12: Russ Greene-Health, Fitness and Governance in America

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Hosted by
Will Jarvis

Today on the podcast, we have Russ Greene. Russ is the former director of government relations and research at CrossFit, a former games athlete, an Arabic linguist, and is currently an associate director at Stand Together, a nonprofit in the DC area. We discuss the current state of American wealth, governance, and fitness. 

The views and opinions expressed on Narratives are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of employers, past or present. 


hi i’m will jarvis and i’m will’s dad we both love and are fascinated by stories stories about people stories about places and stories about events our stories give shape and form to life they give texture color and rhythm to the blank canvas that every new day presents to us and they do that by informing us of our past as a directional marker for our future okay will it’s narrative time tell me a story today on the podcast we’ve got russ green and russ is the former director of government relations and research at crossfit he’s a former games athlete an arabic linguist and he’s currently an associate director at stand together a non-profit in the dc area hold on will like yeah i was across a games athlete in 2007-8 like those crazy ideas he didn’t even have to qualify back then so you know i think you know you got to put that up there that’s a big accomplishment man you know even if you got in the ground floor still still still counts man it’s cool it was fun at the time but you know russ uh will and i started this is our ninth year i guess we’ll start just before i did maybe a few months and uh i’m known as an old school crawl spitter we i don’t know what that makes you oh my god i started in 2002 so wow i think it makes me old makes you legendary it makes you legendary

i think i think i’m initially i was at the point where i’d been doing crossfit so long that it was embarrassing that i wasn’t like super duper fit and now i think i’ve been doing it long enough that it’s like impressive that i’m still at it you know oh wow 19 years still going i’m like yeah yeah that’s awesome that is awesome that’s so cool well um i’ve got to kind of mix and match these questions so so rust how how is was that bio okay was there anything you’d like to add i mean you hit all the big things i guess some people get into more detail very cool and so how is your uh training kind of evolved over these past years so oh wow that’s an i don’t even think that was on the outline you sent me well wow i’m gonna i’m gonna go back so like okay 2000 so i started working out in 1999 and i was going to the ymca doing a machine circuit because i thought if i built more muscle it would uh i guess help me get a girlfriend and improve my social status it didn’t either but um i did get a little bit stronger but you know doing the ymca machine circuit gets boring after a while and it just doesn’t work very well so i started looking online for just new ways to work out and about 2002 i found crossfit now meanwhile i was you know i was a high school student doing high school sports you know track swimming wrestling um and i one of the things that appealed to me about crossfit was it seemed like you could be in really good cardio shape from swimming or running and still just get gassed wrestling in like 30 seconds like there wasn’t a whole lot of obviously there’s some transfer but it wasn’t it was surprising how tired you would get in a wrestling match even if you thought you were in really good cardiovascular shape and crossfit workouts especially in the beginning feel a lot like that you know it’s that gasping for air weight on top of you yeah um so you know i for the first couple of years i was mainly just using crossfit just on the side but you know i happened to move to um happened to move to california just serendipitously and that’s where the first crossfit gym was so i started training there a little bit and uh it was really when i was in college that i started you know really getting into it more um you know i’ve i never really was a guy who you know hey i think i’m gonna make regionals this year and i’m gonna train seven hours a day that that was just never me probably because i’m just not that talented so it wasn’t easy to delude myself into thinking i’d be the next rich froning but um i would say like over the years what i found is that you need to you need to sort of go on these quests and um you never leave behind the general physical preparedness but you know every year or six months or whatever cycle makes sense to you you pick something new that you want to work on and you lay that on top of your general work and that’s something that i’ve found uh works really well so you know whether it’s i did brazilian jiu jitsu for a while um until my wife made me stop because i kept getting hurt um you know for i did a triathlon once um so right now i’m doing a lot of more like gymnastics strength holds and and uh doing a lot on the rogue echo bike but you know just the whole while staying consistent like i never just went and solely did one thing very cool very cool so it’s kind of like you know finding like a a new goal something new and interesting and always keep you kind of engaged um apart from the gpp yeah yeah i kind of stole the idea from a friend of mine brian shantosh because he would he would do these yearly challenges like one year i think it was a row a million meters and then one year it was like as many rounds of cindy as possible in a year and i never thought i’ve never signed up for any of these but at the same time i thought it was like that’s an interesting idea yearly challenge so you know like one year i had to do 10 socks press every workout like didn’t matter what way just had to do 10 socks press you know so just things like that um keep it interesting that’s super cool that’s super cool um and so i wanted to kind of transition a little bit you wrote a piece on kind of modern life um on medium a while back where you talked about kind of you know healthspan you know has our health span gotten longer or you know so it’s always like this battle between the mathematicians and uh you know the biologists you know are are people getting are people living longer is it just you know we we’re fixing infant mortality and we’re getting better at you know trauma surgery things like that um do you think there have been real gains in terms of um you know i guess qualities in people’s life so just like the you know maybe we live longer but we live worse do you think there is that we’re actually better off now than when we were you know hunter gatherers and we’d all run and you know run you know a couple hours a day run down some antelope and then eat it and you know just hang out the rest of the time that’s a great question i you know like i personally would not like to go back to those days but i will say this you know i think the stephen pinkers of the world if you just listen to them and the numbers that they cherry pick i think you get a very misleading impression you know for example it when they talk about how conflict has decreased well there’s a whole lot of statistical issues with that like starting from you know just the way they calculate the numbers killed in older generations of war you know it’s very hard to get an accurate count of how many people were killed 100 years ago or 200 years ago and then you know secondly as the same columbus pointed out you know these these things these massive casualty events um tend to fall like they’re fat tail events like gotcha i don’t want to say black swan because they’re not really they’re kind of right but um you know so hey we’ve had a 75 or whatever it is year round with a without a world war but you know there might be a nuclear armageddon in our future within the next 50 to 100 years like we can’t rule that out so just to to try to draw trends you know based off based off of just like the past 75 years and then project that forward seems a little naive i’m kind of butchering the same tolerance argument so definitely check out what he’s written about that you know that’s so that’s one point the other point would be um like looking at the quality of life and health span as you said um clearly there’s been a massive increase in chronic diseases obesity type 2 diabetes heart disease cancers so the question is always okay we might be living longer on average but how many of how much of that time is actually spent doing what we want to do in a healthy state so i was being intentionally provocative in my article um obviously i you know i wouldn’t if i could live in an if i had the opportunity to go back and be a hunter gatherer and press a button i wouldn’t want to but i i do think that the argument on the other side has been severely overstated and overlooks it some pretty significant um facts and oftentimes it’s portrayed as this romantic thing like oh you’re just like rousseau right like you you believe in this global savage like no i’m like i’m talking about real numbers you know like right i’m talking about like a six-fold increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes you know since the 70s like that’s a real thing i’m talking about three consecutive years of declining life expectancy you know the longest consecutive decline in u.s life expectancy in 100 years since the spanish flu like these things are really happening but you know on the other hand you can’t deny that there has been like massive massive progress in other areas at the same time definitely that’s a really good point and you know just anecdotally if you go so where my dad is sitting right now in eastern north carolina so i’m in a metro area rest i’m assuming you’re in dc so a metro area you go out you know like 20 30 miles out in these more rural areas you know the the downtowns look bombed out and the people look bombed out you know opioid the opioid epidemic people are just you know they’re overweight um and there’s all these kinds of problems where just health seems to have just declined over the past you know i don’t know i have a short time span i’ve been alive so i can’t you know speak but anecdotally seems to be the case i mean if you listen to guys like peter thiel ross douthit um you know there’s an increasing chorus of people who are skeptical about the amount of progress we’ve made in the last say 30 to 50 years i i think you could put me in that camp i usually don’t agree with the measures they recommend to fix it but just you know be being skeptical about how much meaningful progress we’ve made in quality of life and length of life yeah i i think you could put me in that can super cool and so kind of transitioning um from that so so what’s kind of the biggest misconception about diet and exercise that the lay person just gets plain wrong

