Yael’s Variety Hour: Sex With Cavemen, Competition, Microbiology & College Sports

I bet that headline caught your attention! Without further ado, here’s some of what I’ve been reading and writing this week.

Health and Nutrition

  • Framework Matters. “Here is a funny thing: as a non-religious, non-spiritual guy, I feel a MORAL IMPERATIVE to help as many people as I can because I’m pretty sure I have information rattling between my ears that can save lives. I by no means have all the answers, but a firefighter does not need to know the ins and outs of thermodynamics to save a family in a burning house. I (and most all of you) know enough about this paleo shtick to literally transform the world as we know it,” Robb Wolf writes Preach on, brother!


Requisite BJJ Section


Shameless Self-Promotion

My posts for the week are divided into two categories: MMA interviews and health industry posts.

  • Interview: Pat Barry. What a character. Barry talks Streetfighter, ninjas and more. He faces Stefan Struve on October 1st.

How Do Some Discussions on Media Ethics Sound?

So I was thinking of doing some blogging on Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics in the world of changing media; maybe get some discussion going on some of the challenges writers face, brainstorm solutions, look at non-examples, and so on.

I’d be interested in hearing from non-writers as well. How do you see media coverage and what examples of unethical behavior do you see? What are some of the reasons for it? What is due to legitimate time constraints or other reasons, and what is due to laziness or perhaps ignorance?

Before I get started with this task, I wanted to make sure there’s people on this blog (and on facebook) who are interested in participating in discussion. I’m not going to make you commit to responding to every post (as there will be many), but just want to make sure that I’m not standing on a soapbox in the shower, listening to my own echoes.

Let me know.

Friday Musings: Evolutionary Consciousness, Apologies and More

  • I found out on Saturday that Shawn Tompkins passed away. Writing a short little ditty about it in “Friday Musings” seems pretty lame, but leaving it out seems more lame. I only met Shawn once, as a fan asking for a photo, and we’d had a few Facebook conversations since then. He was always so incredibly kind and generous with his time, even though he had no real motive or incentive. Just a genuinely awesome person, who was always working tirelessly and selflessly on behalf of his athletes. He will be missed.
  • On a brighter note, my boyfriend ran his last half-marathon with the official time of 1:39:34, 7:37 pace per mile (!!), coming in at 85th place and 25/100 in his division. That’s because he is awesome.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about what I call cult-like behavior, as accepted as it sometimes is, and the opposite of it. In my mind, evolutionary consciousness is about freedom, sovereignty and personal responsibility. It is not about following directives or having a childlike dependence on others. We can pick teachers we resonate with, but we’re differentiated, with our own individuality and spirit. We cannot even truly respect our teachers without freedom of thought as individuals, which is entirely absent when we are so immersed in what they say that we can’t even think for ourselves.
  • And speaking of thinking for ourselves, I had this brilliant idea. How about NOT repeating really awful rumors about guys you barely know told to you by people who may have a vested interest in damaging their reputation? Or how about, say it to their face or not at all? Some stigmas are really hard to shake, and I can’t think of many reasons for trying to perpetuate said stigmas on the basis of hearsay.
  • This week, someone apologized to me for being rude, and was then even more rude. Um. Following up an apology by being more of a dick, as my buddy Sean pointed out, cancels out the apology. Sigh.
  • I just wanted to share this great quote I found, by Jeanette Winterson in her book Written on the Body. It, in my opinion, applies to more than just relationships. “Cheating is easy. There’s no swank to infidelity. To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. You get away with it, you take a little more and a little more until there is no more to draw on. Oddly, your hands should be full with all that taking but when you open them there’s nothing there.”

Friday Musings: Hot Water, Proverbial Rollercoasters and Taking A Day Off

I typically compile my Friday musings from various thoughts I’ve posted on Facebook, and it appears I haven’t done a lot of thinking this week. But here’s the few things I’ve been pondering.

