Trying To Find One’s Way

In the time that this site has existed, it’s been both a masculinity blog built in part to support a book I wrote on the subject and it’s been a blog dedicated to all aspects of personal defense.

In each case, I’ve intentionally created what the goal is to be. I’ve decided I would write on X topic and only X topic here at the site. This is the standard operating procedure for blogs. It’s what I’d done in the past to varying degrees of success and it’s what all the advice posts on starting a blog tell you to do.

Yet, in the year since I refocused this site, I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that I’m not talking nearly as much about some stuff as I thought I would.

Which means that I’m not actually creating the site I intended.

The question is, is that good or is that bad?

Continue reading “Trying To Find One’s Way”

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Thursday Thoughts: There Is No ‘One True Way’

Anywhere you go on the internet, you’re bound to come across people who will tell you that there is One True Way to whatever your goals are, that you have to follow their routine precisely or else you might as well just pull into McDonald’s and gorge yourself.

The thing is, I’m someone who delves into things deeply when I get interested in them. I become something of a sponge, absorbing all the information I can find. With fitness, it’s been no different.

Over time, things change, and so even if I forgo fitness for a while, I still come back and delve in deep. I need to see what’s changed, what new information has science provided.

Because of that, I’ve learned one really great lesson about health and fitness: There is no One True Way.

Continue reading “Thursday Thoughts: There Is No ‘One True Way’”

Breakthroughs

Do you ever have that moment where something that kicked your butt the last time you encountered it gets shattered all to hell and back the next time you run into it?

Well, that happened to me earlier today, and it’s awesome.

Let me back up a bit. A little over a month ago, I hit a deadlift attempt for five reps but could only do four. I just didn’t have a fifth rep in me. I know, I tried.

It was right before I what Starting Strength calls a reset. Basically, you take some weight off the bar and work back up. In theory, this will let you shatter through the previous wall. It makes sense, at least for a novice lifter.

I hit the deadlift wall, then an overhead press wall, so it was time for a reset.

Today, I had to attempt the same weight I failed on a month ago. Guess what?

I kicked it in the balls. Continue reading “Breakthroughs”

Independence, Defiance, And Being Ready To Rock

Today is Independence Day, the day we celebrate the birth of our nation. I’d had another post planned for today, but bumped it because, well, I didn’t realize that Wednesday was July 4th. It’s an important day for any true-blooded American. It needs to be addressed.

Thinking about Independence Day, I couldn’t help but think about so many of those who fought to break free of the oppression they saw coming from the British Crown. Men who stood against aggression from not just hostile natives but a malevolent government.

There’s a lot to respect there.

Now, let me get started by saying that if you start with the whole “they stole land from those natives” crap and decide to bash those men, don’t expect your comments to see the light of day. While that’s a topic that gets debated regularly, I’m not interested in debating it here. Understood?

Now, with that out of the way, let’s look at what those men were like and what we can learn from them. Continue reading “Independence, Defiance, And Being Ready To Rock”

Beware The Snake Oil Part 2

Please check out Part One of this diatribe before continuing. 

There are people in the world of fitness and personal defense that seem to enjoy notoriety more than anything else. They seem to advance ideas and take a tone that makes them seem gruff, no-nonsense kind of guys. Manly men.

What these guys often do is create cults of personality surrounding them, filled with adoring sycophants who want nothing more than to emulate their beloved leader.

These are what I refer to as Fanboys.

Fanboys are people who embrace the snake oil so completely, any and all skepticism or criticism of the snake oil is perceived–and not entirely unjustly so–as an attack on them and their decision-making abilities. After all, they reached a different decision than you did, thus you not accepting their decision as the right one means you think they’re a moron.

Of course, in many cases, it’s because they’re morons.

Anyway, the Fanboys will brook no criticism of their beloved icon, but what is it their beloved icon is selling them? In some cases, it’s nothing particularly new. Instead, it’s usually some older snake oil with a slight twist. Occasionally, it’s something legitimate with a snake oil twist that the huckster will claim makes the whole thing work.