i think people don’t understand uh the law of diminishing rates of return okay right um so it’s an economic concept right but like generally the idea is um the easiest hundred pounds to add to your deadlift or your first 100 pounds obviously like 200 300 it’s gonna be like two months you know you’re just going to learn how to do it boom and 300 to 400 you might have to get a little more serious and start coming to the gym on a regular basis i feel it’s you know it’s not going to be that hard 400 to 500 you know if you get there that’s going to take some meaningful training and then 500 to 600 like strap in man here we go like unless you’re really like genetically gifted or like a power lifter like that’s that’s going to be a challenge so it takes significantly more commitment and dedication and risk of injury and all these other things just to increase every additional unit and that holds whether it’s deadlifts marathons every single thing you could imagine at the same time there’s not just diminishing rates of return to training but diminishing rates of return to performance interesting and what i mean by that is the first hundred pounds you add to your deadlift are the most important for your quality of life every every 100 pounds you add after that transfers less and eventually that curve turns negative right it turns downward so eventually you’re trying to add more weight to your deadlift and it’s actually making your life worse you know you can put a lot of power lifters in that category right or conversely like you know like you take your mile from like seven minutes to six minutes fantastic even six minutes to five minutes like that’s great you want to get down to like four flat like like we’re talking like ready 75 miles a week you’re probably gonna hurt yourself you know it’s like yeah it’s amazing but you know unless you’re a runner and you’re getting paid to do that or you’re just like this is the passion in your life is it worth it so there’s i don’t think people have put together that not only is it going to take more and more work to make to make each additional unit of gain but that additional unit actually is contributing less and less to your overall life and in fact it will eventually become detrimental at some point right like the guys who deadlift 750 pounds are not very fit overall right trade-offs trade-offs yeah yeah yeah the guys the guys who are you know winning marathons overall are not very fit in an overall sense now

