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Book Review: Fitness For Geeks 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
jsuda writes "You would think that geeks would be as interested in fitness as dogs are of TV. After all, geeks already put in hours of finger dancing on keyboards, assembling hefty code fragments, and juggling PHP programming functions. Although intended, in part, as a guide to real physical fitness the book, Fitness for Geeks, entices geeks with what they are really interested in–the science of fitness, nutrition, and exercise. In 11 chapters over 311 pages (including notes and an index) author, Bruce W Perry, describes in great detail the science of fitness and all of its components–food selections, timings, and fastings; exercising of all types; sleep, rest, and meditation; the benefits of hormesis (shocking the body with stresses); and the benefits of natural sunlight." Read on for the rest of jsuda's review.
Fitness For Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health
author Bruce W Perry
pages 336
publisher O'Reilly Media
rating 6/10
reviewer jsuda
ISBN 1449399894
summary shows the hacker and maker communities how to bring science and software into their nutrition and fitness routines.
One of the major themes is respect for ancestral behaviors relating to fitness, as he sees the human body as having built-in "software" (biological and physiological "pathways") regulating its needs for certain foods and nutrients, its affinities for sprinting and intermittent fasting, and a preference for sunlight. These behaviors were evolutionary-based adaptations to their environment which in some ways was much more physically stressful than ours is now.

He argues that modern humans have gotten way too far away from their ancestral roots at the expense of their health and fitness. They would be better served by committing to behaviors which are modeled after those of our distant predecessors. That means large doses of natural sunlight, exercise programs emphasizing high demand tasks like sprinting, food selections high in quality fats and proteins and low in processed foods and sugars, and intermittent fastings. In other words, channel your inner caveman.

He supports his thesis with reference to hundreds of scientific studies. However, he doesn't sufficiently explain why modern human lifespans are so much longer than that of the ancients despite diets high in Twinkies, exercise defined as walking down the hall to the Coke machine, and light exposure limited to LCD illumination.

While the major interest of the book for geeks is in the science, Mr. Perry is also advocating real improvement in personal health and fitness. The author is a software engineer and computer-topic writer and also a serious runner, biker, and outdoor enthusiast. He seems to be a very intense proponent of maximum personal fitness both as an instructor and personally where he tracks and measures nearly every physical thing he does during the day. He monitors and measures macro nutritional ratios (carbohydrates, fats, proteins); micro nutritional consumption levels (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals); exercise metrics like energy use (Metabolic Equivalents of Tasks--MET's); the times, rhythms, and patterns of exercise program elements; and more.

Like a serious geek, he uses all the latest and greatest hardware and software tools to monitor and measure including GPS devices, motion detectors, smart phone apps of all kinds, and web-based trackers and analyzers. He describes many of the features of apps like FitBit, Endomondo, Fitocracy, and Garmin Connect, including screenshots of configurations, data charts, result pages, and comparison charts. He highlights use of web-based databases especially the nutritional information available at the USDA National Nutrient Database.

Mr. Perry also throws in a bit of food and food marketing politics as he emphasizes buying from local food suppliers, or even better, growing your own food and hunting your evening's meal. He shuns supermarket products, for the most part, even providing strategies on how best to navigate the typical mega markets to avoid being psychologically and emotionally manipulated by marketing techniques which attempt to get the consumer to buy more than they need, pricier items, and the latest junk foods they happen to be promoting that week. Mr. Perry is one serious guy!

I don't think that he is a typical health-concerned person or even a typical geek, although he is an independent spirit with great curiosity about things he's interested in. He seems to be serious about fitness to an idiosyncratic degree. In addition to all of the monitoring and measuring, he experiments with up to four different fasting strategies, goes for cold water swims, and does a variety of push-ups while waiting for boarding at the airport.

His book, I think, would appeal primarily to serious health freaks or competitive athletes who have the time and need to micromanage their eating, sleeping, and physical activities, and later analyzing all of the accumulated data.

The author writes knowledgeably and comprehensively about his topics and provides a lot of detail, especially on the tracking and measuring apps. He includes a handful of sidebar interviews with nutritional and fitness experts, some photos and graphics, and tosses in a few code references like anti-patterns and the random function, among others. What isn't in the book is referenced to websites containing more specific information, data, and videos.

Although he sprinkles some personal anecdotes and humor into the writing, overall, the book, while well organized, is a slow, often mind jumbling read. There is almost too much information, too many options to try out for some activities, and not enough focus. It will not win any literary awards. To some readers, it may be sort of like reading lab reports.

A lot of geeks like reading lab reports and there is a sufficient number of competitive athletes and health fanatics who'll find this book quite valuable and interesting.

You can purchase Fitness For Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Book Review: Fitness For Geeks

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:43PM (#39946731)

    His book, I think, would appeal primarily to serious health freaks or competitive athletes who have the time and need to micromanage their eating, sleeping, and physical activities, and later analyzing all of the accumulated data.

    Indeed. This is more for “fitness geeks” or geeks with an interest in the science of fitness than for the stereotypical geek with no interest what-so-ever.

    In general, I think for most people (not just geeks) fitness stuff comes down to a matter of time and practicality more than knowledge anyway. Most advertised approaches to healthy living require far more time/energy/money than the average working guy has to invest (and if they had the time, would rather spend it doing something else) or require behavior which is incompatible with current lifestyle (eating 14 small meals a day might be great for your health.. but complicates the work day).

