A Cold Black Wave BOOK 1 360x540 (Website)

Cover Reveal: A Cold Black Wave

Now that I’m doing a series for “A Cold Black Wave”, I’ve had three all new covers designed.  These are far different from the original cover which was hand-illustrated by my most excellent friend Brent Kim.  I still love the original, and it’ll continue to be used in limited instances (rare copies? ;) ), but I thought it was worth developing an entirely new brand image for the series.  Hopefully it works out a’iiiight.

Nicole from Cover Shot Creations was quick, responsive, patient (thankfully!) and as always, super professional and is pretty fun to work with to boot.  She also did my cover for Dustland.  If you’re an author looking for some new covers, get in touch with her.  She’s apparently getting busier for some reason so don’t wait too long!

So, what do you think?  Next month I’m posting the cover for the sequel, “ACBW: Revelations”.  Stay tuned!

A Cold Black Wave BOOK 1 360x540 (Website)

The Shakeology and T25 Experiment Part II

I said drink yo Shakeology!  Drink it!!!

I said drink yo Shakeology! Drink it!!!

Ending Week 7 of Focus T25 and about the 2nd month of using Shakeology.  For the Part I article about my experiment, click on over here.    I can easily say I’m in the best shape of my life, and attained within a very short period of time.  I ran through the flooding rain today getting to my truck and I felt like a Cheetah, except way faster and more nimble.  Okay maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but the fact is, this little experiment is working.  I’m trying not to proselytize too much just yet, but if anyone asks, I pretty much turn into a wide-eyed Billy Blanks as I talk about how awesome Shakeology and Focus T25 is.

That’s Billy Blanks on the right.  He really has nothing to do with Shakeology or T25, but if he were into it, this is how intense he’d be.

The Beta stage of T25 is where they starting hammering your core and upper body.  Alpha gets your lower body and cardio out of the way and set you up for Beta.  I started adding whey protein shakes for after-workout drinks to make sure I’m getting up to 150g/day.  With all the pushups and weights, you can definitely start adding strength at this stage.

I’m not quite to the point of posting any pictures yet.  Close.  But not yet.  I think it’ll be best to wait until Week 10 is officially in the books before I do a real before and after comparison.

I have a full 3 weeks to go.  As much as I’d like to just go to sleep right now, at 10:30pm at night, I’m about to do a back to back workout because that’s what Cheetah’s do.  I’m already looking forward to starting P90x3.  For anyone who has used T25 and P90x3, how different are they?  Should I skip the Gamma DVD’s of T25 and go straight to P90x3?

Also, feel free to head on over here if you’re interested in getting started with Shakeology or T25.

Edge_of_Tomorrow_Poster

Edge of Tomorrow Review

What I’m about to tell you is gonna sound crazy.  Edge of Tomorrow is a pedantic sci-fi action movie that’s about as shallow as the trailer used to advertise it.  If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already pretty much seen the movie.  Some others have described it as “Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers”, but fails to be as entertaining as either of those.  Warning:  I’m going to mention plot spoilers in the rest of the review because, frankly, there really isn’t much to spoil.  But for those who want to see the film you may want to skip the rest of my review.

There’s something inherently entertaining about watching someone relive a day over and over, and that’s the best part of “Edge”.  The movie was released on the 70th anniversary of D-Day which is fitting, since the crux of the film surrounds the United Defense Forces launching a massive invasion of France to attack the “Mimics”.  I wasn’t sure why they’re called mimics, since they don’t appear to mimic anything other than having a vague resemblance to the Sentinels from The Matrix.

Major William Cage (Cruise) is sort of a cowardly jerk “career” soldier who has thus far avoided combat since the Mimics landed, acting as military PR.  When he’s ordered to be part of the first wave of the attack on France as a war correspondent, he goes to great lengths to convince the General (Brendan Gleeson) he’s not going.  After insinuating an attempt at blackmail to avoid combat, the General has him arrested after being knocked out with a taser.  Cage then wakes up on the tarmac of the invasion fleet in England, handcuffed and stripped of any indication of being an officer or ranking anything higher than a private.  From there, he is unceremoniously forced into a combat unit full of riff raff (J Squad) and sent in with the first wave.

Cage is so green that none of his squadmates care to help him and in his first landing in France, he can’t even figure out how to take the safety off his weapon.  He gets lucky enough to survive and, lying among all the dead bodies, happens to find himself in the presence of Mimics who eventually attack and kill him.  Here’s the plot twist:  there is a blue Mimic which is called an “Alpha” that attacks Cage, who happens to detonate a bomb that kills the Mimic and splatters its blood all over him (when Cage also dies in the blast).  After Cage dies he wakes up back on the tarmac, handcuffed.  Stunned, he experiences the day all over again.  He meets the same people.  Has the same conversations.  Gets sent to the front lines.  Dies.  Repeats.  Cue tagline for film.

Cage attempts all sorts of things to explain his situation to others, forewarning them of things impossible for him to know, yet they all just think he’s nuts and he always gets sent into the first wave attack.  This portion of the film is entertaining as we watch Cage relive the same day and try to change the outcome each time.  He eventually makes contact with Sgt. Rita Virataski (Emily Blunt) on the battlefield, who is called the “Angel of Verdun” for having been the hero of the first and only battle won against the Mimics.  She dies during the first wave attack as well, until Cage gets so knowledgeable of the battle that he’s able to save Rita in amazing fashion.  When she recognizes his special ability, she tells him to “find me when you wake up”.