there are ways to like sort of try to gain that like i think that crossfit one of the benefits of crossfit is you know like when you focus on more of a mixed modal type of performance there is more of a linear relation at least at first between your performance and your quality of life like it’s hard to say that you’re going to be so good at helen or fran that you know it’s just making you unable to do the activities of daily life or you know like unable to pick up a martial art or learn a new sport but at the same time i still think there’s diminishing marginal returns so the reason this is so like this sounds really abstract but like i think everyone experiences this maybe they just don’t have a word for it like the first six months when you’re working out it’s amazing you’re pr’ing every single day right and then you keep doing that whatever your activity is whether it’s crossfit or weightlifting whatever you keep doing it over and over again and you’re not getting the same results and and it’s like people get frustrated or they push themselves too hard and they get injured and um if they people thought more about diminishing rates of return you know i think they would be able to think more logically about their training super interesting that’s a that’s a great point it’s also uh i think it highlights it’s important to go do something and like show up every day and um and keep working at it but not maybe obsess over you know you know chasing crazy numbers and things like that yeah that’s a mistake i’ve definitely made yeah yes i i think i i’ve invested more time energy stress into exercise and i probably should have given just like my inherent lack of genetic talent yeah right it’s important to realize that yeah that’s always that’s cool that’s cool um so you mentioned uh you know longevity dropping the diabetes rate um you know six times is that we said uh since yeah it’s 16 yeah a large number but you know generally it’s like two percent to 12 percent of the population with diagnosed type 2 diabetes as i recall man that’s that’s just it’s just yeah it’s mind-blowing what do you think has gone so wrong you know and and how does the food and beverage industry kind of play into that yeah well that’s an interesting question because

you look at you you listen all these stories of decline whether people are talking about stagnation and science and technology they’re talking about what they think’s gone wrong with the economy um political discourse in america even you look at like pew pew like polls americans to see how much they trust various institutions in the federal government and like since the 1970s it’s gone from like 80 to 18 wow like any story you look at you look really in-depth at the narrative of like when things went wrong it’s always like 1972. or 73 right nutrition’s the same like you look at the big narratives about like what went wrong and it’s like yeah you know if uh you know they changed a farm bill for one obviously the farm bill is just this massive like crony mess of like subsidies and and loan guarantees and quotas and originally they were mostly paying farmers not to produce and then nixon and i think it was 72 or 73 went from sort of a minimalist policy to a maximalist policy so he basically wanted farmers to maximize production and he was going to pay them to produce more corn soy wheat etc then they would produce under normal market conditions so you look even at mary and nestle’s book like food politics and she really starts the story around that area era in the 1970s obviously you have the dietary guidelines happening around then you know you have high fructose corn syrup really coming around there’s a bunch my point is you know i would be skeptical of single cause narratives it seems like a whole bunch of things happened at this you know single point and then the the type 2 diabetes and obesity rates just skyrocketed craziness and so maybe it’s like you know artificially cheap sugar and you know i know they they’ve been dumping dairy because they don’t know what to do with it um things like that so that’s super interesting so government policy may have played a role to a certain extent i mean it definitely it definitely failed you know you look at even the defenders of the dietary guidelines and they say hey look don’t blame the dietary guidelines no one followed them like well you may also something be right object’s failure that’s right it doesn’t change the fact that exactly they’re wrong exactly not a super super argument um so i i want to transition a little bit and talk so you’ve worked a lot with the um on you know problems related to the nsca and and big sugar and the cdc and the nih what are kind of the most shocking things to you that you found or that uh the average person just wouldn’t expect um i guess yeah honestly the most shocking thing i found is that congress tells government agencies to do things all the time and they just don’t do them really it happens all the time yeah like i just found this out the other day congress has told hhs on four separate occasions hey guys we really need a centralized disease surveillance database they’ve said that since like 2006 they even allocated funding for it and cdc like kind of or not cdc hhs kind of like convened a committee or something but there’s like four different government accountability office reports saying like guys you never did this you never even cried like what’s going on and nobody cares because it doesn’t like this actually gets into what you guys are talking about you know like right now we have so much information but people are blind to it because if it doesn’t fit the single narrative that they can pay attention to at one time whether it’s blame the republicans or blame the democrats they don’t want to have any time for it and the problem is the the problems that we’re talking about whether it’s public health agencies or you know obesity diabetes if you look at them on graphs they don’t go up during a democratic presidency and then down during a republican one they trend in a negative direction regardless of who’s in charge so it doesn’t really fit the convenient narratives like for example right now there’s a lot of people upset about trump’s relationship with the cdc and their their right to be but if anyone’s thinking that biden’s going to come in and the cdc is going to be suddenly a hyper better efficient organization i mean it’s not just a historical record so one of the surprising things we found researching this was that cdc and nih have foundations set up by congress and partially funded by congress that are nonetheless designated uh non-governmental the british would refer to these types of organizations as quangos quasi non-governmental organizations and they are not bound by freedom of information act rules first of all and then second of all what their function is these quangos is to raise money from outside sources so like foreign governments like saudi arabia or yeah or like corporations that couldn’t donate directly to fda or cdc or whoever but they can donate to the cdc foundation or the nih foundation and it’s not you can’t do a freedom of information act request about it at least not directly and these uh foundations are required by congress to annually report to congress as well as to the public when they ask um where the money’s coming from how much and what it’s being used for and the shocking thing that um we found when i was working for crossfit is that they just don’t do this oh wow and then we went to congress and we told them that and congress asked them to start doing it and they didn’t do it

