Men are from paleo, women are from Engine 2

The Engine 2 guy, doing his version of the "I want to pump YOU up" routine.

The Engine 2 guy, doing his version of the “I want to pump YOU up” routine.

OK, so that’s not strictly true, since the Engine 2 diet was started by a fireman, who going by his pictures may be considered by some to be even more of a macho guy than I am (he’s also named “Rip”), even though he has been photographed wearing this.

But let’s just say he’s definitely a guy, and he invented Engine 2, and is therefore a traitor to his gender, and just leave it at that. Let’s set it aside, because I don’t want any actual facts interfering with my over-broad generalizations.

So, back to my point: Men are from paleo, women are from Engine 2. At least, it works that way in my house.

Several months ago, my wife and my daughter who works at Whole Foods started attending some cult meetings at that fine establishment, because they had decided to take the Engine 2 28-challenge, which describes itself this way:

The guiding principle is simple: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds give your body the fuel it needs to function at its best. When you fill your belly with these whole, minimally processed plant-based foods, you take charge of your health and become plant-strong®.

Although, of course, it’s really about what you do without:

  • Zero animal products
  • No added oils
  • 100% whole grains
  • Minimal added sugar, if at all
  • Less than 25% total calories from fat
  • 1:1 ratio of milligrams of sodium to calories, with the exception of condiments

You lost me at “zero animal products.”

This was all very well and good for 28 days — as long as it’s someone other than me doing it — but subsequently, my wife has continued to live this way. And she likes it.

Meanwhile, I have decided, since my pants are all too tight, to go back to my strict paleolithic diet — which means meat, as much as you can hunt down and kill (or purchase at the grocery, and then cook yourself since you’re the one who eats it). It also means you don’t eat any grains, or any peas or beans — which are where the plant-strong® crowd get most of their protein.

I felt great and went out and bought some skinnier pants last year when I was doing paleo pretty strictly and working out every day, and I want to get back to where I can wear some of those pants. Not to mention the new blue blazer that I had taken in at the time.

So basically, my wife and I a complementary pair, like Jack Spratt and wife, although we do overlap on some cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes.

So as I hunt and she gathers, more or less, our brains get retuned so that we notice different things. For instance this morning I noticed, was inspired by, and reached out to share with my spouse this important breaking story in The Washington Post:

Why salad is so overrated

…There’s one food, though, that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.

It’s salad, and here are three main reasons why we need to rethink it.

Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources….

It’s not just lettuce. Cucumbers, radishes, lettuce and celery are essentially just water, too. They are things that go crunch and fool people into thinking they are eating and not drinking.

My favorite line in the piece:

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table….

Good one, huh? Well my wife read that, acknowledged that yes, lettuce is worthless (and it is to be noted that the salads she makes these days are made from more solid stuff), but then told me to take a gander at this:

Beef: The ”King” of the Big Water Footprints

When a Prince talks farming, you listen. This is nothing new for the GRACE food program folks, but as the “water guy,” that’s all I could think about shortly after reading Chris Hunt’s roundup (or “knowledge dump“) of the speakers and themes from May’s Future of Food conference. The “Prince” in question is sadly not his Purple Majesty but rather, Charles, the Prince of Wales, who issued a stern warning –and in the process stirred up a long simmering debate among Americans – that resonated with me because of its virtual water conservation message: Beef production and consumption are water intensive and a drain on our world water supplies.

According to His Royal Highness:

In a country like the United States, a fifth of all your grain production is dependent upon irrigation. For every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes two thousand gallons of water. That is a lot of water and there is plenty of evidence that the Earth cannot keep up with the demand.

Quite resounding, old chap! While it’s a well-established fact that meat production requires more water than fruits, vegetables or grains, an average water footprint of 2,000 gallons per pound of beef is enormous indeed. You might be wondering how the water footprint of meat – using Prince Charles’s statistic – compares to the water footprints of other agricultural products…

I think she chose HRH as an authority because of my well-documented Anglophilia. (Right after 9/11, I put an American flag out by our front door, and I wanted to add a Union Jack, but she forebade it, on account of being Irish.)