From that point, Cage’s efforts are focused exclusively on finding her and explaining his situation.  When he does, Rita then explains to Cage that she too had the same “power” as Cage during the Battle of Verdun, allowing her to defeat her enemies, yet she eventually lost it.  The Alpha Mimic is the Mimics’ way of ensuring they will never lose a war.  Whenever one is killed, the Mimic’s “reset” the day and learn from the experience.  This is how they know of the UDF’s huge invasion plans of France and slaughter them.

Rita trains Cage over and over in combat skills until he’s an expert in his “powered suit”, capable of taking multiple Mimic’s on by himself.  The power suit itself is an interesting concept, but I couldn’t help but watch and wonder how these things were supposed to help when everyone can barely walk in them.  The beach invasion looks like D-Day in slow motion as soldiers in 100 pound metal suits clamor up wet sand.  When Cage becomes super awesome with the suit, you eventually see its full capabilities, giving him extra speed and strength along with some heavy weaponry.

In the end, though, it’s a fairly shallow sci-fi experience.  Some of the plot elements are too conveniently placed to be believable.  The Mimics, for example, have taken over the entirety of Europe.  Yet, they place what is considered their “central nervous system” (Ie, the “brain” that controls every Mimic on the planet) in France under the Louvre.  I’m not the smartest alien, but that’s equivalent to Hitler moving the Eagle’s Nest there in 1944.  Of course, placing it there is highly convenient since it allows our hero Cage and his band of misfits to sneak off at night in a transport, fly unopposed into France (until right near the Louvre, when the Mimics decide to fight) and crash nearby.  I guess a loud transport aircraft cruising over France would not be noticed by the Mimics, who maybe sleep deep underground at night?

When Cage destroys this Mimic “brain”, every single Mimic dies in the world and the war is won.

To be fair, Cruise is in good form here and so is Emily Blunt although her character is very shallow and is only there to help move the story along for Cruise.  That’s not to say Cage is a complex character either, but at least we see his character change from a clueless douche to a hardened soldier.

There is little originality in “Edge” if you’re looking for a sci-fi film to push boundaries or make you think after you’re done watching.  There’s plenty of other time-travel/time bending films that will give your mind a better run for its money.  If you want some popcorn entertainment you’ll get it out of “Edge”, but I’d recommend you just wait to watch it on Netflix or HBO later this year.

The Shakeology and T25 Experiment

Haven’t heard of Shakeology?  It’s a shake of ology, or something.  It sure sounds sciency.  It follows in a long line of meal replacements such as Slimfast and Atkins Shakes.  Over the years I’ve tried some of these little fads such as these shakes and Special K bars, protein bars, etc.  The point was always to fill up and be healthy without consuming 800 calories of wheat pancakes or slamming six donuts down with my morning coffee.

The problem with most of these things is that they’re either loaded with sugars or artificial ingredients.

My wife got me interested in Shakeology, but only after much skeptical hrumph-snortling over the entire thing on my part.  It costs how much?!  And they want you to buy an at-home workout DVD?  Like Billy Frikkin’ Blanks?  How many of those DVD’s of Billy’s are collecting dust?  Let’s pull out ‘ol BB first before we go buying any new drink coasters.

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That’s Shaun T. He is gonna work your glutes over 10 different DVD’s!

So in we went.  A bag of chocolate Shakeology was delivered along with Shaun T’s “T25″ workout DVD set.  Shaun T looks ripped, so I guess that’s how I’m supposed to look once I’m done with this program.  Okay Shaun T, whoever you are, let’s see whatchoo got!  (Needless to say, after just 3 weeks of the DVD cycle, I’m already mocking Shaun T as I hear him say the same things over and over.  FLEX those glutes. FEEL IT.  You GOT this!).

Back to Shakeology.  I’m big on ingredients.  If I buy anything new at the grocery store, I spend time reading everything that’s in it.  Shakeology definitely sets itself apart from everything else out there simply by its ingredient list.  There’s a reason it’s so expensive:  BeachBody (the makers of Shakeyohipsology) managed to cram every single type of super-food out there into one bag of tasty powder.  There’s no artificial chemicals, preservatives, and only 6g of sugar (a non-GMO fructose/stevia blend, of course!).  Its got Acai, Goji Beri, Camu Camu, Flax, Quinoa, Blueberry, Barley Grass, you name it…hell, they even threw in some Himalayan Salt just to show off how awesome their ingredient list is.  Check it out for yourself.

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Shakeology, PB, and a small blender is all ya need!

I’ve tried nothing but the chocolate so far because I love it.  I basically drink the same thing every morning:  1 scoop shakeology, water, ice, peanut butter…sometimes adding strawberries, vanilla extract, banana, etc.  It’s so damn good I really don’t care to try much else.  This one shake fills me up until lunch and gives me plenty of energy.  My hair feels pretty damn smooth too.  I heard the flax does that.  Or is it the rose hips?  Did they really go to the Himalayans for that salt??

They give you shake recipes that are all very simple, and rarely require more than 3 ingredients (other than the shake powder itself).  A small blender is perfect for these recipes.  I use a $15 Hamilton Beach blender that is very easy to clean and use.  I made a no-bake cookie recipe tonight that was just the choc powder, peanut butter, oats, and stevia (they asked for raw honey, but I said aw hell nah!) and they’re great too.  Thankfully none of these recipes take much time or energy.

As a side note, I’m not following the dietary plan they give you.  I’m still adhering to the high (good) fat/low carb diet.