oh god yeah one more thing because like people often say like well you know you’re just you’re just tracking the money you’re not proving that any actual fraud happened or things like that we also found like a lot of discrepancies in their data like we noticed that every single time the cdc reported a disease prevalence like type 2 diabetes or obesity and there was an independent group of academics that also looked at the same problem and tried to estimate a a rate a prevalence rate the cdc number was always like off by like 25 compared to the independent guys always yeah it was weird you know like in in florida the cdc estimate of like the state diabetes rate it was something like 29 sorry obesity rate it was something like 29 and then some independent researchers went and looked and they just looked at medical records they had thousands and thousands of data points and they were like they were like yeah the cdc’s off by like 25 it’s like what’s going on and and we found a similar thing with uh type 2 diabetes like uh gallup’s type 2 diabetes estimate for the united states which by the way they’re calling up like a hundred and eighty thousand people like super bowl yeah yeah huge it was like 14 and the cdc estimate was 12 and then you look into the cdc’s data and they have all these caveats like oh we’re using data from five years ago but just projecting it forward as if nothing’s changed it’s like you can’t do that

wow it’s it’s uh it it it’s almost it’s even more intractable than one would imagine because it’s it’s not at the level of you know let alone you know uh incumbency reelection rates are super high for congress even though the uh our approval keeps going down which is very interesting um but let alone that you know it’s at the level of the unelected bureaucracies it’s just like what could you do wow that’s super interesting pastor carlson has suggested that we just like break them up like have like 10 ni agents 20 of them fun experiments they’re hilarious nih one too so in actually in north carolina we had a pretty good idea i don’t know if this is actually the reason why they did this but they moved the dmv from raleigh the capital to where my dad’s sitting and rocky mount and uh you know essentially 70 percent of the bureaucracy just quit and so you get to actually rebuild so maybe maybe the answer is you just you just move them move them around just bye-bye dc hello kansas city i think tyler cowan actually has talked about that but um yeah there there’s some like budget reorganizations they could they could do too but uh like i was looking at the cdc’s budget just with thinking about covet and i was like what percentage of their budget is going towards emerging infectious diseases yeah i don’t remember exactly what it was but something like 10 oh wow and you would think that that would be their like number one thing the centers for disease control yeah like that’s what they were set up to do right like initially to control malaria in the 40s right and so why are they like why or c why is cdc the one looking into vaping why is cdc the one looking into occupational hazards like i’m not saying no one should study these things but it’s like hey focus on focus on priority number one here you know like and clearly at this point you can’t say that you know we can afford to get distracted right after the cdc covet test for weeks while the rest of the world’s testing like thousands of people and our tests just don’t work just it’s bananas um and well yeah and just for the uh listeners yeah so there’s this whole debacle where the cdc was uh you know no we won’t use uh anyone else’s test we’re gonna develop our own test for covet and then it didn’t work and then we’re weeks when weeks behind and then we end up where we’re sitting now with 220 000 deaths it’s an open question how much of a difference it would have make would it mean fair enough i i don’t i don’t honestly have an answer to that i don’t really like i’m by no means am i a covet expert it’s just clear that you know that’s a troubling sign yes something’s wrong yeah something’s very wrong um when their primary function they can’t execute upon it um super interesting so um moving from that uh from the government side um to kind of the corporate side you know the food and beverage industry is there anything people should be concerned about there um or any policy interventions you would recommend i i’m assuming you’re you’re fairly libertarian you’re talking to tyler cow and i don’t want to paint you as anything but um so i don’t know what your policy recommendations might look like but yeah i i mean i think you got to start with first do no harm so it’s an open question you know or it’s a matter of debate to what extent the farm bill you know farm subsidies in america are actually contributing to the problem but let’s find out you know because right now the problem is is we generally subsidize unhealthy food you know corn wheat soy and whereas something like fresh fruits and vegetables can’t they’re like designated specialty crops and they don’t get subsidized so that seems like a mistake um beyond that what what worries me personally is how successful um the coca-cola exercises medicine campaign was because what it’s really urging is the medicalization of exercise and can you just uh can you mention what the the coca-cola exercise uh calorie offset thing was the energy balance network is that what you’re talking about oh sorry no i’m just coca-cola um exercises medicine yeah right before that there was because i remember in walmart i distinctly have this memory of in walmart on all the coke uh machines they had uh you know these labels it’s like maybe it’s like balance your calories or something or it’s like if you exercise enough you can you know i think you’re talking about the global energy balance now maybe so yeah and that was i guess if i recall correctly it was them trying to get a group of scientists together that um would focus on energy balance as the solution to chronic diseases which is an interesting thing because like obviously energy balance matters and getting people to exercise more would be a good thing on the other hand to give anyone the impression that that is sufficient that would be misleading because you can be normal weight and have type 2 diabetes you can be a very active person and be pre-diabetic or have other chronic conditions so it’s not simply enough to exercise more if you’re going to persist in a very unhealthy diet the reason the exercises medicine stuff is more concerning to me even than that is that was really looking at merging the fitness industry and exercise in general into the healthcare establishment like current insurance billing and you know occupational licensure and all these regulations and you know getting third party payment obviously involved so

