I had to study something original that no other person in the world had done before. I started to pigeon hole myself into an expertise. I started to realize that my colleague, even though they were studying my specific field, knew a lot more than me about something else. I realized that there was a lot I didn’t know.

When I got my Ph.D., this became even more true. I might be a geneticist, but what kind of geneticist? I was a quantitative geneticist who studied disease resistance in field corn. I wouldn’t even pretend to have knowledge about anything else. If it were a similar disease in soybeans or rice, I would claim laissez faire. If you started talking about qualitative genetics of single genes in sweet corn, my eyes would blank over. I was pigeon holed to the nth degree. Sure, I don’t give myself credit to knowing other things. But I’m a lot more humble about it because I know what I don’t know.

The value of quality education is not in learning something deeply and then lording it over others. It is in appreciating the vast body of knowledge that exists. It is in knowing that you are not all knowing. It is looking at a complicated Mozart composition or the detailed Pointilism of Seurat and stand in wonder of the mind that can make such wonders. It is knowing the difference between a synonym and homonym; and knowing when to appropriately use your, you’re, their, there, they’re,….but not really caring if someone else screws it up. Its knowing you can go to your kid’s school teacher and see their written grammar is of a level to adequately educate your child. Its seeing a web site and that their writing gives them credibility enough that you’d pay money for their services. No, grammar and spelling aren’t that important in the scheme of life, but it gives credence to a modicum of knowledge that makes you appear worthy. Without a minimum education, it is difficult to make it in life.

I was listening to a rapper on a podcast who has multiple platinum albums and a lot of monetary worth. But his experiences of fighting in the streets and hard childhood, his form of pigeon English that is highly accented and dialected, and his travels abroad seeing notable world leaders and even infamous drug kingpins made his intellect intriguing. His street knowledge is just as credible as a Noble Laureate who lends understanding to some complex subject. They are complete equals in knowledge. But without bank statements or some credible resource to show your worth, it would be difficult to give a loan or hire you for a position if you are an (uneducated) rapper than the school educated person. Its just a fact of life. As for the rapper, yeah he is bringing his daughters up in ballet and the arts. He wants them to have what he didn’t have. That is, he wants them to feel love at home, safety, and a valuable education. He wouldn’t wish anyone to walk the hard path that he did.

Go to school kids. And grownups, its never too late to educate yourself. A good start is to read a book. Read books. Read many books of many subjects. Read the classics. And read a science textbook. Get online and follow the tangents down many roads. Learn about cultures and traditions. All the world is a stage for you to learn. Travel and experience things. Don’t sit in your bubble and expect osmosis to magically infuse you with knowledge. You have to engage yourself.

The smartest people in life are the humble who appreciates that someone knows more than you about many things

The Continuum of Life

I have a lot of feelings and beliefs about many things. But to keep things to a rational, biological, scientific level, I’d like to delicately approach a few subjects. Those are evolution, veganism, and abortion. Wow, did he just say those three? Yeah, I did. But hear me out.

As a scientist, its not hard for me to say that a creature is a wholly, new and different creature at a certain point in life. Its a creature that takes two organisms to create. Its not just one, mothering creature that is wholly responsible. It takes two to tango.

Humans give up half of each chromosome pair to make up gametes, that is sperm and eggs. What is so interesting is that these chromosomes are tightly bound into big bundles, like noodles twisted around each other. This folding is unique in that the specific DNA code physically causes the folding to happen in a certain way. In order to separate a pair of chromosomes, there are enzymes that allow the chromosome to unwind, and actually become cut and reunited again to help the unwinding. Similar things happen when they come together upon fertilization, aka after getting busy. This process undergoes recombination where not only reconfiguring of the DNA takes place, but actual mutation and crossing-over that shares traits with parents, but also makes the organism uniquely its own.

We see this take place in nearly all of life, eukaryotic life, where organisms have a double membrane around the nucleus. Basidiomycete fungi that become mushrooms and other such basidiocarps do this as well. Its really strange because fertilization is delayed. The two gametes (N) come together to form a temporary N + N structure. Eventually, the N’s unite and you have a unique creature. This is different from humans and most other organisms. But at the time the N + N forms a 2N, this act of recombination occurs making it a wholly new creature, different from its parents. That is when  “new” life begins. It is completely different and unique. It is a prime example of how this miracle of “new” life begins.

