Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Calories vs Nutrition

I got in to an interesting discussion about calories at the gym. People seem to be misunderstanding what calories are, and how they work with food.

First and very foremost, a calorie is a scientific unit of ENERGY. Put in to scientific terms, one calorie is equal to 4.184 joules. This is very important to keep in mind. When you are talking about calories, you are talking about energy. More specifically we are talking about both Thermodynamic Energy. One calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water one degree centigrade. However, in one of those unknown twists of the American weights and measures system, the calorie that you see on food packages is actually a kilocalorie, or 1000 units of the calorie described above (just like 1000 grams is equal to 1 kilogram, get it?). Because it really isn't important to the conversation at this point, we are going to use the American system ('MERICA!!) and call the kilocalorie a calorie, ok?

So, we are talking about thermodynamic energy. Let's equate this to heating water, because, well... that is exactly what calories measure.
It takes a certain amount of energy to raise the temperature of a given amount of water at a given temperature to 50 degrees C (ignore pressure for the time being, or you can just assume that everything takes place at sea level). It stands to reason that if the water is frozen, it takes more energy to raise it to 50C than if the water were at room temperature. Given that the temperature of the water is the same, and volume of water remains the same, it will always take the same amount of energy to get it to 50C. It is simply a matter of adding the energy.
If I don't put enough energy in, the water does not reach 50C. If I put too much energy in, the water rises above 50C. Pretty elementary right?

The converse relationship is true in your body. You take in a certain amount of calories. Your body uses a certain amount of calories. If you take in fewer calories than your body uses, you loose weight. You have to. The body needs the energy, and if it is not in the food you have eaten, it has to go to its stores. If you run out of energy, you die. The body doesn't want to die, therefore it will do what it has to do to get the energy.

Now how you get the calories doesn't matter, from an ENERGY standpoint. If your body uses 2000 calories a day, and you take in 1000 calories in a day, no matter what it is, it could be all in bacon fat (mmmmmmmmmm bacon fat), you will loose weight. You have to. You have a deficiency of 1000 calories.

Now... Nutrition. Nutrition is how the body uses the FOOD it takes in. Not the calories. Calories are energy units. The body will take energy from any source that is available, fat, muscle, whatever.
Let's go back to the bacon fat example. If your only source of food is bacon fat, you may be skinny, BUT you will not be healthy. The body will process that bacon fat and will do some very bad things with it. This is how you can be thin, but very unhealthy.

SO, if you just want to lose weight, eat less. You will lose weight. IF you want to be healthy, you need to watch what you eat so you can be sure that what you take in will be used by your body with only good aftereffects.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Always Have One In The Chamber...

I post a lot about how Concealed Carry can save lives. BUT... A gunfight is one of the most UNforgiving situations you can ever be in. A single tactical error, and you are dead as Dickens. This is why you can not get enough good training. Listen to those that have been in gunfights, or who gunfight for a living on how to survive a gunfight and how to make the correct tactical decisions.

Recently a CCW holder was killed during a Jewelry Store robbery. It was recorded. This is a graphic video. It shows a man being shot and killed. Don't watch it if you can't stomach it.

This man makes a couple of serious tactical errors.
  • He carries his automatic pistol without a round in the chamber. He must draw, rack a round, remove safe, acquire the target, then fire.
  • He does not make himself safe. He stands straight up, and only thinks about cover when he can't get his pistol working.
  • When his weapon malfunctions, he does not find cover and does not move. He stands right there, just as he would at the range, and attempts to clear the malfunction.
Those that have been in gunfights say that it is the most stressful situation they have ever been in. When the human body goes through the fight or flight response, fine motor movements are all but completely lost. The only way to retain fine motor skills in the most stressful of situations is by repetitive training. This guy seems to have done some good training with his draw. He draws smoothly and cleanly. What happens next is what kills him. He tries to work the slide. His motor skills are gone and he screws up the chambering. He screws up so badly that he causes a malfunction of the pistol. He never gets the gun into the fight. The reasoning behind not having a round in the chamber is a "safety" one. If you don't have a round in the chamber, you can't negligently discharge the pistol. You must first draw, rack, then fire. It is a way of being "extra" safe. In my opinion, this is a way to be extra dead. As a civilian, if you are drawing your gun, it means that you are in a situation where your life is in danger. In the video, the bad guys had their guns out and were looking for people to shoot. If you life is in imminent danger, microseconds count. Why waste them on racking the slide? To me, trigger discipline takes care of this issue. If my finger is not on the trigger, there is no danger of the gun going off. Thus, I can carry one in the chamber. Not having to rack the slide is one less thing I have to do in the most stressful situation I will ever experience. A malfunction of my pistol is the last thing I have to worry about with my first shot. I will also take this time to talk about his choice of carry pistol. He had a standard Double Action/Single Action automatic pistol. It has an external safety and an external hammer. I don't like these types of pistols as carry pieces.

Double Action/Single Action pistol.
The external safety and hammer are on the rear of the gun. After the safety is off there is a long trigger pull for the first shot as the hammer is cocked, the subsequent shots are a very short light trigger pull. I like the "tactical" style Double Action Only pistols. No external safeties, and no external hammer.

No external anything. Same trigger pull for each shot.

With the tactical pistol, there is nothing external to worry about. You just pull the trigger. Each trigger pull is the same weight, so there is consistency in your training, and in real life. Everything is the same all of the time.

For the same reason I keep a round in the chamber, I don't want to be using up time worrying about an external safety, I don't want to be thinking about adjusting aim points for a long trigger pull or cocking the gun if I want the same pull each time. I want to be worrying about aligning the sights on my target and getting safe!

Next, he stood up directly in the line of fire. Always get safe first! He had some benches that he finally took cover behind, but that should have been the first thing he did. Get safe, draw, acquire target, fire. Getting safe can mean simply getting to a position that is unexpected for the bad guys. Going to one knee is a good example of this. Your opponents are thinking about a standing target. You are immediately out of the line of fire and, while the bad guys attempt to adjust their aim points to you, you are shooting.

Finally, when his gun malfunctioned, he stood absolutely still and tried to clear the malfunction. One of the things you should be doing at the range is having someone else loading your magazines. They should be putting one or two dummy or expended rounds into the mag. This will help in a number of ways. It will diagnose flinching and other problems during the trigger pull, but it will also force you to clear the malfunction. When you clear your malfunction, you should be thinking about getting to cover. If your range allows it, when the malfunction occurs, go to one knee to clear it, or, better yet use an adjacent empty lane to quickly move in to, go to one knee and clear the malfunction. This will teach you to get safe before attempting to rack your slide. It will also put a little bit of stress on you so that you can work to control your adrenalin during your shooting.

This guy was trying to be safe. He was trying to help the others in the store. He made some mistakes and ended up paying for it with his life. If you carry a gun, you must train with it. You must not only practice shooting it, but you must also train to be tactically aware. When you walk into a store, look around you, and find the places where you can take cover. Run scenarios through your head to come up with tactical solutions. Think about how you could survive if a bad guy were to come in shooting. Then train so that your reactions are good no matter what the situtation.

Tax Freedom Day 2013

Tax Freedom Day for Oklahoma is the 6th, and Alabama the 5th. That's good!!! Tax Freedom Day is, on average, 5 days later this year than last year... That's bad!!!!