    The approach that ultimately worked for me was:

    - Learning how to read the nutritional info. You’d think this is simple... but I found this complicated at first. Just knowing what numbers you should be looking for makes things a lot easier. There really needs to be a “non-health nut” guide to this.

    - Get into some physical activity that you _enjoy_. This was huge for me. I can’t stand doing a workout for the sake of it. I have little free time and I don’t want to spend it doing something monotonous. Got into a little “for fun” floor hockey thing and loved it. It turned into something I actually looked forward to. From their got into some other stuff.

    - Cut out the insanely unhealthy stuff. I accepted that I wasn’t going to be able to go full on health nut with my diet. I like food too much to live off tofu and carrots. I still eat lots of junk but I’ve cut down on or eliminated some of the really bad stuff (soda was a big one.. ).

    - Bring in the healthy stuff. A lot of it tastes like crap.. but occasionally you find something that is either acceptable or in some cases better than the unhealthy stuff. It’s a lot of trial an error (mainly error) but every time you go to the grocery run down the health nut section and try something that looks not-terrible. Once in a while you get surprised. Also a lot of that stuff tastes bad on its own, but in a tomato sauce or something it’s indistinguishable.

    Pacing was important too I think. I accepted I wasn’t going to go from unhealthy sloth lifestyle to “reasonably in shape” lifestyle (which was my ultimate goal) overnight. I didn’t do anything dramatic. I didn’t vow to live off salad for the rest of my life. I just made a general effort to gradually move in a healthier direction. I didn’t weigh myself every day or obsess in the mirror, I was more concerned with internal health than appearance. Over time all the little stuff adds up.

    Also sorry for the novel of a post. I just kinda got on a roll.

    • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:55PM (#39946897)

      Bring in the healthy stuff. A lot of it tastes like crap.. but occasionally you find something that is either acceptable or in some cases better than the unhealthy stuff.

      "healthy substitute" for junk food like a "healthy cookie-like substitute" or a "healthy ice cream-like substitute" or a "tofu-turkey" is always going to taste unbelievably awful.

      Food that is more or less evolutionarily similar to what our ancient ancestors ate, like maybe a grilled steak with a side salad, or a nice stir fry, or perhaps a fresh orange, apple, grape and berry salad tastes mind numbingly delicious.

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        Apples help you poop.
        Eat an apple, clean your colon.
        • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:02PM (#39946989)

          Apples help you poop.

          Eat an apple, clean your colon.

          Yeah, the hard part is having to wait in line at the iStore for 24 hours to buy one. Be sure to set the phone ring to "vibrate" for extra fun.

        • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:12PM (#39947139)

          Eat half a bag of apples, spend the next 6 hours with explosive diarrhea.

          It was a rough night.

        • by TheEyes (1686556)

          Oatmeal's better. I start a crockpot of steel cut oats Sunday evening (one-and-a-half cups oats, lightly toasted in a toaster oven or pan, four cups water, three cups milk, a couple of handfulls of dried fruit, add cinnamon and salt in the morning for extra flavor) and that gives me breakfast all week. Cheap, easy to make in large batches, and good for you.

          If only I could figure out an exercise program that was as easy to follow...

          • You've never electro-shock exercise [tenspros.com]?
          • Here ya go:
            http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/ [fourmilab.ch] Written by the founder of autodesk. It's a bit dated, but still works wonders. He has an exercise routine in there that is nicely laddered and realistic. Coupled with the tracking spreadsheets and stuff, you can see all sorts of trends that allow you to tune in on where you need more work (whether diet or exercise).
            -nB

          • by flyneye (84093)

            I'm a fan of the steel cut oats. Haven't tried toasting them.
            I don't think I could groove on the texture of oatmeal over a few hours old though.
            Haven't found cheap steel cut oats either. Walmart has a quart size can of them for about $4.00.

            • by xaxa (988988)

              Haven't found cheap steel cut oats either. Walmart has a quart size can of them for about $4.00.

              I had to look up "steel cut oats", I think I'd call them wholegrain oats, or unprocessed oats, or Scottish/Irish oats, the kind to make porridge from. They're £1.20 / kg for a mid-range brand here, or 75p/kg for cheap (Asda) ones, which are probably a bit dusty.

              Measuring a dry product by volume is completely alien to me, but I looked up the density (300kg/m^3, so 0.3kg/L ~= 0.3kg/quart, so your "quart sized can" (litre) is about $13 / kg, £8/kg! Mad!

              Why are such basic foods so expensive in Amer

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                We have anti-competitive subsidies for crap food here. What, do you hate freedom?!

              • by flyneye (84093)

                I'm thinking it has something to do with scarcity of the old equipment that "cut" oats rather than the proliferation of oat rollers that supply 99% of the U.S.s oats.
                Over processed foods are pure madness. I can buy twice the rolled oats at less than half the price of steel cut. Here crap is cheap and real food is really expensive.
                It helps explain the obesity rate here too.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        Totally this.

        Personally I avoid most stuff that tries to be something else because yeah, it really doesn't. I focus on adding healthy stuff that stands on it's own. I'll have a smaller steak but with some veggies, sliced up tomato, salad, etc. End up just as satisfied, but significantly healthier.

        I will say though that indeed some of the "substitutes" are ok when mixed in with other stuff. I make a good sausage and pepper penne in tomato sauce with fake vegi based sausage that I'd challange anyone to a peps

    • by swb (14022)

      I like food too much to live off tofu and carrots.

      The kneejerk-reflex "good for you" diet which is low in fat and high in carbohydrates is not only not good for you, it will make you accumulate MORE fat and give you less energy.