I’ve done Shakeology for about 6 weeks now and highly recommend it.  The shakes definitely make me feel healthy and with 17g of protein per scoop (plus another 8-16g with the peanut butter), I’m consuming the equivalent of a 1/3 lb. hamburger’s worth of protein in the morning.  I’m definitely not hungry until lunch.  Bottom line is, if you want to get healthy and use a meal replacement, spend the money on Shakeology.  There’s a reason shakes like Slimfast are cheap.  If you’re serious about getting healthy and are looking for a good meal replacement, this is a great start to your day.  A 30 day supply of Shakeology is $129 if you don’t use any discounts.  That comes out to $4.30/day.  It’s not that much if you factor this cost as part of your normal food budget, considering you’re replacing one meal a day (which probably cost you at least $4 anyway).

Now, back to Shaun T’s “Flex Your Glute” DVD set aka “T25″.  Look, I’ve done the gym.  I’ve done the at-home DVD’s.  I’ve done Kettlebell (which still ranks as my best “get in shape” program).  So what does T25 have to offer besides tight glutes?  (You GOT this!)  I actually love the T25 program for three very specific reasons:  each DVD is only 25 minutes, those 25 minutes are intense, and there are 10 DVD’s spread through two phases of the 10 week program to mix things up and progress your fitness level.

shauntI’ve got a family, a full time job+, and I write novels in what free time I have.  So 25 minutes is the most I’ll realistically give to any kind of exercise program right now.  Those 25 minutes are intense, sweat-soaked experiences.  They work.  Color me impressed.  I can’t stress how important the 25 minute time frame is.  It really helps get me inspired to just do it because I know it’ll be over soon.  I’ve done the exercises in the morning and at night, that’s how convenient they are.

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T25 Progress Poster. NAILED IT.

I’m starting Week 4 on Mon June 2nd.  Once I finished Week 5, I go from the Alpha DVD’s to the Beta which is a new set of DVD’s that amps up the exercises.  I’m taking before and after photos along the way, and will post a mid-point review at the end of Week 5 (3 photos will consist of the before starting Week 1 (the sad photo), end of Week 3, and end of Week 5.  I’ll then do two more with the final being at the end of Week 10.  Hopefully my washboard abs will be showing through by then.  I’ll make sure to oil them up so they glisten.

If you’re interested in Shakeology or T25, let me know!  If you’re already doing either, what has been your experience so far?

A Cold Black Wave: Revelations (Chapter 1)

As I work on the sequel to A Cold Black Wave I decided to try a bit of an experiment: post a few chapters as I write them.  There’s some risk here, I think, in presenting an unfinished and unpolished work.  But with ACBW and Dustland, I didn’t dramatically change much from the initial versions.  For those interested in following the development of a story and those waiting for the sequel, you can watch the drama unfold for a few chapters.  Enjoy!

 

Chapter 1

Josh awoke to thunderous explosions.  Glass shattered windows and sent dust and smoke billowing down the street and through every crevice in the room.  His eyes stung as he tried to shield them.  Coughing, Josh tried to stand and felt a tug on his arm.  A thin tube ran from a metallic wrap around his left arm to a cylindrical machine that sat next to him.  He groped with his other arm to disconnect the tube when an explosion sent chunks of wood and tile showering down from above, just missing his head.  Gunfire smacked into a building nearby and voices called out to each other amid the firefight.

“Leah?”  He groaned.  His voice came out dry and raspy.  “Leah!”  God, where is she?

A heaving explosion sent the ground rippling and knocked Josh sideways against a wall.  Someone outside screamed in pain.  Josh managed to undo his wrap and release himself from the device as he rolled away from another piece of ceiling coming down.  He looked around for a weapon.  Nothing.  His leg hurt and he had difficulty walking.

A soldier appeared in the doorway covered in blood and dust.  She wore armor that contoured to her body and a metallic apparatus covered her left ear and ran down her face and to one side of her lips.  It was flush with her skin and moved just like it as she spoke.  “We need to go.  Come on.”

“My leg.  I can’t move very fast.”

She went and held him around the waist.  “Put your arm around me.  Let’s go.  My name’s Jayce.  Don’t die,” she warned.  “Or everything is lost.”

Amid the fighting and confusion, a lucid thought crossed his mind.  How can I understand her?

Jayce helped carry Josh across the street as streaks of light passed back and forth in the air around them.  The sun retreated from the sky behind a grey haze that cast the land in a dreary light.  An explosion rocked the third story of a building not a block away, sending up a voluminous cloud of black and fiery ash as wood and concrete blew out in every direction.  Shrapnel of all types whizzed through the air and fell from the sky around them as they dove inside another building and lay breathing in gasping breaths on the floor.

“Where’s Leah?”  He asked between pauses in the fighting.  “The girl, where is she?  I’m not going anywhere without her.”

“She’s safe.  Deas has her at the pickup site.”  Jayce touched her ear and spoke to someone else.  “Rechtel, this is five one, do you copy?”  A pause, then, “I’m two clicks away from extraction.  I have the boy.  Pull your people back immediately and return to extraction point.  Do you copy?”

Two shots pierced through the wall just above their heads, leaving a clean burn the size of a fist that glowed orange and then died away.

The room spun and Josh’s vision distorted as objects flickered into and out of existence.  The world turned jagged with sharp edges and a grainy texture filtered through everything.  Josh lifted his hand and examined it but everything appeared normal.  He looked up again to see if the distortion returned.  Nothing.  He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his fingers just above them to dispel the sensation.  It passed as he found Jayce reaching down to lift him up.  “Come on,” she said, standing over him.

She grabbed Josh by the shirt and lifted him to his feet.  She pulled him along.  “Keep your head down!”  She yelled before crossing another street and entering a narrow alley.

