North American Contrarian

Telling it like it is… in North America

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A life changing health & wellness routine

I wanted to share with the world my wellness regime. It’s quick, and it’s simple.  But most importantly, it’s incredibly, life-changingly, and deceivingly effective.

Here it is.  Every week, you shall do the following

  • Workout your bicep, back and shoulders, which will take exactly, precisely 30 minutes (more about this below) ,
  • Workout your chest and triceps which will take exactly, precisely 30 minutes.

That’s it.  There is no nutrition plan, no cardio plan, and I don’t even specify what I should be doing those 30 minutes or where it needs to happen.  That may sound incredibly vague, and even disappointing after such a bold title.    So let me explain a bit more in order of importance, as to why this is the most effective routine ever invented and why my health has consistently gotten better over the years while my friends and colleagues seem to follow the “new year’s resolution” plan.

  • Exactly, precisely, 30 minutes:

    That’s it.  Your workout will take exactly, precisely, 30 minutes and simple math download-1will show you that this is  a total of one hour a week.  I literally set a 30 minute timer and at the end- even if I’m totally in the zone, it’s over.  30 minutes is no accident.  This is the same time it takes to watch a sitcom, or a couple of youtube videos.  I think about this often.  Many, if not most days, I absolutely do not feel like completing a workout.  Maybe my two year old wanted to play ‘Mr. Dress Up’ at 3am or I just generally feel lethargic.  Then I think: sometime in the day, I’ll likely do nothing-chat idly to a colleague, or login to Facebook or stare at a wall.  Imagine, in that time I could have completed one of only two of my weekly commitments.  It’s a tiny fragment of time.  And then, reluctantly, I complete my obligation.

  • It’s short, but religious. 

    This is the biggest failing of 99% of exercise regimes like the insanity workout or caveman training .   I’m sure that these are extremely effective.  The caveat is, they only work if you complete them.  And, after a couple of months of that, who, in their right mind would want to continue something they know is going to leave them exhausted and in pain.  My plan is so unintimidating and the barrier to entry is so incredibly low, I can always drum up the energy to complete it.  I’ve been doing this routine for over 15 years, and can probably count on my hands the number of missed weeks.  These are not workouts- this is brushing your teeth.  It’s something not totally unpleasant that just needs to be done or you are just left feeling kinda yuck.

  • It’s twice a week:

    Here is the strange thing about two times a week.  It’s enough that, in your head, you become a “healthy individual”.  You are not a slob who does nothing like the masses, since more likely than not you just finished a workout over the past couple of days.  This is where strange things happen.  You want to eat better because, after all, that’s just what fit people who work out tend to do.  Over the course of the week, you sometimes think… hmmm… maybe I should also go for a run to make sure my heart is in the same shape as my muscles.  In other words exercise begets more exercise.  Please note (and this is important) that there is no obligation to do anything other than the two, 30 minute workouts, but it just seems that things fall into place.

  • It doesn’t include legs or many other muscle groups and fuck you.

    This is, in all honesty, not the most comprehensive workout.  For instance, I always hated working out legs, and  a few other body parts.  But the secret is that, as with an above point, the barrier to entry needs to be low.  The minute you give yourself an “out”, an excuse not to complete your twice weekly, piddly obligation, you almost unfailingly will chose to do so.

  • What you actually do during that 30 minutes is not as important as you might think: 

Here’s what I don’t do.  I don’t write down a single exercise I complete.   I don’t count


I’m going to guess that this is not your fitness goal.

sets.  I have no idea how much I’m lifting.  Hell, I don’t even know what exercise I did during any given session.  The only thing I know is that for that 30 minutes I spend concentrated, dedicated time on those body parts.  If I see someone do a cool exercise I hadn’t thought of, I simply do it.  This might sound anathema to any good workout routine- aren’t you supposed to try to improve each time?  My answer is that unless you plan to make your livelihood as a bodybuilder, or have some other overall objective (which is about .05% of us) there is ABSOLUTELY NO reason to care how much you lifted.  It’s like asking if you improved your toothbrushing lately- no you did what you needed to do to keep good dental hygiene that day or, in this case, what you needed to keep your body healthy.

  • It’s a good time to think/ catch up on interesting music or podcasts.

    Now that the pressure is off to overthink the actual exercise, you can focus on other things, too.  There are so many great podcasts and access to music is so easy that the workout is actually my chance to listen to some of this amazing content.

If you would like to give my miracle workout a try or have any other comments or suggestions please feel free to share!





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Salt, Sugar, Fat: Three Things You Should Know

From the book Salt, Sugar Fat by Michael Moss

1. Cheese Makes you Fat.

Cheese.  Big bricks of cheddar, stringy lengths of mozzarella, and rotund circles of Brie, these are a few of my favorite things.

ImageThere’s not much debate: cheese is delicious.  I eat cheese almost daily, both on it’s own and in other foods.  But I had not realized how the big food companies have manipulated the public in a very intentional way to make us consume more, with the end result that North Americans are the fattest people in the world (US and Mexico rank one and two respectively).