that to me seemed like a disaster and it still does quite frankly and um i don’t first of all i don’t think it would work i think if you look at the data you know just simply your doctor telling you to exercise is not very effective even paying people’s gym memberships is not very effective because you know if you take someone who doesn’t go to the gym and then you give them a free gym membership that doesn’t make them suddenly start going right right it’s a whole other problem yeah so it’s it’s really sort of just uh corporate welfare for like who whatever gyms managed to get in into the system of fitness yeah and then if you start thinking like well how would they how would you actually really try to incorporate exercise into medicine it probably would involve more of like a technological solution and you look at their papers like the exercises medicine papers they start talking about this where it’s like yeah we want to include measures of physical activity in your electronic health records and i think that starts getting into some interesting like privacy questions because it’s it’s like we really want to require or strongly incentivize people to be uploading to the government or to a vulnerable you know i.t system you know where they are and what they’re doing at any point in time uh and i just that doesn’t seem effective either at the same time because we know these devices that they use to measure physical activity just aren’t very accurate especially when it comes to like um functional exercises you know like like body let’s say you were to do a a circuit of like you know air squats and push-ups and burpees like your your fitbit has a very hard time or whatever device you use they have a very hard time actually calculating how much work you’re doing gotcha generally they’re more effective when you’re just like transversing ground but um you know if you’re just like staying in place but working really hard it doesn’t know makes sense yeah so that’s when you so that’s where you talk about kind of wearables i know you wrote an article on that um yeah it’s super interesting i know um my mom she um she wears like a pedometer and she gets like a dollar a day if she hits a certain number of steps back from the insurance company which is like just kind of scary and bizarre i don’t know it’s just uh it’s interesting interesting to see where things go especially if we ever get to single pair in the united states you know those two things seems like that could be recipe for disaster yeah so there’s several trends going on that worry me and i’m a worrier so like it’s good to worry about my worries with a great assault but at the same time i am worried

that’s good so you know one of the trends is as you said yeah towards greater centralization of healthcare another trend that’s happening at the same time is is you know as you indicated with that example that insurance companies are getting more involved in monitoring activity nutrition lifestyle in general and then secondly or thirdly rather the technology they’re using to do so is getting more and more intrusive so it they’re developing devices now that are tracking like biomarkers you know like for example they think that they can test your sweat and know your cortisol level you know no you know basically trying to the goal eventually is to be able to know what’s going on inside your body 24 7. and it’s really the combination of those three trends that’s concerning to me if someone just wants to have a device and it’s between them and themselves or them and their doctor and it’s letting them know you know like hey i might be having something abnormal is going on with my heart right now like yeah sure i totally get that but when it starts becoming this centralized system especially a government controlled system of you know millions of people and their insides are being monitored 24 7 so we know when they’re under stress you know we know when they’re using drugs and alcohol uh we know where they are we know what type of activity even they’re doing um that first of all i just i don’t think that’s going to make people healthier i’m skeptical on that end and then secondly even if it were to um the privacy and government control implications of that to me are quite frightening no i think that’s that’s a really it’s a really good point and um yeah you know you see in communist china everything they’re doing with tracking people and you know using ai to really yeah clamp down it’s super authoritarian and super scary at the same time yeah and kovit’s kind of been like a convenient excuse for some of that stuff like you see people now using these wearable devices you know supposedly to prevent covet but you know and these totalitarian regimes like does anyone have any confidence that you know the use of these bracelets or whatever it is they’re using is just going to stop once scope is over they’re going to find a new reason to have you wear that i promise you so keep it going yeah definitely yeah we’ve uh we did recorded a podcast on i worked in china for a little bit a couple years ago um and we recorded a podcast on the uyghur persecution in western china and it’s just it’s insane to think about you know just what what a government can do and they kind of have that much power and they know that much about you and how easy it is to kind of flip that switch yeah and that’s that’s the flip side of like what we were talking about with the united states being in it seems to me if not decline then in stagnation um the flip side is is that the world’s looking to china right now i think because they seem relative to us more like a success story more dynamic you know right and uh that that’s a troublesome precedent yes i don’t exactly know what the right response is the right response probably is for us to get our acts together first right like right fix fix yourself look eternally a lot of our problems seem to be self-inflicted right yeah we keep shooting ourselves in the foot it really hurts man china didn’t make us invade iraq and it didn’t make us you know eat 150 grams of sugar every day that’s for sure right but man we’re doing it that’s for sure super interesting um so i wanted to kind of let’s see transition let me see pulling up my notes here so um now i wanted to kind of i’ve got this little section overrated or underrated um have you listened to conversations with tyler before yeah yes okay so i stole it blatantly from him um so if you want to just yeah answer overrated underrated and give a brief explanation if you have one um i think that that’d be super cool um so the first one is aerobic capacity yeah um as it’s commonly understood overrated just simply because there’s so much skill and stamina involved with each specific discipline that it’s very the amount of transfer you get say from running to swimming or vice versa is actually pretty disappointing like if you look at when lance armstrong went to run a marathon you know he did well like he’s a good runner but like he was an hour off the best guys and this is like he’s the best cyclist or one of the best cyclists of all time and he was a very talented triathlete before becoming a cyclist so you know so other similar examples like michael phelps his coaches wouldn’t even let him run because he would fall down so much