As they neared the end of the alley, she looked at her forearm.  A hovering projection displayed a clear, 3D digital image of the surrounding topography.  Red dots emitted near their position.  She turned to Josh.  “If something happens to me, keep heading in that direction.”  She pointed towards another alley across the street.  “You’ll find the extraction point.”

“How will I know?”

“You won’t miss it.”

She checked her weapon that was attached on her arm and pressed a button.  They both watched as the red dots converged on their position from both sides of the street.  Jayce took a deep breath and knelt in the tight corridor of the alley, leaning out from behind cover.  She fired on her target and a concussion of light and debris sprayed through the street.  A three shot burst slammed into the wall near her head and sent Jayce onto her back as fire caught on the walls and along the left side of her body, a slick, crawling, and liquid mass that stuck to everything it touched.

The viscous fire ate away at her armor.  She pulled hard on a release pin near her collarbone until it clicked, and the armor opened up and fell from her body in a rapidly dissolving pile.  Underneath her armor, she wore olive drab clothes matted in sweat.  A humanoid machine ran into the alley and fired on Josh.  Jayce grabbed its neck and arm, slammed it into a wall, and caused the shot to go errant.

“Run, now!”  She yelled as the machine emitted a concussive blast that knocked Jayce backwards and Josh flat on the cement.  Jayce leapt to her feet as the machine swung its arm at her to fire again.  She used a straight palm to its wrist to deflect his aim and a honeycomb of needles blasted into the wall next to her.  It turned a shoulder down and rammed her against the wall as a cough of air expelled from her mouth.  “Run!”

Josh did, running behind the machine and into the street.  Pain streaked up his leg and through length of his body.  He hobbled as he went, but the adrenaline overtook any physical limitations.  He didn’t look around.  He didn’t check for safety before continuing.  He just ran.  Leah would be there waiting for him.  She had to be.

As Josh entered an open plaza, he stopped.  A grey, sleek helicopter hovered twenty feet off the ground.  It was devoid of any rotors and used small, gyroscopic engines to hover and turn.  Its engine hummed not unlike that of the machines they’ve fought against, but at a higher pitch.  Two soldiers kneeling behind cover noticed Josh and scoped him from afar through their rifles.  One signaled the other and he ran to Josh’s position while the other covered his advance.

Josh hobbled to meet him and as they met, the soldier knocked Josh to the ground.  A projectile hissed by and an explosion knocked the air from their lungs as chunks of a nearby building blew out into the plaza.  The helicopter rose in the air and pitched right as a concealed door gunner sprayed the enemy’s position with a steady hail of streaking light that cut a building in half and sent parts of the pursuing machine whirling in every direction.

“Get up!”  The soldier ordered as he lifted Josh and ran for the copter.  It dropped down above ground level, and as they neared it, a door opened for them to enter.  The soldier shoved Josh inside while he called his friend over and they both climbed inside the cramped space.  There were other bodies inside.  Two wounded soldiers bleeding from wounds suffered in combat lay prostrate on their backs.

Leah.  She sat in the corner with her legs up to her chest and face buried under her arms.  She didn’t realize Josh was sitting across from her.

“Leah!”  Josh called, reaching over and shaking her.  The hum of the engine and the whirl of the door gun as it laid waste to encroaching machines overwhelmed his voice.  He shook her harder until she raised her head.  “It’s me.  Leah, it’s Josh!”  She couldn’t hear his words but her face sunk in relief when she recognized him.  She leapt forward and wrapped her arms around his neck.  He kissed her on the forehead and squeezed her tight.

The helicopter took to the air and banked around the combat zone as the door gunner seemed to exhaust a limitless supply of ammo on the enemy.  Empty cylindrical canisters rolled around inside the cabin, and when the gunner needed to recharge, another canister popped out of the gun chamber and he grabbed a new one next to him to reload.  Josh noticed a small porthole on the gunner’s side and peered out into the burning city below.  Black, curling smoke rose in slanting columns from pockets in a two square mile radius below.  Lines of cyanic light streaked chaotically in the air as targets below fired on the helicopter.  Josh spotted seven machines pursuing two survivors through the streets, one wounded and carried by the other.

“Hey!”  He called, pointing outside.  “There’s survivors down there!”  The soldier next to him couldn’t hear and stared as he pointed.  Josh slammed the back of his fist against the soldier’s chest and pointed for him to look.  He looked down on the battlefield and then covered his mouth as he radioed the pilot.

The helicopter banked harder to the right and swooped low over buildings to give the gunner an angle on his targets.  A spark blew through the left cabin door and exited the top of the helicopter as dripping hot metal fell inside.  Some landed on one of the wounded soldiers and he screamed as it burned through his leg and the smell of singed flesh and sulfuric metal filled the cabin.

Leah tried to help the man by using the butt of a rifle and scrape the hot mass off his leg.  The attempt was futile as it ate through flesh and muscle, and the man gave one last moan before passing out.  The helicopter rattled and a moment later, Josh realized they landed back in the plaza.  The cabin door opened and the two healthy soldiers jumped back out and ran into the dark plaza, the sun all but a red ember on the grey horizon.  A spotlight burst on from the top of helicopter and aided the soldiers as they ran to help their comrades.  Two bodies appeared at the far end of the plaza.

It was Jayce.

A spider drone jumped from a rooftop and skittered along the ground towards the two soldiers.  The door gunner fired errant shots but he gave up once the machine came within ten feet of the men.  The drone jumped with a burst of speed and hit one of the soldiers, knocking him flat on the ground.  The machine pierced his eye with one of its legs, the metal apparatus going through the back of his skull.  The other soldier shot rounds through the machine, breaking its dome and disabling it as choking black gas shot out in a bursting cloud.  The soldier tossed a grenade at it.  A strange burst of light, like that of static electricity, crackled through the air and the black cloud disappeared as if it never existed.

