Top Ten lists are stupid

But they are also fun! Of course, if you don’t like the rule you can always break it (and as you all know, I don’t much care for rules, unless I’m the one making them!). So, I guess these aren’t so much top 10 lists as lists, in no particular order, of give or take ten things.  People, as always, are excluded for obvious reasons. Here goes!
Top 10 things I like about Cape Town:
  1. Proteas, aloes, and calla lillies growing in the wild
  2. Heart
  3. Cape CrossFit (I’ve been to other gyms that could be homes, but this one *is* home, and you also can’t beat the view!)
  4. Malva pudding
  5. Camps Bay
  6. The winelands (… and really good, cheap wine!)
  7. Kabeljou (this is a very tasty fish)
  8. The amazing hiking: Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Crystal Pools …
  9. The stunning beauty of pretty much everywhere you look
  10. Not having to pump your own gas (petrol)
  11. The generally flagrant disregard for health & safety, especially while driving
  12. Sandbar … especially the omelettes!
Top 10 things I miss about America:
  1. Dunkin Donuts coffee (yep…), and Peet’s, too, actually!
  2. Spring and autumn in New England
  3. Football
  4. Farmers markets
  5. Whole Foods (yep … in a pinch it does beat the hell out of Pick’n’Pay)
  6. Heirloom vegetables
  7. Instant oil changes
  8. Tulips, peonies, cherry blossoms, irises
  9. Drive-thrus
  10. San Francisco and Boston
Top 10 things I wish I’d known 10 years ago:
  1. How to eat & train properly (it wasn’t that I would gain weight by walking past the refrigerator so much as that the milk & rice & wheat I was eating was making me sick!)
  2. Situations and people won’t change for you, as much as you might wish they would
  3. Coconut is actually good for you
  4. The customer’s opinion is actually more important than yours (which does NOT mean the customer is always right … sometimes you must educate them)
  5. There is no substitute for testing (the scientific method applies to product design? What?)
  6. Don’t be a martyr about something that really matters to you
  7. The best way to motivate someone is to excite them (… and what excites THEM is not necessarily the same as what excites YOU)
  8. Focus on what’s important (still working on putting this one into practice)
Top 10 things that remind me I’m not in Kansas anymore:
  1. The currency
  2. The price of petrol (aka gasoline)
  3. The retail brands
  4. The door handles
  5. The power outlets
  6. Car guards
  7. Robot hawkers
  8. Sloooooow internet
  9. Pre-paid electricity
  10. The concept of caller-pays (& outrageously expensive mobile phone airtime costs!)

Top 10 things I wish I’d listened to my coaches about earlier:
  1. Don’t land on the rope
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Daily mobility
  4. Diet, diet, diet

