Connecting Dots

  1. All of the blood in your body circulates through your eyes about 8 times an hour.
  2. A cutting edge medical treatment involves extracting patient’s blood, and irradiating it with UV light before reinjecting it, to take advantage of UV’s powerful anti-microbial effects.

So what are the odds that wearing sunglasses all summer long is actually short-circuiting an ingenious aspect of your evolved immune system?

Perspective

In a Japanese class in college, we once had a conversation about disgusting foods. By American standards, we were all adventurous eaters. But there were still some Japanese food items, like natto, that we just couldn’t stomach.

But what about American foods, we wanted know. Weren’t there foods that our native-Japanese professor thought were repulsive?

Yes, he told us, grimacing at the thought. Bagels. The taste, the texture. As gross as it gets.

Yolked

When I was a kid, my mother was obsessed with food safety. Handle raw chicken, and you were in need of full-body disinfecting. Cook burgers, and you’d best crisp them to a germ-free, well-done briquet. And when sushi first hit the San Francisco scene? Forget about it. I mean, raw fish!

From that childhood, I’d been inculcated with a fear of runny egg yolks, presumably a salmonella-laden path to near-instant death. At the same time, I also hated the texture of hard-boiled egg yolks. So, between the two, I was sure I hated runny eggs.

A few years ago, however, I fell in love with the spaghetti carbonara at Otto. And in trying to replicate the dish at home, I discovered that the secret to their version is egg yolks; lots and lots of egg yolks. (Like five yolks and one whole egg.)

Which, in turn, made me think that perhaps I didn’t dislike runny yolks after all. And, in fact, it turns out I don’t. At age 34, I tried eggs Benadict for the first time, and suddenly understood why the dish is so perennially popular. At Landmarc, one of my go-to breakfast meeting spots, I’ve switched to ordering my eggs poached, which smush together particularly well with their diner-style hash browns. (Side note: why does NYC serve breakfast potatoes everywhere instead of real hash browns? Terrible.)

I know I’ve previously observed that simply doing things the way you always do things isn’t a particularly good life strategy, that it makes sense to question our assumptions and look for better ways. But, as with most pieces of life wisdom, it’s easier said than lived.

So perhaps it’s a good reminder of that to discover that I’ve cheated myself out of decades of enjoying a now favorite food. As they say, looks like the yolks on me.

Twitchy

Douglas Adams once observed that, as we age, we start thinking differently about new technologies:

"Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

I thought of that quote recently, when Google acquired Twitch for more than a billion dollars.

You may have missed the news. Probably because you, like pretty much everyone I’ve talked with over the age of 30, has never even heard of Twitch.

So, allow me to explain: Twitch is a site where you can watch other people play video games.

That’s right. It’s a website where you watch video of the player’s screen, sometimes with a picture-in-picture video of the person’s face, too, while they play a video game. You don’t play; you just watch them do it. And, somehow, Tweens are on the site watching for hours at a time. Enough so that Google deemed it a billion dollars of eyeballs worth.

To me, however, it seems patently absurd. A sure sign I’m now over the hill, and losing my sense of tech cool.

I had a similar feeling this week, when I ran into a young guy I had wanted to hire as a designer for one of our portfolio companies. I had emailed him previously, and hadn’t heard back. I had Facebook messaged him, too, thinking perhaps he didn’t use email much. Nothing.

Oh, he told me when we met. He didn’t really use Facebook or email. Mostly he just communicated with his friends via Snapchat, and two or three other apps I’d never even heard of.

Ever precocious, I’m a year ahead on Adams’ 35-year cutoff for becoming a technologically-confused old man. It seems I have nothing to look forward to now but decades and decades of all my appliances perpetually flashing 12:00.

PB6

Speaking of fitness magazine content, one question I get pinged about a bunch by editors is: what’s the best way to eat for fitness results?

Obviously, that’s a deep rabbit hole, filled with layer upon layer of nutrition science, and wildly extensive protocols designed to juice the last percentage points of performance or appearance by elite competitors.

