So, am I allowed to eat anything anymore?

This week, I wrote a guest post for my college roommate – Chris O’Brien. His blog is called Medium Rare, and I highly recommend you check it out. Chris writes in a humorous-philosophical tone – we are both wannabe stand-up comics. Below is the link to the post I wrote…

So, am I allowed to eat anything anymore?

Stay tuned for the release of Tackle the Library – Indian Independence next week!

Gandhi makes a perfect stocking stuffer. 

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Is 27 Old?

Today’s my wife’s birthday and she is turning 27 years old. The last few days have been interesting because she has been obsessed with health documentaries on Netflix. Along with the documentaries, I started to notice her piqued face during wrinkle-cream commercials. My wife is like a small-skittish bird that needs to be closely observed in her natural habitat. I started to put the pieces together and put on my explorer cap – diving into the quagmire of the female brain – I discovered that she feels OLD. To better understand this thought, I tried to step into her shoes. The world as a woman sucks – plain and simple. Men have it easy for a million reasons. Men never have to worry about wrinkles. No man ever put on wrinkle cream. Most men embrace their wrinkles as a badge of honor, “I like those forehead wrinkles…you look like Clint Eastwood.” The same goes for the gut. The gut on men is standard practice and usually denotes some state of maturity. When a guy doesn’t have a gut you usually wonder if he is sick or has cancer. Men also don’t have to put on makeup or do weird things to their hair. I literally wake up 15 minutes before work, brush my teeth, comb my hair, and slither into my car half asleep. Christina’s morning routine is similar to the preparation needed for Good Morning America. There are lights, fans, and I swear ten people in the bathroom getting her ready for over an hour. Men also don’t have periods, don’t have babies, and don’t have to wear bras.

Society is too harsh on women. When I watch TV there are so many commercials of beautiful women advertising some “must need” product. Do you have split ends? You might as well be Chewbacca. Is your moisture barrier crap? You might as well be a human lizard? Are you five pounds overweight? You might as well be on My 600 Pound Life. Marketers are very good at making up products for women to buy. Does anyone really like whitened teeth? Who in their right mind is comparing the brightness of their teeth to a napkin? All of these social pressures make for a bittersweet birthday experience. Christina is not old and shouldn’t feel like her beauty is diminishing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think my wife is sexier than ever. If you are a woman, please take a moment to give yourself a compliment. Don’t focus on the negatives because you want to know the most attractive trait? Confidence. There is nothing sexier than a woman who owns her age, her body, and her personality. To all my women readers, I’m going to tell you a secret about men. We don’t care about split ends, arm fat, black heads, or even wrinkles. In respects to sexual arousal, men care about the big picture – boobs and butt. In respects to general attraction, men care about confidence and personality. Just be you and don’t let society push you around. Once you embrace your true strengths you will never dread another birthday again – or even a wrinkle.

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McDonald’s as a Registered Dietitian

People are funny when it comes to eating. Food is arguably the most important thing in life. Without food, there would be no sex, religion, culture, love, or even laughter. Do you remember the last time your hunger got to ridiculous levels? I can remember a time when my wife and I went on a hike in Maine; we got lost and were 6 hours deep into the mountains without any idea where we were. Christina was tired, sore, and on top of that she was ravenously hungry. It began to rain and immediately she transformed from a cute gizmo to a scary gremlin. Having to endure a hike with a starving Asian woman is something that few men have survived – if there was video of that day it would be a hybrid of the The Blair Witch Project and The Last Samurai. The only way I came out alive was realizing that our map was upside down and the car was only five minutes away. I floored it to the nearest grease pit and we indulged in every type of unhealthy food that side of the Appalachian.

I am a  Registered Dietitian and usually only eat meats, fruits, vegetables, and peanuts. After some years of giving out dietary advice, I have come to one big realization – people hate being told what to eat. Eating is a very personal thing and there is nothing worse then some emaciated dietitian telling you not to eat something. However, there is one major caveat to this truth. Society as a whole, believes it is fair game to degrade McDonald’s food, McDonald’s customers, and McDonald’s as a whole without one thought of wrong doing. This relentless bashing is so universal that it doesn’t matter if you are a skinny-vegan-white-woman or a fat-coreitarian-black-man. Everyone does it. Walk into a McDonald’s and even the fattest guy is rationalizing his choice, “I know McDonald’s is bad but they put additives in the food that make me buy 10 McChickens.” Everyone nods and begins rehearsing their own defense lines.