I’d say these last few days were more about what I didn’t do than what I did. Didn’t train. Beat myself up about reporting & monitoring I didn’t do last year, and my brain was in such a funk I got nearly nothing done at work Thursday & Friday. Didn’t go to hear Two Minute Puzzle because I needed to sleep. Didn’t practice muscle ups with the boys at the gym because I felt like my body needed to concentrate on healing my ankle. Didn’t hang out with Sam because our schedules conflicted. Didn’t go to another friend’s party because I didn’t bloody well feel like it. Most definitely didn’t eat any of the sweet & sugary things on display at the Biscuit Mill Saturday morning.
When I’m sick, I’m probably the most miserable person in the world to be around. When I’m injured I’m not as insufferable but I do suffer from a general sense of humour failure. Add to that the continued hangover … damn, I really need to pull my sh*t together and get on with things. Carl was saying, under the stars, with a view of the Twelve Apostles, how he’s just a little bit jealous of those of us who live here. So why am I not feeling it right now? Rhetorical question, yes; I know exactly why.
On the bright side, my body continues to amaze me. I self-diagnosed myself with a grade 2 inversion sprain, which typically takes 1-2 weeks to heal. Thursday morning, stairs were a challenge (I was having great fun also carrying a box of food for the Thursday lunch upstairs, on my head … it actually does balance better up there than trying to carry in front of you). By Thursday evening, stairs were manageable but I couldn’t do any mobility work such as a shoulder stretch that involved putting weight on the ankle. By Friday evening, I was walking almost normally, and with very little pain/limping. The first 10-30 steps are stiff and awkward, especially in the morning, but after that I can stand, put weight, even balance ok on the injured ankle.
Other than getting ice & compression on it immediately this time around the other good thing I did was to go for acupuncture the next evening. That was, as expected, one of the most painful experiences of my entire life. Firstly, Dr Lan starts poking it as he does to understand the complexity and nature of the injury. THEN he starts poking the hell out of it … maybe 10-15 different pokes, each about 2-3 seconds long. I posted on facebook that it was a 10/10 on the pain scale. That’s exaggerating a bit, it was more of a 9/10 because I wasn’t screaming. I did let out a couple of yelps of pain which is unlike me. But apparently it was necessary to reduce inflammation and increase blood flow. I tell you what, getting poked with needles was a relief after that.
An interesting insight of this latest injury is that I am almost certain last year’s ankle sprain and the associated month or so of limping was the root cause of the imbalance in my muscles that caused the strain to my left hand psoas/obliques, etc. After only a few days of a light limp, that strain is flaring up again so I’m going to have to be VERY careful to get it rebalanced quickly before I jump right into crazy training again. At least this time I know where to turn, and what to do. Got the green light to head back to CrossFit on Tuesday; we’ll see how the ankle does and if I need to substitute any exercises.
In the meantime I can pray that the first weekend of the CrossFit Open workouts doesn’t involve pistols, box jumps, or any sort of heavy squatting. Not that it will matter too much if it does …. I am in Africa after all. Speaking of, we had a meeting of most of the CCF competitors on Friday evening, to brief us for the upcoming competitive season. I was much more excited about this a few weeks back. I’m sure the passion will return as soon as they announce the first workout. After all, it’s all with a goal in mind. Hobbyist or not, as a competitor you still want to compete.
Speaking of, I was thinking I was a bit too harsh on myself about my row. Truth of the matter was, I DID have a plan and I stuck to it. I knew that my closest competitors were in my heat, and that short of a catastrophe, there was no catching Rika points-wise, so the most important things were finishing second to her in the heat in the row, and then beating everyone else at the burpee/walking lunge/run workout. For the former, the only part of the announcing that I heard was the bit about what pace everyone was rowing at/how many meters were left, so I knew how to pace myself there. The latter was pretty well perfectly executed, and going too much harder on the rower might have hurt my chances there.
So why was I so upset? Because it was a competition and I left something on the table. That’s the short answer. I’m still doing that 2K row. God knows when ….
What happened in the field this week? Another site visit to Mama Rosie, and a meeting with Greenpop. I’m excited about their trajectory, and now that I’ve double-checked my calendar looks like I actually can join on one of their away weekends in May. Before the meeting got started we were discussing diet (mine in particular). These socially-conscious people are interested in becoming fully or largely vegetarian. There is a lot that could be said about that, but the topic of eggs came up. So compare conventional wisdom (stay away – eggs have cholesterol and therefore you should limit your intake) with Loren Cordain’s take. Scroll down a bit to see his answer. The short version? Just like eating fat doesn’t make you fat, eating cholesterol doesn’t raise your cholesterol (yes, yes, extremes of either will). Cholesterol is more determined by hormones than anything but to the degree that diet does affect it, my cholesterol is best when I eat a bunch of eggs and very little grains.
There are so many bits of conventional wisdom related to exercise and nutrition that are just flat out incorrect, it’s just sad. While I’m on a roll, here’s a very good and well-balanced article on why aerobic training (as opposed to high intensity interval training) is actually bad for you.
I used to joke that I could walk past the refrigerator and gain weight. Turns out it was just that the best application of conventional wisdom was wrong. I’m not sure this is a completely comprehensive list but a few people have asked me, so here is my sense of macronutrient deficiency symptoms:
  • If you’re feeling tired, or low energy, or like you want a stimulant, you probably need protein
  • If you’re feeling hungry, even after meals, you probably need fat
  • If you’re craving sugar, you probably need carbs

So chow some broccoli instead of the chocolate bar. Speaking of cravings, I have had some WEIRD ones recently, most likely due to the injury. Like ranging from no appetite at all, to eating a whole cabbage & head of cauliflower and six eggs in one sitting, to an insatiable desire for coconut oil which I am eating by the spoonful. I can only assume it’s my body trying to heal itself. The more advanced of an athlete I become, the better I get at listening to my body. The question is, whether or not I always take its requests. Definitely trying to get better at that, hence staying away from anything strenuous since the injury. If I have no desire to train, it’s a pretty good indication that I shouldn’t be training.
Eating, on the other hand, has never been a problem. So with that, I’m off to Sandbar to eat a six-egg omelette with mince & avo.
  • “It’s not bad.” – Dr Lan
  • “Is that REALLY necessary?” “Yes.” “I know, but asking makes me feel better.” – Ellie & Dr Lan
  • “I don’t know where home is anymore.” – Ellie
  • “He saw you, and allowed you to see yourself, in a new way.” – Debbie 


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