The most efficient way to exercise

Guys often ask me “What do you do for cardio?”. They’re always shocked when I answer “Nothing”. Once in a while I go for a run around the block, and I enjoy taking walks, but I don’t do it to burn fat. I do it because it makes me feel good and it gets my blood pumping. I don’t feel the need to regularly do “aerobic” exercise, aka “cardio”. Why? Because I burn plenty of calories when I’m lifting weights. This is due to the fact that I lift hard, I don’t take long breaks to flex in the mirror or chit-chat, and I don’t waste time on the treadmill like a bored hamster in a cage.

Why is weight-lifting the best form of exercise for men who want to look like men?

  • It burns more calories than aerobic exercise — The afterburn, or the increase in your metabolism from weight-training lasts considerably longer than the afterburn from aerobic exercise. Some studies have even seen metabolism boosted all the way into the next day, but this required an amount of exercise that I don’t recommend to beginners or amateurs, including myself. The catch is that you have to lift hard. Sitting on a machine and pushing out a few reps won’t burn calories or build muscle.
  • It gives us the results we actually want — girls want to lose weight and be skinny. Men want to sculpt their bodies into something better.
  • It boosts testosterone and growth hormone, giving you confidence and manliness.
  • It makes you stand up straighter and generally feel like more of a man – what do you think boosts your confidence more, lifting more weight than you’ve ever lifted before, or putting in 90 minutes on the treadmill at a slightly higher speed than last week?
  • It gives you strength that you can actually use in your everyday life — How often are you going to actually need to run several miles? In what post-apocalyptic universe will you not be able to just get into a car and get there in half the time? Lifting heavy objects, on the other hand, is something all men are expected to be able to do. My mom once got a frantic phone call from her lesbian friend Lynn. “I never thought I’d say this” she said, “but I need a man!”  Had she undergone a sudden change in sexual orientation? No, she just needed to install her air-conditioner and couldn’t lift it herself.

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, I’m sold. How do I start?”. A complete course in weight-training is beyond the scope of this blog post, but I can give you some basic principles to guide you as you learn:

  1. Good form (i.e. proper technique) — This means lifting and lowering the weight in a way that provides a maximum benefit to your muscles. When you look at it this way, why would anyone want to cheat and use poor form? You’re not competing against anyone but yourself, so when you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself. And you’re putting yourself at risk for an injury. Examples of cheating including swinging your body and using momentum to move the weight faster or using less than your full range of motion.
  2. Maximum effort = maximum results — when you’re starting out, you can get a lot of benefits just from putting in a little bit of effort. And it’s important not to use all your strength to do something you don’t know how to do. But in the long-term, if you want to get results, you’ve got to push yourself really really hard.
  3. Plan your work and work your plan — If you walk into the gym and wander around trying different exercises, you’ll waste your own precious time and you won’t get the same results as you will if you make a plan and stick to it. The time to research new exercises is when you’re at home. The only experimenting you should be doing while at the gym is finding out how much weight you can lift on a particular exercise.
  4. Work as many muscles per exercise as you can — When you use free-weights instead of machines, you exercise additional muscles to stabilize your body, promoting faster growth and burning more calories. Doing exercises that work the entire body, like the squat and the deadlift, are also ideal. And two arms is always better than one. Maximum effort = maximum benefit.
  5. Get plenty of rest — weight-lifting tears up your muscles. It’s while you’re resting that they grow back stronger.
  6. Warm-up —  Always start by warming up. You don’t want to exercise cold muscles. Jog down to the gym if it’s less than 1.5 miles away, or step on the treadmill for five minutes to get your blood-pumping. Another great way to warm up is to jump rope. I like it because it requires more coordination than running on the treadmill, which, let’s face it, is a pretty brainless activity.

If you lift hard 2-3 times a week and eat right, you’ll burn enough calories and boost your overall metabolism to ensure steady fat loss, while building muscle. This is the way to get ripped, buff, shredded, cut, whatever you want to call it. It’s how to look better naked.

And it’s a lot easier than spending hours on the treadmill.