      What you want is a fatty steak with a tab of butter on it and a green salad with anchovies and a high fat salad dressing without added sugar (Newman's Own Caesar is pretty good). No white food.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        It all depends. We are not factory stamped all at the same Foxconn plant. Different people have different requirements depending on body type and ethnicity. You can thrive on things that will be entirely inappropriate for other people.

        This is a manifestation of American political correctness run amok.

        We are not all equal. We are equal as a matter of law.

        • My wife is of Native American ancestry (Blackfoot)* and a largely diet controlled diabetic. If you give her rice or white bread her blood sugar will go off the charts to the point where she likens it to being little different from having a couple glasses of wine, or a shot of crown.
          If you give her other sources of carbs (legumes, lentils, etc.) no effect at all on her blood sugar.
          Conversely she has low serum cholesterol even though we eat red meat all the time, while I (a cheese eating surrender monkey) ne

          • forgot the * part:
            incidentally the Blackfoot tribe never signed the American / Indian treaty. I told my wife recently when our state government was busy being asshats that she should go to the capitol and take them all as prisoners of war until they started acting like grownups. :)

      • The kneejerk-reflex "good for you" diet which is low in fat and high in carbohydrates is not only not good for you, it will make you accumulate MORE fat and give you less energy.

        No, it won't. If you maintain the same exercise level, replacing fat with an equal mass of carbs will make you lose weight -- weight loss is pretty strictly associated with calorie deficit, and carbs have fewer calories per unit mass.

        Beyond a certain point, that's not good for reasons besides weight loss, but that's tangential.

        What

        • You are spot on about eating as much non-starchy vegetables as you can. Not so right about the other stuff.

          One of the key arguments against a high carb diet is that carbs make you hungry, especially high glycemic index carbs. It is difficult for most people to replace, gram for gram, carbs for fat because fat makes you full and is more satiating than carbs. This is especially true a few hours after a meal when a high carb diet will result in a blood sugar crash which makes you hungry again.

          Endurance

          • Well, here is one. Lost 48 kg in 30 months by going lower fat (50% carb, 30% protein, 20% fat). Fat doesn't satiate me, so replacing fat with carbohydrates or protein gram for gram does help in my case.

            Also hitting the wall while pedalling uphill for two hours isn't fun.

        • by rycamor (194164)

          There's lots of knee-jerk all around when it comes to this topic, I've found. I think there are definitely different "nutritional types" of people, who flourish with different ratios of protein/fat/carbs. However, it still seems obvious from what has happened to our society the past few decades that low-fat, high-sugar, high-carb processed food is the bomb (in your gut). The more refined and processed, the worse.

          I think a somewhat balanced approach to this is Dr. Mercola's nutritional typing [mercola.com] concept.

          I found

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      - Get into some physical activity that you _enjoy_. This was huge for me. I can’t stand doing a workout for the sake of it. I have little free time and I don’t want to spend it doing something monotonous. Got into a little “for fun” floor hockey thing and loved it. It turned into something I actually looked forward to. From their got into some other stuff.

      I recommend shovelglove for this. It's cheap, suitably geeky and really works.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      In general, I think for most people (not just geeks) fitness stuff comes down to a matter of time and practicality more than knowledge anyway.

      I strongly disagree...I have friends who ask me fitness advice and time after time I see people who just have no idea how things work...the biggest problem are people who think "low fat" means healthy, even if it's a big bowl of sugary cereal. Or don't understand the importance of meat & vegetables. Or follow some strange fad diet. This doesn't come down to ti

    • by Hatta (162192)

      - Cut out the insanely unhealthy stuff. I accepted that I wasnâ(TM)t going to be able to go full on health nut with my diet. I like food too much to live off tofu and carrots. I still eat lots of junk but Iâ(TM)ve cut down on or eliminated some of the really bad stuff (soda was a big one.. ).

      Or learn how to cook so that tofu and carrots are actually appetizing. Avoid the "health nut crap" and stick to the basics. Actual fruit and vegetables, grains, and lean cuts of meat. Learn to use spices

    • by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:49PM (#39947669)
      I agree, i'm interested in the science, but i'm not willing to put the effort into micromanaging my entire life and and analyzing everything in detail.

      A geeky friend of mine recently pointed me at the One Hundred Push-Ups program [hundredpushups.com]. It appeals to me because it's a webpage, it doesn't require anything complicated in the way of equipment or anything like that, it presents a simple and easy to understand plan with lots of numbers, and it takes place over a specific time period. You follow the plan, and the numbers keep going up till you reach your goal. (Assuming you manage to stick through to the end.) It might take more than six weeks if you have to take some do-overs, but it's definitely a finite period of time at the end of which you should see some definite improvement, something that really appeals to me. (I'm just starting week four myself right now.)

      Another site i've used in the past is Calories Per Hour [caloriesperhour.com], particularly the BMR and RMR calculator. [caloriesperhour.com] You can use it in conjunction with an exercise program, or just for setting up a diet plan. There's lots of numbers and math, which appeal to me as a geek, but at the end you have a nice simple number or two which tell you how much you can eat every day if you don't want to gain weight, and how much you can eat every day if you want to lose weight in a methodical and long term manner.

      Of course on that note there's also The Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch], which similarly takes the fairly straightforward approach that losing weight = consuming less calories than you burn.

