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Anthony Mychal

Anthony Mychal is former skinny-fat dude on a philosophical-physical pilgrimage: flipping and freestyle acrobatics, flexing and physique training, thinking about and tinkering with physical freedom
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Body Composition, 14. Roadkill

Certain carbohydrates preferentially restock liver glycogen. So if you have a relatively empty liver glycogen tank and eat these carbohydrates, you fill the tank. But the tank isn’t all that big.

If you eat an excess of carbohydrates, beyond what fills the tank, your body uses its wizardry to turn glucose/glycogen into fat. And, to understand why, think about survival. Remember, Hjaarn is worried about the future. He won’t just throw money (or potential money) down the dumpster.

Your body doesn’t gain fat as punishment for you sins. Body fat is a miracle, really. You can survive longer in dire situations (no food) with more body fat. (There was actually a study done on this, by the way.) Bears fatten up before hibernating because they won’t have a lot of incoming food. 

Imagine if you didn’t have any fat inside of you. I’m not talking about being lean and having a six pack. I’m talking about no fat cells. You don’t eat for one day, so your liver glycogen runs out. No liver glycogen, no brain food. So your brain goes to the backup in body fat. But, oh, wait! That’s gone, too. MUSCLE, THEN. WHAT ABOUT THE MUSCLE? Nope. Glycogen in the muscle is locked away to be used only by the muscle. So one day without food and you’re close to becoming roadkill. Bummer.

  • Liver glycogen – more immediate need, short term
  • Muscle glycogen – locked away
  • Body fat – long term need, future

The only choice for brain food without body fat and liver glycogen is muscle tissue itself. So, say bye bye muscle tissue. But breaking down muscle tissue isn’t ideal. It’s like selling the tire of your car. It’s useful in the short term if you need the immediate cash, but in the long term it’s going to hurt you if you need to drive anywhere.

And in the evolutionary scheme of things? Famine was a real thing. If you listen to the paleolithic pushers, humans routinely went without food for hours and hours (even day[s]). Body fat is the safe, obvious play for excess because it can keep the brain alive in time of need without the drawbacks of zapping muscle tissue.

My grandma, $2 bills, and calories

The conventional calorie game assumes all calories are equal. It all comes down to energy. One unit of energy is one unit of energy. Cool story, bro. It’s like money. All money is money. It all spends the same.

When I was little, my grandma often gave me a $2 bill on my birthday along with some other money. The $2 was a special thing. I’ve spent a lot of money since those days. But I still have that stack of $2 bills.

What do you do with money you win at a casino? Spend it quickly, most likely. It’s free money! What do you do with money you make after a full day’s work of cleaning poop from toilets? Save it, most likely. You worked hard for it! 

I had this written down before I heard what Peter Attia said on this podcast with Tim Ferriss. (And I paraphrase.) We know that we’re governed by thermodynamics. Calories in v. calories out matters…but that’s just not a very interesting story. It’s like saying, “You know why Bill Gates is rich? He makes more money than he spends.” 

And he’s right. It’s not interesting. Probably why I am biased towards wanting to believe the body can’t be so simplistic. But despite my mystic mind, the questions should still be on the table.

When you parallel money with calories, the world of nutrition is quite different. There are different forms of currency. Dollars. Gold. Salt. Euros. Money is money, yes. But does that mean all money is spent the same? Or treated the same? Why do some people invest? Why do some people spend money on lavish goods even on a tight budget?


I’m enjoying: pondering relatively useless yet controversial questions in order to feel important.

The sweet spot for training

Anthony Mychal Chrono Trigger

I beat Chrono Trigger this past week. Good game. My girlfriend bought it for me (in full) over the holidays. I suspect it’ll become a great game whenever I use the New Game+ feature and explore the multiple endings.

It’s been a long time since I played an RPG. Most of my (now) gaming comes via Super Smash Bros. and beating on my friends. By the way, this. Totally shouldn’t be funny, but it killed me. (Want a fun fact for the road? I used to know Egoraptor. We hung out at the Megaman websites and forums back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s — Zepiroth’s place, Megamaniacs, and whatnot. I used to make sprites, myes.)

What I thought about, as I played Chrono Trigger: most of the battles are easy. And by “easy,” I mean that you don’t fear them. You don’t have to stock up on ether and tonic. Or save the game before you fight. You just stay reasonably “healthy” and go.

