Life is about choices


Paleo Diet – an update


You may recall that in February 2011 I started on a new eating plan - following the Paleo Diet.

It kinda went to the pack when the big quake hit Christchurch on Feb 22. I managed to stay more or less grain and sugar free, but ate heaps of processed foods.

Some may well ask why I went off the eating plan.  Well it’s simple – with no running water, or power, so it was MUCH easier to eat some spare protein bars, or drink things like UpandGo (a pre-made breakfast drink) than prepare food.  While traditionally neither of these foods is ‘bad‘ for you, they are far from paleo, breaking what is my view is one of the most fundamental tenants – more FOOD less STUFF.   Enuf excuses though.  That lasted about a week, and then I slowly got back on it.

In this post I will cover three four things:

  1. An update on my eating plan and the results
  2. An update on my exercise regimen (both immediately post earthquake, and more recently)
  3. My results
  4. A reminder about what paleo eating is based on, and where I think MANY paleo writers get it wrong

1) My Eating now

As outlined above, I have gone back on the paleo diet (or as I have explained before, I prefer to call it an eating plan).

I have followed a reasonably strict routine.  What I am strick on is:

  • No intentionally eating grains (including bread of course) of any kind, so no pasta, bread, flour (baked goods), pastry etc
  • No intentional legumes (including peanuts) of any kind (I regard grains as a no go and legumes as an avoid)
  • Lots of veges – and as much raw as I can.
  • I eat lots of meat – good quality meat, including fish.
  • Moderate amount of nuts and eggs
  • A BIG focus on cutting down on sugar (it’s evil remember!)

What I am not super strict on:

  • If I suspect there is trace amounts of flour (or similar) in something as a small ingredient, and I otherwise would eat the item, I go for it
  • If I go to a friends place for dinner I don’t say No to anything other than bread.  If they are serving pasta I would just tell them in advance I don’t eat it.  But otherwise (almost) anything goes, and just don’t intentionally pile on anything I wouldn’t normally eat if I have the choice
  • I drink wine.  Mostly no more than 1 or 2 glasses in a day.
  • I’ll eat root veges like kumara and carrots.  Some say this is a no-no.  I do agree no to potato (for reasons specific to potato)
  • I have eaten desert one or two times in the last month that was sugary (and processed)
  • I eat some dairy – mainly cheese in things like salad.  How could anyone say no to halloumi cheese?

I want to be clear I do not worry about fat intake, nor do I worry about carb intake for that matter (although my total carb intake would be low by most standards).   I do focus on keeping sugars down (nothing natural about that), and eating food, not stuff.

I was in South Africa for a week – and lucky the hotel I was in for 4 days had an AWESOME buffet breakfast.  So when I was there I made good use of it.  Got up at 6am (which was really like 4pm for me), and went to the gym, showered then went for breakfast.  Ate HEAPS of bacon and eggs.  Also ate steak and/or mince, and bacon.  Then some yogurt, and some more bacon.  If I had room I ate some more bacon. 1-2 cups of coffee too.

Normally I eat a couple of eggs for breakfast (now I am home) and for lunch have a salad (pre-made from home, or just bought from somewhere I know has them – even Subway works for that), and throw on some extra meat.  Dinner is some nice meat, plus veges – either pre-cooked (like roasted veges, cubed), or a salad, or a combination of both.  And when I say salad I mean NICE salad.  Stuff like cashew nuts, halloumi cheese, chicken breast, grilled capsicum (olive oil works super well here since its lowish heat), bree or camembert, salmon (poached, grilled, smoked – any way is good), some super fresh lettuce etc.    That reminds me of another point – I am no longer grazing (ie eating 4-5 meals a dfay).  I eat 3 main meals.  Of course I will eat whenever I am hungry, but this is more around the 3 times a day now, not 5.