Cheese is one of the main culprits in America’s expanding waistline.  Since 1970, American consumption of cheese has grown by 3 pounds per year.  It delivers an additional 3,100 grams of saturated fat.  It is one of the biggest reasons that Americans eat more than 50% more than the recommended maximum fat allowance.

What’s more, according to Moss this is no accident.  Cheese is woven into our diets in a very intentional, insidious way by the big food companies, particularly Kraft (owned by Phillip Morris).  It’s origins date back to a program designed by the federal government to absorb thousands of pounds of stockpiled dairy.  Food companies have put their advertising might to make sure that one of the fattiest foods on the market gets woven into virtually everything we eat.

2. Fat: You never knew what hit you

Add sugar to a food and it tastes delicious.  Keep adding it and it gets even more delicious.  But hit a certain threshold and that same food loses its allure.  You have passed the “bliss point” and started moving down an inverted U.  The same is true for salt.  But fat does not share this attribute.  Moss cites experiments that show the more fat you add, the better the food tastes.  The “mouthfeel” improves and the body does not seem to register the calorie load it has just absorbed.

What’s more, according to Moss, adding sugar to fatty foods only increases their allure- apparently, it’s is like having Robin suddenly swoop in with Batman.  The brain only registers sheer joy, while scale registers the associated, additional pounds.

3. More Calories, More Profit

Companies can make more money by selling more of a product or service.  Food companies have largely thrown out any other Imagebusiness logic.  It is not the company’s job to monitor the health of the products they sell, only to sell more of it.  Sugar, fat and salt is what the public craves.  They have lead to iconic products: the Oreo, Pizza Pockets, and Apple Jacks.  They have even resulted in new categories of foods, such as “lunchables”

The issue is that food is not an optional, or discretionary product: it’s the life-force we need to maintain our existence.  Moreover, the types of food peddled by the major food companies- and thus what is available at your local supermarket- has a major impact on the quality of life.

While some of the food companies have attempted to clean up their act, they too are addicted to cheap, convenient food laden with sugar, salt and fat.  They stay for the big profits, us for the convenience, addictive taste and low price.  But in the end their profits come at our cost- we pay with the highest obesity rates in human history and a burdened health care system that ultimately picks up the tab.

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Eat Greek Yogurt: LIVE FOREVER!!!!

Lately I’ve been seing a lot of commercials for yogurt.  These feature lovely women with flat abs, spinning hola-hoops, frolicking with men and talking about how great they feel.  We are led to believe that this is due to the incredible powers of yogurt.  It is subtly presented that the bacteria in the yogurt is what creates these miraculous benefits.  It will rid your stomach of anything bad- including fat!  As a testament to the power of a brand, my wife now stocks up on 2-3 containers of Greek Yogurt per week.


Wanna Boost Sales? Just add Ladies with Hula Hoops. It worked for Greek Yogurt!

You can just imagine a group of executives at Danon licking their lips about this propitious new trend.  The fact that it’s “Greek” yogurt gives it a new, fresh, more European appeal.  This is the likely reason marketers created product brands with exotic brand names like IÖGO and 2.  These yogurt moguls and marketers were also quick to choose their target.  Western women.  It was an easy selection: this group is extremely susceptible to any messaging that implies better looks or thinner wastes.  And these marketing efforts can only be described as a wild success, with exponential sales growth.   I challenge you to find a supermarket that does not shelve Greek Yogurt, directly at eye level.  But, in spite of this success, there’s a problem.  The message is false, and misleading, the hula hoop girls just a figment of a clever marketing pitch.  It’s not that yogurt is  bad for you.  In fact, I’m sure it does offer certain health benefits.  The problem is that eating yogurt is unlikely to lead to the benefits assumed in the commercials.  Yogurt will not make you more fit, more thin, or even really more healthy (to say nothing of the ogling men).

You may say  “but there are no products that could claim these benefits”.  In fact, the answer is: YOU’RE WRONG!  THESE PRODUCTS DO EXIST.  They are incredible, will make you live longer, feel stronger, and become thinner.  This is a methodically proven fact, repeatedly demonstrated by scientific trials.  The products in question are called Cruciferous Vegetables and include broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  They are shown to help in everything from weight loss to cancer prevention.  If there truly is a miracle food, this is it.  Eat these products several times a week and, simply put, you will live in a more healthy body.  Period.

But, there’s a problem.  These products suffer from a uniquely North happy_smiling_broccoli_round_sticker-p217421374588117096envb3_400American problem.   This is marketing funds.  They have none.  And, let’s face it, the word Cruciferous Vegetables does not ring quite as sexy as Greek Yogurt.   So, while it’s established that these products have incredible  health benefits, are available for a lot less money and are more versatile than yogurt, they lack in something more important in the North American public conscience.  These products suffer from an acute shortage of marketing.  They lack the dancing ladies, the European charm and the buzz associated with anything new.

It is this alone that is the death knoll.  It is the reason that broccoli is not simply flying off the shelves and brussel sprouts aren’t experiences double digit growth.  The lack of marketing budget means these products get relegated to the lowly, deep corners of the local supermarket while Greek Yogurt is front and center.  Until, that is, marketers discover the next “miracle” food.