There’s a sweet spot for EXP and leveling up. The battles have to be hard enough to tax you, but never hard enough to kill you. Battles that come close to killing you aren’t repeatable enough to be worthy of the time investment, neither are those that give you a smidgen of EXP.

This, of course, parallels to training (everything in my life parallels to training because, well, I want it to parallel). There is a time for boss battles. There’s a lot to be gained from the potential Game Over stakes. It’s important to fiddle with the Game Over. But, for the most part, you want to find the sweet spot — where you’re going to gain enough EXP for your time investment, yet stay safe enough for the process to be repeatable.


I’m enjoying: Souther Tier Creme Brulee

How is everyone driving a car?

I’m surprised I’m alive. I grow more and more surprised every day I drive my car. I’ve been driving since I was eighteen. The only thing I’ve hit into on the road was a deer. (And I should note, as most do: the deer hit me.) But every time I drive, I think…

All it takes is one person to turn the wheel a little too much. Or a little too little. Boom. Crash. The First World mass has come to assume that every vehicle you pass on the road is going to stay in their lane and obey traffic signs. To do this, people have to be in control of their vehicle.

This means people have to use hand-eye coordination to a fine degree to cut turns. Have to have a sense of pressure sensitivity and coordination in their leg to push the gas pedal just right. Have to pay attention to the road and other passengers at speeds humans aren’t really built to consciously interpret.

Driving a car is insane. Really. And yet, millions of people drive a car. And of these millions, many have probably been labeled unatheltic or uncoordinated at some time in their life.

Think about people you went to high school with. Think to gym class. The lowest person on the physical totem pole. That dude is driving a car. He wasn’t able to throw a dodgeball, but he’s able to control a massive machine going sixty miles per hour on a highway. He’s able to park this five-foot long machine in a parking spot that’s six-feet wide.

And yet most people that learn how to drive probably can’t correctly squat…and a sect of people in that category probably see squatting or any other form of movement associated with barbell or bodyweight training and say, “I can’t.” Or, “I’m not coordinated enough.” Or, “Isn’t it dangerous?”

95% of what you need to learn, movement-wise, to look seriously well built, is pigeon poop compared to what it takes to drive a car. The difference is the culture and time barrier. For the most part, you’re expected to learn how to drive. Then you’re expected to drive every day. You’re expected to struggle at first. You’re expected to get better.

What would we be capable if we were all expected to learn how to move our body in the most basic patterns? And expected to do it every day? Expected to see success only after first seeing struggle?

At what point can we say that physical inability is merely a matter of priority?


I’m enjoying: space heaters…it’s -1 °F  in the sun.


Henry Rollins on transitioning from physicality to intellect

Henry Rollins

Henry Rollins

Henry Rollins is an icon among those that connect with a barbell. In Details (a magazine), he wrote an essay called Iron and the Soul. The essay is one of the most honest and reflective pieces ever written on the value of strength training for a human being that’s otherwise spiraling out of control. Iron and the Soul is posted in full below, but here’s something related that Rollins said during this interview with Pete Holmes.

At some point I transitioned from physicality to intellect. And I’m not saying I’m an intellectual. But at this point, for me…I’m only impressed by what I can think and what I can do. Not how much I can lift. Or how great I look in a Speedo. I wanna’ do stuff. And I keep fit because that’s just kinda’ part of my life — going to the gym…it’s a happy place to go. But I’m not trying to be like, oh, OK, I’m going to train and be able to lift ‘this’ by spring.

There’s something about Rollins that I connect with.  I just get a lot of the things he says. He’s a fascinating guy. (He also is a very good person to listen to if you have any anxiety about traveling. His attitude towards travel has given me peace many times.) There is a great talks about his extreme situational introversion in the interview (of which I empathize with). Rollins lifted alone, as do I. Training grounded his life. Yup again.

I can’t say his “now” attitude is shocking. I don’t expect any non-competitive athlete to care about numbers. But I still find interest in the perspective of a veteran that reflects on one of the more transformative activities in his life.

Below is Iron and the Soul, originally written in Details: 

I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself.


When I was young I had no sense of myself. All I was, was a product of all the fear and humiliation I suffered. Fear of my parents. The humiliation of teachers calling me “garbage can” and telling me I’d be mowing lawns for a living. And the very real terror of my fellow students. I was threatened and beaten up for the color of my skin and my size. I was skinny and clumsy, and when others would tease me I didn’t run home crying, wondering why.