Oh, and I drink less coffee (because i don’t feel like drinking as much)

2) My Exercise Now

Since Feb 22, most of the gyms in Christchurch have been closed.  So for a over two weeks  any resistance training was problematic.  Three weeks later I started back 2-3 times a week (a combination of training out of a small city based club, and using clubs when I traveled).   I am back to a semi-regular pattern, of 3, sometimes 4 gym sessions a week.

By comparison I used to train 5 times a week – 3 heavy weight training days, two light, and 2 days off (in a row).   My regular week now would be 3 heavy days, sometimes 1 light workout and 3 (sometimes 4) days off (at least two in a row).

I continue to train with a 10 minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine at the start of most workouts on a rower (20 second bursts, followed by 40 seconds of rest) x 10 (3 of which are warm ups – so its really only 7 that are full on).  Then 45-50 minutes of resistance training.  Mainly compound exercisers, and normally train to failure in the majority of sets.  I do lots of exercisers that engage the core (like squats) but no crunches or similar.

3) My results

In the last month I have trained less, and eaten more (a lot more), but been quite focused on WHAT I eat.

The results:

  • I feel great – this is probably the best result of all
  • An unintentional benefit: I have now the best body composition I have ever had.  Around 10% body fat (at that level I have abs showing), and have actually built a few kg of muscle in the last month.
  • I get to eat HEAPS of cool foods.  I don’t feel like I sacrifice a lot – I guess I could say I wouldn’t mind bread with olive oil before a nice dinner out, but if I had a choice of that or bacon, or say that or halloumi cheese, then bread gets the kick anyway

4) Where I think many Paleo writers get it wrong

When doing the initial spiel about paleo, most paleo books or blogs start by explaining it all about eating how we used to eat – for hundreds of thousands of years, before we settled down and started to consume grains and such like about 5-10 thousand year ago.  Many go to great lengths to explain how eating meat enabled our brains to grow, and how, in particular, having high density foods (calorie wise) was a good thing for us in evolutionary  / section terms.  They also explain how grains aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and how sugar is just unnatural (even modern day fruits if quite unlike how most fruit used to be).  Some of the more scientific writers go on to explain that many of the nutritional concepts that we think are gospel (low fat is good for you etc) are just wrong, and in fact only really came around in the last 20-30 years (what’s fascinating to me is that the low fat modus-operandi has been around slightly longer than the obesity epidemic – coincidence?)

So far so good.  Except many then go on to say when choosing meat, we should choose low fat.  Ummm, why?  Where did this come from?  What’s paleo about that?   In fact what’s paleo about cut out animal fat or even cut out saturated fat?   I think many writers didn’t read their chapter one when they wrote chapter five! There is NOTHING inherently good about low fat.   Well let me rephrase that – all other things being equal lower ANYTHING can help with weight loss, but focusing on fat as something to always cut off (or out) is flawed and un-needed.  Weight loss, while the goal of many, should now be assumed as the goal of every person on an eating plan.  And moreover, as I have said many times (and may paleo writer go on about this at length) if you want to eliminate one thing from your diet and get amazing results (including weight loss) – eliminate sugar (especially fructose and anything like high fructose corn syrup).  If there is one thing to focus on when looking at fat: look at the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in your diet.

So I want to finish on a positive and say what Paleo eating is:

  • It’s eating more FOOD and less STUFF
  • It’s a return to eating what we are (as humans) designed to eat: Lots of veges and meat, moderate amounts of fruit (esp berries), nuts and eggs.
  • Eliminate eating food that we aren’t designed to eat (and/or ones that try to not be eaten) such as grains, legumes, potatoes
  • Exercise Paleo (think Paleo = how we used to do it thousands of tears ago) too – short bursts of intense stuff, (gym is excellent for this!) followed by lots of rest
  • Focus on little or no (if you do the above this will happen naturally, but keep an eye on it anyway – especially if you aren’t being super strict)

Black and White Version: For me the paleo diet has been a great success.  Together with paleo exercise, it has given me a great feeling, awesome physical results, and I get to eat lots of tasty food.

