Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Muscle Myths

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 | Books

Muscle Myths: 50 Health & Fitness Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making is a book by Michael Matthews. I don’t think it’s the cyclist. It’s a pretty good book. There are academic references and most of the stuff agreed with what I have been taught in an academic setting, which is a more legit version of confirmation bias.

Below, I’ll discuss some of my key takeaways. The book’s claims are in quote marks with my commentary next to it.

“Free weights work better than machines.” Machines isolate muscles which can be useful if you need to train specific muscles, but if you just want to generally get stronger, free weights are my goto as well.

“Aim for 1-6 reps with at least 3-minute rest between sets.” If you want to get strong use heavy weights and low reps. If you want to get big muscles you might want to do things differently. Or maybe get over your ego ;).

“You don’t need strong abs, just a body get percentage under 12%.” If I ever get my body fat down to 12% I will be excited to find out if this is true.

“Training in a fasted state (2-3 hours of not eating) will accelerate fat burning but also muscle breakdown.” Yes! Someone finally talked about this. If you don’t have any glycogen left, you break down muscle and not fat. So, you need to pick whether you want to gain both or lose both.

“BCAA supplements will suppress muscle breakdown and green tea extract at 600-900 mg per day can help, too.” Interesting. I would like to burn fat and maintain muscle. But I don’t know enough about these supplements to comment.

“You need phases of bulking and cutting because you cannot do both.” As discussed above.

“Low rep heavy weights increase your metabolic rate, too.” If true, another reason to lift heavy.

“High-intensity cardio can burn fat but we don’t know why. Possibly by raising the metabolic rate.” Yep, it’s a mystery. When you do HIIT, you burn glycogen and the body cannot convert fat into glycogen because they are totally different. So, how does it burn the fat? We don’t know. But it seems to, so HIIT can be an alternative to long slow runs in the fat-burning zone.

“Cardio and strength training should be separate.” Controersial. Matthews recommends strength then cardio, but British Triathlon say it should be cardio then strength.

“Size of meal is not important so you can eat large or small, and eat breakfast or not. Calories are what matters.” Alas, one single 5,000 kcal meal isn’t going to be the secret path to skinny. Nor is a small meal every 30 minutes.

“Not drinking water with meals is nonsense.” Of course it is! Who said this? You should drink water with meals because it will make you feel satiated quicker.

Controlling hunger

I like this list because it is pretty similar to the list I use in my Nudge Nutrition course and it is always comforting to know you haven’t just made stuff up.

  • Eat lots of protein (30-40% of your intake)
  • High carb low-fat to increase your leptin levels
  • Drink water
  • Eat fibre
  • Avoid high GI foods
  • Eat slowly
  • Get enough sleep

Supplements that work

I like this list, too. Caffeine and creatine are widely recognised as effective.

  • Protein powder
  • Creatine
  • Vitamins you are deficient in
  • Fish oil
  • Glutamine
  • Pre workout energy drink

The A.B.C. Murders

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 | Books

THe A.B.C Murders is a murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It features Hercule Poirot trying to solve a series of alphabetically-organised murders.

As I have commented in previous reviews, once you have read And Then There Were None, All other novels are inferior. But I did enjoy this one. The ending is okay but the story is entertaining throughout. Maybe ranks third behind And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express.

Peril at End House

Saturday, November 21st, 2020 | Books

Peril at End House is an Agatha Christie novel. It features Hercule Poirot who is on holiday when he finds himself drawn into investigating the attempted murders of Nick Buckley. It’s pretty good but not one of my favourites.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Friday, November 20th, 2020 | Books

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a murder mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It features Hercule Poirot and is the second novel I have read to feature the character.

Spoiler alert: there is a twist at the end. And more spoilers below. I wasn’t a big fan of the twist, but it is a well-written novel and I think most people would like it. Anyhow, It was an enjoyable read but I found Caroline Sheppard an annoying character and the whole nursing home a bit strange.

Basic Anatomy For Yoga Instructors and Everyone In Between

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 | Books

Basic Anatomy For Yoga Instructors and Everyone In Between is a book by Alecia Croft.

It’s a pretty short read. It is 55 pages on my Kindle, including about ten pages of contents and opening matter and appendices. And most of the page space is taken up by diagrams. As such, you can get through the book in less than half an hour.

Whether you should is a different question. The diagrams are good and there is plenty of information packed into it. So, if you were to take the time to learn and memorise each of the bone and muscle names it would take you much longer. It does feel like a bit of a list most of the time, though, so that is not an inviting prospect. Having learnt this stuff in more detail previously, it was more of a refresher to me.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Saturday, October 17th, 2020 | Books

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali is a religious text on the practice of yoga. By yoga, I am referring to the full definition of yoga in the Hindu tradition and not merely the asana practice that is popular in the West.

It is made up of 196 verses. I read the longer version that has been translated into English by Sri Swami Satchidananda who also provides extensive commentary on the verses. This was very helpful to understanding. The text is broken down into four books and his commentary on the first two books made them reasonably accessible whereas the second two books, where commentary is limited, were more challenging.

My favourite concept from the book is the idea that anger is a package that you have to accept delivery of. And if you choose not to accept the delivery, the sender is stuck with it. If only it was that simple in real life, of course, but certainly an attitude I would like to cultivate.

Bhagavad Gita

Thursday, October 15th, 2020 | Books

The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu scripture and is the best-known and most widely read Hindu text. It forms part of the Mahabharata epic and is believed to have been written in the second century BCE.

It tells the story of a dialogue between a warrior named Arjuna and the Hindu god Krishna.

In general, it has a pretty agreeable message. Rejecting monastic life, it calls on us to do our duty in the world while renouncing personal benefit and working towards selfless service. It also offers an attractive afterlife package: life is not one single test that ends in heaven or hell, but a test you can take as many times as you need until you pass. Indeed, even the fear of slipping backwards is removed.

That said, it is easy to see why Christopher Hitchens argues that there is no “answer in the East”. In the first chapter, Arjuna lays down his arms at a great battle. In chapter 2, Kristna tells him that it is his duty as a warrior to fight and that if he does not fight, the other warriors will laugh at him. Nothing like a bit of peer pressure from god to make you go to war. Some have argued the battle is a metaphor for the spiritual battle of good and evil, but this is not widely accepted, especially as the characters in the battle form a major portion of the Mahabharata.

What I like most, though, is that it is short and interesting. Compared to say the Bible, which is really long, or the Qur’an, which is just page after page of repeating that there is definitely only one god and you’re going to be published if you believe anything different.

The Murder at the Vicarage

Monday, August 24th, 2020 | Books

The Murder at the Vicarage is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It is the first one I have read to feature Miss Marple.

I have heard plenty of jokes about the death rate in St Mary Mead and I do wonder how exactly so many novels will be spun out on the topic. Maybe she travels? Anyway, I enjoyed the book.

Murder on the Orient Express

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 | Books

Murder on the Orient Express is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It features Hercule Poirot and revolves around a passenger being murdered on the famous train that Poirot happens to be travelling on.

It has a nice twist (spoilers: there’s a twist!) although not quite as intriguing as And Then There Were None. I was not in love with Poirot as a character initially but I have since warmed to him. Overall, an enjoyable read.

And Then There Were None

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020 | Books

And Then There Were None is a mystery novel by Agatha Christie. It was another punt on my unused Audible credits as recommended by Elina. It was the first Christie novel I have read and does without her two famous characters, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

I really enjoyed it. In many ways, maybe I should not have started with such a good Christie novel as it has massively set my expectations for the other books I am reading.