you know so i think if by aerobic capacity you mean that you think that by doing a single discipline that that’s going to transfer broadly i would be skeptical however if by aerobic capacity you mean i’m going to train several different things and develop a broad base of aerobic capacity you know that makes more sense to me so much yeah i saw this great study where um swimmers hearts develop differently than runners they were just comparing swimmers and runners and part of it might be you know what angle you’re sitting at when you’re exercising but it’s a yeah a friend of mine was a state champion swimmer in high school and he tried to go to the naval academy and he couldn’t pass the pt test god that’s amazing he didn’t he couldn’t do the run under the whatever the cutoff time was a mile and a half run and like it was like really slow like 10 30 or something 11 i don’t know and you just couldn’t do it and this guy swimming three hours a day oh that’s amazing that’s amazing yeah it’s tough to grock though that i mean that concept that’s very tough to grock that that doesn’t transfer yet uh david and i i saw chris henshaw and went to an aerobic capacity seminar a while back and he was like yeah you know you have to practice each thing individually because they don’t transfer and i’m just like sitting there like what like it really doesn’t make much sense but then you go try it and it sure makes a little bit more sense i mean that’s a really sad thing about the crossfit games it’s like we we genuinely thought that the crossfit games were going to help us discover like new ways of training more effectively yeah maybe it did that a little bit but mostly what we discovered was hey if you want to get good at everything you do everything all the time

like all right oh fine god no shortcuts man

oh my god that’s a great place oh my god um anyway so the next one i’ve got here is the paleo diet overrated and underrated gosh i don’t know what i don’t know what it is yeah i think to me that’s the problem with it um you know every this happens to every diet they get bastardized right like they start they make the keto ice cream or the paleo donuts and and it’s like vegan brownies whatever it is and it’s like you know the first year you’re whatever your diet is it works really well for you we’re getting back to diminishing returns right and then figure out all the ways to like stay keto vegan paleo and still eat food that’s bad for you and then you’re like why am i gaining weight i’m staying strict keto vegan paleo right well i think you know what you know the truth that’s super interesting so what do you what do you personally do now what’s your regimen look like like for exercise or nutrition uh nutrition yeah um so my wife and i are in like this sort of death march where we stopped eating like or consciously eating added sugar about four years ago oh nice and i must admit i broke down once one time but i will not break down twice because she’s never broken down and that would just be shameful so that is the main i mean and the thing is uh and you know gary taubes who you know he and i argue a lot but one thing that he says that i think is very accurate is um when you cut out added sugar it takes a lot of other bad things with it ah it’s hard to eat much processed food at all of any kind if you’re not gonna have added sugar right so even if the problem is overeating or too many calories or say what are they talking about now like processed food oils yeah all these things sort of go together because first of all sugar is going to make you eat more generally that’s why they put it in food right interesting so so uh what has it been hard to not eat added sugar or at a certain point are you just kind of like this is what i do i forgot who said it but you know none is easier than some that yeah i definitely believe that i’m a big believer yeah big believer in that very cool um okay let’s see the next one the foreign policy establishment of the united states oh my god okay so i must admit i used to be a neocon so this is personal for me because i know these guys that i felt for them and their lies i would say they’re highly overrated i mean just look at the record right like yeah how many wars has the united states entered and like definitively won since world war ii yeah man i don’t know maybe yeah i mean it depends on what you want to classify as a war but if we’re like one out of four one out of five uh not good and it’s not just that you don’t win it’s like well why are you even there right what is it why are we why have we been in afghanistan since 2001 i mean i could try to i could try to give you some reasons but none are going to be very convincing you know especially when you consider that this almost this whole time we were sending billions of dollars to pakistan which was sending it right back across the border to the taliban which they were using to kill us troops and afghan civilians um yeah if you read like steve cole’s book directorate s which is about the war in afghanistan um it’s hard to come away from that with any respect for the foreign policy establishment because you got to remember you know the war in iraq became controversial you know even though yes hillary clinton supported it it became controversial pretty quickly but afghanistan was like the good war for a while you know even like 2008 910. and when you read what actually happened and what what officials knew versus what they were publicly saying uh and then you consider the fact that we still haven’t gotten out yet and that it’s sort of like the default position in dc right now that we should stay i mean that is it’s hard to explain i mean because it’s like okay there’s some terrorists there do you know how many countries there are countries or terrorists in we can occupy all of them like exactly more acadia yeah exactly