      You can argue a long time about paleo diet vs atkins diet vs south beach(?) or whatever other fad diet you've heard of, but in the end weight is just a matter of calories in vs calories out. If you want to lose weight you can reduce the calories going in or increase the calories going out. Certainly adjusting the kind of food you eat can make you healthier in other ways, but controlling the number of calories you eat is the first step. And if you start paying attention to the number of calories you eat you'll quickly discover that the healthier you eat the more you get to eat. Even just making the same food at home that you would have gotten at a fast food restaurant will save you a lot of calories than you can then spend on a snack or something. So instead of feeling like you _have_ to eat healthy to fit some particular diet you've decided to subject yourself to, you feel like you're getting rewarded for eating healthy.
      • but in the end weight is just a matter of calories in vs calories out.

        It's not ENTIRELY this, though this is a big part of it. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study in which participants were fed an extra 1000 calories a day during an approximately 3 month period. One subgroup received 25 percent of daily calories as protein, one received 15 percent protein, and one group received five percent protein.

        The kicker? All groups gained the same amount of fat. However: the

      • I used the formulas and such from the Hacker diet and as an experiment did not do any exercise. Dropped over 30 pounds anyway. Now that I weigh less I am in Karate and while when I started the diet I had trouble on ladder rung 1 of the Hacker program, now I just went and tried it out and I'm on rung 15, go figure.
        (over the span of a year for all this).
        -nB

      • by rycamor (194164)

        I used to think it was purely calories-in/calories-out, but I have changed my mind after thinking through the implications of the glycemic index,and testing it out myself. It is mathematical, but it's not just averaged quantities that matter. The *rate* and fluctuations of caloric processing seems to play a major role. Even though proteins and fats are higher in calories/weight than starches and grains, the body doesn't process the calories nearly as fast. In other words, meat and fat puts your body on a sl

        • by Daetrin (576516)
          Well you're right, but so am i. In the grand scheme of things if you could measure _exactly_ how many calories you use every day and _exactly_ how many calories you absorb from the food you eat, you could constantly adjust the later to be slightly smaller than the former, and the laws of thermodynamics require that you lose weight. Whether the calories spend some time as fat first or not, you can't produce energy out of nothing.

          Of course the complication is that everyone has a different metabolism, and a
          • by rycamor (194164)

            I still think there is a geek-fixation to get stuck in the idea of numerical equivalence of food/calories. An over-simplification. It's a temptation to try to reduce everything to a conceptually-manageable equation, when the body is far more complex than that. Why would one have to assume that there is an absolute rule regarding overall number of calories and how much of that goes towards fat? I'm saying that I find this mindset very suspect, given what I have seen. Calories are just a concept. Your body is

            • by Daetrin (576516)
              Well again, we're looking at two views of the truth, kind of like Newton and Einstein.

              First of all, i never said anything about what percentage of calories go towards fat, i said it doesn't matter if the calories spend some time as fat before getting burned (speaking purely from a weight loss perspective.)

              As for an absolute rule regarding overall number of calories, well there is one. It's called the law of conservation of energy. The sum of all the inputs has to equal the sum of all the outputs. If you
      • The problem with the 100 pushup challenge is that you quickly hit the diminishing return point... you rapidly cross the line between growth and endurance training. Not that there is anything fundamentally wrong with that, it depends of your own objectives. But for general fitness and hypertrophy, you'd incease your returns by inceasing the difficulty of the exercise (change the weight distribution) of your pushup once you can do 3x8 with perfect form. You should also train squats, L-sits and pullups to try and train most major muscle groups. C25K is a very good "by the numbers" program to start running. B210K picks up from there to double the distance. Running will do wonders for your stamina and your lower body muscles. There are also many calisthenics programs out there that don't require a lot of investment. Overcoming Gravity, Building the Gymnast Body, Never Gymless...
    • by flyneye (84093)

      Good one, congratulations.
      My approach was similar, with noticable differences.

      Read nutritional info, numbers not nearly as important as ingredients. Avoid machine oil(canola) completely, your digestive tract will get happier.Cut out corn syrup entirely and avoid as much corn as possible unless it is whole grain.Regular ol nacho chips are a far superior choice to many so called healthy chips full of artificial
      synthetics and sawdust. All in all the less preservatives, less processing, less filler garbage, the

    • by steelfood (895457)

      A bit of exercise, and serious portion control goes a long way.

      For example, instead of eating a small bag of chips every night, eat a big bag of chips (but not party-sized) once a week. Instead of eating all of the meat on a plate served to you at a restaurant, eat half of it and bag the other half for lunch the next day. Have a glass of juice or water instead of a soft drink.

      For exercising, going out for a walk every day for about 30 minutes is more than sufficient for most people. A sport is great, but ra

    • by xaxa (988988)

      - Learning how to read the nutritional info. You’d think this is simple...

      Or better: aim for most of what you eat not to have a nutritional label (or any packaging at all). Then the few bits that do probably don't matter.

      Or: try and get your country to mandate clearer labelling. Here, the nutritional label is often coloured red or orange if a nutrient is particularly high (just in case you didn't know fizzy drinks had loads of sugar and cheap pizzas were full of salt).

      - Get into some physical activity that you _enjoy_.

      Or at least has purpose. I cycle to work, which is more exercise each day than many people get in a week. It's

    • In general, I think for most people (not just geeks) fitness stuff comes down to a matter of time and practicality more than knowledge anyway. Most advertised approaches to healthy living require far more time/energy/money than the average working guy has to invest (and if they had the time, would rather spend it doing something else) or require behavior which is incompatible with current lifestyle (eating 14 small meals a day might be great for your health.. but complicates the work day).

      Nonsense! It comes down to motivation and nothing else. Granted, people with more free time need less motivation, but unless you're working 36-hour shifts at a factory in China you can take three hours out of your week to exercise, which--when combined with not eating at McDonald's regularly--is plenty to keep fit. I find that more often than not, people think that they have to look like Daniel Craig or Tom Hardy to be "fit," which is an impossibly high bar unless you have the genetics for it and get paid t

      • Hear hear. Biking is surprisingly fun easy to pick up. Went from 1 km daily to 45 km three times per week (on a heavy MTB no less) in just three months. Never been in a so good shape as now.

        • I think I would die from exhaustion after one 45 km ride, let alone three per week!
          • Just try to raise your distance gradually and don't forget adequate rest (as you probably do with weights already) and you can do it. I mean, I am still 30 kg overweight and I manage that on a heavy bike.

            Start with 5 km three times a week, then 8 km, then 12 and so on. If you feel that you are too tired, stop, catch your breath, drink some juice and continue. Just don't stop too long or else you'll cool down. Well, it is actually really like weight training, only except raising weights you raise the distanc

  • Coffee (Score:4, Funny)

    by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:49PM (#39946815)
    As long as I can still lift my coffee cup I am good.
    • Re:Coffee (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:36PM (#39947489)
      Truth be told.
      About 6 months ago I stepped on a scale, and found to my horror I weighed over 220Lbs.

      Something had to change. I gave up the fastfood lunches, started taking the stairs whenever possible, and lots of walking. I hit the scale this morning at 192Lbs. I still have a way to go, but the effort has really been worth it. I feel better, and just the other day I found myself jogging up the stairs.
      • I had a similar experience (though with higher numbers). I was shocked. I'd already cut soda about 6 months before that (from 2-3 12-packs/wk to 1 can/month at most). Pretty much totally abandoned fast food (good riddance) and even most "frozen junkfood" type meals (TV dinners, frozen pizza, etc...). My activity level was pretty much the same.

        Six months later, I'm constantly fatigued and I find out that I PUT ON about 23 lbs.

        I would have been better off keeping the shitty diet.

  • So basically... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MonsterTrimble (1205334) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .elbmirtretsnom.> on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:50PM (#39946835)
    1) Eat less crap
    2) Exercise more
    3) Go outside
    4) Sleep more

    All we need is to add 'but on the internet!' to that list and we have the book summed up.
    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Yup. Maybe if you want to be an athlete or bodybuilder this stuff matters.. but for the average guy who just wants to make it up the stairs without running out of breath.. I think that's all it really takes.

      Fun thing is that 1 and 2 are somewhat in balance. Put a little more time in at the gym and then enjoy your 12oz steak and potato. Skip the gym and eat salad. Obviously it only works that absolutely in my head.. but I think over time their is some truth to that general idea. At the very least it works fi

      • by TheEyes (1686556)

        Yup. Maybe if you want to be an athlete or bodybuilder this stuff matters.. but for the average guy who just wants to make it up the stairs without running out of breath.. I think that's all it really takes.

        Fun thing is that 1 and 2 are somewhat in balance. Put a little more time in at the gym and then enjoy your 12oz steak and potato. Skip the gym and eat salad. Obviously it only works that absolutely in my head.. but I think over time their is some truth to that general idea. At the very least it works fine for me!

        While somewhat true, there is a minimum level of exercise that is necessary even for grass-eaters. Getting that minimum isn't easy, especially for the busy geek with a long commute and lots of overtime to do.

        • there are exercises you can do in a cube. Incline pushups, crunches, static leg and arm lifts, squats.
          Eyes bugging you, tired of looking at the same problem from hell for the last hour? Take a micro break and pop out 1/3/5/10 pushups.
          it'll help more than just your health, it'll help your mental focus too.
          -nB

  • by tedgyz (515156) * on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:50PM (#39946837) Homepage

    While we love to live in our virtual worlds, we are bound by the constraints of the physical world. Our bodies were not designed to be sedentary. I am a full fledged coder + gamer, but the thing I love most is doing things in meatspace.

    Sure, we love to reminisce about week-long coding frenzies fueled by Mountain Dew and pizza, but it has consequences.

    I may download this book for my newly acquired Kindle Fire.

  • My dog watches TV all the time, but then again he's a Border Collie.
  • >> His book, I think, would appeal primarily to serious health freaks or competitive athletes who have the time and need to micromanage their eating, sleeping, and physical activities...

    Then why is it posted here?

    Hell, how many geeks still *buy* books anymore?

    • Hell, how many geeks still *buy* books anymore?

      I bought a book today. A real book, it is made of paper.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      I'm thinking the 6/10 gives the impression that this book doesn't really fit here, but it's marketed to this demographic which is why it got reviewed in the first place.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Open Source advocate Dr. Richard Stallman for one. I was listening to an interview he did with Alex Jones, and I was surprised to hear he boycotts the Kindle and other e-readers, and prefers physical books. Read more here:

      http://stallman.org/articles/ebooks.pdf [stallman.org]

  • by InvisibleClergy (1430277) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:58PM (#39946951)

    I was using this package [debian.org] to track absolutely everything I ate. Its advice was always to eat absurd amounts of fish flakes because fish flakes had something that it thought I was low in. Iron, maybe? So whenever I would be winding down my day and I would ask it what to eat, it would always be something like a pound of dried herring flakes.

    I wonder if that's this book's conclusion. The last page just goes something like this:

    "tl;dr: eat pounds of fish flakes"

    • by jsepeta (412566)

      fish flakes - it's what's for breakfast!

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      Sounds like the advice on some bodybuilding forums. No matter what someone asks there are always a few people who suggest squats as the go-to exercise. It's even gotten to the point of becoming a meme ("Squats and oats!").

      Of course, there's a lot of "broscience" involved in this case, squats are considered "hardcore" so everyone keeps telling each other to do lots of squats.

  • by Powys (1274816) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:01PM (#39946973)
    Perhaps I've been spoiled living in Colorado my whole life, but that vast majority of "Geeks" that I've worked with here are the fittest people in the companies I"ve worked for. From marathon runners, to long distance cyclist, to yogis, to (obviously in Colorado) hard core skiers. Other offices in the company do have less fit geeks but over all I'd say they aren't any worse than the average employee in the company.

    I think the perception of translucent/Mountain Dew drinking/Pizza&Cheetoes eating geeks is a little old and incorrect.
    • Yes, you're spoiled. Colorado is on average the fittest state in the nation. Lucky skiers, and all those lovely mountains to cycle up! (not joking about that, I'm a hillclimber and central KY just doesn't offer too much)

    • Geeks aren't the only ones with that stereotype. In SF fandom an XL tee shirt is considered to be "fanish medium" with good reason.
  • Since it's possible to be a "workout geek," the term the title probably should have used is "nerd."
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:07PM (#39947087) Homepage Journal

    I'm deeply skeptical of attempts to reproduce the "natural" diet, exercise plan, etc. of our ancestors, for a couple of reasons.

    First of all, you can't recreate the environment in which humans evolved. You just can't. That world is gone. You could, I suppose, move to central Africa and try to live a life as much as possible like the way you think people lived a quarter of a million years ago, but the environment has changed considerably in that time and in any case, most people in the industrialized world (such as, you know, pretty much everyone who's likely to read the book) aren't going to change their lives to that degree just to get into shape.

    Second, who's to say that our remote ancestors even had the ideal environment for their bodies? We're a young species; a lot of our anatomy is obviously best suited to an arboreal lifestyle, and the transition from semi-quadrupedal tree-dwellers to bipedal ground-dwellers isn't really complete -- many of the knee and back problems which even very healthy people tend to develop in old age can be traced to this, as can the not-so-trivial problem that childbirth is more difficult and dangerous for humans than for practically any other mammalian species. It's reasonable to suspect that our physiology, too, is the result of many quick-fix compromises over the last few million years, more so than most animals'.

    So the best thing, it seems to me, is not to try to live like our ancestors did in a world that no longer exists, but to come up with diet and exercise plans that work well for us, as we are, in the world in which we live. Weightlifting is an example. No non-human animal does anything even remotely like it, and it's a safe bet that early humans didn't either -- but there's a fair body of evidence that there's no other single type of exercise that carries the same level of whole-body ftiness benefit that repetitively moving heavy weights in carefully planned and controlled motions does. Running is probably the second-best form of exercise in terms of overall benefit, but running with shoes on a concrete or asphalt track is very different from running barefoot (with feet conditioned to it by a lifetime of never even having heard of shoes) through long grass. Bicycling? Again, completely alien to our ancestors.

    I'm all for looking at our biology for ways to improve our health, and studying our evolution is certainly one way to do that. But assuming that we're going to come up with any kind of "natural, and therefore healthy" lifestyle based on dim of ideas of how long-ago proto-humans lived in a vanished world is just silly.

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      A friend of mine went on the caveman diet (pretty much meat, veggies, fruit, and nuts only) about a year ago. He has lost 80 pounds and swears he will never eat processed food again. He's a pretty normal dude that doesn't exercise outside of having to stand a lot at work. He looks like a normal dude instead of a fat dude now. I'm stoked for him.
  • by jsepeta (412566) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:13PM (#39947151) Homepage

    it hurtssss ussss

  • I'd rather lose weight by not eating, such as skipping supper, then waste time on a treadmill or bike. Besides diet restriction has been shown (in mice/monkeys) to create a longer-lasting body.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      Yep. You're not going to burn more than 500 calories in an hour of treadmill or biking (the "calories burnt" number on the device is basically just marketing). Pushing away 500 calories of food is a hell of a lot easier.

      Of course some cardio exercise is good for one's health. It's just a shitty way to lose weight.

      • by anjrober (150253)

        this is not accurate
        i burn 120 calories per mile run and run 8 miles in an hour, thats over 960 calories.
        i do this 5 days a week with a 16 mile run on saturday
        it is a great way to lose weight
        To truly lose weight you have to balance food eaten and exercise

      • One has to be careful with calorie restriction and be sure to get all the necessary nutrients. A longer term deficit of something important can come back to bite you. Hard. Be sure to get enough:

        1) Potassium
        2) Fat
        3) Protein
        4) The vitamins and minerals found in a good multivitamin/mineral (like Centrum or One A Day maximum).

        Before going on a calorie-restricted regimen, I would strongly urge people to spend some time figuring out what nutrients the body needs, and from where they plan to get these nutrients.

    • 1. Don't skip meals. If you skip tea, you won't sleep as well. Bad for your health. If you skip breakfast or lunch, you'll have insufficient energy to do your daily tasks. It's not good for you. Eat smaller meals. And exercise - it'll burn more calories.

      2. If you are overweight, then you really should exercise. Extra weight will put more stress on your joints. Losing weight helps, but you also need to strengthen your muscles.Skipping meals won't do that. Exercise will. You'll be really glad you took this ad

  • by AioKits (1235070) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:15PM (#39947179)
    Seriously, if you don't like the idea of going to the gym and doing a death march for an hour or so, convince a friend to go with you! I go to Planet Fitness, and have the membership that lets me drag someone along at no extra charge. I get company, friend gets to go without paying, and we both enjoy ourselves and the exercise. Time flies so much faster when you've got a buddy than if you're just trying to hammer out an hour by yourself. I tend to make it a minimum of 3 trips a week, 1 hour each trip. Going strong since November. Has been working wonders for me.
  • Another classic along the same line is "The Hackers Diet". It's more about dieting and motivation than exercise, but well written and often funny (at least I thought so in the early 90's when I read it) http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/www/hackdiet.html [fourmilab.ch]
  • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:31PM (#39947431) Journal

    After all, geeks already put in hours of finger dancing on keyboards, assembling hefty code fragments, and juggling PHP programming functions.

    What, all geeks are programmers/developers? I see this all the time, the stereotypical geek is a developer. Us lowly system and network administrators get no love!

    I'll add, the gym probably isn't for everyone.. it works for me but if it really isn't your thing then at least try to find some other way to get a little exercise. I see a trend in the PC crowd that tends to divorce what is "you" from your body, and I have to highly disagree. Your emotions and intellect are actually very tied into your physical condition. And we all know how various chemicals, alkaloids, and substances can affect thinking and perception via the brain.

    The hardest thing about a fitness regimen is beginning it. Especially if you're out of shape to start. Lifting heavy weights with flabby or scrawny arms kinda makes you go, "Damn this is heavy, I really don't wanna do this!", or if running, "My sides hurt and I'm tired, F this, time to fire up Skyrim!"... the real payoff doesn't happen until you're a ways down the road.. like maybe even a couple of years down the road. I admit it sucks to bust your ass week after week and not really see the big changes you wish you would at first, as it just doesn't happen overnight. However, once you get to a certain state of fitness, it's like your body thrives on it. I noticed a kind of accelerated effect in lifting, the more muscle you have to work with, the easier it is to build more muscle (up until you get to the point of diminishing returns and genetic limits of course), perhaps not unlike the way it "takes money to make money", it takes muscle to make muscle (and a shit-ton of protein). I still think the Arnold is nuts for saying the pump is better than sex, but it ain't too shabby either. It's a like ultra-proprioception.

    Losing fat is harder than gaining muscle, for some. For me, not eating isn't actually "doing something", and I always feel like I need to actively do something, so it drives me nuts. (and I love my mead!) Besides, no diet, in and of itself, is likely to work long term. You need to expend more calories than you intake, and exercise is a good way to practically guarantee that. But I will end in saying, having started 3 years ago, I'm in some of the best shape in my life, considering my age (50 in 6 weeks) and it really changes your outlook and mood for the better. Last but not least, I would expect it would extend your life expectancy.

  • Get a dog (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kittenman (971447) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @05:50PM (#39947677)
    I tried the gym, didn't like it (pounding music at high volume, and my headphones didn't help). Gym bunnies abound and those who weren't have odd ... er ... personal issues.

    But a dog ... always likes walking. Fresh air, easy exercise, a happy animal who likes spending time with you ... and it keeps me off the couch. So I'm watching less tv, DVDs, and haven't got the high score on the latest game. Big deal.
    • by bjdevil66 (583941)

      So I'm watching less tv, DVDs, and haven't got the high score on the latest game.

      You've touched on a very important change: Turning off the TV. You'd be surprised how much you can get done - work or fun - when you aren't channel surfing non-stop for a few hours daily.

      Heck - just moving around sometimes is better than nothing because some recent studies have suggested that sitting still shortens your lifespan quite a bit [mashable.com] (with purty pictures)...

    • I have two friends who get most of their exercise from walking their dogs. One has a chihuahua that he takes around the block. The other has a siberian husky who considers a two mile walk barely adaquate. Guess which one's fat and which one's in fairly good shape.
  • As well as the book, 99% of the posts on this topic are of the form "I have the REAL answer, it's ...."

    YOU DO NOT HAVE THE REAL ANSWER. STFU ALREADY.

    Advice for Slashdot readers: do not get nutritional / lifestyle advice from Slashdot. Do not get it from books hawked on Slashdot either.

  • 1) Lift weights.
    - It saves time: 30-60 minutes 2-3x a week suffice for a decent workout.
    - It trains your whole body: Don't waste time on machines, you don't need 'em. Let a good trainer show you the popular full-body exercises and practice with low weights until you can do them correctly. It's all you need to bulk up or lose some kg.
    - It's not as gruesome as it sounds: Most of the time is spent recovering from the last set, and the short bursts of pushing yourself to the limit are actually enjoyable, onc
    • 1) Lift weights

      I agree. Machines are useless. Free weights exercise your body more naturally. One of the best full body exercises is the parallel squat. Nobody likes them because done properly, they are hard. But you will feel the difference if you do them right. A great book which I used for many years is Super Squats. [amazon.com] If you don't know how to squat properly, another good book to get is Starting Strength. [amazon.com]

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        Machines are not useless. There are advantages to machines and there are advantages to free weights.

        I do some things with free weights and some things with machines (for example, I prefer using the seated leg press machine instead of doing barbell squats because I care about not fucking up my back which is a hell of a lot easier to do with squats).

      • Watch a movie you've seen a couple of times while exercising with weights and other at-home exercises. You don't have to focus on the movie to follow the plot (you've already seen it) and it prevents boredom. Getting bored while exercising will prevent me from doing it again.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @06:04PM (#39947841) Journal

    If you are over-weight, there is only one way to lose weight... Consume fewer calories. End of story. And further, it is preferable that you consume just slightly fewer calories, over a long time-frame.

    http://www.muller.lbl.gov/TRessays/22-ThePhysicsDiet.htm [lbl.gov]

    In theory, exercise is an alternative, but really, unless you can force your flabby butt to go run a marathon, you won't even make a dent, and even if you do, your body will crave more calories and your increased food intake may eliminate any gains.

    There are no alternatives, there are no short-cuts.

    All the diet schemes out there are intended to get you to consume fewer calories, when you lack the will power to just jump head-long into it and do so directly...

    Diet pills basically exist to make you feel slightly sick, so you won't want to eat so much. Secondarily, they may do the same thing as taking fiber before eating, causing your body to excrete more of the food you eat before it is digested and converted into calories.

    Drinking water before a meal will occupy a portion of your stomach with calorie-free liquid, so you will feel you are "full" before you have consumed your normal number of calories of food. Diet foods work this same way... they have the same volume as normal foods, with a lower calorie count, so it takes more effort to stuff your face. This is similar to diets that reduce sugar... Less sugar means less calories, and also less insulin production may affect how soon you feel "full". The down-side of all of these is that your stomach may simply expand, over time, completely compensating for the reduced calorie intake per-volume of food. A similar problem for those who have their stomach "stapled", but aren't dedicated to maintaining a low-calorie diet.

    The last option that comes to mind are single-food diets. They work by basically restricting the food you eat to a narrow subset, so you can consume as many calories as you need, but you'll basically get bored of eating the same thing over and over, and hopefully won't over-indulge on the same boring food.

    But they all come back to reduced calories, just indirectly. And IMHO, the best option is just to SLIGHLY reduce serving sizes over time.

    You can eat all the same greasy and wonderful fast food and junk food you want, you just have to eat LESS of it. Get the single burger instead of the double burger... Or get the burger you want, and just don't get the sides (french fries, onion rings, etc)... Or get all the same food, and just drink water with it, instead of soda/juice/milk. All of which will reduce your calorie intake, and over time, your weight. And since you're still able to eat all the same food, I believe this is, by FAR, the easiest diet to stick to.

    I personally lost about 60lbs with this strategy... First it was smaller versions of the same fast food, and/or fewer side dishes (which saved me a lot of money, too... "super-sizing" FEELS like a good value for the money, but in fact spending less is ALWAYS the better deal).

    Then it turned into rotating between a few single-course cheap and simple meals at home... rice, potatoes, pasta, ramen, sandwiches, etc. with just the occasional splurging on a quick run for greasy fast food when I had a craving for it. And that became less and less frequent, too.

    As a fringe benefit, as you stay just slightly hungry, your energy level goes up, and you have the URGE to exercise (you don't have to force yourself to do so). And as you lose weight, exercise is also easier, and endurance goes up. But most importantly, the added muscle mass will serve you well in maintaining your weight... If you go back to eating poorly, whether for a short or medium term, the muscle will do a great job of helping your body consume the excess calories, turning it into more muscle, or heat, instead of fat.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I need a cookie.

    • Avoid sit down restaurants, especially the sit down ones. Outback Steakhouse, Ruby Tuesdays, TGI Fridays, Friendlys, etc. Most of the food served in them are calorie bombs - 1800 calorie salads, 2500 calorie burgers, 2500 calorie fish tacos, 1200 calorie grilled chicken spinach spaghetti, 1700 calorie veggie subs, etc. And avoid milkshakes from any restaurant at all costs - every single one of them has at least 800 calories and some are close to 3000. Read those Eat this, not that [eatthis.com] books. Believe it or

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      If you are over-weight, there is only one way to lose weight...

      But there is more than one way to lose fat: take in fewer calories, or convert fat into muscle through exercise. So you have to decide, do you want to lose weight, or lose fat? Remember, muscle is more dense than fat, so you can lose inches around the waist even while gaining weight.

    • Actually what works best is a combination of diet and exercise. Just reducing caloric intake will be in large part compensated for by the body reducing its rate of metabolism. You will feel tired an hungry as a result. Not a pleasant situation and the reason most dieters are unsuccessful.

      Exercise counters this by increasing your metabolism plus adding muscle, again increasing metabolism. Increased muscle also increases the caloric effect of exercise, both by energy expended but also by the metabolic effects

  • FTC Disclosure (Score:4, Informative)

    by loteck (533317) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @07:03PM (#39948447) Homepage

    This review is posted on Amazon as the foremost review of the book, with one difference:

    "(FTC disclosure (16 CFR Part 255)): The reviewer has accepted a reviewer's copy of this book which is his to keep. He intends to provide an honest, independent, and fair evaluation of the book in all circumstances.)"

    Can we get the courtesy of the same disclosure here on Slashdot?

  • I'm wondering how this compares to The Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch], which I found to be quite good.
  • by Ichijo (607641) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @08:24PM (#39949115) Homepage Journal

    For aerobic exercise, there's a free treadmill simulator called "go jogging" right outside your front door. If you want lower impact exercise, bicycling to work will save you money on your commute and give you a lot of exercise for a small marginal cost of time. (If your automobile commute is 20 minutes but your bicycle commute is 45 minutes, you'll get 45 minutes of exercise at a cost of only 25 minutes.)

    For weight lifting, $200 will buy you an exercise bench and a set of adjustable dumbbells. You can exercise just about every muscle group [exrx.net] that way.

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