Our Health Care System

I worked in the public health care system for close to 20 years, and I can attest to the accuracy (i.e. relative accuracy, not necessarily absolute values) of the charts below…

Click on the images to enlarge

Wonder why our health care system becomes more and more expensive every year while less and less actual health care is delivered?

Its simple – although you will never hear it from any politician or nightly news network – its because all the “bigger and bigger budgets” that each political party promises goes almost exclusively into one area: the hiring of more and more health care administrators.

Many of you may not recall, but one “bigger budget” promise was that Ontario would be divided into smaller regions with specific budgets given to each regions to address the unique issues of that region. The outcome was the creation of the LHINs (local health integrated networks) and with that creation hundreds of administrators were hired first, blowing LHIN budgets almost entirely in the process. Plus, health care administrators need plush offices and top of the line equipment to do their jobs which led to whatever remained in those LHIN budgets to be blown.

How much actual additional health care was delivered as a result of the creation of LHINs? Undoubtedly, only pennies of each dollar provided by the Government of Ontario ended up as actual front line health care. Alongside the LHINs, the Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) can be added, along with other health care units which all operate in a comparable manner.

Millions of tax dollars blown… on administrators, supervisors, managers, and their office expenses and we wonder why our health care system is failing? Its not for a lack of funding, but because the funding rarely makes it to the front lines… to where health care is actually delivered. Instead it is siphoned off feeding a massive machine of administrators who do nothing but critique our system and make grandiose suggestions of where and what needs to be changed in order to improve the system. That’s right… individuals who have NEVER studied health or health care, who have NEVER delivered health care, are actually INCAPABLE of working on the front line, of experiencing the front line, of delivering actual health care, are hired in droves and handed the reigns of our health care system!

And how pray tell do these expensive administrators make decisions as to the future of our health care system? Based on lengthy – very very lengthy – reports, which they themselves type up day after day.

The insanity doesn’t stop there. Health care administrators are far too self important, and are paid far too much to actually collect raw data themselves, let alone compile it and press ‘insert chart’ on Excel spreadsheets to create graphs, and charts, to be used in their reports. So health care administrators blow what remains of health care budgets on hiring managers, case managers, and supervisors to do the ‘dirty work’ of actually amassing data. Health care administrators withhold their skills to reviewing the finalized charts, and then presenting them.

And we wonder why our health care system is failing us, and falling apart?

Its because the actual delivery of health care has become irrelevant. What matters is what the graphs, charts and reports say is being delivered. If the reports say that all is well, then all is well! And, because everyone is doing such a good job creating those reports we need to spend even more to hire even more administrators so even more graphs, charts and reports can be printed and published showing the public just how spectacular is their health care system (and how full of s#!t they are when they complain about it).

Our health care system is failing because it has become as obese, as medicated and as addicted as the average Canadian.

Our health care system – like an obese body – has become so bloated with health care administrators that its being overwhelmed to the point that its function is being compromised.

Our health care system – like sclerotic arteries – is so clogged with excessive numbers of supervisors and managers that the heart of our system – health care professionals – are at risk of burning out due to the unrelenting and intense pressure and stress placed on them.

Our health care system – like an opioid addict – is so obsessed with data, charts, graphs and reports, that its become unable to zoom out and take in a larger perspective of the effect that the addiction is having on its survive-ability.

What health care administrators should be reviewing are charts and reports like those at the top of this post that point to the true waste in the system (i.e. THEM!), the true risk to the system (i.e. THEM!). But that would be asking for a level of accountability that is impossible to ask of civil servants… as it would mean they would have to fire one of their own. Besides its so much easier to fire… nurses, therapists, counsellors, etc… so why look at the true state of affairs, and why not continue to create the appearance of cosmetic health of the system with another report with even more charts and graphs.

Our health care system will implode, for one reason: because administrators will continue to gorge on the budgets given to them, creating a system even more bloated, even more clogged, even sicker than it is already. And, they will do this until our own health care system has its very own heart attack or stroke. When that happens… no different than the crisis the financial system experienced in 2009, we will hear from these administrators, from our politicians and experts alike that no one could have foreseen and predicted the crisis of our health care system. Meanwhile, they will all clamor for attention claiming to have the answer to repair the damage done and to prevent another crisis from ever happening.

Point of this post…

Do not bet that the health care system will be there to save you when you are in need, because our health care system will itself likely be in the Emergency department desperately trying to be resuscitated by an entire team of health professionals (Note: not by administrators, they instead will reserve their talents to judging the health professionals on their efforts of trying to revive the ill patient).

Take your health care into your own hands. Start to eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise appropriately (i.e. not HiiT), and start to pair down your life, downsizing all the stresses and stressors that are not needed for you to live your purpose.

Your health is up to you, don’t wait to learn that lesson the hard way.

Short Term Delta

Was reading a blog by David Stockman and when I read the term he used: “short term delta”, immediately my mind flipped from the world of finance to the world of sport & fitness.

For those unfamiliar with David Stockman, he was the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. He resigned over the failure of the Congress to reduce spending in an effort of preventing large deficits and the US national debt from growing ever larger. Current commentary by David Stockman can be found on his website: Contra Corner.

In his most recent blog: “The 30 Year Bubble – Why America Ain’t That Rich“, Stockman writes:

The entire financial and economic narrative in today’s Bubble Finance world is virtually context- and history-free; it’s all about the short-term deltas and therefore exceedingly misleading and dangerous.

So when a big trend or condition is negative and unsustainable, you generally can’t even get a glimpse of it from the so-called “high-frequency” weekly, monthly and even quarterly data on which the financial press and its casino patrons thrive. And that’s not merely because most of the data from the government statistical mills is heavily massaged and modeled and often “adjusted” beyond recognition over 3-5 year intervals of statistical revision.

Beyond that, however, even medium term trends get largely ignored. That’s because the purpose of economic and financial data today is to facilitate daily (and hourly) trading in the casino—not inform long-term investors about underlying trends, conditions and prospects.

The investor class of yore, in fact, has largely been destroyed by the last 30-years of monetary central planning and the Wall Street deformations it has fostered—-meaning that, increasingly, headline reading algo-traders and trend-following speculators are the main consumers of the “incoming data”.

What has short term deltas, “high frequency” trading, heavily modeled and “adjusted” data got to do with sport, with health & fitness, with training for performance? Glad you asked…

The mindset in the world of finance and that in the world of sport & fitness have become indistinguishable. Chasing short term delta and modeled data in finance is the equivalent of HiiT based training and personal devices which ‘live-stream’ our own health data points.

The focus has become so short term in finance that the statistics followed to track the economy no longer arise from raw data, but from data that has been massaged and heavily adjusted to fit economic models (i.e. of what is supposed to be happening based on what Central Banks say/do, not what is actually happening in the real world). Indicators used to trade financial instruments are no longer 1st derivatives as these are too slow moving, and have been replaced with 2nd or 3rd derivatives, again built not upon real data, but modeled data.

The focus has become so short term in fitness and sport science that exercise physiologists are now suggesting that exercise just seconds in duration, repeated a handful of times (i.e. HiiT – Hi Intensity Interval Training) is all that is needed to regain health, wellness, fitness, and improve performance. Plus, provided you have a steady stream of your vitals and irrelevant information such as step counts from the latest personal health monitoring band, watch, or other sort of device… you can be certain that you are wearing as much as possible to “make” you look healthy (because looking healthy has become equivalent to being healthy).

Long term trends, overall conditions and prognosis for individuals, and prospects for the economy are largely ignored.

That during this period of HiiT obsession, the population has become more overweight, more obese, more diseased, addicted and medicated has been largely ignored.

That during this period of HiiT obsession, government budgets and individual health care related expenses continue to grow exponentially has been largely ignored.

That during this period of short term delta chasing, the a minuscule number have become wealthier while the middle class continues to erode has also been largely ignored.

Instead we are obsessed with “incoming data”… what is Trump’s latest tweet; what is the latest superfood?  What industry is the M&A department forecasting Amazon will inhale next; what diet is headlining todays talk shows… Paleo, ketogenic, raw, vegan? What is the latest from the talking heads on your favorite financial news network; what is the hottest class at your local health club?

Today all that matters is “incoming data”… the current value of our stock portfolio or the data from our GPS watches, fitness trackers, apps on our smartphones.

This will end, because it always ends, and in the same way it always ends…

An accident that no one, absolutely no one could ever foresee… like the tech bubble, like the housing bubble, and now like the credit bubble, everything was/is awesome, until it wasn’t/isn’t.

As it is in finance, so it is in health: everything is awesome, until it isn’t and we wake up in a hospital emergency department… post heart attack, post stroke, or at your doctors office to receive the lab results which will confirm what you already know… it is diabates, it is cancer, it is Alzheimers, MS, Parkinsons, or whatever disease you are prone to due to familial genetics.

At this point, we look back, disappointed in ourselves, kicking ourselves for having got ourselves into this mess, for becoming so wrapped up in the details, for refusing to stop, to take a moment to just think just once without polling everyone or asking someone what they think…

Short term delta can lead to financial profits, in the short term.

HiiT can lead to performance improvements, in the short term.

But life is never lived in the short term, we always last longer than that. Its the aftermath that we rarely pay attention to… that is until we have to, or are forced to, and all of us will face having to be held accountable for how we lived. Problem is that that point typically comes as a surprise to those stuck in short term delta, swamped with piles and piles of incoming data.

Most Intense & Most Diseased

As a follow up to the prior post [titled “Most Advanced & Most Depressed] I thought it would be appropriate to shed light on the tactics used by trainers, coaches, heck… the entire sport and fitness industry regarding “getting you healthy”.

The tactics used by the entire sport & fitness industry are NO different than the addictive “persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry” used by tech companies like Facebook and platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Instragram to addict their users to get the average consumer to check their phone 150 times a day (at last count, and rising).

In the world of tech, the addiction is created by users seeking another and another hit of dopamine which comes with every ping, ding, like, follower, swipe and star.

In the world of sport & fitness, the addiction is created to endorphins where the trainer or coach teaches a trainee or athlete to suffer under the guise of “no pain, no gain” so that every workout becomes a quest for ever more self inflicted pain and suffering.

The epitome of achievement in the world of sport & fitness is when you obtain “beast mode”, a level of such self hate that you are willing to push your body til you cough or pee blood. Trainers & coaches revel in the limelight of being able to ‘hurt’ trainees and athletes, with those who can hurt you the most feared for the level of punishment they can push you to cause yourself.

It’s absurd.

It’s juvenile.

It’s bulls#it!

If we are wondering what on earth we are doing to children’s brains through the addiction to technology, and especially social media apps, then perhaps the sport & fitness industry can shed some light…

In a time when health and fitness clubs mark almost every street corner and strip mall, a time when trainers have become TV celebrities, interviewed as if experts on all things health, placed in positions of authority when it comes to health and wellness… then surely there must be some evidence of success. Is there? Is there any evidence of success of all this endorphin seeking high intensity interval training?


Even the godfather of HiiT himself – Trainer Bob Harper of Biggest Loser stardom – has had his own heart attack proving that what he has preached adds up to a big fat ZERO! Review the aftermath of Biggest Loser contests, the stories shared by contestants while on the TV series and you will read that the weight loss on the show was exactly that… a show, with most unable to keep up appearances once out of the spotlight.