oh god oh god

oh man so what do you this befuddles me and i you’ve been connected more of this than than you might have some idea about this well what happened between you know so we rebuilt germany and we rebuilt japan and we went in you know we got rid of you know the government and rebuilt the government and they work great you know iraq and afghanistan we have not been able to do that at all yeah that’s an interesting question um i think part of the answer is that nation building probably just has a low percentage gain most of the time gotcha so we just got really lucky yeah there’s other people who just say you know i don’t want to call it a racist point of view but they do tend to say that you know well afghanistan and iraq are not japan and germany they’re inherently underdeveloped or undereducated you know civilizations or whatever for my experience with iraqis that’s not true they tend to be very well educated people you know they their country was actually doing fairly well prior to saddam hussein vibrant middle class yeah even afghanistan like you look back 50 years ago was doing pretty well and and central asia throughout history actually had some bright spots you know like where the central asian golden age like zoroastrianism comes from there um quite a few important figures in philosophy and mathematics uh were in central asia so you know i don’t think you can just write them off another explanation that people give is you know artificial borders and that’s true but like all borders are artificial like god didn’t design them right so who do you think did so have we lost some some amount of state capacity

yes i think we have but uh i don’t know that we want to get much better at nation building i think if we’re going to talk about rebuilding state capacity in the united states i think what we have to recognize is that we have a very high degree of state capacity it’s just been exerted towards the wrong things right like the joint special operations command is very effective right right yeah the national security agency they are good at what they do they really are okay you know we’ve spent 6.5 or whatever it is trillion dollars in the global war on terror like this idea like the government just doesn’t have any money or qualified people it’s like no we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world you know we’ve been you know like not ju the war on drugs that we’ve been doing which has cost billions billions of dollars we’re not just doing it in our own country we’re doing that in colombia and afghanistan in mexico all over the world you know for no obvious reason so it’s less that we just lack state capacity and i think it’s more of a misallocation of resources gotcha that’s that’s super interesting yeah it seems this this huge shift when you look at the new deal and everything we built the new deals just on the blue ridge parkway and it’s like beautiful and they just carved it through mountains and all this stuff and like now it’s like man i can’t imagine them trying to do this today it would be uh quite expensive um yeah i mean there’s all these rules now about how much you have to pay federal contractors and there’s all these you know permits and restrictions and zoning laws i mean that definitely those things all definitely play a role and i i don’t want to downplay them but i also see a lot of the inherent problem of just like we turned our focus elsewhere right that makes sense if we were less focused on tr on the global war on terror or whatever you know or the war on drugs we would have had to direct that attention those monies elsewhere probably internally and i think we would have used them more wisely i mean it would have been hard not to have right that that’s a really good point it almost seems like watch it you know a lot of people in bureaucrats in washington are interested in ruling the world more than fixing america maybe i don’t know that may be a weird way to put it i’m not sure i want them to try to fix america either right fair enough you know but you know at the same time like you know we were talking about the cdc’s budget like i wouldn’t mind increasing the cdc’s budget for you know emerging infectious diseases like even like three or four fold sure i think that would make sense i would be we’d get a good roi on that but um i think the problem is is is just mission creep and everything you know you look at almost any at any agency and whatever it was originally founded to do is just usually just a small percentage of what it actually does you know like what percentage do you think of the defense budget is actually legitimately spent on things directly tied to defending united states

uh one more overrated or underrated um the crossfit games overrated or underrated for who that’s my question that’s a good question that’s a great for that for the health of crossfit inc overrated i believe that um and i would say that because you know look i saw the books right and um i tommy marquez sean woodland uh you know they’ve talked a little bit about how you know there were some possible deals on the table that could have made the crossfit games more profitable i mean they would have closed the gap but they wouldn’t have come anywhere near to accounting for all the expenses once you’ve fully accounted for the expenses right i don’t want to get into accounting too much but like there’s a difference between direct and indirect costs right there’s the money that just across the game spend but then there’s the amount that legal has to do to handle compliance and then hr it’s doing to support the games like every department of the company is supporting them and it ends up coming out to a whole lot and then you know the argument would be well it’s bringing more attention to the affiliates it’s helping training i think that’s maybe true to an extent but um i also think that it came at a very high opportunity cost in terms of of staff attention time and money yeah i can definitely see that and and also so games are cool like i love the games but it also it almost so kind of hurt because you know when i’m trying to convince my uh seven-year-old grandmother that she would it would be great for her to go to crossfit and like they’ll work with her and she’s infinitely scalable and you know uh it would be really helpful she’s like well i saw it on tv and like these people they’re nuts man you know yeah it’s russ green up there on tv like good god i can’t i can’t replicate that you know guys this is the second time i’ve had to correct your your business that’s right