Here’s the thing; For the majority of Americans, McDonald’s is probably the healthier option compared to what is purchased at the grocery store. I judge people’s shopping carts and I can tell you they make McDonald’s look like a Panera Bread. Pop is usually hanging over the sides. The only vegetables are frozen potatoes. The staple foods consist of processed meat and processed carbs: bagged chips, cookies, frozen pizza, instant rice, boxed noodles. The carts get worse if there are kids tagging alongside- hovering like some parasitic fish on an obese shark. Kid foods are usually sugary and contain a bunch of weird colors that make everything look like the depressed Circus Circus in Las Vegas. I honestly think that kids are a “get out of healthy eating” free pass for adults; “Oh I buy Lucky Charms for little Susie but usually she only eats a little so I polish off the rest of the bowl when she isn’t looking.”

So what is my point in bashing everyone’s food? My point is to help everyone realize that the food you buy at the grocery store is often times worse then fast food. McDonald’s shouldn’t be the linchpin of all hate when it comes to unhealthy eating in America. McDonald’s is no different than any other burger establishment – they serve greasy food that people want and they should be frequented only on occasion. I say all these things because the unwarranted blaming of McDonald’s distracts us from the unhealthy foods that are eaten everywhere else. Is McDonald’s a saint? No. But, let’s understand that we need to clean up our eating at home before sending the clown to the gallows. I recently watched The Founder and was inspired by the amount McDonald’s has positively impacted American society: affordable food to the masses,  a safe place for kids to play,  a livelihood for many struggling workers; McDonald’s arguably is one of the biggest forces for democracy in the entire world. In the end, I write this blog to remind everybody that fast food has benefited us just as much as it has hurt us. What we need to realize is that our homes should be sanctuaries of healthy eating and not rationalizations for crappy food…”well at least these store bought french fries and chicken fingers are healthier than McDonalds’s.” Good luck on everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions.

Vacation of Carbs

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At this very moment my stomach feels so fat that it is currently protruding onto my keyboard and obstructing the right-click button. This is a major problem because I am a Registered Dietitian and there are levels of fluffiness which cannot  be surpassed. My recent weight gain is a result of my family vacation to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Oldham family vacations are not the type of trips where one lays by a pool and relaxes. No, the Oldham family vacation is more like a marathon where volunteers hand out ice cream cones instead of cups of water. We are all healthy people when not on vacation but we tend to go about our trips as if we were all possessed by some carb demon. From the beginning, bags of chips, cookies, granola bars (not the healthy type), and chocolate populate the car on the 8 hour road trip. We did not eat when we were hungry but rather when we solely glanced over at the carb bag-the temptress entangling us in a dance of seduction that always ended in a lust for more.

Upon our arrival to Minneapolis, we went to the grocery store to gather our precious food for the week. Normally, when I go to the grocery store, my cart is filled with fruit, vegetables, and meat; on the Oldham vacation a cart like this would be promptly doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. The vacation cart is only filled with the most precious carbs that are unthinkable for consumption at other times in the year: double stuffed oreos, Cheetos, Doritos, gallons of ice cream, biscuits, donuts, potato chips, pizza [insert favorite carb]. We get enough food for two weeks but somehow find ourselves back at the grocery  store only a couple days later for another hit of the good stuff. Purchasing food at the grocery store is not enough for the Oldhams-we require carbs from all sources. After purchasing the groceries, we headed to a famous ice cream store which serves enormous portions. I decided to order the biggest portion and was presented with a gallon sized bowl of ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with whipped cream-my father and wife circling me like vultures over a dead wildebeest.

This obsession with eating continued throughout the week with an equal obsession with bike riding/walking. You might think that bike riding and walking at least offset some of the eating. Wrong! We biked 15 miles each day, to the point that it hurt to fart, and yet we still couldn’t suck in our stomachs. I walked around the Mall of America for six hours, to the point that I needed a fricking scooter, and yet stretchy pants still felt tight. Each day I though that I couldn’t go on, that I had to go back to my normal diet. Each day I tried to refrain but it was as if I would black out and find myself eating cereal out of a Tupperware container or savoring Chips Ahoy while taking a shower. My low point came on the last day. The last meal. The final countdown. We ate at Olive Garden and then immediately went to get ice cream. After the ice cream I said that my vacation was over and I was finally ready to eat healthy again. One hour later…I must have blacked out again because I found myself in the kitchen eating two microwaved hot dogs sandwiched between a hamburger bun. Do I regret some decisions over the past week? Yes. Did I have an awesome vacation that will be with me in memory and waist line forever? Yes. Am I looking forward to next year’s vacation? Let’s just say i’m already mapping out the ice cream shops.

Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder

What better recipe to be the first on the Bohemian Caveman recipe page than the Ultimate Smoked Pork Shoulder. Pork shoulder or Boston Butt is one of my favorite pieces of meat because when cooked properly it is extremely tender and jam packed with flavor. You can cook pork shoulder in the oven or crockpot but those methods are weak sauce compared to slow smoking. BBQ joints always sell pulled pork (which comes from the pork shoulder) but I always feel like I don’t get my money’s worth. I want some fricking MEAT and I don’t want to spend 15 dollars for a little serving. Hence, I am going to show you how to cook your own pork monster and enjoy endless mouth watering servings at a fraction of the cost compared to the BBQ restaurants. Let’s start….