For most people, however, the answer is simple: PB6, or Paleo Before Six (O’clock). Standing on the shoulders of countless experts much smarter on nutrition than me, this approach synthesizes a whole lot of best practices into a single, easy to implement yet highly effective approach.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Skip breakfast. Have some coffee instead. (If you’re really feeling saucy, you can put butter and/or coconut oil into your coffee.)
  2. Eat strict, low-carb Paleo for lunch and any before–6:00pm snacks. That means meat, seafood, green vegetables, seeds and nuts. If you can tolerate it well, full-fat dairy is good, too.
  3. 3–5 times a week, do a CrossFit workout late afternoon / early evening. Go hard.
  4. If it kicked your ass (i.e., you have the post-WOD shakes), drink some chocolate milk immediately after.
  5. Stuff your face with whatever you want for the balance of the evening.
  6. On the days that you didn’t do a WOD, keep eating low-carb Paleo for the rest of the night.

That’s it.

(And, yes, this is similar to aspects of Leangains, the Warrior Diet, the Renegade Diet, Carb Backloading, the Paleo Diet, eating Primal, etc., etc.)

Do this for a couple of months, and you’ll gain muscle and lose fat without hating your life. It’s not rocket science, but it works.

Lifts for Ladies

Though I don’t often link to them here (as the articles are tough to find online), I sometimes end up sourced as a training expert in publications that range from Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness to Shape, Self and Seventeen.

Usually, what ends up in the magazine is just a few pull quotes, and a workout pictorial based on my recommendations. So I realized I might as well also start cataloguing my full responses to magazine requests here.

Find below, at the request of Health magazine, “seven lady-friendly moves for the weight room.” One great way to learn all seven is to join a CrossFit gym. (I can recommend one!) But if you want to work out at home, or in a gym to which you already belong, the below can certainly get you started.

As is pretty much always the case, these lifts for ladies are also great lifts for guys. If you don’t currently use any of them in your workouts, try them out!

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Below, find seven lady-friendly moves for the weight room. I tried to focus in on movements that are easy to learn and to perform safely, but that pack a lot of fitness punch.

In my experience, most women don’t want to look like bodybuilders, so a lot of dude lifting classics (cf., the bicep curl) aren’t great choices. Instead, they’d rather look like athletes, so they should probably train like athletes. Hence the seven movements here, which are core choices I’d use in training someone like a triathlete or pro volleyball player.

Unlike the bicep curl, which is an ‘isolation movement’ (it hits just one muscle), all seven of these are ‘compound movements’, which use a bunch of muscle groups at the same time. Those movements are more effective for building strength that transfers out of the gym and into the real world, and they’re more efficient, as you can get a full-body workout with less movements and therefore in less time.

According to the exercise physiology research, if you’re using weights heavy enough to be safe yet challenging for these moves, you could even do just a single set of 8–10 reps of each movement, two to three times a week, and see solid results.

To the movements!

  1. Goblet Squat. The squat is the king of lifts from an athletic perspective, and there’s no faster way to strengthen and tone your upper legs. Barbell squats (what you normally see in the weight room) are a great movement, but they require real coaching to safely master. The goblet squat is an easy to learn alternative, and can be done with less equipment (either a single dumbbell or a kettlebell), yet still packs a serious punch.Here’s a good article on form.
  2. KB Deadlift.. If the squat is the king of lifts, the deadlift is the queen – and it’s probably the best booty exercise there is. Like the squat, this also hits your upper leg, and it works the muscles in your back and core. Here, too, the barbell version of the lift is a great choice, if you have some good coaching and instruction. However, a kettlebell, or a dumbbell stood on its end (you can hold onto the top of the weight, rather than the handle ), makes an easy to learn but equally effective movement.Two good videos, here and here.
  3. DB Press. To rock a tank top, you need to hit your shoulders and arms, which means pressing. Instead of a bench press, I’d recommend an overhead press, as it’s a much more functional, athletic movement – you’ll be set the next time you’re on a flight, and need to put your bag into the overhead bins!Video.
  4. KB Swing. Kettlebells have become increasingly popular of late, and for good reason: they build explosive athletic power, in a way that transfers to a lot of sports. Done well, a kettlebell swing is about driving with your hips, not about pulling with your arms, so it’s also a great way to work your glutes. And done at higher repetitions, it’s a pretty blazing cardio workout.