The soldier met Jayce and her wounded comrade and they made for the helicopter.  The door gunner laid down a ferocious covering fire as it tore through and collapsed entire buildings before the oncoming machines.  A cloud of dust and smoke expanded violently throughout the plaza.  Still, the enemy fire streaked over and past the helicopter in any attempt to keep it from taking off.  Jayce and the other soldier dragged her bloodied friend along as fast as they could until they made it to the cabin door.  As they lifted the wounded soldier, the cabin exploded with warm, red liquid as he took a direct hit through the chest.  It left a gaping, smoking hole that was so hot his wounds cauterized.  He slumped to the ground as the other soldier grabbed Jayce, who was stunned and unmoving, and pushed her inside before following her in.

The copter rose in breathless ascent as pieces of metal and molten iron burst forth from inside the cabin as enemy rounds tore through the hull.  The copter shuddered and the engine gave out a final, worried moan before turning silent.  They suspended in the air for a moment, weightless, as the craft nosed forward and took a fatal plunge towards the earth.  The pilot fought the controls and the copter rumbled with such force that the bodies of the dead soldiers animated and slid about in macabre display.  Jayce fell forward into the laps of Josh and Leah before fumbling with their safety harness in an attempt to get them secured.

Warning bells banged in their eardrums as the earth approached.  Smoke roiled out from the copters wounds and left a trail in the sky.  The pilot angled down a main road like a runway, but as he approached, the nose drifted left and he lost control of the yaw.  They spun in rapid circles that pressed them motionless against the walls.  The copter hit the ground with such force that the hull bent outwards and collapsed the roof down just above their heads.  Smoke and dust went up in a blinding cloud that thickened the air and covered everything in a fine gray soot.  The concussion from the sudden crash gave way to an unnerving silence.

Leah sat unconscious and Josh struggled in a daze with his harness.  Blood ran from Jayce’s leg.  A metal rod from the threshold of the door broke free and drove through her thigh.  Her head knocked against the back wall on impact and blood trickled from her right ear.  She tried to move but in her slow confusion, she didn’t realize she was pinned by the rod.  Josh freed himself and unlatched Leah from her harness.  He stuck his arms under hers and dragged Leah out into the street before lying down next to her in a drifting haze.

Josh coughed as he sucked in dust with each breath.  Jayce moaned in pain and struggled to free herself from the wreckage but she couldn’t figure out why her leg wouldn’t move.  Josh covered his mouth as he rose to his feet and saw movement coming at them from the end of the street, some two hundred yards away.  They’re coming.

He grabbed Jayce’s leg and lifted it until the rod slid out.  She let out a scream and her hands shook as she gripped her wound.  She clenched her teeth until she could bear the pain long enough to talk.  She pointed weakly.  “Get the bag there, and the rifle.”  Josh reached inside the cabin and grabbed both and Jayce wrapped her arm around him as he pulled her out.  They stumbled away, clearing the crash site.

“Check for survivors,” Jayce told him as she sat down and pulled a metal wrap out of the medical bag.  Blood dripped from the hole in her leg.  She covered it with the wrap, touched the side and it shrunk in size as if vacuum-sealed.  Jayce leaned her head back as sweat dripped from her face and fought the pain, but the bleeding stopped.

Josh ran back to the helicopter and checked the cockpit, but the pilot was dead.  The others in the cabin were, too.  Leah stirred and he helped her to stand and get out of the street.  Streaks of light came at them from the machines, blowing pieces of metal off the remains of the helicopter.

Jayce forced herself to stand and pointed down an alley, her face drawn and haggard.  “Let’s go, down here.”  She said, waving them forward.  The grim sound of her voice wasn’t lost on Josh.  There wasn’t anywhere to go.

Leah clung to Josh’s neck as they staggered.  Jayce brought up the rear and told them where to go.  Bloodied and dazed, they staggered their way through back alleys and across streets.  When they reached the end of a street lined with rusted vehicles, Jayce stopped and leaned against a building.  Leah and Josh breathed in sucking bouts and looked to their new friend for direction.  They all knew they couldn’t keep running in their condition.  Jayce looked about.  “There, go up there,” she said, pointing to a multi-story building.

They climbed the steps to the fourth floor, grimacing against the pain with every step.  Jayce pushed open a door to an office that contained decomposing paperwork stacked neatly in bins, and computers left untouched for decades and covered in thick dust.  Pictures of loved ones sat in frames within each cubicle.

“In that office over there,” Jayce pointed to another room.  Josh pushed the door open to a separate office with a window view of the street below.  There was a single desk in the room and bookshelves along both sides.  A clothed skeleton slumped in the chair, its skeletal head resting on the desk.  A gun lay on the ground and brown stains covered his suit.  “Lie down and be still,” she warned.  They did as she said.

“Do they know we’re here?”  Leah asked with worried eyes.

“They’ll find us.  That’s what they do.”  Jayce said.  She stood to leave, pulling two cylindrical grenades from an emergency belt she wore in case she ever had to shed her armor.  “Wait here.”

She left and they listened as her footsteps disappeared.

Leah grabbed Josh’s hand.  “What’s happening?”

“I don’t know.”  Josh sat up to look out the door but didn’t see anything.  A pin-drop silence filled the room.  He glanced at the dried, rust-colored blood lying on the ground beneath the man’s chair.  “She’s our only chance to survive now,” he said, turning his gaze to Leah who tightened her sweaty grip around his hand.

“I thought you were dead,” she whispered.  “I thought they left you out there.”

“So did I.”  Josh said.  He gripped his head and winced as a pain ebbed up through the back of his skull.  The room spun in a slow, dizzying pace.  Colors faded and washed out.  Pieces of the world fell away and blackness replaced them like missing elements of a puzzle.  He heard Leah’s voice but it was distant and tinny as if she were falling away.  What the hell is happening to me?  Sweat beaded on his forehead.  He raised his hand and looked on as his palm disappeared from his fingers and returned again, and then whole blocks of the room flickered into and out of existence.

An explosion rattled the building and dust unsettled from the room and hung about.  A pen rolled off the desk.  Josh felt something jolting him and noticed Leah speaking, but no sound came from her mouth.  He only heard a calming buzz in his eardrums and then the world turned black.

 

We were wrong: Saturated fat is GOOD.

A new,extensive study came out the other day that suggested saturated fat isn’t linked to heart disease.  Whaa-?  In light of this, I recently went over some historical data regarding heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and fat/sugar consumption over the past 100 years courtesy of the CDC.  What I found is surprising:

Total Energy Consumption over 30 years.

Total Energy Consumption over 30 years.

  • 1910 was the first year Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) made the #1 top causes of death.  It rose steadily until 1963 when 375 people per 100,000 died of CVD.  In 2011 that number has been reduced by nearly 50% to 191 per 100k.
  • Cancer rates have remained relatively unchanged in the past 30 years, hovering around 181 deaths per 100k.
  • Diabetes has risen a staggering 50% in the past 30 years!
  • Sugar consumption has been on a perpetual rise for 150 years, but particularly since around 1900.  Starting in 1980, sugar consumption skyrocketed over the next 30 years.
  • In 1980, the FDA issued its dietary guidelines warning Americans to stay away from saturated fats.  Over the next 30 years, dietary fat slowly decreased but was replaced with increased carbohydrate consumption.  The overall effect was that people simply started eating more.
  • Americans who are considered “obese” has increased from 15% in 1990 to 36% today.

So why has CVD risk gone down so dramatically?  Is it really due to the decrease in fat consumption?  Not

Total US sugar consumption trend.

Total US sugar consumption trend.

necessarily.  Fat intake hasn’t dropped THAT dramatically to see a 50% decrease in CVD deaths.  Instead, we have seen a massive increase in the use of statins and surgical procedures to prevent or delay CVD.  This doesn’t mean the food we are eating is suddenly healthy, it just means more people are able to “have their cake and eat it too”, quite literally.  While it appears statins are likely having the intended effect on heart disease, the side effects are wide-ranging and we may be swapping one problem for another (such as increased risk of diabetes).

While saturated fat has been demonized for decades, we blindly swapped our fat for carbs and sugar.  After all, food tastes like cardboard if you’re missing both.  You need carbs OR fat, so when the fat was removed, in came the carbs.

Fat makes one feel fuller and more satisfied, and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels.  The more fat you remove from your diet, the more you turn to carbs and sugar which will fluctuate your blood sugar levels and, consequently, cause you to eat more.  You’ll feel less full and when you “crash”, you crave more carbs to get balanced again.  This indulgence in carbs goes a long way to explain our exploding obesity and diabetes rates.

In 2012, an extensive study (and I mean, extensive!) on red meat consumption and mortality painted a pretty clear picture:  the more red meat you eat, the higher likelihood of dying early of CVD or cancer.  It didn’t matter if it was nitrate-free or not.  So if we combine the latest study about saturated fats and this study about red meat consumption, something doesn’t add up.  This would mean that there is a particular element specific to red meat that increases our mortality rate, but it’s not the saturated fat content.  What could it be?

Conclusion?

We need to rebalance our diets away from the carb-heavy load we’ve been told to eat, and not feel guilty about adding back in certain types of fat in our diet.  Good fats help keep our cravings in check and they’re healthy for our body.  The real enemy that we can all agree on?  Sugar.

The 50% increase in diabetes and the 36% obesity rate is 100% NOT associated simply from fat consumption.  The facts simply don’t back it up.  Fat doesn’t make you fat.  Period.  And if you want to look at it from a total caloric intake, fat does have more calories, but it makes up for it by curbing your appetite.  By eating carbs and sugar , we’ve been subjected to hunger swings all day which causes us to snack and overeat (How many times you’ve heard someone say “I’m STARVING!”).  You should rarely feel that hungry.

So add that fat back into your meals, and cut out the sugar.  The World Health Organization recently revised their suggested daily sugar consumption to <25g per day.  Go ahead and try that.  I dare you.  You’ll be shocked how difficult that is with all the added sugars in our food.

Stay strong.  Stay healthy!

Stop Counting Calories.

There’s a reason most diets don’t work.  It’s not because you’re a failure or you have poor willpower.  It’s because everything we thought about food is wrong.  If you care to take a drive with me down the rabbit hole, we can sort this thing out.  Let’s go.

Typically, a diet tells you not to eat this and that and to only eat this and that.  Meanwhile, you’re constantly hungry.  You crave.  You want to eat the doughnut, but you don’t because the diet told you so.  The diet is watching you and IT WILL KNOW.  Drop the doughnut and suffer like a good dieter.

“Somebody’s watching youuuuuu.”

This invariably causes failure.  Time and again.  An entire industry is built around YOU failing, and then trying again.  Big money is waiting to cash in on you jumping into and out of diets for the rest of your life.  They roll the advertisements out for the New Year, since everyone knows you’ve committed THIS year to losing weight.  Time to jump on the Weight Watchers bandwagon and lock yourself into a 4 year gym membership which you’ll only use for a month, right?