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Drinking age in NZ – there isn’t one!


Drinking Age Debate in New Zealand

Once again a group starts on a rant about raising the drinking age in NZ.  There is quite a bit wrong with the argument, but probably the most significant is that there ISN’T a drinking age in NZ, there is a PURCHASE age.  And yes, there IS a big difference!

The media keep getting it wrong.  Case and point is the NZ Herald back in NOV last year – the headline is all about Drinking Age Legislation.  The headline is 100% misleading, but the 1st paragraph gets it right:

Legislation introducing the change to a split drinking age will be one step closer after it is tabled in Parliament next week, Justice Minister Simon Power says.

But the journalist then reports the correct facts in the next paragraph without seeing the error in the headline.  There is no drinking age, and the proposed changes don’t talk about one either!

The drinking/purchase age issue is explained well on KiwiBlog, but in a nutshell I agree with DPF on this.  I also think there are two issues with drinking in NZ, and the purchase age actually isn’t one of those issues.  My view is the two big alcohol issues are:

  • Lack of a drinking age
  • Binge drinking behaviour in NZ

Raising the purchase age doesn’t fix any of these. The problem with the ban it brigade is that it restricts and punishes the majority from based on the behaviour of the minority.  Just like saying let’s ban alcohol in all public council spaces sounds like a good policy to stop louts getting drunk and ruining it for others, but it also says you can’t have a picnic in a park with a glass of wine, or fish and chips and a beer on the beach on a Sunday evening.  The correct solution is MUCH harder than banning something – it actually involves targeting those that ruin it for others, finding them and using teh existing laws in NZ to punish them (or at the very least stop them from doing it again).  Oh yes, but this is hard.  Banning something is MUCH easier (and of course doesn’t fix the problem, coz the minority who ruin it for everyone else will in many cases just ignore the ban anyway).

I have the same problem with a drinking age of 21.  At 18 a person can get married, flight for their country (in fact be drafted if there is a war), be charged for any offense as an adult.  In fact there isn’t ANYTHING they can’t do as an adult. Oh wait, except drink some would have you believe.  Yeah right, that’s the most important thing in my list (btw, that was sarcasm in case you missed it).

Some argue all about how teenagers are drinking too much and dieing of alcohol poisoning, or drinking and driving.  Well IMO, NONE of this would be fixed by having a higher purchase age.  Just like some people drink 10 x the adult limit and drive and kill someone, calls for people to lower the alcohol limit when driving.  Well sorry, that’s not going to solve anything.  As I said above the 2nd problem NZ has is binge drinking.  And THAT should be addressed, but not by raising any purchase age.

Banning something won’t changing behaviour.  So banning 19 year olds from drinking won’t stop a small minority from binge drinking and driving, or drinking till they kill themselves.  The focus needs to be on education, not banning stuff for everyone.

Black and White Version: Media and lobby groups need to get it right.  There is no drinking age laws in NZ.  There is only a purchase age for alcohol.  The lack of a drinking age, and binge drinking are the issues.

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a pride

Hug a Gay Day 2nd Feb 2011


International Hug a Gay Day

OMG, how did I (almost) miss this one this year!

Yes, 2nd February is once again international hug a gay day (it’s the 4th Annual Hug A Gay day).

Last year I posted about how many were confused about what is was for, and how to hug a gay, so I produced a quick guide.  The full Hug a Gay Day guide is here, and the unwritten rules for Hug a Gay day here, but in a nutshell:

  • Anyone can hug a gay today (best to ask 1st)
  • Gay guys hugging gay guys is OK – but you do that anyway right?   So its more about str8 mates hugging you to show how cool and modern and metro (if they are a guy) they are.
  • Self hugs don’t count (even if you are gay)

The most common question I still get is How long should I hug for? And my reply is that my gay friends said no more than 5 seconds, my straight mates said (on average), around 3.  So let’s say under 4 seconds.  Better still, let’s make it catchy:  Hug for 3, and you’ll be free, hug for 4, and you might get more. (Did that make any sense?  Can you tell I don’t write jingles for a living?)