What gets twisted up in all of this biology are the sociological, cultural, and religious contexts where we all, as humans, have innate biases. One time, I was riding with coworkers to do corn research on the University South Farms. It was a very hot day and I noticed some black cows grazing in the pasture. I commented on how much hotter is must feel to them since they absorb more heat with their black color, whereas a white cow would reflect the rays. Its the same reason why a runner in an Ultramarathon in the middle of Summer in Death Valley is wise to wear pure white reflective clothing. Yet one lady coworker of mine was greatly offended with my comment. She said I was racist for saying that. Huh? I’m a Native American brown dude and I’m racist? OK. Sometimes, you can’t say anything that is totally scientific if it goes against the narrative that runs in another person’s mind. Even with facts thrown in their face, you still get called racist or sexist or whatever people like to call each other. I was just stating facts about the physics of light reflectance. Racial overtones was the furthest from my mind.

Believe me, I’m the biggest animal lover there is. Its why I became a biologist. Actually, my Ph.D. is in plant pathology, so I love plants too. Plants have feelings too. I love all of life. But there are also facts of life. When a male lion attacks and kills a weaker female gazelle, it isn’t because a lion is racist or xenophobic or misogynistic. Its because it was hungry. The lion is a carnivore and there isn’t anything wrong with that. It eats meat. Nobody is trying to convert a lion into vegetarianism. The lion isn’t hateful of gazelles; it doesn’t wish it to have a bad day; the lion just happens to have it as its natural prey. Just like the gazelle doesn’t hate the grass or other plants it eats. It isn’t eating plants for the fun of killing them. It is hungry.

But somehow, we’ve projected our own emotions and biases onto the animal kingdom. I had a debate with someone about this before. They said they won’t eat something because it has a soul? Huh? First of all, if we have evolved to be no better than the animals, then how do we get to decide which plant or animal has a soul or not. And if we don’t believe in God anyway, then why do we care about souls? She said, because animals with a central nervous system have a soul. Forgive me, but how do you know? When I look into my dog’s eyes, how do I know what it is really thinking? When my dog digs up a nest of bunnies and systematically kills every bunny, do I know what its thinking? My dog doesn’t “hate” bunnies. She doesn’t think that every bunny needs to be wiped from the Earth. Its in her innate nature to hunt and kill. It has nothing to do with racism or hate. My dog isn’t evil because she kills bunnies. Its her nature.

So how do I impose my beliefs and biases on the animal kingdom? And how do some animals, aka humans, get to decide what I believe and what my innate nature needs? How do they get to decide in the continuum of life when its OK to kill its own human life? Is it 3 weeks, 6 weeks, or 48 weeks in the womb? How do we get to decide that? We know its a new and unique creature. In the continuum of evolution, why do we get to decide where the cut-off is? So its OK to kill a human embryo or a spider or a weed in the yard, but its not OK to harvest a deer or a farm animal. Alaskan Natives, who happen to have very long Winters where they live, had and have an ability to process meat and fat in their bodies differently. They live off of a very low plant food diet. Its how they survive since they don’t have a long growing season for plants. If you were a subsistence dweller, you couldn’t go to them and tell them to be vegetarians. They would quickly die out because that food is not available to them. Its a matter of survival in those conditions. They aren’t evil because they live off of seals, whales, elk, caribou, and moose. It is how they survive. The same is true of any organism who has evolved to live in the arctic, hot deserts, jungles, and islands in the ocean. They can’t run to the corner store for chickpeas, kale, and kombucha. They adapt to the resources that are available. Otherwise, they die.

What gets so confused are the yuppies who live in big cities who have never had a garden or lived off the land who don’t have a clue where food comes from and how it is processed. They go to the grocery store and Starbucks, but don’t really have a clue. I completely believe these ideas were borne out of ignorance. And I don’t mean “ignorance” as a pejorative. I mean, they don’t know biology, other cultures, or things beyond their own protected lives. All they know is what celebrities on TV tell them. And because that is the cool thing to do, that’s what they do. They are stuck in fashion, the latest flavored water, and the coolest trends in hand bags. They can’t open a book and think for themselves. Because we cry “sexism” and “misogyny” and “F* the Patriarchy”, we no longer see an embryo as a new living creature. We see it as expendable as an appendix or a tonsil or a 2nd kidney. Its a throw away and unnecessary part of our own body and not a new living creature. Its our own biases that ruin what biology tells us.

The strings of life are long; like links in a very long chain. How does this animal, humans, get to decide where that chain is cut? Whether we are 2 weeks old in the womb or 100 years old walking the Earth, who are we to decide? How can we impose our non-scientific, social, religious, and cultural norms on all of life? We can’t. That is, unless we believe a certain way. And even my own beliefs condone what biology tells us. Whether we believe we are the stewards of the Earth or if we believe we a no better than the animals, the rule of life still holds true. Soul or no soul. Precedents lie in the plant and animal world. Biology doesn’t lie. Its up to you to decide where your own personal biases direct you.