But obviously, based on some of the choices he’s made in the past, the prince is not an infallible source.

That’s all I’ll say about that for now.

26 thoughts on “Men are from paleo, women are from Engine 2

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    As I go into this renewed paleo mode, I need to start planning ahead.

    Last night, for my son’s birthday party, I cooked some steaks (and corn on the cob) on the grill. But as I sometimes do, I got rushed, and basically did all my cooking before my fire got to that perfect cooking state, the glowing coals coated in white ash, no flame, and a steady temp between 300 and 350:

    Obviously, I should have planned ahead and had a week’s worth of meat on hand to grill while the fire was hot — or at least a few Italian sausages, which I could have had for lunch all week.

    Ya gotta think ahead…

  2. Bill

    If you want to lose weight,burn more calories than you take in;AKA exercise.
    Now ,I’ve got to have a ribeye burger from The Kingsman…

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    Okay, given your allergies, it might be harder for you to do Engine Number Nine, although there are many grains you are not allergic to, and you are allergic to several animal products, if I recall, but I believe the science is on your wife’s side….
    Also, the environment….

    It is nearly impossible for most people to exercise themselves into significant weight loss–injuries happen first. Exercise has been shown repeatedly to be imperative to maintain weight loss and to stave off weight gain, possibly, but you are more likely to get injured than to lose significant weight through exercise alone.

    1. Doug Ross

      “It is nearly impossible for most people to exercise themselves into significant weight loss–injuries happen first.”

      I have done the 10,000 steps goal every day for the past year and made no other changes in my diet. I’ve had no injuries (hard to injure yourself just walking). I’m down around 20 pounds depending on how many scoops of Ben & Jerry’s I’ve had. I’ve been averaging 13,000 steps a day. At least three times a week, I walk for two hours at a 3.3 mph pace… It works. It’s not nearly impossible. You just have to do it.

        1. Doug Ross

          I do most of it on a treadmill and surf the web, watch videos, read books at the same time. I split it into two one hour sessions. Walk, eat, walk.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Well swell for you. Science backs me up. I easily walk 10,000 steps (a daily hour with my Weims) and often also add a half hour of intense cardio, but unless I cut back somewhere on the eating, I do not lose weight. My experience is reportedly the norm.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And I HAVE been able to lose weight with exercise, along with a modest change in diet.

      Several years ago, there was this big community weight loss challenge, and Cindi was writing about it a lot, and when the end of it was two weeks off, just to be show off, I said, “I can lose 10 pounds in these two weeks.”

      And I did. I changed my diet this way: I ate the same things, but a little less — just sensible portions, and no seconds. I had no desserts (which with my allergies have never been a big thing for me, anyway). I added NO salt (and normally, I’m a “salt it before you taste it” guy, because I like to actually feel the crystals of salt on the food).

      And I stepped up my workout routine. I normally did about 30 minutes on the elliptical; I stepped it up to 45 and did it harder and faster, wearing a sweatshirt.

      And I made my goal. Which probably wasn’t a good idea, showing off like that, as when I went to give blood shortly after, my iron had depleted below the allowable level.

      Frankly, I think I mostly just squeezed 10 pounds of excess water out of my system, what with cutting back on the salt and sweating more than usual.

      I wasn’t stronger or healthier; I just weighed less, temporarily.

      The stunt reminded me of this kid named Jeter who was on my school wrestling team down in Tampa. He was a really scrawny little guy — probably about 110 pounds normally. But we needed somebody to wrestle in the 98-pound class (yes, there was such a thing, although apparently not any more), and he volunteered. So he starved himself for a couple of weeks, and showed up for the match looking like he should be in a hospital bed. He sat next to me on the bench, and placed a bag from McDonald’s on the bench between us. When the time came for his match, he asked me to watch the bag as he got up. He went in, won his match, came back to the bench and ate the three or four burgers he had in there…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        “along with a modest change in my diet”–ding ding ding

        You are barely overweight, if that, so a modest change would work. People who are very overweight to obese have been repeatedly shown to require dietary modifications to lose substantial weight. They have also been shown to frequently consume far fewer calories than their thinner peers.
        Your body is not a machine, but a complex system, and also a different system in many respects than others.