Oh, and the how to hug video in case you missed it:

Black and White Version: Hug a gay day is back!   Go on do it, I know you want to!

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Labour and National – Recent Economic Policy Announcements


Both Labour and National have announced various economic policies for New Zealand over the least few days. (although the media seam more interested in Goff’s hair dye, maybe coz that’s more interesting?)

The mainstream media, and plenty of blogs give plenty of views and in depth commentary, so here’s my back and white take on them both.  Before I start the context needs to be set:

  • NZ (and most of the world) just out of a global recession
  • NZ borrowing $300m a week just to fund current activities
  • Govt expenditure as a % of GDP extremely high (ver 40%) due to massive growth in last 10 years (almost 50%)
  • NZ close to a downgrade from credit rating agencies due to high dept and future borrowing – something needs to be done (downgrade means higher interest rates in NZ – hits everyone).

Richard’s Black and White Summary

The summary Labour: Up to 1st $5,00 tax free Partial sale of selected Govt assets floated, as part of 2011 election policy
Good, bad, other? Stupid.  Aimed at vote catching. Interesting.  Novel.  Courageous even
The good Everyone gets some cash.

Frees up capital for other projects.

Being on selected assets ony , we know what we are voting for.

Means (ultimately) less borrowing.

The bad Not feasible.  It will cost 1.1billion, and even a new top tax will only collect in 30% of that.  The rest is made up with reducing tax evasion, but in fact introducing a new top tax bracket will only make tax avoidance happen more through income shifting.  remember Labour also has a policy of no GST on fruit and veges – costing a further 250 million in lost revenue.  We have to BORROW this!

Some wont like “selling stuff”.

In a perfect world we wouldn’t sell anything some would say, but I think AirNZ is a perfect example of how it can (and does) work well.

Feasibility? It isnt. Very.

Overall rating

(our of 5 stars)

Two stars (only coz some uninformed people will vote for it) Four stars

Black and White Version: Labour still has no vision.  National shows that you can put options to the people to vote on.

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Christchurch earthquake, insurance and milking sympathy


By now everyone knows about the recent Christchurch earthquakes. Well OK, not everyone.  For the Americans reading this: New Zealand (which is NOT part of Australia – think down a bit and a tad to the right) had a major earthquake (7.1) hit our 2nd biggest city.  No one died, but a fair bit of damage, especially to our older buildings in the CBD.

Anyway, I want to jump the gun on a media story, before it happens.  You see I am just waiting in dread for the oh woe is me story about how some person who didn’t have insurance has now lost everything.  Here’s how it will go:

  • Picture of mum and kid looking very unhappy with some broken stuff of some kind
  • Something about some special need for the kid, or a special toy or something
  • Details of how someone cried when they found it was broken
  • Some add on  about not being able to afford insurance

It MIGHT be worse, in that maybe the item wasn’t broken by the earthquake, but stolen by bad people after the earthquake.


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More news – one person stuffs up so they want everyone punished


Today I read in the Christchurch Press for a Call to rid pubs of pokies, after a women gambled away all of her money.

I was interested to see what  the angle on this was – did the pubs do bad stuff to trick her, or was there some underlying issue with the way pokies are run?

No .. it’s simpler than that, as quoted:

Christchurch woman Lynette Whale, who lost everything she owned including her home, to pokie-machine addiction, said she hoped Gamble Free Day would raise awareness and mobilise people.

“I want to let people know that they can say no,” she said.

So let’s get this right: Ms Lynette’s message is “People can say no”.  Hmmm.  Well I have a few issues with that

  1. If it was that easy, why didn’t SHE say no?  Clearly it’s not that easy (for some)
  2. If saying no is the answer then great, leave it to people to say no, we don’t need to ban anything.
  3. Why is it that because SOME people can’t control their behavior EVERYONE has to be punished (ie banning them).


