Category Archives: education

THE MAY CHALLENGE!

My brudder, the Six Pack Doc, has issued a May Challenge that calls for a 10 lb fat loss in one month while getting stronger.
Is that even possible? I think you can either lose fat or gain muscle, but not do both at the same time.
Check it out yourself then!

THE LINES OF HADES

After the minor display of irritation shown by some local youths in Lahore (that the world perversely perceived as a terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team), the ripples are rolling like the surface of a hijab blown by the wind. Cause: comments by the Brits.
Now, we all know how crazy they are.

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(pic: the Jugum penis-UK, 1880-1920, device to prevent incontinence and masturbation)

Look at some of their historic medical devices– a large number being designed unsuccessfully to prevent men from becoming master baiters. They had too much time (and some other things) on their hands. Now, is it not obvious that Chris Broad is as crazy as the rest of them? At least that is the opinion of the 100-odd people in Pakistan who can tell the difference between a bazooka and a mashooka (most people in that peaceful country think they are both names for bombs). Former Pak cricket captain Mr. Javed Miandad, that high priest of reason, has called for Mr. Broad to be banned. A broadband connection is not difficult to make in Pakistan, these days, apparently.

Mr. Younis Khan, current Pak captain, is of the same opinion. Any reasonable man would realise that the world, recession-hit and with free time in hand, is plotting to give a bad name to Pakistan, whose reputation is right up there with Michael Jackson. Mr. Khan has said that “On top of that, if the kids here stop playing cricket when we become pariahs, they will become terrorists”. Which, Government sources say, would be a big deterioration from merely marrying into their families.
All sane men who carry assault rifles to the toilet understand this reality. The problem, as the Government sees it, is how to make the world understand that it (the world) is like a drug addict that needs to wake up.
Elsewhere in the world, Sanjay Gupta refused the offer of US Surgeon General because he wanted more time for watching pornography and self abuse (the technical term he used was ‘marriage’). He was puzzled to note some missed calls from Bill Clinton.
In an interesting coincidence, the New England Journal of Medicine published a paper showing cultural differences in sexual education and the ‘first time’ the young learn to have sex. The ‘Conclusion’ section is reproduced below:

American youth first learn to do sex when they lick ice cream cones or try charging iPods with their asses. A small minority learn sex around the same time they can pronounce the word ‘innocent’.
Indian boys first learn slapping and kicking, while the girls learn to deliver and breast-feed babies and get addicted to K serials, by which time they begin to understand how things might work.
Rich Indian-American boys learn the ‘withdrawal method’ first.

Mr. Sanjay Gupta will soon be doing a live program on this important subject, according to a spokesman identified only as a Mr. Larry K.

WHY NANDAN CANNOT FIND INDIA ON A MAP

I have not had any urge to write all these days, and I can’t say I am in the best of mindsets to do a good job. However, here is a small essay written, with my active help, by my son. I hope you tolerate me for this. You cannot find a drier piece than this, I am sure.

I live in the city of Kolkata, surrounded by dusty buildings, most of them made of bricks, and some of them of a mix of thatch, wood, mud and plastic. The latter type of building makes for the shanties that freely thrive in my neighborhood.
In one such shanty lives Nandan. I have been seeing him for the last two years. Nandan does not study in my school. He works in a garage next door, by the side of the street.
At those times when the ball flies out of the building walls and lands in the garage (whenever we play cricket in our compound), Nandan is found ready with it, handing it over to us reluctantly. I have sometimes heard him being rebuked by his master for wasting time looking for the ball beneath some damaged car or the other.
Nandan looks like a grease monkey. Really. He works on his back, lying on the rough muddy ground and hands over tools to the car mechanic who is his teacher and mentor. As the day goes by, the muddied lubricants from the spare parts of the cars find their way from his hands to his face and neck. The only thing the black paint cannot hide is his brilliant smile. But that is something I have seldom seen.
Nandan does not play with us, as he is busy at work. When we are at school, he is at the workshop, and when we are playing, he is right there. We got talking sometimes, but not much.
While me and my friends are getting plumper watching TV and playing on the computer, he is thin as a rail. He cannot even find his country on a map, I found! He told me one day that he wanted to learn English and maths, and asked about how my school looked. I don’t know whether he believed me when I told him how grand and old my school was.
At home, Nandan gets to eat with his brothers (while I have none), but his mother is too busy with household work to talk to him or put him to sleep. Or else she is too busy fighting with other ladies in the shanties over whose turn it was at the toilet or the water pump. I have seen this many times from my verandah, high up in my building.
I am sure he must be getting bitten all over at night by bugs, while I sleep in comfort a few storeys above him. I sometimes wonder whether I deserve being better off than him, but then, this is not the age when I need to handle tough questions!

THE FAT LOSS PLATEAU AND BEYOND

Long post alert!

Many of you may not have realised (as I have not) that this blog has become one of the most Googled sources of fat loss info in the web.

Oh, sorry! I had initially set for this intro to the post to appear in 2025, so let us not move that far ahead. Restart (not you, moron)!

I am writing on fat loss because of the insistent demands of many of my wild-eyed fans like her. “Rambodoc”, they say in different accents, “When will you shine the light on my fat? When will I lose that handle around my waste waist so that I can start looking as young as you, you delishius hunk of meat, you..” And many, many words to that effect. No, Rads did not say any of this, but we can all expect her, as a mark of her eternal gratitude for this post, to send me one of her used 7-series BMWs or, if she feels cheap, the keys to a property in Manhattan (such low prices these days!) or somewhere. Anywhere, actually.

Okay, let us now get serious here. Restart.

Fat loss stops after the initial effort in a program of diet and/or exercise. This is common knowledge. Let us first see what are the reasons for the fat loss plateau:
1. You are not working out the right way.
2. You are working out the right way (maybe you even have a great coach) but you are not eating right.
3. You are eating less calories, working out long, but your metabolism is too slow, i.e., your body burns calories slowly. A common ‘note to self’ by women, men, older men and women, hypothyroid men and women, post-menopausal women, and some other groups we may have forgotten about.
In the next few thousand words (kidding!) I will give you the juice from the research of around 935 (again!) research articles without boring you to death with the sources.
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(Fat people are easily seen everywhere even in India)

Let us simplify issues: if your body needs 2000 calories as its basic metabolic demand (known as BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate), and if you spend another, say, 400 calories in your activities, then you would need to eat less than 2400 calories a day consistently to run a calorie deficit. Right? Many of us know that you will lose a kilogram of fat if you run up a calorie deficit of around 7000 calories. So, a 500 calorie deficit a day should result in the loss of one kilo of fat in two weeks. A pound a week. Clear?
There are lots of compounding issues to this simple equation, but you still have to keep touching base with this simple reality to achieve fat loss:
Calories burnt must be greater than calories eaten.
The most important way to accelerate fat loss is to eat less calories. Not in working out. Trainers are fond of saying that “you can’t out-train a bad diet”. Very true. Unless you are Michael Phelps who, at last Census, was not known to have met a fat loss plateau.
“Oh, no! He is going to talk of diets? Not again?!” Was that you saying that? Can you see me nodding my head sympathetically, like a politician at election time?
Some more basic truisms:

All diets work. But only for some time.
Diets don’t work by themselves in the long run.

What do we do then? Studies show that only 5 percent of people on a supervised diet manage to sustain weight loss. The rest fail. That includes you and me. Let us, therefore, rephrase this:

Diets don’t work; lifestyles do.
If you do lifestyle, you never feel that you are doing something special or stressful. It comes naturally.
What is this stupid, airy, hair-splitting, you ask?
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(a typical dinner of mine, and ALL mine!)

Many people (author included) follow a lifestyle where you mimic the lifestyle of primitive man (an animal who probably did not have obesity). Which means:
* Eat whole foods that are available in nature.
* Don’t eat processed foods (meaning colas, diet colas, bread, cake, pasta, noodles, biscuits, etcetera).
* Avoid grains (rice, wheat, corn, etc.) and artificial sugars.
* Don’t eat meals at a religious rhythm (like 3 meals a day or 6 meals a day).
* Mimic the movements of primitive man (imagine Caveman Rambo with a pointed object hunting a bore boar): sprinting, waiting, sprinting again, crawling, pulling, pushing (imagine wrestling the boar before killing it finally), lifting heavy weights (taking the hunt back to the cave) and then eating it. If he fails to kill it or find some other source, he starves till the next time.
How will you do this in your 9 to 5 life in the US, UK or India?
Easy. Try these:
1. Don’t jog or walk. Sprint (as if chased by a wild dog in heat) for a few short seconds (take 20-30). Rest for a while (as many seconds as you ran or even a minute). Repeat ten times, or six, depending on your ability. That, ladies and gentlemen, is called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or the Tabata workout (Tabata kept a work:rest ratio of 2:1).
In other words, stop wasting time on those cardio machines in your gym or at home. Four to twenty minutes of hard effort (including the rest periods) is enough cardio for you. A month into this, watch yourself improve your stamina and reduce the inches gradually (remember, you have to give your body time- think of one or two years, in many cases).

2. Push or pull your body weight in major, compound exercises like pull-ups (most women I see are unable to do this unless they are well advanced in fitness), push-ups (keep doing ten more than yesterday), squats, and burpees (the best of them all, I think).

3. Stop doing machine-bound training. In other words, don’t waste time in isolation exercises like biceps curls, preacher curls, pectoral decks, ab trainers, etc. You are not going into a bodybuilding competition, are you? If you want maximum bang for your buck, do the bodyweight exercises above, and also do weight training (squats, deadlifts, or anything that involves pulling or pushing a free weight against gravity).

4. Don’t waste time on ab exercises. Do a couple of planks, holding on till you die. You will have done more than enough for your abs and core stability.

5. Didn’t I say ‘crawl‘?! Yes, I did.
You can do mountain climbers, which is not really crawling, or you can actually go on your hands and feet and climb the stairs, first straight up (head first) or reverse (feet first). This would double as a great cardio workout as well.

Anything else about these exercises? Lots, but suffice it to say that you should train harder than you think possible, and not merely go through the motions. Only then can you see results! Each workout should have a decent volume, which means you could do, for instance, three sets of ten reps for each exercise, with 30-60 seconds rest in between sets. Be strict with the rest periods, avoiding chatting and vacantly meditating.

Let us now move on to nutrition, the cornerstone of fat loss management.

Most people are eating way too much to see results. They are also not eating enough proteins, which reduces their muscle building abilities.
One way to address a fat-loss diet is to cut down on carbs (carbohydrates). This is one of the most tried and tested ways of achieving fat loss. Most of the benefits of a low-carb diet accrue from a total caloric deficit. If you are given the liberty of eating loads of fats and proteins (as in the Atkins diet), you won’t be able to eat all that much for too long. Result: lack of variety in foods leading to weight loss. Someone even lost weight on one month’s continual fast food (McDonald’s, etc.) diet!

Low carb diets are often difficult for many people to follow, for cultural and habit reasons. In such a scenario, losing weight is more difficult, but a caloric deficit needs to be created.

Eating six meals a day (a popular advice for most people) is largely impractical in the long term, not least because designing a diet with such low calories is difficult. Imagine a meal with only 300 calories, for example (if you need to eat six meals within a caloric budget of 1800)! In this regard, a more doable lifestyle is IF: Intermittent Fasting.
In IF, you fast through the day, and then eat within a four hour window. You can choose to fast once a week, or every day, for 15 hours, or 24 hours. Your choice. One of the big things going for IF is that celebrities (like myself) endorse it. I fast for 24 hours once a week, and 15 to 18 hours one or two more days in the week. IF is a lot of posts on its own merit, and check my resources at the end of this chapter post, if you want to learn more. Suffice it to say that it reduces blood insulin levels, is a great way to eat ‘normally’ and yet maintain a caloric deficit. I have found that on the days I fast and then eat in the four hour window, I can’t exceed 1400 calories (I don’t pig out with junk food)!

Does when you eat matter in your fat loss plateau?

Is fasted cardio better than cardio in fed state?

Is breakfast the best meal?!

Dinner is the best meal, and you should avoid breakfast like the plague!

Controversies, controversies! Forget all this, and stick to the basics:
eat clean, work out hard, and be happy. Get enough sleep. Drink less. Be active physically. Read fitness articles and blogs. Enough!

So, if we can sum up, how does one overcome the fat loss plateau?
Reassess your diet (definitely keep an online food journal like FitDay), start IF, train harder than you ever have, change the way you are training, avoid long duration aerobic cardio in lieu of High Intensity Interval Training. Take adequate rest and get enough sleep.

Blogs on Fitness/ Primal Living I silently follow (in no particular order at all):
1. Turbulence Training
2. Fitness Black Book
3. Brian Devlin
4. Health Habits
5. Tom Venuto
6. Caleb Lee
7. Straight To The Bar
8. Mark Sisson’s The Daily Apple
9. Muscle Hack
10. Go Healthy Go Fit
11. Alwyn Cosgrove
12. Son Of Grok
13. Robertson Training Systems
14. The Nate Green Experience
15. Gym Junkies

IF Resources:
1. Brad Pilon
2. The IF Life
3. Leangains

Science-based Nutrition/Fitness sites (heavier stuff):
1. Lyle Macdonald’s Bodyrecomposition
2. Alan Aragon
3. Dr. Michael Eades

I heartily recommend any and all of the above, and I think they contribute hugely to the needs of the public seeking help over the internet. I am also very grateful to them for their advice and availability for people like me and you. I am quite sure I am missing out on some of the others I read, but I hope I can include them later.