HiiT is a bunch of smoke and mirrors, selling cosmetic health as a proxy for true health.

If all this ‘health & wellness advice’ was accurate in anyway then we – collectively – would not be the most diseased, most overweight, most obese, most medicated, most depressed, most anxious, the most addicted and sickest society ever!

If there is anything more indicative of the health of society then it must be the state of our children… but unfortunately they are as overweight, obese, and addicted as their parents.

A recent study predicts that 57% of children today will be obese when they hit 35!  Think about that… just for a moment. If 57% of the population is obese, and obesity comes after being overweight… will anyone be of healthy weight?

We are nowhere close to these stats, meanwhile my daughter has already been bullied at school for being too thin, aka too healthy! Now, that is sick.

For one child to look at another, and instead of hoping and wanting health, instead wants the healthy child to become sick like them… now that is a sick mindset. It leaves me wondering… where are the parents? Do they not see the suffering they are inflicting or perpetuating upon their own flesh & blood? Do they not care? Or, does their social media avator have them so desperate for attention and acceptance that the health and well-being of their child has become secondary?

And this is the the outcome of the most technological and medically advanced society! So whats gonna happen when we become even more technological and medically advanced?

Let’s cut the crap…

HiiT… is bulls#it.

“No pain, no gain”… is the bulls#it that started this whole mess.

“An endorphin high” as a measure of a ” good “ workout…. is bulls#it.

Health does not come by slapping 30mins of exercise as a bandaid to cover day after day of intense stress, of toxic relationships, of unfulfilling work, of improper eating, drinking, where insufficient rest, recovery and sleep, are made up with “sports nutrition” products along with prescribed or over the counter medications to keep both ends of the candle burning brightly for at least one more day (hopefully, fingers crossed, knock on wood… as if that makes any difference).

You want health, then it must be the priority, not a close second.

You want health, then all decisions need to be made through the filter of the impact they can have, will have, even may have on your health, on you and/or your family.

That is the price of health, and that IS the truth.

Anyone telling you otherwise is bulls#iting you.

Most Advanced & Most Depressed

“The term “addiction” is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing.”

Roger McNamee – The Guardian, to link click here

“In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook’s original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children.”

“He [Parker] said that he, Mark Zuckerberg and others understood this, “And we did it anyway.”

Mike Allen – Axios, to link click here

“That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever … It’s a social validation feedback loop … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.”

Sean Parker quote from Mike Allen/Axios interview

“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains”

Thuy Ong, The Verge, to link click here

“The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy.”

Roger McNamee – The Guardian, to link click here

“The US, the most technologically advanced nation on the planet is also the most depressed: 3 in 10 Americans will battle depressive illness at some point in their lives, an estimated 10 fold increase since WWII.”

Stephen Ilardi – The Wall Street Journal

“The addictive pull of social media: the idea that we can substitute a carefully controlled social-media substitute (avatar) for our less-than-perfect real-world self.”

Charles Hugh Smith – of two minds.com, to link click here


Wonder why we are uneasy, down, depressed, wonder no more… every time we reach for our smartphone – 100 or more times a day – we toy with neurotransmitters and hormones that have a profound effect on our mental and emotional states, hence our overall well-being and health.

So what matters more… your health, or the online status of your social media avatar?

If its your online status, then when your health, the health of your family, your children, your grandchildren deteriorates then at least you will know who is responsible… you are.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google may be guilty of toying with your physiology and psychology in the name of corporate profits, but now that you have been informed of their agenda, you have the ability and the responsibility to decide whether or not to continue to use them to the extent that you have been, or at all.

Again, what matters more… your health, or the online status of your social media avatar?

Good Bones

The Town of Oakville is giving the Oakville Arena – located on Rebecca St – an uplift.  The 64 year old building will have $29 million of renovations, updates, and additions.

Driving past I had to stop and take a few pictures before the original structure was entirely engulfed by the new. I had to capture the construction of the original structure.

Take a close look at the construction of the domed roof… its wood.  Wood from the 1950s.

It got me thinking about structures built well from the start, it got me thinking about athletes who are built well from the start (and conversely those who are not).

Today our primary building block for structures is steel bar reinforced concrete. Problem… as with most things we do these days, we are little concerned about the long term. Steel reinforced concrete allows us to build taller and lighter structures than if there was no steel. Fabulous! We can leverage a plot of land by building floor after floor after floor. What few mention is that steel bar reinforced concrete has a long term issue… the steel eventually rusts, the concrete loosens, deteriorates and falls away from the steel, eventually leading concrete to literally fall off in chunks, or it having to be cleared away, the underlying structure cleaned up and reinforced to prevent the entire structure from collapsing. Wonder why construction on the elevated Gardiner never seems to end, its because it can never end because if it ever did stop… the Gardiner would come crumbling down. All thanks to the go-to solution of steel bar reinforced concrete. At the time of its original construction, the concept of an elevated highway made affordable by using steel bar reinforced concrete must have come across as space age brilliance.  Today, the Gardiner is a drain on the City of Toronto budget to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars (verging on billions if you add up past, present and future commitments).

Funny, eh? The pyramids have stood centuries, the Gardiner cannot last one.  The pyramids were built with solid blocks of rock, yet the Gardiner was built with 21st century architectural and construction technology. So… are we actually progressing or regressing as a result of all this so called technology?

We can erect a structure in no time flat… is that what matters?  Is what matters how quickly we can complete a project, and how many projects we can complete all at once? What about getting one project done, and done well… with quality, with excellence. Nope. No time for that.