Dieters “fail” because most diets require a strength of will that only a marathon runner could endure.  Hunger is a daily, sometimes hourly, desire tugging at you like a little addiction.  Eat.  Eat.  Food.  EAT!

When you crash and burn and give up, the sugar-laden food industry welcomes you back with open arms and a knowing grin.  “Welcome back, old friend.  Have some ice cream, it’ll make you feel great.

The battle is always between carbohydrates and fats.  The majority of diets espouse a low fat/low carb mantra.  Basically, you’re supposed to deprive yourself like you’re living in a POW camp.  Enjoy your starvation!

I asked myself the other day,  “What’s the point of eating ANY kind of grains at all?”  The FDA recommends 9-11 servings of grain a day.  The basis of our diet revolves around grain.  Why?  What’s so great about it?  Let me blow your mind:  they aren’t necessary.  In fact, most carbs keep you hungry by spiking and then crashing your blood sugar levels.  Ever get that “shaky” feeling when you’re hungry?  That’s the carb addiction kicking in.  Eat more carbs.  Rinse.  Repeat.

We all know sugar is bad, but we eat a lot of it anyway whether wittingly or unwittingly.  The World Health

How could something that tastes so good, be so bad?

Organization released a report today stating that cancer rates will increase by 70% over the next 20 years, with sugar and obesity being among the top reasons alongside alcohol and tobacco consumption.  Wait.  Sugar and cancer?  Come to find out, cancer loves it some sugar.  And not just the refined white stuff or high fructose corn syrup, but also potatoes and flour.  Doesn’t the FDA recommend we eat 9-11 servings of this every day?  They do differentiate between whole and refined, but only suggest in a footnote that over half of your servings should come from whole.

In fact, the entire FDA “MyPlate” nutritional guide is based around calories.  Spend three minutes there and your eyes gloss over from the load of information they provide.  The very act of counting calories is a part-time job, and something most people will not commit to for very long before giving up.

Here is the problem with counting calories:  not all calories are created equal.  We’re told to eat 2,000-2,500 calories a day with a balanced diet.  Yet, 500 calories of sugar or refined carbs is vastly different from 500 calories of protein.  The physiological effects on your body between these two couldn’t be farther apart.  Sugar spikes your blood sugar, doesn’t fill you up, and has little to no nutritional value.  Proteins don’t spike your blood sugar, DO fill you up, and is an essential building block for your body.

What about fats?  Saturated fats have been enemy #1 for a very long time, and still are.  We’ve been told they clog arteries and raise our bad cholesterol.  Any kind of hydrogenated oil (trans fat) will definitely do those nasty things.  Unfortunately, this is the kind of oil we see in most of our food.  Hydrogenating oils make them stable, which means they can exist in your food for a long time before going rancid.  A fairly recent campaign to end use of trans fats in food was successful, but it’s still widely used, even in small amounts (Something may say 0 Trans Fats but can still have some).

The first widely used hydrogenated oil was a little something called “Crisco”.  Crisco was used for decades in American households for everything, from frying to baking.  Crisco is hydrogenated cottonseed oil.  Cottonseed oil is one of the worst kinds of oils, and then they hydrogenated it.  A generation of Americans clogged their arteries with this stuff and were told it was better for them than butter.

A balanced meal devoid of fat.

These days, saturated fats are being seriously re-evaluated again.  The growing consensus?  Saturated fats do not cause heart disease.  As the linked article above states, we’ve been told to replace “traditional” fats with ones we decided to make, like corn and soybean oil.  That natural butter and whole milk?  Yea, ditch those.  People have been eating them for generations but, look, this corn and soybean oil stuff is MUCH better.  Not to mention, we’ve genetically modified all the corn and soybean crops to resist our regular poison applications.  Bon appetite!

How has this paradigm been working, America?  Eat your grains.  Ditch the fats.  It’s almost a religious mantra at this point.  Yet it’s unbelievable to say that 1/3 of the US population is obese because they want to be, and are simply victims of their own weak willpower.  No, it’s the “carb” diet prescribed to us that keeps us in a state of hunger all day, even though we’re eating all day.  We’re all told to eat fiber and protein so we stay “full” longer, but that’s only part of the story.  We’re still missing a critical element: fat.

We’re not eating enough fat.  Fat has a bad name for itself because, well, it’s CALLED fat, something we’re all trying to avoid becoming.  Yet it’s not fat we should worry about but sugar, as studies are beginning to show that clogged arteries are occurring due to inflammation along the arterial walls.  Due to what?  Sugars, trans fats, and an imbalance of Omega 6 and Omega 3’s.  O6 is inflammatory to your arteries, and is commonly found in oils we all use and eat.  O3’s are an anti-inflammatory, so the ideal ratio of these two in our body is 1:1 or higher in O3.  The majority of the oils you eat have a high O6 level, particularly corn and vegetable oils.  We’re told to consume oils with polyunsaturated fats (because they’re “healthier”), but these are the ones with high O6 levels.  Most junk food and processed food use oils with O6.  There’s not much that we eat that have O3, so we are ALWAYS unbalanced towards O6 unless you’re also eating a lot of fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and eggs that have O3’s.