Either way, those who buy into the snake oil become convinced by their Alpha-Male leader that this works so well that they can’t even listen to outside criticism without finding a way to dismiss it.

I’m not talking about all rival approaches to fitness. I’m not claiming there’s a One True Way, either. While I do think there’s an optimal “way” to achieve any goal, that way is probably different for each goal and each person. I’m also not arrogant enough to think I’ve discovered it. Not yet, anyway.

Mark Rippetoe proposes gaining strength by lifting barbells with certain lifts at certain times. Louie Simmons has a much different approach to gaining strength.

Who is right? Damned if I know.

What I do know is that both have proponents primarily because both have shown their systems work. Yes, Rippetoe thinks his system is best. I’m pretty sure Simmons does too.

Where they diverge from the Snake Oil Hucksters is in the fact that they can defend their programs with real-world results. I’ve seen many proponents of each comment that the other system does indeed increase strength. In other words, neither man has really gone about putting together Fanboys.

In short, they sell something that clearly works. Further, they don’t attack skepticism as if their lives depend on it. They respond with a measured approach with a factual defense of their system.

Not only that, but neither man presents his program as the greatest thing since sliced bread. At least, not that I’ve seen.

Instead, they present it as a proven system to get stronger. Both can show you the proof.

BAM!

The difference is that most hucksters know they can’t present evidence. They don’t have a long track record of proven results.

Further, most hucksters have had to create something so radical, something so very different from the norm, all so they can be the One True Way. That makes it virtually impossible for them to show results except for the tainted, manipulated results we’ve come to expect from the fitness industry.

 

Then, if that’s not enough, the huckster will further try and manipulate things to make them look like the One True Way. Take the guy who triggered this whole, two-day rant. Blowing up at someone who admitted skepticism but was still open-minded to his approach wasn’t enough.

No, yesterday he started offering a giveaway to those who reviewed his book. In other words, he’s bribing people to leave a review of his book…but we all know it’s only for a good one.

I may be cynical, but it’s a cynicism born from experience.

Unfortunately, it becomes very difficult to differentiate between the huckster and the guy with a devote following if he’s just that different. Take Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. He takes a very radical approach to fitness and health, very different than what most experts are saying. His fans love him, and many are truly Fanboys.

However, I’ve never seen Mark cultivate this. What he’s proposing makes sense, and while he advocates it as the best way to get fit, he doesn’t feel the need to tear people down over it. He appears to prefer to let the results speak for themselves.

And therein lies the difference.

If there’s one thing that separates the huckster from the radical thinker, it’s that the need to destroy criticism. They can’t trust science to back them up, they can’t trust results to back them up, they can’t trust anything except their own prowess with…well, whatever.

So please, do beware of these people. They prey on the desperate, those who want nothing more than to get healthy as quickly and easily as possible. They prey on that desire and really don’t care about getting people healthier.

Don’t get suckered in.

Beware The Snake Oil

Regardless of where you are with your physical health, there are people out there who claim to know the secret. They swear up and down that they and they alone know the path to a healthier you.

Yesterday on social media, I encountered one of these guys. He’d made a joke and, though skeptical of what he was selling, it was the kind of joke I respect. As a result, I mentioned being skeptical of the program, but jokes like that made me really want to give it a try.

After all, I tend to believe there’s more than one way to the Promised Land. Continue reading “Beware The Snake Oil”

DDP Yoga – The Aftermath: Part 1

So it’s been about 24-hours since I completed the first day of DDP Yoga, which gives me a bit of an opportunity to talk a bit about how that went.

First, I’m not feeling particularly sore, which I would have thought I would have despite the relatively easy effort required doing what’s called the Diamond Dozen.

Of course, that’s not particularly surprising because the Diamond Dozen is really more of a lesson on what the moves are and how to do them. Yoga is all about postures, and you have to do them properly to get the most out of them. Diamond Dozen is about covering those bases so you can start the first real workout with at least some knowledge of just what the hell you’re doing.

Even so, I still expected some soreness.

Of course, I do have a bit…in my wonky shoulder. Continue reading “DDP Yoga – The Aftermath: Part 1”