We are busier than ever, moving faster than ever, doing more than ever, but are we solving anything or simply creating more problems, while kicking the can down the road for the problems that have already started to boomerang? It seems all that we are doing is loading future generations with debt and with projects that we know today will crumble if not maintained constantly.

I remember the day my daughter came home from school and shared that she learnt on her field trip that First Nations people (she didnt refer to a specific tribe) made decisions based on how that decision would impact multiple generations into the future.  If the impact was negative, even if the here and now stood to benefit, the decision was not approved by the elders.

Just stop and think about that: how many people put any effort into just thinking let alone thinking about how their decisions, how their behaviour today will impact tomorrow, and their children tomorrow? Does anyone consider consequences or costs to today’s actions? How much time do you put into the decisions that will affect your health, your well-being, your performance in life, that will affect the health, wellness and performance of your children? Anything beyond a couple seconds? Anything beyond a poll of what everyone else is doing?

The parallel to sport, to training, to performance, to health is this…

We have our own structures: our body, our brain, our organs, which total as our health.

If we are ‘building’ our health the same way we build buildings… well, lets just say that the epidemics and crises we face should be no surprise. That we live in a society of victims afraid of their own shadow, afraid of being shamed and hated at any instant, so fearfilled that now the average person is not healthy but unhealthy: overweight, obese, addicted to medical prescriptions, recreational drugs, or all of the above. It really should be no surprise based on how we behave.

Its time we stop with the bandaid – i.e. steel reinforced concrete – solutions, which although tempting, and appear to be ideal solutions for the here and now… are not long term solutions.

What do you want your structure to look like, to work like in the coming years and decades? Do you want it to be like the Gardiner? Needing almost a billion in renovations to keep it alive? Seems with all the cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, and health and wellness interventions that that is the plan for most.  Lets continue to bandaid over the crumbling infrastructure despite the fact that the core is rotting. The Gardiner was once a triumph of city planning and construction, now its called an eye sore and a barrier between the City of Toronto and its beautiful waterfront? Is that what you have become? An eye sore, with the health of your body and brain a barrier between you and your potential?

What about being like the Oakville Arena? Built from what many would consider inferior material as compared to concrete, yet the original building is not being torn down, far from it, it is been added onto and more importantly the building is seen as beautiful and worthy of upkeep so that many generations to come get to enjoy skating and playing hockey under its wonderful wooden roof.

FYI… we are cutting the same corners in residential construction.

A firefighter whose daughter swam with my daughter a few years back shared with me one day that he was called out to a fire in a row of townhomes.  Due to poor construction, they no longer enter these buildings for risk of total collapse. The construction these days is so poor – the cross beams supporting the roof are not nailed together but held by thin NON FIRE RESISTANT metal screens – that when a fire breaks out, it literally melts these screens leading to total collapse/cave-ins of the home. He shared that firefighters have been caught on main and basement levels when the entire residential structure above caved in and collapsed on them.

Gee… now why would we skimp on nails, NAILS for crying out loud! Replacing them with thin sheets of metal?

Because some MBA sitting at their labtop hired to figure out how to save a few pennies identifies that nails are too expensive.

Because today… money matters more than human life.

Because today… time matters more than human life.

Because today… now matters more than human life.

Because today… what we want matters more than the impact it has on our children.

Because today… I want what I want, and all that matters is that I get what I want… NOW!

Its time for all the adults to grow-up and start acting and making the tough decisions that adults are supposed to make.  For their own well being, and that of their children.

Does Daniel Clarke Have A Death Wish?

After reading the title of Clarke’s Vlog #047 “Nutrition Breakthrough”, I wondered what was the epiphany this triathlon neo-pro had today. I don’t watch all of Clarke’s vlogs but once in a while I give in and think… why not. It tickles me now being in my 40s, with two kids of high school age to watch the arrogance/ignorance of youth, especially youth which has been put on a podium or puts itself on a podium.

Today, there was no tickling… I watched Clarke’s video and was gob-smacked.  He didn’t really say what I think he just said… did he? Hold on, let’s play that back and listen… and then I had to listen again. He did! He really did say what he said… and the thought crossed my mind…

Does Clarke have a death wish?

Below is a transcript of Clarke’s vlog #047 starting at 2:39, and here is the link to the Youtube video if you want to hear for yourself:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14LqTn0cglY

Daniel Clarke:

“Usually when I do longer harder workouts, I feel like literally everything has been drained out of my pores, I feel really weak, sometimes I would have headaches, there would be a little bit of dizziness, sometimes my vision would be a little bit blurry. I always in the past just attributed that to the fact that triathlon training, Ironman training its hard, its meant to be hard, you are pushing your body I just accepted that’s the way it is and I never investigated it further. The big takeaway… just because you are doing something one way doesn’t mean that its optimal for you. And because what I was doing wasn’t broke then there is no reason to fix it… but in Tremblant it broke and fixing it is something I needed to do.”

Clarke’s fix… salt pills.


Cadel Evans, leader of cycling WorldTour team, TEAM BMC, winner of the 2010 Giro d’Italia, winner of the 2011 Tour de France, winner of 2009 World Road Race Championships shares in his book “Cadel Evans: The Long Road to Paris” that on one mountain stage he started to lose vision as a result of the effort he was putting forth.

Its one thing to be a GC (General Classification) contender, to be a leader of a cycling WorldTour team, to be leading a team of top professional cyclists with the expectation of winning the Tour de France, to be competing in the Tour itself, a race that lasts 21 days covers 3,500+ km of horizontal and 35+ km of vertical distance, to be on a mountain stage at altitude, in the moment of competition against the best of the best in the world of cycling, to be an athlete with over a decade of training and racing experience at an international level as a pro, to be an athlete who knows what they are doing to their body, who understands and is able to weigh the risks of their actions.

Its one thing to be the leader of the Tour or to be going after the yellow jersey – because there are a select few times in life where it may be appropriate for an all out effort – BUT…

Its an entirely different thing for a neo-pro, who demonstrates little evidence of having enough knowledge or understanding of basic human body function, let alone advanced physiological and psychological principles and training concepts to push themselves routinely to extremes. Besides, Clarke is talking about training; he is not experiencing these medical signs and symptoms while competing in the race of his pro career, he is talking about headaches, dizziness and vision loss in regular training! Worse, he is talking about training during a long distance session… as in training which should be aerobic, not at or beyond VO2 max.

Clarke inflicts upon himself signs and symptoms that anyone else would seek medical assessment, emergency medical assessment if these signs and symptoms were severe.

[Honestly, tack on slurred speech and you have ALL the symptoms of a TIA or a stroke!]

Clarke, thinks its A-OK to repeatedly subject his body to stress & strain of such intensity and duration that pain, vision, and balance are compromised.

FYI… its NOT!

Hey, Clarke… ya think asphyxiating yourself on a regular basis to the point that you’re dizzy, to the point that you have visual disturbances is in an way healthy?  Can you consider that maybe you are so high on yourself that you falsely believe that the account from which you constantly overdraw from (i.e. your health) to bulk up your fitness is not endless and maybe, just maybe, one day the piper will come calling, and your debts will have to be paid?

Think about it…

Your brain – the most important organ in your body, the organ your body will defend to ensure that it gets the resources it needs – is FAILING IN ITS ABILITY TO FUNCTION… ya think that there may be an issue with what you think is “not broken”?

If your brain is going blue (as in blue from vasoconstriction), then how do you think your liver, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, intestines, all your other internal and vital organs are doing? If your brain is blue, how do you think your heart is doing? If your brain is blue, then what sort of training are your muscles, your nerves getting?  What sort of resources are they receiving if your brain ain’t getting what it needs?

What’s the plan?

Do Ironman entirely an-aerobically, holding VO2 max for 8+ hours?

Is this what you deem a smart race strategy?

Is that why you think what you are doing can in any way be called “training”?

I assure you… what you are doing is not training; unless your goal is near death experiences.

“No pain, no gain”, “PR or ER” are impaired mental states and not philosophies that consistent peak performers follow to achieve their fullest potential. These are sales & marketing ploys used by industry to sell you on narratives such as “Beast mode” and other absurd, juvenile, insane concepts of health and wellness.

Clarke, you needed things to break @Tremblant – i.e. you needed a crisis as a pro athlete – in order that your eyes and ears open to the fact that… you might not know everything there is to know about training, racing, lets not mention just basic human body physiology… so do tell… what happens when you are in your late 30s, maybe early 40s and all this catches up to you? I mean… surely you have stopped for a moment and considered what asphyxiating yourself will eventually do?  Right?  You have, haven’t you… stopped and considered the consequences, the side-effects, the long term risks of what you are doing?

What’s the plan? When you hit 40, or maybe ‘old-age’ doesn’t catch up to you til you are 50 and the headaches, dizziness, and vision difficulties don’t go away… then what?  Head to the doctor scratching your head as to why, or how, or what ever could be the source, the cause, the root of all these impairments?

You may not even need to wait til 40, as there are athletes of your age who as a result of their own or their coaches mantra to go hard, harder, go til you pee or cough blood led to them suffering heart attacks, developing heart beat irregularities, even brain aneurysms. I’ve met an athlete who had to have a defibrillator implanted into his chest. Imagine needing a device the size of a deck of cards to be implanted under your skin to make sure you don’t die on a daily basis. Sure, lifesaving device, but what if the need for that device was self inflicted, or perhaps coach inflicted from chronic overtraining, overstressing a young body, demanding that it puke up one more rep, even faster than the last, and then another and another?

Then what?

You are free to do as you please with your body and brain… they are after all your body and brain, but what I believe is 100% careless and reckless is that there are amateur athletes both age group (as in kids) and masters who watch your vlogs and will think to themselves… oh, you mean that’s how hard I have to push myself in training.  You mean that’s what I have to do to myself in order to be considered a ‘serious triathlete’, this is the expected ‘payment’ in blood that has to be made to call oneself a pro? And without any further investigation whether or not its the right way to train, whether or not its healthy… will monkey see, monkey do, and train in similar ways as you.

Clarke, are you prepared to handle the consequences of your “advice” falling on unsuspecting amateur athletes that wanna be like Clarke, who then do like Clarke, and train like Clarke… train til they cannot see straight or retain balance while standing? Are you prepared for the call when they are in a bike accident having pushed themselves til they can’t see straight… when they trained like they heard you train?

I worked in long term care, in convalescent care, in pre and post surgical units, with the chronically and terminally ill for over a decade. I can tell you one thing for certain… not one patient I ever met thought that when they were young that they were living ‘wrong’, unhealthy, in a way that would have consequences on their health as an adult. When we are young, all of us think we are invincible, immune to anything going wrong. When they were young (for example) smoking cigarettes was new, was cool, was the ‘in’ thing that all the ‘in’ kids did. Today, struggling for each breathe, able to function only because of the oxygen they inhale through nasal prongs, dealing with chest infection after chest infection… some will still deny that the pack a day, or two, for a few decades has anything to do with their lung disease, be it cancer, COPD, or however it manifested. Why? Because we do not believe, we cannot believe that we could inflict upon ourselves such injury, that we could ever cause ourselves harm, dysfunction, let alone disease.

Wakey, wakey… we can and we do it to ourselves all the time. We just don’t like to admit it.

Clarke, I hope you and everyone else who trains in a similar manner receive this blog not as a slight, but as a wake up call. Read it appreciating that I have true concern for your well being, for your state of mental and physical health, concern for you from the damage you are repeatedly inflicting upon yourself. Damage that unlike @Tremblant, I guarantee you do not want to ever experience, because if you do, it could very well be too late for a salt pill to make it all better.

We Are Wrong About… Fat [3]

You wouldn’t know it by going to the grocery store… our grocery stores are always stocked with the same fruits and vegetables 12 months of the year. That’s not how it works out in nature.  Nature works in cycles… there is a season to sow, and there is a time for harvest. Right now the season of fall is upon us and with that nature’s abundance spills in such abundance that apples, pears, and shortly pumpkins and gourds will litter farmers fields because we simply do not consume all that nature produces.  Nature is truly abundant.

Animals realize what season they are in and as a result, we see squirrels start to get chubbier and chubbier. Their little thighs can really pack on the weight. Animals realize that nature moves in cycles: a season of abundance will inevitably be followed by a time of lack, of insufficiency.

As a society we have worked ourselves obese insuring that there is no such thing as lack, as a shortage, and it shows in our rates of obesity and chronic/lifestyle diseases. You no longer have to travel to Africa to see vast swaths of the population malnourished, right here in the good ole’ Americas  we consume more processed factory foods and drinks lacking any nutritional and dietary value than can be imagined, and yet we wonder why we are chronically ill, injured, in pain, overweight, diseased, etc…

A lack in nature is no travesty, shortages are frequent, cyclical insufficiency is the norm. Millions of years of evolution has bred into mammals the instinct to pack on weight, fearlessly get fat, knowing that winter offers little in the way of calories, while energy is still demanded in order to produce sufficient heat to maintain core body temperature during cold, windy and wet weather.

Mammals will gorge on berries, nuts, fruit, whatever they can find in order to fatten up. For some mammals, the winter months are a time of even greater energy expenditure – as if hibernation wasn’t enough – as it is birthing season as well. On top of the energy demands to stay warm, bears give birth in the depth of winter, with cubs suckled fully dependent on mama bears fat stores.

After months of hibernation spring does not come offering a cornucopia of food for animals, nor is there is a full fridge, a 24-7 grocery store, or gas station convenience store for animals so they can load back up with calories.  Green shots in spring do offer some nutrition, but it’s a far shot from the supply of fall.

Whats the point with all this blather about hibernation?

Whats any of this got to do with weight loss, or how we are wrong about… fat?


How do animals hibernate? They…

  • Lower their heart rate,
  • Lower their breathing rate,
  • Lower their core body temperature,
  • And do this by dropping their metabolic rate low, low, low.
  • Animals sleep, and then sleep some more, and then sleep alittle bit more.

The result… animals can lose as much as 40% of their body weight. They lose almost half their body weight without doing a single stepper or treadmill workout, without bootcamp, Hiit, or Tabata training, they do not get vitamin injections, they do not take supplements, they do not go gluten free, they do not do anything that we as humans do in order to try and lose weight.

In fact, animals do the exact opposite of what we are told by nutritionists, dietitians, by fitness trainers and coaches, by almost the entire health and fitness industry, including some health and fitness professionals!

What are we told to do to burn calories, to lose weight, to drop the pounds?

  • Max out your heart rate,
  • Max out your breathing rate,
  • Max your core body temperature by either training in heat (e.g. hot yoga), or follow up training with heat (e.g. saunas, steam rooms),
  • Max out your metabolic rate,
  • Do HiiT, FTP and threshold workouts, then do more of them, and more of them until you sweat, dry heave, or simply puke up those unwanted calories.

We are told to drink liter after liter of water, snack constantly because 3 square meals a day simply cannot be enough calories, then we are told to wear special clothing, or book appointments to have our fat rubbed, cooled, frozen, massaged, lasered.

We are fear mongered that a lower metabolic rate triggers “starvation mode” and will result in us adding weight faster to our butt then we could to a barbell.

Fear, fear and more fear propagating by ignorance, ignorance, ignorance.

Lets get this straight…

Exercise physiology which has been around since the 1950s – a total of maybe 70 years – says HiiT, maximizing metabolic rate, and max effort workouts with ongoing solid and liquid fueling a must in order to lose weight… and as a result of all of us following these steps the outcome has been a full out epidemic if not full out obesity pandemic. In blissful obedience we continue to hit the gym, pound the protein, slurp the smoothees, cut the gluten, cut the carbs, while refusing to sleep, to rest, nap or put our devices down for even an instant.

On the other hand, evolution which has led to the way animals hibernate and yields weight loss results of 40% which has been in the works for… oh… what?…60, 70, 80+ million years and has a pretty good track record considering life on this planet thrives even with humankind working feverishly to see if it can bring it to an end.

I realize that evolution doesn’t tweet, or post on Fb, or have a lightning e-sale for the next 20 minutes, but seriously… our health – YOUR HEALTH – is on the line, ya’ think you could spend a moment or two considering whether your health or fitness professional or the industry is telling you is anything even remotely true.

Considering it doesnt seem to be working for anyone consistently, maybe just maybe its not designed to work… but just to sell you something.  Think about it.

We Are Wrong About… Fat [2]

In post [1], the concept of fat used by our body as an electrical insulator to protect all our vital organs from excessive periods of load and/or excessive electrical spikes of loads illustrated that the calories in vs calories out model is overly simplistic. A model based on calories simplifies the weight loss process to calorie restriction plus HiiT exercise, but when that process fails to deliver results we are left with either self loathing because we failed to eat less or exercise more, or denial that there is a problem at all. We end up back at square one, we feel like failures yet we fail to question if the model is accurate.