        1. Doug Ross

          If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Find extra steps in your day. Park at the far end of the parking lot (my wife hates when I do that). Walk up stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk quickly instead of strolling.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            But how many calories you burn varies. Your body is not a calorimeter. It has very complex mechanisms to defeat weight loss. It wants you not to starve–LOL. If you over-exercise or undereat, it throttles back on the metabolism.

            I am pretty sure I walk a lot more during the day than most of y’all. Aside from walking the dogs, when it isn’t a steam bath outside, I walk to meetings, rehearsals, stores, church, etc., from my centrally located home. I walk up and down 2 1/2 flights of stairs more times than I’d care to count, in part b/c of said dogs, but also because I am a neat freak. Etc.

            The only way I lose weight is to restrict food at least somewhat.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Weight loss is a mystery to me. Sometimes now I’ll weigh myself and I’ll be five or even 10 pounds less than the last time I weighed — and my pants are just as tight; I’m not a bit smaller than I was…

  4. Doug Ross

    For carnivores out there, I highly recommend the steaks from MiBek Farms, a vendor at the weekly Soda City Market on Saturday’s on Main Street. We had a London Broil this weekend that was tender and tasty. Hoping to try their filet mignon soon.

  5. 9"

    I’ve been a runner since high school,a LONG time ago w/no significant injuries.I never count calories or gain weight that can’t easily be lost

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Good for you. I tried running several times in high school, using the guidelines on Dr. Cooper’s book, and every time my knees would go. Several doctors pointed out that women like me with loose joints, broad hips and knocked knees cannot run without injuring themselves. I walk and and use ellipticals.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I can’t run, because of my spine problem. The weight of my head bouncing atop the problem vertebrae pinches nerves to my shoulders and arms, and I’m in pain for weeks…

        1. Doug Ross

          I chose to walk versus run specifically because of the chance of injury. Plus people who are running never look happy.

  6. Bill

    If you have medical issues,that’s different.But walking at a brisk pace burns almost as many calories as running.Walk on a track,grass or sand to avoid injuries…

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Exactly–or uphill. Uphill burns more calories per perceived effort because you get your glutes to help. A treadmill helps with that b/c no downhill….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Speaking of uphill… I’m curious whether anyone else has noticed this phenomenon…

        Briefly, years ago before I figured out how it hurt my spine, I tried running. I live in a very hilly neighborhood, and I noticed something. While walking, long gradual inclines were easier, while short, steep inclines were really hard.

        But while RUNNING, the short steep inclines were easy — they were over with so fast — but the long, gradual inclines were BRUTAL, to the point that I would frequently give up and walk…

        Anyone else experience this? It surprised me…

        1. Norm Ivey

          As a day hiker, I to pick up my pace on a strenuous hill, and I don’t like to stop until I’m at the top. A gradual incline doesn’t alter my pace much. Given a choice on a loop trail, I’ll walk in the direction that has longer more gradual inclines. Long, gradual descents do a number on my hips.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, I’m gradually restarting my routine.

    30 minutes yesterday morning on the elliptical.

    Another 30 minutes this morning…

    I’ll do that for a week or two (if my resolve holds), and then bump up to my former standard of 40 minutes.

    Or should I try 35 first?

    The funny thing about the way this works for me: When I’m starting out, it seems impossible that I’ll get to 10 minutes, much less 30. But I force myself to get to 10, then cajole myself into trying to get to 15… and then, by the time I’m at 20, it’s easier. By the time I hit 30, I feel like I could easily go on to 40.

    But I’m pacing myself. In the past, when I went straight to 40 after a hiatus, I would feel drained all day…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *