GMOMG! – Educate Yourself.

In our modern, advanced, intelligent society, I’m shocked to see that we’re still so susceptible to fear-mongering and mass ignorance. I’m sure we all know…

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

We have been wrong before. We believed the Earth was flat. We believed cigarettes were healthy. We believed diet soda was actually a healthy alternative to regular soda. Today, we seem to believe “GMO’s” are creating un-killable man-eating weeds, turning our soil toxic, and poisoning our children turning them into mutants.

My question is: Do you know why you hate “GMO’s”? Do you even know what they are? Really? If you use your noggin for a minute and try to see through the mob-mentality hysterics…I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

Let me clear something up right now: I’m not Pro-GMO. I’m not Anti-GMO. I’m Anti-Ignorance.

Get Educated. Let me teach you a few things…


I really can’t stand all the nonsense I see on Facebook. I see people blindly re-posting all kinds of anti-GMO propaganda (yeah, I used that word) and I can’t help but think… do you even KNOW what you’re saying by sharing/re-posting that?

Fear-mongering, scare tactics, and a gross misunderstanding/lack of actual facts has skewed things to the point where there’s a veritable war on GMO’s…and we may very well look back on it with immense regret. I’m going to do my best not to ramble. Let’s take this step by step.

First…What IS a “GMO”, anyway?


Farmers face a lot of challenges. Pests, drought, weather, and much more can lead to low crop yields. Farmers have to overcome it all – after all, we’re counting on them to feed us. Well, people realized that many organisms possessed qualities that would be IMMENSELY helpful in our crops to combat these very problems – hence, GM seeds. GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”. Basically, scientists take a gene from an organism with the desired trait and put it into the DNA of the seeds of a crop farmers grow, like corn or potatoes. 
Example: BT Corn. BT stands for Bacillus Thuringiensis. Corn has MAJOR pest issues – pests that are killed by a toxin BT produces. Essentially, introducing specific BT genes into corn made the corn produce that toxinThat’s right, toxic to specific pests (mostly), not ALL insects, not animals, not humans.

There’s also GM crops that are drought-tolerant and, more famously, resistant to pesticide. They’re even working on being able to fortify foods with additional vitamins they don’t normally have! If executed properly, something like that could solve a lot of problems around the world.

Ok…but…they’re bad!…right? 
science AND research
Says who? When I surf the internet and read all of the top results on GMO, Monsanto, and why everything to do with this topic is “Bad”…I see a lot of misinformation, scare tactics, and enough fear-inspiring trust-destroying buzzword combinations to make your head spin. There is a troubling lack of facts and peer-reviewed research associated with every claim I see that GMO’s are bad/evil/destroying the world. See this, this, and this as examples.


What claims are “they” making?


-GMO Corn caused tumors in rats

There were so many issues with this “study”, and it is completely debunked, yet anti-GMO groups are still harping on it as fact (yes, that was published well after retraction). Another anti-GMO site claimed GMO’s caused liver/kidney damage…but the “review” cited said itself that the tests were not sufficient to prove anything conclusive.

Farmers are being sued when GMO pollen blows into their crops

This is a big twisting of the truth. There are famous cases this is based on (see this, this and this). There are far less cases being brought up and going to court than many anti-GMO activist groups would lead you to believe. They’re going after people violating patent law by saving/replanting seeds, not wind-blown pollen.

-GMO Seed-sellers are “controlling and manipulating farmers”

Not quite. These Genetically Modified seeds are, essentially, akin to a software developer creating a new program, or an artist painting a new picture – they retain the rights to profit from their new creation. The scientist may not have created “seeds”, but they DID create seeds that have extra genes built-in. Copyright, trademark, and patent apply, even if it seems strange. The farmer agreed to these terms when they bought the seed. Nobody held a gun to their head – it was a choice.

-Monsanto et al are selling sterile “Terminator seeds”

While it’s true “Terminator seeds” (which do not grow back the next year) do exist, GM Companies have never actually put them to market. (that I know of)

-GMO crops are creating unstoppable pesticide-resistant super-weeds and super-pests

Pests and weeds are going to evolve and become resistant to our efforts just like the flu virus morphs and changes every year to resist the flu vaccine…but you don’t see pitchforks and torches outside your local clinic or pharmacy, do you?

-Pesticides are destroying good soil, rendering it forever useless without GMO seeds
-There’s collateral damage as a result of “Roundup-Ready” crops.
The list goes on. These are just some of the many allegations being made. I’m not here to refute them all, but I simply had to point out that some are, in fact, incredibly false.
“Label it! I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!”
This whole “gmo” labeling thing is such a huge deal right now…there are GMO labeling measures being fought for around the country…and food/drink/agriculture companies are pouring millions of dollars into the fight to squash it. Why?

Mandatory labeling accomplishes nothing.

Labels are great – they allow us to have more information and, thus, make informed decisions. Sorry to break it to you, but Mandatory GMO Labeling wouldn’t help us make any kind of decision we can’t already make. People say they want to know so they can know what they’re putting in their bodies. They want to know so they can avoid foods they don’t want. They want labeling because…they WANT it! And other countries have it, so why shouldn’t WE?!

Know what ELSE other countries have? Communism.

Seriously, though – every argument FOR mandatory labeling I see is a lot of demands, a lot of ignorance, a lot of “I THINK I know what’s up” and little or no fact / REAL good reason. Current U.S. Law requires labeling on new foods that have significant nutritional or allergenic characteristic, and the FDA has judged that, so far, there is no danger, health risk, or reduced nutritional value from GM foods. There are many “Certified Organic” and “non-GMO certified” foods labeled as such. So…all those “informed choices” you want to make? You already can.

On the flip side, all the arguments I see against mandatory labeling are based upon facts, research, and real reasons. There would be a lot of cost involved in such an endeavor. Mandatory labeling hasn’t exactly gone like a dream in other countries. Customers ALREADY have choices (as I said above). My favorite reason – mandatory labeling would imply some kind of health risk – you don’t need to be a genius to imagine how that would pan out…it’d be like slapping on a poison label.

There IS positive potential for GM foods

I’m no expert, but given the technology GM foods could solve a lot of problems. Better pest resistance and less reliance on pesticides could mean it’d be less expensive for farmers to…farm. Less crop loss due to pests means more people get fed. Genetic Engineering could lead to larger fruits and vegetables, feeding more people. Vitamin enrichment could solve critical vitamin deficiencies in other parts of the world. Drought-resistance could mean crops could be grown in far more places – more people get fed. All in all, GM foods could be a big part of the fight against world hunger and feeding an ever-increasing world population.

And if we freak out and squash GMO’s…we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

TRUTH IS – We’ve been doing this for centuries 

Maybe not the same way, but farmers have been “messing with” your food for a very long time. How do you think broccolini exists? Farmers have been doing their own (more crude and unpredictable) genetic modification for a very long time. Cross-breeding, selective breeding/planting, etc. This is not a new idea, just a new method. Why, all of a sudden, are we upset?
Again, let me be clear – I am not pro-GMO. I am not anti-GMO. I’m simply remaining open-minded. I’m forming my opinion and making my decisions based on fact, not fear. I’m certainly not blindly following what everyone else tells me about GMO’s. If YOU would like to be educated and sound a whole lot smarter when you talk about GMO’s, you can visit any of these sites/read any of these studies:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/study-linking-genetically-modified-corn-to-cancer/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2012/09/24/does-genetically-modified-corn-cause-cancer-a-flawed-study/

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/monsantos-good-bad-pr-problem/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/09/17/the-debate-about-gmo-safety-is-over-thanks-to-a-new-trillion-meal-study/
http://www.popsci.com/article/science/core-truths-10-common-gmo-claims-debunked
http://gmoanswers.com/
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/09/10/19-year-study-of-trillions-of-meals-shows-ge-crops-do-not-harm-food-producing-animals-humans/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2408621/
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm
http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/09/10/19-year-study-of-trillions-of-meals-shows-ge-crops-do-not-harm-food-producing-animals-humans/
http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf

Please – be educated. Know what you’re talking about before you join a fight that could have major global impact later on. Be open, learn something, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion :).

So THIS Is Nutrition… The Basics

So apparently people are reading this blog and are getting inspired to get up off the couch and get fit and healthy. I have to say, I’m pretty happy about that. That was part of the big picture here, I just wasn’t sure when it would actually start happening. So…yay.

People have asked me to write about a number of things and to review a number of things (there’s even products being sent to me to be reviewed!) and I thought well, if people want to hear about it, why not write about it.

So here we are. Nutrition.
Someone asked me to talk about the Paleo diet but that’d be like trying to go into AP Calc without covering Algebra 1 first – so I thought I’d start with The Basics. Yes, this information is available from other sources, and there’s one in particular I really like, but it’s kind of technical and assumes you know a lot more than you might if you’re just starting out – so I’m going to try to present it in an easy-to-digest way (no pun intended).

What’s Up With The Watermelon dumbbell? 

This whole “fitness” thing, as I found out very early on, is 80% nutrition. Back when this all started I learned very quickly that in order to survive the intense workouts of P90X, and later INSANITY and so on, I had to eat right to properly fuel my body. Because…well…

As it turns out, potato skins and chicken tenders don’t get it done. 

There are a few important things to know in order to meet your nutrition goals.

How Much Should I Be Eating To Gain/Lose/Maintain?

I feel like many people don’t know that there is a magic number of calories to eat to maintain your weight. To keep this simple, we’ll call this your “Caloric Maintenance Level” or “CML”.
There are several formulas out there and a million “calculators” to figure out your CML, but MANY of them are inaccurate. We’ll use “The Mifflin St Jeor Equation” since it seems to be the most accurate one out there for those who don’t know their body fat %. This equation will give you your “BMR” or “Basal Metabolic Rate” which is the base calories your body needs to survive if you were in a coma:

MEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [4.92 x age (years)] + 5
WOMEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] – [4.92 x age (years)] -161

Now multiply that number by what I’m going to call “The Fitness Factor” (choose based on activity level)-
1.2 = Sedentary (Desk job, little “real” exercise – sit around a lot)
1.3 – 1.4 = Light Activity (light exercise 1 – 3 days per week, light activity job…walking a bit)
1.5 – 1.6 = Moderate Activity (moderate exercise 3 – 5 days/week, waitress or other “moving” job)
1.7 – 1.8 = High Activity (hard exercise 6 – 7 days/week, physically demanding lifestyle)
1.9 – 2.2 = Extreme Activity (athlete in endurance training, VERY Active physicaly-engaging job)

Odds are you probably fall somewhere between Sedentary or Moderate. So, multiply your BMR by your “Fitness Factor” and that is ROUGHLY your Caloric Maintenance Level. THIS IS NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE but it’s about as close as we can hope to come without some kind of sports performance lab.

That was a lot of math – now what?

So that’s your “caloric maintenance level”. That’s the number of calories you would need to eat in a day to remain the weight you are. Yes, I said that was a magic number of calories to eat to maintain your weight, but that’s only if you eat the right foods (we’ll come back to this).

I’m assuming you’d like to lose weight?  If so, you need to create a calorie deficit. What’s that? That’s eating less than your CML. You generally will lose 1 lb per week if you eat a daily 500 calorie deficit (ex. your CML is 2500 calories per day, you would eat 2000 per day to lose 1 lb per week). If you want to lose 2 lbs per week, 1000 calorie deficit. Note: this works in reverse for gaining weight.

Most sources I’ve seen out there say it’s not safe to try to lose more than 2 lbs per week. I understand your results may vary, but it’s not a good idea – GENERALLY – to go out there on a 2000 calorie deficit because you want to lose 4 lbs per week. There’s also a base level of calories they say you shouldn’t go under – I believe it’s 1200 for women and 1700 for men. I could be wrong.

Another note: EATING TOO LITTLE IS JUST AS BAD AS EATING TOO MUCH. Your body can go into “starvation mode” if it sees you’re not getting enough food – you’ll hold onto fat and may become “catabolic” – which means rather than breaking down fat and food for fuel, it will break down MUSCLE that you’re working so hard to build! (That’s bad). So make sure you keep it to a 500 or 1000 calorie deficit, NO MORE.

OK – I know how much to eat…but what am I eating?

No, the answer is not “Pizza, chicken, veggies and soda”. In order to build a healthy meal plan for yourself you have to understand what exactly your eating. There’s these things called macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. We’ll worry about micro-nutrients later – that’s some advanced stuff.

Macro-nutrients?

Don’t worry, it sounds WAY more complicated than it is. Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat are the three macro-nutrients. I’m no food scientist, but I’ll be bold here and say everything you eat is, among other things, made up of these macro-nutrients. NONE OF THESE THREE THINGS ARE BAD. Protein is not just for muscle-heads at the gym. Carbs are not bad, no matter what some “diet” programs tell you (diet is a 4-letter word!). Fat is not bad, you need a certain amount of it to survive, but too much can be bad.

It’s all about how much of each you take in. The right balance will take you a long way to getting the results you want. Many sources will tell you to follow a particular ratio – When I was following the P90X nutrition guide that’s where I got this idea from. There are also some sources out there that tell you following ratios are bad. I’ll go into all the specifics on this later, but to get you in the right direction I’ll start you with what I started with:

50% Protein, 30% carb, 20% fat. That’s what one program I did called “fat shredder”.

It’s a high-protein-based diet to help build muscle while burning fat. PLEASE do not take this as “the one true way”. This is supposed to be “The Basics” and this is just one way to get you started. I am going to go in-depth on macro-nutrients in another article, but this is a starter to take you in the right direction. Also, this works best when you’re putting forth some kind of effort to work out. Then again, life works best when you’re putting forth some kind of effort to work out.

NO. It doesn’t. I’ve seen and heard about this “If It Fits Your Macros” thing. That is wrong – it’s an excuse to eat something you want that you know isn’t all that great for you. That’s all I’ll say on “IIFYM”.

There are a lot of things that I stopped eating when I began my journey. I stopped drinking soda, I stopped eating deep-fried foods, I switched to whole grain bread instead of white, I SERIOUSLY dropped my fat intake, etc. I made a LOT of changes, some of them hard. It may not have been easy, but I had a pretty serious motivator (see my story if you need a refresher) so I stuck with it. I’m not saying you have to completely cut all these things out, but you should start scaling back so that, eventually, you can cut it out. Once again, I’ll go into more depth on what’s not all that great and why later on (it ties in with macro-nutrients) but suffice it to say, all these bad-for-you things will take your macro-nutrients out of whack and GENERALLY increase your fat intake.

This isn’t about depriving yourself. This is about teaching yourself how to eat right and give your body what it really needs, not what you’ve been made to think you want. I am super-happy with the things I eat, and people look at me sideways telling me I need to cheat once in a while. I do, it’s just not what they would consider cheating. So many people “diet” then gain it all back, say nothing works because they don’t really learn how to eat right and get better habits. I don’t “diet”, “diets” fail. “Diets” don’t teach you anything – they do the thinking for you. I just follow good nutrition.

You can too.