So why then does the calorie based model seem to work, at least on occasion or at least for some? Because it will when you become either neurotic or obsessive (i.e. when you create an anxiety about your weight) and use that chaotic energy to fuel a behavioural pattern towards achieving a desired weight loss goal. Problem is… when you ‘slip up’ even for an instant, when you ease up just slightly, when you loosen up the rules, fudge on the points or on the charts a teensy bit, it all falls apart.

Proof #1 that a calorie based model doesn’t work is that it is unsustainable. The closer you come to your target weight… the more compulsive, the more obsessive, the more excessive, the more neurotic you need to become in order to hold off whatever weight you lost.

Proof #2 that a calorie based model doesn’t work is that it is not scale-able: the process does not apply equally to the first 5% as it does to the last 5% towards the goal. The first 5% is relatively easy… do something different and the pounds fall off, but that ease doesn’t last long. Soon you have to restrict more and more calories, and you have to exercise harder and harder, longer and longer in order to see the gains that you made simply by getting off the couch a couple times.

We are marketed constantly that the calorie based model of weight loss is “the” model, especially since so called experts recite conclusions and data from research studies which all point in one direction (as if quantity of research trumps quality or real life applicability).

At some point, you have to lift your head up from blindly following the herd, look around, listen, and ask yourself… if everyone is doing the same thing, and if it isn’t working consistently for everyone, then either we are all doing it wrong (which advertising tries to convince us), or the model doesn’t work.

The model doesn’t work.

This is proven by the grim reality that our society is now 2/3rds overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, with juvenile obesity yet another epidemic in the making. If calorie in-calorie out worked, then we shouldn’t be becoming more overweight, more obese, more unhealthy… yet we are.  Either we are all stupid, or the model doesn’t work.  My vote is that the model doesn’t work, no matter how many Ph.Ds and their doctoral research state the opposite.

This post aims to provide another explanation for why we are becoming more and more overweight.

Adding to the electrical model (as described in post [1]), there is a mechanical model which provides another explanation as to why we pack and protect our vital organs using fat.  Best of all, the mechanical model does not conflict or contradict the electrical model in anyway, and can stand alongside the electrical model yielding multiple explanations for how and why we gain weight.

The physical/mechanical model to explain the use of fat by our body to protect our organs starts by reviewing the relationship between temperature and pressure. Gay-Lussac’s Law states the following:

That is, pressure and temperature are directly proportional to each other. As temperature decreases, pressure decreases, and as temperature increases, pressure increases (where k is a constant).

With this relationship in mind, lets return to the concept of the abdominal cylinder and piston as was both described and illustrated in the posts titled “Worst Innovation in Triathlon“. Below is the image of our abdominal cylinder: the diaphragm forms the top, the pelvic floor the bottom, and the abdominal walls and spine and ribs make up the sides.

Recall, that our vital organs (i.e. liver, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, stomach, intestines, uterus, spleen) are incompressible, meaning that under pressure they do not squeeze smaller.

Recall also, that our vital organs along with our breathing (provided it is diaphragmatic) move in a rhythmical pattern that can be referred to as the abdominal piston (see images below).

Click Image to Enlarge
Piston Gif Attribution: R. Castelnuovo

To review… when you inhale the piston head (vital organs) shifts down and when you exhale the piston head shifts up. This is proper use of your anatomy, this is proper and healthy breathing biomechanics.  The result of these healthy biomechanics is that you do not create excessive intra-abdominal pressure, you do not compress and stress your vital organs (e.g. stomach, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, spleen, bladder, uterus, ovaries), you do not stress your pelvic floor, you do not pinch or compress blood vessels and nerves which travel through your abdomen. With healthy biomechanics – i.e. with proper use of your musculo-skeletal system – you do not lock, brace, make rigid any of the musculo-skeletal structures in your core. With healthy biomechanics you do not stop the abdominal piston from moving… not ever.

So what happens when you do stop the abdominal piston?

When you lock your abdominal piston, that is when Gay-Lussac’s Law comes into play…

When you lock the piston, you build pressure in your abdomen, and along with the pressure you build temperature.

Do you really think all your vital organs respond well to being ‘pressure cooked’?

Do we really need to wonder why our body starts to bubble wrap all our vital organs in a protective layer of insulating fat [fat insulates against cold, it equally insulates against heat and as in post [1], against electrical activity]. If we are constantly subjecting our vital organs to pressures and temperatures that are best left for making diamonds out of coal then why wonder why your body takes protective steps to ensure your survival?

We need to stop seeing fat as unhealthy, and start seeing the lifestyle that causes our body to create a protective layer of fat as what is truly unhealthy.

Layering ourselves up with fat is the byproduct of excessive intensity or duration in stress, or an individual who lacks the capacity and/or strategies to engage stress.  Either way… the issue is not fat, the issue is stress, or stress management.

If that wasn’t enough, do you really need to be shocked when you find out that you have developed food sensitivities, intolerances, blood sugar issues/symptoms of early diabetes, other digestion issues including diarrhea, constipation, or that your blood pressure is increasing, that your resting heart rate is anything close to resting, or that your kidneys, your liver, your reproductive organs are unable to operate when being ‘pressure cooked’ on a daily basis?

We lock our abdominal piston because we have too much stress in our lives, we take on too much stress, we fail to properly train to physically have the capacity to endure stress, we fail to properly study technique and strategy to have the wisdom to engage and manage stress, we fail to learn how to express ourselves honestly so when we are stressed instead of flowing and using healthy emotions to fuel us, we absorb, retain, repress and suppress toxic feelings.

The fact that we are still alive after repressing emotions, after subjecting our organs to temperature, pressure, to spikes in electrical activity is what should be surprising… not that we are overweight or obese. Becoming overweight or obese is simply millions of years of evolution programmed into us trying to keep us alive, trying to help us survive until the stressful period passes us.

As Ferris Bueller said… “life moves pretty fast, if you dont stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I encourage you to slow down, take inventory of what is truly important to you, and evaluate whether you are on the path that you want to be on, today, for the rest of your life. If your path has taken you away from taking care of yourself, from health, then perhaps this is the moment to get back on it.

We Are Wrong About… Fat [1]

I believe our attitude, our approach to dealing with being fat, overweight, and with obesity is wrong.

I do not agree and I do not believe it’s a matter of calories in vs calories out.

It’s overly simplistic, mechanistic, and ingrains a mindset that we are merely machines.

I do not agree and I do not believe that it’s a matter of determination, drive, willpower.

Again, it’s overly simplistic, denying that beliefs, narratives, emotions play any part.

I believe that our model of how the human body functions is stuck in the steam engine period, while the world has evolved into an era of lithium battery powered remotely controlled drones.

Overeating, over-exercising or under-exercising are the result of individuals having excessive intensities of stress and/or excessive durations of stress in their lives and unable to effectively manage the stress levels that they have taken on. We incorrectly use eating and exercising (or lack thereof) as short term solutions when we fail to maintain healthy levels of stress in our lives, and/or fail to engage the stress we have in an healthy manner.

The root of the obesity epidemic is that we – collectively – are not handling appropriately the effects that advancements in technology are causing on our lives, on our work, our careers, our finances, our social structure, social interactions, on the nature of how we live each and every day. Our failure to integrate and ‘keep up’ with the accelerating rate of advancement is not only making us outright sick, it is driving us to addictions and in worst cases to an early grave (despite the hoopla that technology is a one way street to an ever improving quality of life).

What’s the difference between a dead body and an alive body? Both have organs, muscles, nerves, and both have a brain… so what is the difference? What is the aspect of being alive that makes us alive, that differentiates us from being dead?

You are pronounced dead when there is no longer detectable electrical activity in your heart and in your brain; when the electrical signals of these organs stops… you are pronounced dead.

What defines us as alive, is energy, the electrical signals constantly flowing between individual cells (e.g. within an organ), or between different groups of cells (e.g. between organs).

Like anything that conducts energy – as in electricity – there must be some sort of segregation of signals so that signals remain distinct, discrete, preventing short circuits.

In electronics, the part of the wire which surrounds, protects, and isolates the energy traveling in the wire from coming in contact with any other wire is the wire insulation.  The insulation is typically a rubber or plastic coating that surrounds the copper wire within.

In the electrical wiring of the body we too need to have an insulator that ensures that the signals – the electricity – along nerves, between groups of cells doesn’t come in contact with other signals, short circuiting the message or overloading the system.

What does our body use as insulation?  It uses FAT!

That’s right… FAT is the insulator. You need fat in your body, you need fat in your brain, you need fat everywhere in order that each and every electrical signal you generate remains distinct throughout its journey from start to finish. Fat is also needed to insulate to prevent an overload of signals.

Fat as an insulator is critical to the proper function of every single organ in our body, brain included.

Fat is not only needed in the wiring (i.e. our nervous system) but fat is needed wherever there is the risk or the potential risk that short circuits and system overloads can happen.

In healthy systems, where stress loads are appropriate and balanced by rest (e.g. cooling) periods, then the insulation required is minimal.

In systems where the stress load – or stated another way, in systems were the flow of electricity is excessive in intensity and/or duration – then the amount of insulation required increases.  If the stress load is so high that there is a risk that organs could be damaged, then in order to protect itself the body starts to insulate itself… it uses FAT to surround and protect the organs.

To visualize what happens when electrical devices are placed under excessive stress loads for which they were not designed, (as in there is insufficient insulation to prevent overflow of the stress), here are computer motherboards being overloaded with electricity:

The above are not situations that your body can allow to happen to you… that would be capital ‘B’ bad.  To protect and prevent total organ overload and organ failure, your body insulates organs using fat.

If you stop and think for a moment, that its not just your brain that handles stress, but every single organ in your body… your heart, your lungs, your liver, your pancreas, your stomach, every organ… then insulting to prevent a burn out ain’t such a bad strategy.

Your body is not stupid. Your body is not rebelling against you when it stuffs insulation between each organ. Your body is working to protect you, to keep you alive. Your body is simply responding to the fact that the stress load you are placing it under is more than it can handle.

Millions upon millions of years of evolution are not working against you, but for you, to keep you alive.  Your body is hoping that it can keep you alive long enough that the threats that you are under that are causing the excessive stress loads will decrease.  Until then, stuffing every crack and crevasse with fat is simply your body being smart about survival.

We need to reconsider the paradigm with which we think about fat, being overweight, and about obesity. It is not calories in vs out, its not willpower, its not laziness or lack of motivation; the issue is much much larger… its about stress.

In fact, its not about stress per se, its about our ability to engage stress in an healthy manner, its about our ability to eliminate, reduce and manage stress, its about our ability to train, preparing to live in a world that is only becoming more and more stressful.

We cannot eliminate stress.  The only people without stress are those in a cemetery 6ft under.

I believe that an electrical model, not a caloric model needs to be considered because at the root of our function, each and every cell in your body is a tiny little battery, a tiny little capacitor, which depends on proper electrical charges existing and flowing across its cell membrane to function properly.

A caloric model of obesity thinks of the human body only as a mechanical object.

The human body cannot be thought of in a steam engine manner… we need to upgrade our model from the steam engine era, to the era of the super computer. An era that is not fueled by calories, but by the flow of electrons.