Ingredients:

8-10 LB Pork Shoulder aka Boston Butt
Marinade
2 Cups Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup White Vinegar
Rub
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Dry Mustard
1 Tbsp Coarsley Ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
Glaze
Your favorite bottle of BBQ sauce
Smoke
Apple or Mixed Hardwood Chips or Pellets
Equipment
Any outdoor smoker (I use a Masterbuilt 30-inch Electric Smoke with the A-MAZE-N pellet tray)
Meat Probe
Meat Injector
Aluminum Pan

Alright, you may be saying….”What the frick Jon, I don’t have all of these ingredients and obscure equipment!!!” Fair enough, but most of these ingredients are pantry staples and if you don’t have a smoker then you can slow cook the shoulder in the oven (it will obviously taste different).

  1. The Marinade: Dissolve Apple Juice, Kosher Salt, Brown Sugar and Vinegar in a saucepan (do not bring to boil). Once contents are dissolved remove from heat (see picture below). Take meat injector and inject pork shoulder with marinade every 1 square inch. *Just inject the meat hunk a million times until all that beautiful liquid is inside the shoulder* Place meat in aluminum pan and cover in refrigerator overnight.

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    The Marinade

  2. The Rub: The next day, remove marinated pork shoulder from refrigerator. Combine in a separate bowl the Cup Brown Sugar, Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Dry Mustard, Coarsely Ground Black Pepper, Kosher Salt and  Cayenne Pepper. Mix thoroughly with spoon and then generously rub all over pork shoulder (see pictures below).
  3. The Smoke: I am going to give directions for my electric smoker but these can be translated to any other cooking apparatus. Preheat to 250 degrees. Take A-MAZE-N pellet tray and fill with wood pellets (see below). Light pellets and get them smoking. Place pork butt in the smoker uncovered for 3 hours.

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    A-MAZE-N Pellet Tray with mixed hardwood pellets

  4. The Apple Juice: After smoking for 3 hours, remove pork shoulder and insert meat probe into thickest part (this can be done at the beginning of the smoke also). Place 1 cup of apple juice in the bottom of aluminum pan and cover pork shoulder with aluminum foil. Place back in smoker and continue cooking for approximately 6 hours or until the internal temp reaches 205 degrees. *You have to get the temp up to 205 degrees to properly breakdown the connective tissues and melt the collagen to make it tender*

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    My electric smoker that my beautiful wife bought me for Christmas

  5. The Glaze and the Feast: Remove shoulder from smoker and lightly coat with your favorite BBQ sauce. Place back in smoker uncovered for one hour with no heat. This is the resting phase which is essential to keep the meet extra moist. The glaze will harden and create a nice bark. After the hour wait, your brain will be ready to explode from excitement. Behold your creation for a couple minutes and give yourself a big high five. The first bite will feel like pork nirvana and you may hit unknown levels of ecstasy. Leftovers will be abundant so enjoy!!!

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    There she is! It was so delicious and we barely put a dent in it. We will have a lot of leftovers.

 

Bohemian Caveman

Today marks a new milestone in my life with a domain name that I can call my own…BohemianCaveman.com.

The goal of this website is to give you tools and knowledge to improve every dimension of health so that you can become the best version of yourself. 

So what the frick is a “Bohemian Caveman?” Well, the definition of Bohemian is as follows

a person, as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.

This definition hit me in the stomach and I feel that my life closely aligns with this funny sounding word. In what ways am I Bohemian?

  1. I spend my free time writing book reports 
  2. I decided to live in one of the most dangerous cities in America (still alive and happy)
  3. I practice meditation and seek to understand my inner consciousness.

Of course, I have a long way to go in becoming a complete personification of the word but I think I have been slowly moving in the direction my entire life.

So what about the Caveman part?

  1. I am a man with a beard.
  2. I am a Registered Dietitian who adheres to the Paleo/Primal lifestyle.
  3. I exercise through functional movements: yoga, walking, weight lifting, and mountain biking.

So what the heck is this blog about? My goal is to make this blog about the improvement of our Mind, Body, and Soul. My previous readers experienced the Mind posts and those will continue into the future. I will post about food, exercise, meditation, yoga, religion, history, self-improvement, minimalism, and a whole host of material that fits into the Mind, Body, Soul categories.