So, what do we do?  Let’s break it down:

  • Stop eating so many carbs.  Let’s face facts.  Carbs are tasty.  Don’t get rid of them, just minimize them and choose good carbs.  Only eat whole grain and stop eating sugar.  Technically, you don’t need to eat any carbs at all.  When your body needs energy and doesn’t have any carbs, it cuts your fat cells apart like lumber in order to burn them for energy.  This is why low and no carb dieters, typically known from the Atkins diet, can quickly shed an incredible amount of weight.
  • Say no to refined sugar.  Stop eating refined sugar.  That sweet taste, often disguised with cute colors and fun packaging, is wrecking havoc on your body and appetite.  One day, sugar will be equated with smoking tobacco in terms of health warnings.  Get ahead of the game.
  • Eat good fats.  What’s a good fat?  Grass-fed butter and virgin organic coconut oil are two, for example.  Both have a great O6:O3 ratio, won’t raise your blood sugar, and they contain Medium-Chain-Triglycerides (MCT’s) which curbs hunger and provides energy like a carbohydrate.
  • Eat low-glycemic.  You still need fruits, vegetables and fiber, but choosing the right ones helps keep your blood sugar levels balanced (which is key in curbing your swings in hunger).  Eat strawberries instead of pineapple, whole oats instead of instant oats, etc.
  • The MCT Advantage.  This is the secret weapon against overeating and weight gain.  Most oils we eat are Long-Chain-Triglycerides, which are not absorbed easily and will store as body fat.  MCT’s, on the other hand, burn like a fire in your body and are well known to promote weight loss.  They also provide energy like a carbohydrate.  If you followed a no-carb diet, for example, you could instead get your energy needs from eating food with MCT.  Sounds crazy?  Read on.

There is a movement out there who rave about the effects of Coconut Oil.  A quick Google search will open that world up to you.  Specifically, Unrefined Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil.  My wife brought home a jar a couple weeks ago and said she “heard it was healthy”.  I looked at the saturated fat and shook my head.  One tablespoon equals 67% of my daily saturated fat content.  Healthy?  Right.

So I did some research and found that CO is very high in MCT through what’s called “Lauric Acid“, which is not typically found in our diets.  Breast milk is very high in lauric acid and is one of the reasons why breast feeding is widely promoted.  I decided I had read enough and would go “all in” with a low-carb/high fat diet that focused on using coconut oil daily.  Call me a suicidal guinea pig, but I’m sold.  It’s interesting to tell people I’m eating butter, saturated fats, and tons of food while still losing weight.  Since everyone equates eating fats with going to an early grave, they must secretly think I have a death wish.  It’s even more interesting when I tell them about the buttery coffee drink I have each day.  Read on for that one!

To say Coconut Oil is amazing is an understatement.  In the short two weeks that I’ve supplemented my diet with CO, I’ve eliminated my intense cravings, balanced my hunger, and lost weight.  Before I started eating CO, by the time I came home from work at 6pm everyday, I was so hungry I wanted to eat a large pizza.  Without fail.  Then I started eating 2-3 tablespoons of CO each day, and it all stopped.  At first, I didn’t change my normal eating habits and just added the CO.  When I got home from work I was barely thinking about food.  My caloric intake went down (not that I was counting), simply because I didn’t feel like eating sugar and snacks and  I no longer ate between meals because I just wasn’t hungry.

During the winter, my hands are normally dry and red and cracking.  Since I’ve been eating CO, my hands are hydrated and normal.  Yet, I’m told not to eat this much saturated fat.  Are my arteries clogging?  Time will tell, but it can’t be any worse than the diet that is causing heart disease to be the #1 disease in this country (with cancer being #2, and also directly related to our diet).

Oh, and if you’re really psyched about starting your day off with a bang, check out BulletProof Coffee.  I love it!  I use my own coffee, and my own butter/CO.  I haven’t bought any products from that website, I just like the recipe.  You don’t need a blender though.  Mix everything in a thermos and shake vigorously, you’ll get that creamy foam and a good mix of all the oils.  Fills you up, gives you energy, and tastes great.

Some foods that I eat:

  • Dairy/Meat:  Eggs, non-processed cheese, low-pastuerized/non-homogenized whole milk, grass fed butter (Kerrygold), grass fed hot dogs (Applegate Farms), lean turkey/chicken breast, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, uncured bacon, 2% Fage Yogurt
  • Fruit/Veggie:  Green beans, strawberries (or any kind of berry), broccoli, Morningstar brand foods (anything with ~20 carb per serving or less), Spicy V8, pears, peas.
  • Grains:  Ezekiel bread, Fiber One whole grain English muffins, whole oatmeal, brown rice
  • Stevia is an excellent sweetener for your fruits and snacks.  A bowl of 2% Fage with cut strawberries and Stevia will fill you up!  I also freely cook with the Kerrygold and/or coconut oil.

When I started, I weighed 174.  I’m a 5’11 male that’s already in OK shape and was just looking to get healthy.  I don’t gain weight very fast, but I was gaining and I knew my eating habits were unguided and unhinged.  I ate all day.

It took less than two weeks to lose 5 pounds, and I’m enjoying all the food I eat while keeping my appetite stable.  I’m no dietitian or scientist, so nothing I say here should be taken as gospel.  Everyone is different and certain diets may actually be very unhealthy for people with specific health conditions.  I’m just a guy who likes to look behind the curtain to see why I’m making food choices based on what others have told me.  Experts are regularly proven wrong, from economics to health, and knowledge is our first weapon in making our own decisions in life, for good or for bad.

The food we eat is far more complex than we are led to believe.  Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.  But for me, I’m sticking to low-carb/high fat/protein with a generous daily dose of CO.  I’m losing weight, eating all the right food that I want, and rarely hungry or craving junk.  Someone can tell me not to eat all that fun carby sugary stuff, but it’s just a whole lot easier if my body simply doesn’t want it.