So we have been having all these hot water problems, until the very day that my landlord comes out to look at the thing. Then suddenly we have TONS of hot water. So hot that you couldn’t even keep your hands in it. This after weeks of tepid and lukewarm madness, which made it impossible to take a bath. I’m not crazy! Well, maybe a little, but not for the reasons my landlord was thinking. Like, I would not make up cold water. Anyway, at first I thought it was the crazy lady downstairs, who was flipping out because apparently her water bill is now $5 more each month (we share a water heater and the cost is split) since we, you know, do laundry so that our clothes will be clean, and take showers after working out. Maybe she lowered the temperature on the water heater and then turned it back up when the landlord said he was coming. Though I’m not sure she is smart enough to come up with that nefarious plot.

So then I thought it was just the universe’s way of fucking with me. Like when my hair looks really sweet right before I’m about to get it chopped off. Or the times in my past when I was so ready to dump the guy already, but then he would do something really nice–making me second-guess myself. Or when you’re about to quit a gym and suddenly everybody’s polite and respectful and it’s actually a pleasant environment, for a change. This leads you to believe that things aren’t so bad and stop you from making your well-thought-out decision unless you power through it! Um, that doesn’t tie into water at all, but it just is something I’ve been thinking about.

The rest of my week has also been a rollercoaster. I was pleased to learn that my ACL is, in fact, intact and I do not need knee surgery. But I wasn’t so happy to learn that my knee is or was partially dislocated. And the rehab exercises I’ve been doing aren’t any fun at all. I feel weak and helpless, even though I know it is helping build strength in my knee, which is what I want. It doesn’t hurt, but feels weak, so building it up again is the best thing I can do…even if it sucks at the time because these seemingly easy things are so difficult.

I also got turned down from a dream job this week, which sucked, but my silver lining is that I now don’t have to try to start months from now or cancel projects I’ve already committed to (most of which start in October.) Anyway, although I’m more than a little disappointed, I’ve been consoling myself with the thought of better things in store and reminding myself how much I love the flexibility of freelancing.

And I took a day off to try to recharge. It was excellent. I got my hair straightened, bought some zines from an independent bookstore and ate lunch at the co-op.I listened to Fabeku‘s awesome sound shifting audio (the free Sound Shifts Things audio, available on his site, as well as the music from the Don’t Lose Your Shit Kit.) I also did an online audio retreat a la Jen Louden, and tried to think about the sense of longing I have being the calling itself, and ways to really enjoy the journey rather than focusing or obsessing over my lack of things I don’t already have. This is not easy work.

Taking a day off was really hard! I am used to working pretty much 24/7. But I really needed the recharge time, and feel like I can tackle the world with renewed vigor.

My weekend is going to be awesome. My boyfriend and I are going to Milwaukee for UFC (and Joe Rogan!) after he runs a half-marathon. Beer, food and frozen custard are also on the itinerary. Then back to strict Paleo for 8 weeks to prepare for another tournament.

Hope you have a great weekend, too.

Friday Musings: Attitude, Waiting, Complicated Situations & Consumer Fatigue

  • I suck at waiting. I have about five big projects I have been talking to people about, some for seemingly forever. Twiddling my thumbs and waiting for them to get started has not proven to be one of my strong suits. But I don’t want to obsessively watch them gestate. When they are ready, they’ll start. (This is easier to say than to believe.) Oh, and it’d be really nice to know what’s up with my knee, too, but I’m trying not to think about that. (Soundtrack: Fugazi, Waiting Room.)
  • I wonder how much time I waste writing and rewriting elaborately prioritized to-do lists. Anybody else do this? Maybe this has to do with sucking at waiting–I want everything to be done right away. Someone smart told me that the point is not the outcome, but who you become in the process. And I have a really hard time even pondering that.
  • After some very controversial judging at an event, Greg Everett wrote in his newsletter about how true champions are humble, composed and gracious whether they win or lose, handling poor judgement like adults rather than throwing temper tantrums. I really believe that in theory, but in reality (and as a spectator), I am the one who is yelling loudest when I feel something is unfair. I wonder what the balance. I guess I feel like it’s different when you’re not the one competing, but is it?
  • I recently decided not to work with someone who was writing obnoxious and condescending comments to people I really respect. On Facebook. (Do you need that context? Probably.) I think he thought it would impress me, and make him seem like a knowledgeable expert. Instead it just made him look like an asshat. I wish everyone was aware of this. Ideally, I’d only work with nice experts. But asshat = dealbreaker, no matter the expertise.
  • I am having temperature problems lately. It’s too hot. The hot water is cold. Etc. Blah. I think I handled these things better when I was 19 and visiting El Salvador. Now I’m spoiled, or slightly set in my ways, or something.
  • I had a huge crazy pile of e-mail lately which I am just getting through. It made me realize how exhausted I am with people trying to sell me things. And then that made me wonder how to try to get work in a climate of consumer fatigue. Which maybe has something to do with how long I have to wait for projects to actually start (see the first item).
  • I really don’t like the new facebook chat. It makes it seem like there’s way less people to talk to. I thought facebook was supposed to help geeks develop social networks, or something. Awkwardly trying to talk to the same people over and over again doesn’t help.
  • Things are really complicated sometimes. I hate it when I describe a situation poorly and people jump in with mad judgements, thinking that any clarification on my part is me making excuses for my own poor choices rather than trying to provide more context and detail to explain my choices. This thought needs more percolating, but that’s what’s on my mind lately.  (Soundtrack: Indigo Girls, Least Complicated.)

Yael’s Variety Hour: Funny, Sad & Poignant

Welcome to the Variety Hour, my weekly collection of favorite links and posts and articles and videos gathered around the web. This is usually posted on Wednesdays, but I’m doing it a bit early since I’ll be attending the Women’s Grappling Camp Wednesday through Sunday, and would like to free up space to write all about it if that’s what I’m inclined to do.


I don’t know about you, but I need humor in spades this week! I never thought I’d be complaining about heat, but without AC the weather has been all but unbearable. I’ve been a bit foggy and spacey this week, either from the heat or from heat-induced insomnia. Then I have to deal with the aftermath of said fogginess/spaciness, which is no fun at all. Plus my car happened to die while picking a friend up at the airport, which was the suck. Among other things. Anyway, enough about that. Here’s some laughs.

  • The F*ck It Way. I can’t quite tell if this is supposed to be humorous or not, but it made me happy.



Shameless Self-Promotion

  • As mentioned yesterday, I am offering my services as a ghost blogger and/or Tweeter. If your business needs some ramping up on the social media front, please contact me and we’ll figure out the details!
  • 12 Questions for Miesha Tate. As she prepares for her fight against Marloes Coenen, Tate took a quick break for this interview I did for Sherdog.
And A Question
  • Who here is on Spotify? Do you love it?
Anyway, that’s all for now! Feel free to post your favorite links, or any comments on mine. Happy reading!

Yael’s Variety Hour: Videos, Petitions and ♥

Welcome to the Variety Hour, where I post all my favorite links from the week, in hopes that you too will like them! Somehow themes always seem to emerge, and this week is no exception. So watch things, sign things and check things out. Not a whole lot of articles this time around.


  • Flo(a)w. Movement = good. From Ido Portal.


  • Veto/Amend House Bill 1490. Please help BJJ practitioners be allowed to compete in Illinois without unnecessary government interference.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Shameless Self-Promotion

  • Check out the latest Loft Literary Center classes, including mine (a 6-week course in St. Paul on breaking into magazine writing.)
  • Forever Faire is a post-apocalyptic tale set in a Renaissance Faire site in Black Point Forest. Herbalist Charles “Doc” Garcia weaves a brilliant tale in the aftermath of a bird flu variant wiping out most of the world’s population. I proofread an earlier version of this story and was stunned by how well-written it was. If you have a Kindle, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.


Yael’s Variety Hour: Exercise Myths, Facebook Behavior & Feeling Smarter


Health and Wellness


Shameless Self-Promotion

  • The Performance Menu. The July issue of the Performance Menu is now out! It includes my interview with Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo, as well as many articles on various aspects of the Olympic lifts, a piece on metabolic disorders and a bunch of great Paleo recipes. Yours for five bucks.
  • Taste For Life. The July issue of Taste for Life is out! I have a piece on natural air fresheners, which is now available for free in select health food stores and co-ops.
  • Always All Or Nothing I was lucky enough to speak with Pat Barry for Sherdog before his fight on UFC Live 4. Although the piece is a bit outdated since the fight has already taken place, I’m listing it because it still captures his personality and training, with quotes from sport science sleuth Marty Morgan and one of my favorite grapplers of all time, Eric “Red” Schafer.


This week will only feature a limited number of posts, but I’ll be back to full-time next week.

Finding Balance In A Post-Strict Paleo World

pork tenderloin with cherry sauce and cauliflower mash (not Whole30 compliant: the cherries had some added sugar)

I’ve written extensively about embarking on the Whole 30, and also about the very first time I followed a 30-day Paleo diet. But I can’t honestly write about making dietary modifications without admitting that my post-30 eating hasn’t exactly been 100% clean–or Paleo.

Let me explain a little. After completing my Whole30, I had less than two weeks before a jiu jitsu tournament in which I needed to compete at 134.9 pounds. (The next weight class was 164.9, which I didn’t really see as an option.) After a few cheat meals, including a lovely dinner out with friends (where I ate duck roulade en creppinette, with creamy chévre polenta, brussels sprout petals, pea shoots, fig compote and duck jus, followed by a dark chocolate truffle torte with port cherries, chocolate meringue and chocolate ice cream), I proceeded to cut out virtually all carbs in order to cut weight. This was followed by drinking boatloads of water (one and a half gallons a day), which I tapered off in order to dehydrate myself for the sole purpose of losing poundage. Then I hung out in a sauna suit for a while, even making my boyfriend drive me to weigh-ins with the heat in his car turned all the way up, as I baked in the suit (with clothes on top of it), trying to lose that last .2 lbs. I barely made weight, and then did the opposite of what was recommended. Although I managed to slowly drink my mixture of Pedialyte and water, I also stuffed myself that night rather than eating half-portions every several hours. I broke all the recommended guidelines by eating a combination of meats, yams with andouille sausage, chips and guac, collards with smoked turkey and some kind of chocolatey thing or other for dessert. After weighing in at 134.9 (barely), I think I was 138.2 or so the following day.

After competing, I decided to take a few days to just eat whatever I wanted. Although I cut weight following some recommended guidelines from experts (which included some awesome Facebook friends and modified recommendations from the Grappler’s Guide to Sports Nutrition), I still needed a break. I decided that no matter what I put in my mouth, it couldn’t be as bad for my health as what I just did to it. This was followed by some on-again, off-again traveling in which it is very difficult to follow a Paleo diet without a lot of time and energy. I just wasn’t up for it. Of course, I’ve felt sluggish and not quite at optimal health, so my caveman (who’d also been doing a bit of traveling) and I thought about doing a Whole30 again sometime in July or August. But we have tickets for Ultimate Fight Night in Milwaukee, and I really wanted us to go to Kopp’s which I hear from a writer friend has the best frozen custard ever. Last time I was in Milwaukee, I was drinking gallons of water to cut weight and frozen custard wasn’t on the menu. Of course anyone *can* follow the Whole30, but would you always want to?

It was then that we decided to further modify our Whole30. We’d already planned on adding bacon and pastured butter back in, but what about weekend cheat meals? Then we wouldn’t have to do a Whole30. We could just keep eating that way forever! I am still hoping to avoid gluten as much as possible, but am also hopeful that the occasional frozen custard won’t screw up my health and body composition forever, and adding in weekend cheats is also a lot easier than trying to count percentages (“If I have cheat meals 10% of the time, and I’ve had 3 meals a day with 0-2 snacks a day, and it’s Thursday, and my last cheat was the chocolate bar on Monday night, can I eat cornbread today?”)

I will keep you posted!

The Shadow Side of the World Domination Summit: Starf*cking

I’ve started to recap the World Domination Summit by writing short excerpts of each guest speaker, with take-home points for people who could not attend. My goal was to write a recap that would help people feel included, not excluded–I truly believe nobody ever has to be at ANY event to get something of value from concepts presented, which reverberate across the internet and more often than not have a positive ripple effect which touches many more people than just the attendees.

There’s definitely something magical about being at an event–soaking in the good vibes, being surrounded by amazing people, experiencing the same thing at the same time. The crowd is electric, energizing. And at the same time, I feel that I can’t honestly recap the WDS without at least touching on the shadow side of the event for me.

Chris Guillebeau did an amazing job of bringing together wonderful, inspiring speakers. And because he is such a genuinely cool person himself, his tribe is the same way–enthusiastic, creative people with great energy and big dreams. Chris himself mentioned many times during the event, as he does on his book tour, that one of the biggest benefits of bringing people together is that they (we) can learn from one another.

It’s a great point, but not one that many people (myself included) always take to heart. This creates a weird imbalance in the power dynamic of any big event. Specifically, it means that certain people (speakers, workshop presenters, etc.) are surrounded by people who want to talk to them. That’s understandable. Who wouldn’t want to meet people who are rock stars? I myself was all about it. Many of them are people whose blogs I’ve read for years, or I’ve bought their products or participated in their online communities or courses. Or we’ve communicated via e-mail and I’m totally jazzed about meeting them in person. I lined up for my photos with many high-profile people, just like many others did, which of course I don’t regret.

The imbalance it creates is with the rest of us. I found myself talking to many people who I felt somewhat of a connection with, until they’d literally step away mid-sentence when their favorite internet guru walked by. I’m a huge extrovert and definitely energized by interactions with others, but talking to people who I find out seconds later were just killing time while waiting to talk to someone else–that’s exhausting.

As someone with a background in sociology and philosophy, I am constantly analyzing/deconstructing various social interactions, and I found myself wondering if I’d done the same thing to others. Did I inadvertently ignore a new friend so that I could spend a few moments talking to [insert name of internet celebrity here]? And I found that I had done that on more than one occasion. What made me think what Internet Celebrity X had to say was more valuable than New Friend X? We all have our areas of expertise and our own experiences to draw from. Any time I’ve ever taught a class or given a presentation myself, I’ve felt that I learned more from the students or participants than they could ever learn from me. Aside from familiarity (as I was just as enamored with lower-profile peeps who I’ve “met” online), was there anything that drew me away from new friends and towards other people?

Part of it was that I felt a lot of conversation with strangers was stilted, rehashed. One conversation I’d had multiple times over the course of the event was when someone would ask me what I did for a living, and I’d tell them I was a writer. They’d instantly ask me about the size of my mailing list (it’s small) and then tell me I should spend more time on twitter to build up my social media presence. This oft-repeated (rehashed) advice hasn’t worked for me–I’ve analyzed my traffic AND my most energizing interactions and very few are Twitter-related. In fact, I’ve had much more luck with Facebook, unpopular with certain groups of people as it is. Anyone doing an actual consult would want to look at some data first, but strangers often don’t. Another example is when people who are unfamiliar with my business model would tell me that what I really need to do is create information products (which I’ve tried multiple times and has never, ever worked for various reasons).

Unsolicited advice is exhausting.Trying to explain to strangers why you don’t want to follow their unsolicited advice is even more exhausting. (And I can say with a straight face that if one of my favorite internet celebrity rock star people told me to spend more time on twitter or that I should write e-books instead of selling articles to editors (which I’ve been doing successfully), I’d explain to them why that doesn’t work for me as well. I’d like to think that anyone doling out advice for a living would have some level of discernment to discuss the nuances, rather than shooting disapproving glances my way or resorting to some kind of argument from authority (e.g. “Seth Godin says you should use permission marketing; I’d look into that.”) And yet I noticed that time and again–judgement from strangers; rehashed (and unsolicited) suggestions. There is a brilliant diversity of tactics one can use for any given business (or situation). And not all of them are always well-represented by one’s favorite group of internet celebs. In essence, what works for you or for them might not work for me–and vice versa. This is not a one-size-fits-all world.

I’ve never been a very high-profile person, doing most of my work from a small home office or behind a computer screen. So I can’t exactly speak for anyone else. But I imagine that it must get exhausting to have more than a few people who are seeking your attention so that you can make decisions for them–especially when these people have WAY more knowledge than you do, and when you’ve put time and effort into trying to inspire them to step into their own power. There have been several times when I’ve asked people I look up to some questions and realized afterwards that I’d already known the answer. So why did I ask? It could be to seek confirmation of what I already know to be true. Or, perhaps more likely, something about the setting makes these interactions more common. As much as we like to think we are nonconformists or are unconventional, simply giving someone a podium (due in no small part to their own brilliance and accomplishments) creates a social dynamic that can easily become inequitable, and it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between seeking someone out for their expertise or for their seemingly infallible wisdom.

Does that make sense? Here’s an example from my own life. One of my favorite people of all time, who I’ve paid for business coaching, recommended I use an electronic calendar rather than a paper calendar. Various books have said the same thing. But when I tried it, I hated it. Did I continue to try using a system that wasn’t working for me? No. I went back to the paper calendar.

I know there’s a gap between their experience of experts and my experience–and that any expert worth their salt is still learning. I also know that I’m on a journey, an ongoing process. Subscribing to a course, reading a book, following a blog, getting coaching, following suggestions from those I’ve sought out for guidance–those things alone will not get me to where I’m going. Constant trial and error, probably over many years, will help me discover my path for myself. I can’t count on both hands the amount of information products I’ve purchased and worked through that didn’t get me any closer to building my business. This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with the products, per se, or that I don’t love the people I’ve bought things from. It’s saying there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and that I can trust my own experience and thought process rather than blindly following the advice of others (no matter how successful these people may be.)

The Buddha is quoted in some places as saying, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

I am not a Buddhist. But this idea really speaks to me. I’d like to be able to speak to strangers at conferences about areas where we disagree with the common wisdom; where we’re truly in dialogue.

I am a Shimer College alum. At this amazing Great Books school, we worked on “education for active citizenship in the world,” using small, seminar-style classes (Socratic method) in a process that the mission statement describes as “more than the acquisition of factual knowledge or the mastery of vocational skills,” but rather “the process leading away from passivity, beyond either unquestioning acceptance of authority or its automatic mistrust, and towards informed, responsible action.”

My version of informed, responsible action sometimes completely breaks the rules, sometimes flies in the face of common wisdom. Sometimes it is surprisingly traditional. It is a scientific approach–with plenty of trial and error. And a big part of it is sitting with myself and recognizing my own inherent wisdom. Someone may be very high profile. They may have accomplished many great things. They might give the greatest speech I’ve ever heard. They may have even blown goals similar to mine out of the water. I respect their hard work and experience. And at the same time, I don’t feel the need to follow their every example. If I line up to speak to them, it’s not because I think they are better than any other person I come in contact with. And I certainly don’t think they’re better than me. They are simply further along on a path–a path which may or may not look like the journey on which I myself wish to embark.

One of the hardest parts about the World Domination Summit for me was when one of my internet celebrities completely blew me off. There could be a million reasons for this and most of them have nothing to do with me. But, as they say, the higher the pedestal, the harder the fall. Luckily, I was staying with a dear friend in Portland so when I had a near-meltdown (“I am really sad. And I’m really annoyed at myself for being so sad. Why I am reacting so strongly about something which is probably so trivial to everyone else?”), she was there to help me pick up the pieces.

I titled this post “The Shadow Side of the WDS: Starf*cking”–and that’s exactly what it boils down to. We all lose when we give our power away to others, no matter how bright and shiny they may be. In a crowd, it’s easy to get caught up in groupthink. It’s easy to idealize others just a touch too much, to seek their approval and opinion when neither is necessary.

The take home message for me? No matter how amazing someone appears, they’re not better than me. They may be better at certain things, but even that is hard to determine. And there’s areas where I may have more knowledge and they could use my expertise, whether they realize it or not. If we base my self-worth on what others think, even for a second, we all lose. Let’s find ways to interact that make us bigger, not smaller. Let’s keep stoking the fire of our own dreams rather than trying to fit into a mold created by others. And let’s look, really look, at our internet heroes–with all of their strengths and weaknesses, complexities and contradictions. Let’s see them for who they really are–people.