 

 

How to be more interesting in 10 simple steps

This article is great: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2011/11/30/how-to-be-interesting/

But they forgot the most important way: become more interested in other people.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Taking a genuine interest in others is the fastest way to become more interesting for two reasons:

1) People like people who like them. As the Roman poet Publilius Syrius said “We are interested in others when they are interested in us”.

2) The things you learn from listening to people will make you more interesting. Never turn off your intellectual curiosity. Think of yourself as an anthropologist studying a different culture, which you very often are. Even if the person is a complete bore, you’ll learn something about how the mind of a complete bore works. Wouldn’t you like to know more about how the mind of a complete bore works? I would.

Stay curious and stay sexy.

From the article:

 

Hormone produced by exercise keeps you healthy

A fascinating new study has discovered that a hormone produced by the muscles in response to exercise can turn your white fat cells into brown fat cells. In case you didn’t know, brown fat cells are “good fat” cells — they burn calories, unlike white fat cells that just sit there making you look gross.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/exercise-hormone-helps-keep-us-healthy/?src=recg

Bizarrely, at the end of the article, the author says that the hormone affects your metabolism, but that it can’t make you lose weight? Huh? If you increase your metabolism while consuming the same amount of calories, you’re going to lose weight. That’s just common sense.

Granted, if you eat more after you exercise because you’ve worked up an appetite, or you think you’ve earned it (you probably haven’t), you’re not going to lose any weight. That’s why smart people eat right AND exercise. And they exercise efficiently, getting the maximum metabolic boost in a minimum amount of time.  I’ll talk more about the most efficient way to exercise at a later date, but for now the short answer is: weight-training.

Huy Fong Chili

Here in SoCal, the weather’s been in the 80s for about a week now, which is just bizarre to someone used to New York winters. But for the rest of you who are shivering right now, here’s a chili recipe I found on Huy Fong’s Web site. Simple and delicious:

Chili
* 1 lb. ground beef
* 1 package of chili seasoning mix
* 1/2 cup water

* 1 16 oz. can of whole tomatoes, cut-up
* 1 16 oz. can of kidney beans, drained (optional)
* 1 Tbsp. (or more) of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha Chili Sauce

1. In Dutch oven, brown ground beef and drain.
2. Stir in chili seasoning mix, water, tomatoes, beans and Sriracha Chili Sauce
3. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

*Serving suggestion: Garnish with chopped red pepper and scallions, if desired.

The Sexy Geek’s suggestions:

  • Definitely do not consider the beans optional — they’re what fills you up.
  • Buy organic, grass-fed ground beef. It’s better for you, and not to mention for the cows. May cost a little bit more, but you’ll probably get several meals out of this pot of chili, so it’s worth it.
  • Make sure your chili seasoning doesn’t have MSG or sugar or anything else nasty in it
  • Add lots of Sriracha sauce!

I’ll make some later and upload a picture.

Update: Here’s a picture. I added an extra can of beans because I felt that the meat-to-bean ratio was too high.

So spicy!

Garbage in, Garbage Out — the secret of successful cooking

A fundamental precept of programming is “Garbage in, garbage out”. It means that a program that is fed garbage input can only produce garbage output. It can’t work miracles.

It’s interesting that most introductory books on programming describe a program as a recipe for solving a problem, for turning input into output. Think about a program that has to try to extract information from text. If the input is garbage — poorly formatted, misspellings — then the program will have to be exceedingly complex. If the text is well-formed and structured, the program can be incredibly simple. A simple script or parser will often suffice.

Now turn the metaphor around and think of a recipe as a program for turning raw ingredients into an edible dish. When your inputs are fresh, high-quality ingredients, you can cook the simplest dishes with a minimum of time and effort and they will taste amazing. If, however, your input ( raw ingredients ) is garbage, then your output ( final dish ) will be garbage as well.

When you start with high-quality, fresh ingredients, turning them into something delicious is pretty simple. For example: A steak. A pork chop. A nice piece of salmon or tuna. All of these things can be prepared by putting a pan on the stove, setting it to medium-high heat, and cooking for a few minutes on each side. You can get more complicated if you want, but start simple.