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AirNZ gets innovative (yet again). Proper sleepers for us plebs in cattle class?


AirNZ is once again about to be rather innovative with it’s new economy class (or ‘cattle class’ as many call it) layout.

While they are keeping tight lipped about the exact layout, there is rumours of even lie fly economy class beds (and here)

Regardless of what they do, AirNZ is pretty good at being highly innovative such a:

As report by the NZ Herald

Air New Zealand’s long-haul passengers flew further than most and for that reason the airline was concentrating on comforts in the cabin, rather than leaping into connectivity with the ground

So true.  They have the right focus.

I have often said, that there is enough SPACE is economy class for everyone to lie down, but not the correct layout (yet).   Next time you are on a long haul flight (so not across the Tasman or around the pacific – but anything big enough to warrant a 767/777/747 sized plane) you will see there is lots of space UP that’s not used.  If you are good at moving 3D objects in your mind – image your entire economy class row sliding down and lying flat, and at the same time the row in front sliding flat but at the same time going up above you.  So the end result is two rows of bunks.  See, enough room!   There are a number of issues with this such as the weight of the system to move the seats (adding lots of costs to flying the plane) and also issues with going to the toilet).  Anyway, the point I am making is the SPACE is there, what airlines need to do is be more innovative with HOW they use the space.  I have done enough 12 hours flights in seats that recline less than my office chair to know how hard it is to sleep like that, so any significant improvement will be very welcome (and unique amongst airlines).

I am hopefully AirNZ will be up to the task, and at the very least make a better system for economy class seats.  I for one will be watching this space.

Now all they need to do is build sound-proof booths for crying babies! (I think this one needs its own post!)

Black and White Version: AirNZ continues to be innovative.  Economy class may not suck quite so much soon!

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Sprinter vs marathon runner

Exercise, food and weight loss – the low down


OK, this post is something I have been meaning to write for quite some time.  Consistent with the idea behind this site (i.e. black and white), it’s gonna get straight to the point, make a bunch of assumptions, and say “how it is” in very simple language. You should therefore read the disclaimer at the end :-)   Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE ignore any ads from pages I link to, I like the content on the pages, but seldom the ads!

I have come to the views on this page thought my experience in the fitness industry (20 years plus as of 2010), talking to some of the worlds leading experts on exercise when I travel the world at attend exercise conferences and generally my own research, experience, and collected views on things.

The VERY short version:

  1. Do any exercise
  2. Worry less about calories and more about WHAT you eat
  3. If you already exercise do MORE of Resistance Training, do MORE of High Intensity Interval Training, do LESS of Steady State Cardio (especially long runs) and do ANYTHING you enjoy
  4. It’s OK to ask for help – get a Personal Trainer, or even a friend to exercise with

That’s it.  End of post.  Well almost, let me explain it a little more, actually, let me explain A LOT:


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I’m a VERY lucky guy, and here’s why


In the last 3 weeks the following has happened to me, and they all indicate I am a VERY fortunate person, with a great life

  1. I got MAJOR sunburn (8 hours of exposure on my back, without sunblock – oooops).
  2. I feel over running my puppy on a cliff face shingle track and grazed my leg badly
  3. My puppy wakes me at 3am in the morning barking at hedgehogs
  4. My motorbike has a flat/dead battery, which is now so stuffed it’s dead and wont start even after a 3 day charge.
  5. I smashed my finger between 2 bits of metal (I was hitting one hard with the other one at the time)

Lucky eh?  Let me explain … (more…)

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NZ rated in top 5 places to live – with a catch.


This is good – NZ has been rated one of the top 5 countries to live.

However what made me laugh was this paragraph:

That’s up four places from ninth last year, when the magazine described the country as an Antipodean outpost, “stunning” but with “drawbacks” such as being 12 hours from the United States and the difficulty with immigrating here.

For most people being 12 hours from the US is an advantage :-)

Black and White Version: I love living in New Zealand.

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