I knew all too well. I was there to be antagonized. In sports I was laughed at. A spaz. I was pretty good at boxing but only because the rage that filled my every waking moment made me wild and unpredictable. I fought with some strange fury. The other boys thought I was crazy.

I hated myself all the time.

As stupid at it seems now, I wanted to talk like them, dress like them, carry myself with the ease of knowing that I wasn’t going to get pounded in the hallway between classes. Years passed and I learned to keep it all inside. I only talked to a few boys in my grade. Other losers. Some of them are to this day the greatest people I have ever known. Hang out with a guy who has had his head flushed down a toilet a few times, treat him with respect, and you’ll find a faithful friend forever. But even with friends, school sucked. Teachers gave me hard time.

I didn’t think much of them either.

Then came Mr. Pepperman, my advisor. He was a powerfully built Vietnam veteran, and he was scary. No one ever talked out of turn in his class. Once one kid did and Mr. P. lifted him off the ground and pinned him to the black board. Mr. P. could see that I was in bad shape, and one Friday in October he asked me if I had ever worked out with weights. I told him no.

He told me that I was going to take some of the money that I had saved and buy a hundred pound set of weights at Sears. As I left his office, I started to think of things I would say to him on Monday when he asked about the weights that I was not going to buy. Still, it made me feel special. My father never really got that close to caring. On Saturday I bought the weights, but I couldn’t even drag them to my mom’s car. An attendant laughed at me as he put them on a dolly.

Monday came and I was called into Mr. P.’s office after school. He said that he was going to show me how to work out. He was going to put me on a program and start hitting me in the solar plexus in the hallway when I wasn’t looking. When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere. At no time was I to look at myself in the mirror or tell anyone at school what I was doing. In the gym he showed me ten basic exercises. I paid more attention than I ever did in any of my classes. I didn’t want to blow it. I went home that night and started right in.

Weeks passed, and every once in a while Mr. P. would give me a shot and drop me in the hallway, sending my books flying. The other students didn’t know what to think. More weeks passed, and I was steadily adding new weights to the bar. I could sense the power inside my body growing. I could feel it.

Right before Christmas break I was walking to class, and from out of nowhere Mr. Pepperman appeared and gave me a shot in the chest. I laughed and kept going. He said I could look at myself now. I got home and ran to the bathroom and pulled off my shirt. I saw a body, not just the shell that housed my stomach and my heart. My biceps bulged. My chest had definition. I felt strong. It was the first time I can remember having a sense of myself. I had done something and no one could ever take it away.

You couldn’t say s–t to me.

It took me years to fully appreciate the value of the lessons I have learned from the Iron. I used to think that it was my adversary, that I was trying to lift that which does not want to be lifted. I was wrong. When the Iron doesn’t want to come off the mat, it’s the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn’t teach you anything. That’s the way the Iron talks to you. It tells you that the material you work with is that which you will come to resemble.

That which you work against will always work against you.

It wasn’t until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can’t be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn’t ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you’re not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control.

I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-respect. I think a lot of inwardly and outwardly directed contempt passes itself off as self-respect: the idea of raising yourself by stepping on someone’s shoulders instead of doing it yourself. When I see guys working out for cosmetic reasons, I see vanity exposing them in the worst way, as cartoon characters, billboards for imbalance and insecurity. Strength reveals itself through character. It is the difference between bouncers who get off strong-arming people and Mr.Pepperman.

Muscle mass does not always equal strength. Strength is kindness and sensitivity. Strength is understanding that your power is both physical and emotional. That it comes from the body and the mind. And the heart.

Yukio Mishima said that he could not entertain the idea of romance if he was not strong. Romance is such a strong and overwhelming passion, a weakened body cannot sustain it for long. I have some of my most romantic thoughts when I am with the Iron. Once I was in love with a woman. I thought about her the most when the pain from a workout was racing through my body.

Everything in me wanted her. So much so that sex was only a fraction of my total desire. It was the single most intense love I have ever felt, but she lived far away and I didn’t see her very often. Working out was a healthy way of dealing with the loneliness. To this day, when I work out I usually listen to ballads.

I prefer to work out alone.

It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you’re made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it’s some kind of miracle if you’re not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.


I’m enjoying: You Made it Weird

Story updates: /intermittent-fasting – II