    Here’s
    my buddy Tim teaching form.
  5. Pullup. Women tend to psych themselves out about pull-ups, probably because of terrible memories from high school gym class. But, really, women can do pull-ups. We have literally hundreds who can bang out full sets of them at our gym in NYC, and virtually all of them came in the door unable to do a single one. The best way to get pull-ups is: practice doing pull-ups. To make that possible, all you need is a little assistance. If you loop a stretch band (you’ll see these at most gyms and physical therapists’ offices) over the bar, then put stand on the end of the band, you can use it to help boost you up over the bar. Start with as thick of a band as you need, and over time move towards smaller and smaller bands. Soon enough, you’ll be able to rock them without assistance.A good video (with an awesome Australian accent).
  6. Wall Ball. The wall-ball is a fun but deceptively tough exercise: take a medicine ball (in CrossFit workouts, experienced women usually use 14 pound balls, with beginners using 6 or 10 pounders), squat down, and then drive up to throw the ball at a 9-foot-tall target on a wall. Catch the ball, and drop down into a squat to repeat. There’s a great CrossFit workout, named “Karen”, based on simply timing how quickly you can finish 150 wall-balls. (The best women in the world can do it in about 5:00 minutes.)Here’s a classic CrossFit demo video.

     

  7. Box Jump And, finally, the box jump. This is another great athletic movement that works the muscles of your legs, builds explosive power and provides real cardiovascular challenge when strung together for multiple reps.

    Learn the form here.

As above, you can these as the basis of cardio, not just as strength training, by mixing and matching movements, and then trying to move through them quickly.

For example, set a timer for twenty minutes, and see how many rounds you can do of 10 KB Swings and 10 Wall Balls in that time.

Or start a stopwatch, and see how fast you can do a workout like:

50 Goblet Squats
40 KB Deadlifts
30 Box Jumps
20 DB Presses
10 Pull-Ups

Bam! Fitness!

Get Climbing

“Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”
\- Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier

Precisely

Marc Andreessen: “Do you know the best thing about startups?”

Ben Horowitz: “What?”

Marc Andreessen: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.”

Pooped

For the most part, having a dog is wonderful. As I told my brother David, who just got an adorable cockapoo named Brooklyn, having a small dog is like having a stuffed animal that climbs onto you. Observe the two of them, passed out on their couch:

davidbrooklyn

Of course, there are downsides to them, too. One of which is trying to get your dog to poop. And then scooping up that poop in a little plastic bag.

Gem doesn’t really like to poop, so even if he needs to go badly, he’ll walk a good way before finally squeezing it out. Cold weather be damned, he’ll drag me block after block after block while sniffing for a place to drop anchor. Then, once he does, it’s sort of a hit and run: post poop, he sprints off in the opposite direction as fast as he can. When he’s on leash, he doesn’t make it far, though I’m usually stuck bagging with one hand, while trying to resist his pulling through the other.

Normally, Gemelli has a pretty robust stomach. He’ll eat his dog food or his favorite treats, alongside bites of whatever meat or cheese Jess or I might be consuming ourselves, and digest it all like a pro. But on occasion, something doesn’t sit well. Then, when he ‘does his business’, it’s less like building a proverbial log cabin, and more like watching a soft-serve machine dispense frozen yogurt. In the worst case, he simply leaves a brown liquid puddle spreading on the sidewalk. And, of course, by Murphy’s Law of New York Dog Ownership, he only drops those liquid dooces directly in front of expensive co-ops, as the doormen eye us both angrily from inside.

In that situation, however, I’m never certain the correct etiquette. Do I take my little baggie and sort of smoosh the liquid around a bit? Ask to borrow a hose? I’m not sure there really is a good answer. So I usually follow Gemelli’s lead: after the last spurt, we both turn and book it as fast as we can.