Disclaimer: I am not a Fitness or Nutrition guru. I use my medical knowledge and apply it to my personal quest for health and fitness. If you feel the need to heed my advice, you are welcome to, at your own discretion and risk. If you suffer from any physical or mental disease or infirmity, please consult your doctor and get properly (mis)guided!

SMART TECH FOR THE FUTURE

Mark this day as you read this post: you are now officially informed that there are some products certain gifted people who don’t blog are working on, just so that we have a more complicated future in the next decade or two.
For a truly awesome read, try the New Scientist.

Some of the devices that sound as unreal today as Mamata Banerjee’s sanity are as follows:
1. Superman vision: Radar devices the size of briefcases could pass waves through doors and walls and detect the presence of a living man. Think of counter-terrorism.
2. Invisibility Cloaks: we have all read about them in the Wonder Boy’s chronicles. Soon to be a reality, perhaps.
3. Zap-and-stop: A handheld ultrasound device (a high-focus ultrasound) can deliver a zap of sound waves to seal a bleeding vessel. Think US military and DARPA (and the articles I have written on them before).
4. Crouching Tiger Walks: You remember the award-winning Chinese movie where people walk laterally on walls and fly up and down trees as if gravity was only for the rest of us? That could become real in a way, with artificial nano-hairs that can stick to any surface and resist gravitational weights.
5. Jet-log: A backpack on you, and you fly to office. No more pesky office-hour traffic!
6. Translators: personal devices that translate any foreign language while it is being spoken, like they show in that disastrous flick called “From the Subprime to the Ridiculous”, better known as CC2C.
Read that article!

YOU ARE HOW YOU EAT!

According to a Japanese study published in the British Medical Journal, if you eat fast, and you eat till you are full, you are likely to be fatter: by three times! What you eat makes you fat, how much you eat also does so, but how you eat is also important. Weight gain from eating fast or till fullness is independent of total energy intake.
It makes sense for weight-watchers to eat slowly. The more you chew your food, the faster the satiety. If you are prone to gulp down your food, you tend to eat more. This is why television dinners are such an important factor in weight gain, especially in children. Among the interventions recommended to reduce the obesity epidemic in school children, reducing the time television is watched has been considered one of the most important.
In the Japanese study, eating fast till fullness is associated with insulin resistance, a condition that accounts for that pot belly that is so troublesome to get rid of.
Moral of the story: eat slowly, like the Italians, and eat smaller, more frequent meals.

A MODERN JUNGLE STORY

Disclaimer: The following is a true story, and any resemblance to any real person, place or event is purely coincidental.
If you are one of those dial-up losers, please go hunt a whale and come back while the page finishes loading. The exercise will hopefully be worthwhile. For fuller details, click on each picture. And bring your kids! Here goes…

Not so long ago, far away from Hopeful Capes,

and a few hundred miles away from the surreally beautiful, jacaranda-lined streets of the city named after Andries Pretorius,

an African sun was slowly setting in the breathtaking bleakness of a long-awaited spring in the jungle.

A black princess named Hopeful was heading in the direction of Wall Street for a long drink with her friends.

She strayed away from her more conservative friends while chatting up a flirting Prince Subprime, the latter clad in a dapper, striped suit. “Come on, in vest with me, heheh”, the suit smirked.

Suddenly, Princess Hopeful was attacked by a violent group of blood-thirsty animals. Prince Subprime ran away in fear. He had only heard of a bear run, but what was this?

In a few minutes, Princess Hopeful was dead meat.

The world watched by, ostrich-like.

“No one was willing to stick his neck out for the princess”, she cried.

No, not even the heavyweights.

The big cat was sated, having had the lion’s share of the killing,

but his cohorts were behaving like Lehmann executives. In no time, the vultures flew in to take stock, and then waited patiently for payday.

Watching all this, an obscure Indian celebrity turned away indifferently, eager for relief from the heat and dust of jungle politics.

He was tired of the constant sale sell-offs. Every dip is a buying opportunity, the stock market pundits used to say. He was tired of buying.

By next day, he heard someone say, “The bulls are finished”, and wondered what it meant.

Want more stories? There is a Buffett ready!

(Pictures: all mine, taken with a simple Sony Cybershot 7.2 MP camera)