Thank you for the support and let’s continue this awesome journey…

 

The Helpfulness of Habits

I have a lot of bad habits. Some of my habits have been around since I was a wee toddler and others I have picked up in recent years. One habit that I really want to kick is keeping my back straight when I bend over. I know this seems like an innocuous maneuver but I tend to have this grotesque hump in my back from never bending at my waist. This hump is more of an aesthetic annoyance currently but I am a few decades away from being that old guy who is permanently bent at a 90-degree angle. Speaking of habits, my lovely wife who loves all things psychology checked me out a book called The Power of Habit: Why We do What We do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Essentially, the brain uses habits to conserve a crap ton of computational power and energy. An example of this is when you started to learn how to drive. At first, backing out of the driveway was a seemingly impossible task. You had to check your mirrors, slowly release the brake, look for pedestrians, look for oncoming traffic, etc. The brain was learning and using a lot of energy during these first few attempts but over time it got easier and easier. Today, you may back out of your driveway without thinking about it because your brain has turned it into a routine. Habits occur whenever there is a cue such as grabbing your keys before leaving the house. When you wake up you probably go straight to the bathroom-the cue was your alarm going off. Smoke cigarettes or eat crappy food? Usually these habits have cues like being bored, tired, or when you’re with certain people. All this is pretty easy to understand but until you identify your cues and habit framework then you can’t change your behaviors.

The framework for changing a habit is as follows:

-Identify the routine (I sit on the couch all night after work)
-Experiment with rewards (I like the feeling of walking after work for a half hour)
-Isolate the cue (Before I sit on the couch I always grab chips)
-Have a plan (I am going to put walking shoes next to the chip bag)

To better isolate the cue, write down the location, time, emotional state, other people around, and immediately preceding action at the moment you feel drawn to the habit. For example, whenever I want ice cream I am at my parent’s house, it usually is around 3:00 pm, I am bored, I am with my mom, and I had just eaten. Which cue is causing me to want the ice cream? Well if I record these indicators over multiple occasions I would figure out that I want ice cream because I am bored. Hence, to break my ice cream habit, I could go do something like watch a movie. Of course, this is all easier said than done but understanding the framework can help you identify which habits you would like to modify, keep, or stop. We all are trying to better ourselves, let us use this knowledge to make it easier and more automatic-in the end, habits can either be our best friend or our worst enemy.

Sugar and Gluten: America’s Most Wanted

Would it be an exaggeration to say that sugar and gluten are poisoning most Americans? I would argue that both of these substances, albeit natural, are toxic in levels that are regularly consumed in the United States. As a Registered Dietitian, I have strong views about the subject of nutrition and what merits a “healthy” diet. I am an indomitable supporter of the primal/paleo lifestyle because it makes evolutionary sense. For 95% of human existence the amount of grains, gluten, sugar, and general carbohydrates in the diet was negligible. Today the typical diet of westernized countries includes all those aforementioned categories as staples. Am I extreme in my thinking, a rogue dietitian hell bent on smacking cupcakes out of children’s hands? For a long time I thought so, but I think the medical community is slowly coming around.

One of those coming around in the medical community is David Perlmutter MD, a highly-acclaimed neurologist, who wrote the book Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers. Going into this book I thought I knew the gamut of negative effects that wheat, carbs, and sugar had on the body; however, I had no idea how drastically these compounds affected the brain. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and causes either obvious or subtle inflammation throughout the body. Obvious cases include explosive diarrhea in those with Celiac Disease, subtle cases include bumpy skin or annoying headaches in those with sensitivities. Gluten can affect the brain and body by causing inflammation in the intestines which elicits an immune response and subsequent systemic inflammation. Also, gluten can enter the bloodstream partially digested and act as an exorphin in the brain (think addiction) or deposit in joints, skin, or countless other organ systems. In addition to gluten, excess carbohydrates can cause high blood sugar which results in protein glycation in the blood vessels throughout the body-including the brain. Glycation is a very bad thing because it inhibits neurotransmitter function, and decreases overall cognitive function. A gluten free diet has been shown to be more effective then prescription medications in those suffering with ADHD, Schizophrenia, dementia, Alzheimer’s (delaying the onset), and depression. That last sentence alone is enough to say, “crap Jon why am I eating this piece of bread!” 

Another point that I need to harp about is that saturated fat is not bad for you! Saturated fat does not cause high cholesterol or heart disease….period. Watch the informative video I posted for a little history on how we came upon this scientific lie. The cause of heart disease is extremely complex and is mainly from inflammation and oxidized proteins circulating in the blood. This oxidation is caused by a myriad of things including gluten, Omega-6 fatty acids, and trans fat. High cholesterol compared to low total cholesterol is actually found to decrease mortality, increase cognitive function, and decrease risk of depression. If all of these points make you want to curl up into a vegan ball of fear then you should pick up Grain Brain, Wheat Belly, The Primal Blueprint, or Paleo Manifesto. So my prescription to my readers is simple: Try your best to avoid grains, processed oils, eat less than 100 grams of carbs a day, lift weights regularly, walk in nature regularly, sprint once a week, and get plenty of sleep. So get rid of the gluten and excess carbs so you can start feeling like the best version of yourself.