Obviously, just as a bad program can still make a mess of perfect data, a bad cook can make a mess of good ingredients. Good ingredients do not guarantee success. But they make it much more likely.

The lean glutton

Your body wants to eat a certain amount of food, so dieting and starving yourself doesn’t work because sooner or later, something’s gotta give. Unfortunately, because we’re surrounded by junk food these days, the odds are very good that your willpower will tap out right at the moment when you need it the most.

So, I take the opposite approach. I fill my belly with good food as often as possible to ensure that I never experience the kind of hunger that deludes me into thinking that garbage is tasty. And I really go for it. I pour olive oil onto my salad, eat a tablespoons of natural peanut or almond butter after every meal, and snack on carrots and hummus like there’s no tomorrow.

Everything in my fridge is strategically chosen to ensure that I experience maximum satisfaction with a minimal number of calories and little or no sugar. From the two greasy eggs (slowly-digested protein) and giant pile of beans (slowly-digested fiber) that I eat every morning to the salads swimming in olive oil that I have for lunch, to the dense yogurt I eat for dessert at night, all my food fills my belly and satisfies my soul.

If you fill up on healthy food there’ll be no room in your stomach or your life for garbage. Develop a monogamous relationship with healthy food and she’ll reward you with so much pleasure that you’ll never dally with the skanky whores of junk food.

Fish with chili-garlic aioli and avocado salad

People who think that eating healthy is difficult or expensive need to think again. See this delicious meal? I prepared it in about ten minutes for less than $5

Tastes as good as it looks

Making it was easy: I fried the fish with some olive oil for about five minutes on each side while I made the avocado salad. To make the avocado salad, I simply chopped up two avocados and one tomato and tossed* with olive oil, sea salt, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. The chili-garlic aioli is just a tablespoon of mayonnaise mixed with Huy Fong sriracha sauce, available in any good grocery store.

Tilapia costs about $5/pound, and there is about a 1/4 pound on this plate.

I got the avocados at 5 for $1 at my local Mexican grocery. (Btw, never buy ripe avocados — they’ve been manhandled too much. Buy them when they’re hard and let them ripen on your counter. Putting them next to bananas will speed up the process, because of the ripening gas coming off the bananas).

The price of a tablespoon of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of sriracha sauce is negligible.

Total cost for two people (have a double portion if you’re single and hungry. It’s all healthy food):

Fish(1/2 lb): $2.50

Avocados(2): $.40

Tomatoes(1): $.25 or less

Mayonnaise: $.30 or less

Sriracha: $.25 or less

Total: $3.70

This even strikes me as a little on the extreme end of cheap, so let me clarify that I didn’t set out to make a really cheap dinner. I actually just threw this together from what I had on hand. And the point of this is not that you should eat only cheap food. Sometimes good food costs a little bit more, and it’s worth the expense.

No, the point of this is that eating delicious healthy meals is not complicated or time-consuming.

And a side benefit: does the picture above look like a meal that a girl would really appreciate? Of course it does. Women have more refined palates than we do, and they love to eat fresh food, tastefully prepared and presented. Learn to cook like this, and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

And you’ll be a lot healthier, too.

Notes: Try to find a mayonnaise with no trans fats or added sugars. And if you’re unable to find Huy Fong sriracha sauce in your grocery store, you can get a sample pack for $8 plus shipping at Huy Fong’s Web-site.

*Toss, in the context of salad, means to stir around in a bowl. It does not require you to toss anything into the air.

 

Sleep is the first sacrament

The importance of a good night’s sleep really cannot be overstated. Nothing in your life will fall into place if you’re not well-rested. Think you can resist junk-food cravings when you’re sleep-deprived and cranky? Think again. Think you can be clever, witty, and charming if you’re exhausted? Not a chance.

“Beauty sleep” is not just for women. A study published by the British Medical Journal found that “sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive, and more tired compared with when they are well-rested”. (http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6614.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH)

And you’re less likely to make good decisions if you’re sleep-deprived. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that sleep-deprived people were more likely to make risky decisions. (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/10/3712.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH)

So, knowing the importance of a good night’s sleep, how can we get it?

  1. Make it your number one priority. Realize that nothing else in your life is going to work correctly if you’re not well-rested. You are the means of production. Take care of your machine.
  2. Make it a habit. Go to bed at a consistent time every night.
  3. Make your environment conducive to restfulness. About an hour before I go to bed, I turn down all the lights in my house. It helps if you have dimmer switches, but if you don’t, just turn off the bright, overhead lights, and switch on a couple of soft lamps. This won’t do you much good if you go into the bathroom right before bed and get hit with a bright light, so put a soft light in there too. I also have an orange light bulb in the bedroom for when I want to read in bed, because I find that reading is a great way to fall asleep.
  4. Make yourself go to sleep. Ideally, you would lie in bed in the dark and just think about nothing until you pass out, but it’s really hard to just lie still and do nothing because we’re all so overstimulated these days, so here are some compromises:
    • Lie in the dark and listen to classical music or an audiobook. Nothing to exciting or stimulating
    • Read with a soft light. I’ve got an orange light bulb in my bedroom because it blocks the blue spectrum of light, which has been found to improve sleep (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112143308.htm)
    • If you absolutely must be on the computer within an hour before your bedtime, download F.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/), which reduces, but does not block, the blue light coming from your monitor. It’s available for Linux, Mac, and Windows, and it’s free.

     

Sleep well and prosper.

You are what you eat repeatedly

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

Who you are is determined by the millions of little choices you make everyday. If I perpetually go around acting like a total asshole and then make one charitable contribution per year or give a homeless person a handful of change once in a while, does that make me a nice guy? No. You become a nice guy by being nice every hour of every day.

The same is true for being lean and healthy. You can’t get lean and healthy by following a fad diet for two weeks and then eating garbage the rest of the year. You get lean and healthy by making the right decisions about what to put in your body every hour of every day.

Do the math: if you eat crap all year round and then go on a crash diet in January because you made a new year’s resolution to eat healthy, congratulations. You ate (sort-of) healthy 1/12th of the time. You’re 8% healthy, 92% fat-ass.

To be 100% healthy and lean, you’ve got to eat healthy 100% of the time.

Does the thought of eating nothing but healthy food fill you with dread? I used to feel the same way. This is because we have a lot of fake shit in our society that not only masquerades as food, but has the nerve to trumpet itself as healthy. You know it when you see labels like “low-fat” or “lite”. This stuff tastes worse than the garbage it’s meant to substitute. It’s full of sodium and sugar, which means that instead of satisfying you, it leaves you feeling empty and craving more junk.

What is healthy food, really? What I’m talking about here is real food, not processed junk. Real food tastes better and satisfies your body and soul in a way that junk food doesn’t. And, for the most part, it’s less calorically dense, so you can eat to abundance and never feel hungry while consuming fewer calories.

Other benefits of eating real food are:

1) Simplicity — Fad diets are complicated. Eating healthy every day is not. You don’t have to keep a food journal, count “net carbs”, or go to a support group every week.
2) Eat as much as you want. Real food makes you feel full and satisfied quicker than processed food does.
3) Better nutrition — Have you noticed that every week they discover a new vitamin, mineral, polyphenol, or antioxidant? If you’re eating processed food, you literally don’t know what you’re missing.
4) Better health — Increased energy, better moods, better sex, less frequent illness, better sleep.
5) Saves money — Eating out all the time is a gut-buster and a wallet buster. If you know how to cook your own food, you can save a ton of money.
6) You can indulge periodically without “wrecking your diet”. I’m not a Nazi or a vegan. I make exceptions to my eating habits, but only when it’s really worth it.

The catch is that you have to do it all the time. Every day. You must eat right as a matter of principle. This is not a quick fix. It’s a permanent lifestyle change. You must become the type of person who does not eat junk food. Which of these two sentences sounds more manly and confident?

1. “No thanks. I don’t eat that kind of stuff.”
2. “Oh that looks delicious but I can’t eat it — I’m on a diet this week.”