In the past several years, I’ve only made it out to ski intermittently. I recently sent the family group chat a selfie from a chairlift, and my sister responded with a picture of the last time she and I went skiing together 10 years ago. Piece for piece, I’m wearing the exact same outfit—hat, gaiter, goggles, coat. My skis aren’t pictured, but they are equally ancient.
In the last year or so, I’ve been leaning in the direction of wanting to find fun things to do with all the strength I have, instead of cultivating more and more strength for strength’s sake. It's not just for fun’s sake, either; my body has changed so much in the lpast almost-decade that it doesn’t feel fair to me to contain it to lifting and gyms. A lot of my good ideas in this area have to do with "outdoorsy activities." My parents were constantly ushering us outside as kids, because I assume it was one of the easiest ways to occupy so very many children (four, but we moved around a lot so no one could be sure). They put us all in skis and plopped us at the base of a big hill called Royal Mountain when I was about eight years old.
Skiing is a terrible sport because it’s expensive and involves trying to maneuver a bunch of unwieldy and heavy equipment over ice and snow into position while wearing humankind’s most ill-conceived shoes; it’s an incredible sport because there is no feeling like flying down a hill surrounded by trees, such that snowboarders sitting on their asses in the middle of the trail become so many colorful blurs. I’ve become a little possessed by the idea that, before cars, bombing down a mountain on skis was likely about as fast as a human body could move.
I’ve never felt better or more confident as a skier than in the last few years, because all the movement patterns and muscle demands that show up in lifting show up in skiing too (just like they show up in things as basic as “bending over,” “sitting down,” “picking things up”). But I’ve also been feeling tickles of unfamiliar knee pains, which, until I’m facing more damning evidence, I attribute to that fact that “3-4 hours of skiing” is too big a departure from my usual regimen of “constant sitting, occasionally interrupted by walking the dog, even more occasionally interrupted by some lifting.”
Because of this, I remembered this Run Fast/Squat Heavy program that’s been sitting in my Downloads folder for a few months, ever since I first saw Alan Thrall mention it. As much as it pains me to give cardio heads even an inch, I admit that skiing is most like these two things combined: extended high-intensity cardio in the form of squatting. If I want to protect myself from my love of skiing, doing this program seems like a good way. But also, as a staunch proponent of “not trying to pursue cardio and heavy lifting goals at the same time,” I’m excited to get an opportunity to explore the hows and whys of exceptions to that rule. Questions and comments should go in the comments or to email@example.com, and updates are going to go here. Here's the blog about my first week:
By the time this program is over, ski season will also be basically over. I hope to squeak in at least one final test of the hypothesis of “this program will help skiing feel better.” But I do nothing if not start things too late and finish them haphazardly and barely on time.
~Discord Pick of the Week: “Women carry their strength in the haunch area… the minimus and maximus haunch.” Haunch crew rise up, on our haunches.
Paul Ford has always been one of my favorite writers, and he wrote a wonderful column for Wired about his experience with Mounjaro. Elsewhere: what happens when you go off the semaglutide derivatives.
I’ve been watching and enjoying The Last of Us: The TV Show. But I strenuously noted that the initial method of transmission of zombifying fungus cordyceps was described as “flour, sugar, pancake mix.” This heavily implies that the only people left in the world post-infection surge were on keto (or probably had to make the switch, if they weren’t already). I am usually pro-survival-at-any-cost in an apocalypse, but talk about a world not worth living in!
Women have been misled about menopause. To spoil the article, the treatment no one tells women about is hormone therapy, and it fell off 30 years ago because the media did the bad math/science journalism it LOVES to do and reported a very scary “percent increase” of a chance of side effects that were microscopic to begin with. A 100-percent increase on .00001 percent—one in ten million—is two in ten million.
In researching my book, I’ve been revisiting Sick Enough: A Guide to the Medical Complications of Eating Disorders. As a person of disordered eating experience, I note that even still today, the thrust of the way people eating disorders are treated today still feels more “it is off-putting that you are so unwell mentally; could you perhaps be some other way that is less inconvenient” versus “there are practical health implications here that are not only bad, but compound on each other.” In the public imagination, the picture of what happens between “begins to think carbs are evil” and “untimely death” is fuzzy. It is even fuzzier when the disorderedness falls somewhere below fatal, or even clinical.
But there are so many barely-known physical symptoms that range from uncomfortable to debilitating: constant feelings of cold; drops in heart rate and fainting when going from sitting to standing; numerous extensive digestive issues. Even less discussed are the mental symptoms. From Sick Enough:
The malnourished person is constantly scanning the world for threats. That mental activity makes them much more rigid, resistant to change, and truly fearful much of the time.
And specifically on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment:
These men didn’t have the inherited temperamental traits that we associated with those who develop eating disorders: intelligent, highly sensitive, anxious, and self-judgmental. And the study didn’t take place in a society where people are awash every day in overvaluation of the thin ideal, constant diet and body size talk, and social media images.
Nonetheless, after a mere six-month stretch of low calorie intake, high energy output, and substantial weight loss, the men almost universally reported high levels of depression and emotional distress. They scored high on symptoms of hysteria and hypochondria, and some of the men began self-harming. They felt preoccupied with food, both during the starvation and rehabilitation phases, and reported viewing others who ate normally with a fascinated, judgmental disgust. As they became socially withdrawn and isolated, they felt like their concentration and judgment were impaired. Sound familiar?
I was reminded of this again in reading about “almond moms,” a TikTok meme where people are parodying mothers deep in the throes of their own eating disorders who are projecting wildly onto their own children. One specific example: noted sociopathically-disordered mother and model Yolanda Hadid has long rigorously policed her daughter Gigi about what she eats. When Gigi complains of feeling faint after only eating “half an almond,” Yolanda permits her to eat just two more almonds, provided she chews them thoroughly.
I’m passing away at the (lack of?) politics of this piece on how using Ozempic “ages your face.” Ladies, we simply can’t have it all! (The truth is that aggressive weight loss and disordered eating of any kind, for their many ills, also hollow and sag face skin. I will be forever team buccal fat.)
And finally, a big thank you to Ness for naming She’s A Beast their #1 Best Health and Wellness Newsletter of 2023! (if the list is not in order I don’t want to know about it!)
That’s all for this week! I love you for reading, thank you, let’s go—