The Expedition: July Edition
The most useful stuff I’ve discovered exploring the world and the internet this month.
We’ll cover: Ideal running mileage; downsides of dopamine; an explosive podcast; five qualities that make people mentally tough for life; my favorite lower-body exercise; insane ways to die; etc.
The full version of this post is for Members, who are people who want to have fun and not die.
If you’d like to be a Member/have fun and not die, please consider becoming a Member below. To paraphrase PBS, “This program was made possible by readers like you.”
Also, an important question: Did you or did you not Burn the Ships today? The workout is adaptable to any ability level, and the goal is simple: finish better than you started.
Onto today’s post: The Expedition
This series is a journey into thoughts, opinions, ideas, observations, studies, facts, figures, etc. Good ones, bad ones, insightful ones, dumb ones, and ones you can use to live better.
It’s a roundup of all the worthwhile stuff I’ve encountered in the last month. It’s a bit of an island of misfit toys. But, hey, the greatest journeys are winding. Enjoy …
A book I read: Animal Liberation Now: The Definitive Classic Renewed
Peter Singer, arguably the most influential living philosopher and a professor at Princeton, wrote this book about how humans use animals in 1975. The work inspired the animal rights movement and was named one of the 100 best non-fiction books ever by TIME magazine.
In May, Singer released this updated edition of the book. It returns to his main arguments and brings up to date all the facts and data on animal welfare.
It’s one of the more important books I’ve ever read. I anticipate it altering my decisions for years to come.
By the numbers
That’s the percentage of Americans who are metabolically healthy, making 88 percent of us metabolically unhealthy.
Metabolic health is defined as having ideal blood sugar, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference without using medications that alter any of those measurements.
It directly affects your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers.
To get metabolically healthy, exercise often (rucking is a great two-for-one, hitting both strength and cardio) and keep your weight in the “normal” range of BMI.
BMI is an imperfect measurement, but it’s a good indicator for most people most of the time. For example, in the study, only 0.5 percent of people who registered as obese using BMI were metabolically healthy.
Speaking of exercise …
The number of cases of major preventable diseases like heart disease, type-ii diabetes, and stroke we’ll have if our current physical activity levels remain unchanged by 2030.
Here’s how the figure breaks down:
482.27 and 559.4
Is the average total number of miles female and male runners who qualified for the Boston Marathon ran, respectively, in the 12 weeks leading up to the marathon. Boston’s qualifying times are famously fast.
For comparison, marathoners who didn’t qualify for Boston ran about 290 miles in the same 12-week lead-up. This means qualifiers ran an average of 43 miles a week while non-qualifiers ran 24.
The lesson: logging more miles is critical to boost your endurance performance. You can apply this idea to rucking, cycling, rowing, hiking, etc. If you want to get faster, spend more time doing your exercise of choice at a moderate pace.
(If you do bump up your mileage, ease in. Doing too much too soon is a key driver of injuries.)
Number of 15th-century Londoners whose cause of death was listed as “Teeth.” Meanwhile, 27 died of worms, 8 of plague, and 46 by “several accidents” (several?). Let’s all take a moment to look at this insane cause-of-death list and be thankful to be alive in 2023.
Two Pieces Worth Reading
Dopamine is like the Paris Hilton or Scott Disick of neurotransmitters—famous, but no one really understands what they do.
Online information about dopamine is everywhere. But it’s often meaningless and confusing, especially when we use dopamine to rationalize doing or not doing a behavior. For example, one scientist will tell you to take an ice bath because it will increase your dopamine levels. In contrast, another will say not to look at your cell phone because it will increase your dopamine levels.
My next book, Scarcity Brain (out 9/26!), looks at the downfalls of using neuroscience to explain behaviors.
You’ll walk away with a better understanding of why we develop bad habits in the first place and how to break our worst ones with none of the noisy dopamine neurobabble.
More people are coming around to the same idea. Here’s a great piece on the problem with dopamine.
A famous Harvard longevity scientist claimed he discovered a chemical cocktail that reverses aging. Leading longevity researchers all accused him of being a grifter. Such is the state of science meets influencing.
If you read The Comfort Crisis (I did), you may remember William Altman, who accompanied me to the Arctic and is Picasso with the F-word.
William recently created this film about hunting moose 100 miles into the North Maine Woods. William really captured the vibe of the North Maine Woods and the process of hunting.
An explosive podcast: The Rise and Fall of the Wim Hof Empire
Investigative Journalist Scott Carney wrote a book called What Doesn’t Kill Us praising Wim Hof and his methods. Hof, for those who don’t know, is the godfather of cold exposure and breath work.
But now there’s been “thirteen deaths; a $67 million lawsuit; lies, cover-ups, and a near-fatal enema.” Because of this, Carney is revealing the story he never wanted to tell about what he thinks might be the impending demise of the Wim Hof method.
Five qualities that will make you more resilient:
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