yeah you know i’ve heard that anecdotally as well i’ve heard that you know from affiliate owners but you know i gotta say like uh i know some other affiliate owners that do say that the crossfit games help bring people in the door what what i would say though that is that crossfit over the past gosh seven years faced some pretty significant challenges and um obviously right yeah um it it faced the challenge of bad press surrounding injuries which you know as anyone who’s followed me knows you know a lot of that was ginned up you know through fake research lies but nonetheless you know crossfit affiliates had to face that that people were coming or reluctant to come to their gyms because they thought it was dangerous you know at the same time if you understand the natural life cycle of disruptive firms right they have a huge advantage in the beginning because no one’s caught quite on to their right to what’s working special sauce is right and then all the rest of the firms start imitating right so they buy the road gear you know they even get crossfit on one trainers they start running cross-functional fitness classes right yeah and it becomes a lot harder to maintain your competitive position in the marketplace so crossfit was really facing these two challenges and

i mean what what meaningful investments did it really make to counteract either of them

i’d be hard pressed you know to to say like obviously yes i was involved in trying to correct the record but you know it’s not like it’s not like there were ads reaching millions of people that were correcting misperceptions about crossfit or you know there wasn’t a massive overhaul of the training department to you know to make sure that crossfit trainers would have um skills and knowledge that would make them like heads and shoulders of everything else available in the fitness industry i think it’s possible to do that it would have been possible to do that because honestly i don’t have a very high estimation of the rest of the fitness industry and i do think that within the like the crossfit doctrine is it more than enough space for innovation and experimentation if you think about the open source concept but like when people talk about the challenges that crossfit face they usually start their story like two years ago and it’s like no you guys are giving us way too much slack like the problems in my estimation uh really what started around 2013. that makes sense yeah interesting interesting yeah this it seemed like maybe there’s a branching path between uh the sport and um you know getting it to everyday people maybe maybe a little bit i don’t know it seems like there’s almost a certain amount of saturation with high school athletes so we got like everyone that was a high school athlete that can’t like you know anymore and then like it’s like well four days four days right yeah exactly you know we’ve all been in the gym during the open you know friday night lights that’s pretty cool yeah you know like uh the the new guy eric he seems to think these goals are compatible you might be right i mean he’s a successful businessman i hope i hope i’m wrong i hope i’m wrong and you know you can’t say that crossfitting before did everything it could have to fully leverage the games so you know maybe there is a path forward that that reconciles those two different objectives but you know i’m going to believe it when i see it smart that’s smart russ i’m going to ask you um to tell us more about you mention an emphasis on the rogue cycle echo cycle is exclamation echo yes so what are you doing i realized that my competitive advantage in fitness is that i can literally do the same thing every single day and not get bored that’s awesome i’m a creature of habit like it’s reassuring to me like if i do 30 minutes on the echo bike every day i am a happy person if i if i miss my 30 minutes i am a sad person it’s that simple yeah you know so it’s like yeah i’m not that great at learning new movements and i’m never gonna be the strongest fastest guy but if it just comes you know it just comes down to doing work every single day the same kind of work i’m pretty good at that um and obviously that has something to do with my you know athletic background as well you know um starting cross-country when when i was like what 10 years old 11 years old you know um but yeah what i’ve been doing is just 30 minutes a day like a moderate pace and then just once i can and i track calories per minute so i started at 11 calories a minute and you would just check my heart rate at the end and once i can consistently hold a pace and my heart rate’s always like low at the end like a 130 140 below 150 then i bump it up either a calorie a minute or half a calorie a minute and now i’m at so i went from like 11 to 13 and a half and uh i mean it’s just i’m just experimenting like i please don’t hear me and think that like i found the elixir you know we found we got it yeah we’re sending david to 60 plus you know next year got it man that’s super cool that’s super cool well i just had a i had one more question for you unless daddy had any other questions um it’s just interesting because since i don’t go into the gym with a lot of people at this point primarily because of my age um what i went to was the uh um the cycle and started using that and i do interval training and it’s based on fitness aids that wissloff came up with yes and um that’s just and i’ve done that before and i really like it and it seems to be very effective yeah you know a lot of people like the rower you know i think the bike is better if you’re a crossfitter or if you do any sort of like a lot of lifting a lot of bodyweight movements because the rower kind of duplicates a lot of musculature and movements that you’re going to hit elsewhere right it’s kind of similar in some ways to an upper body pull to a you know like a lower back stabilization kind of like a deadlift a lot of legs obviously whereas the bike is not just more dissimilar to other activities you’re probably doing but it also is at a higher rpm like growing you’re at like 25 30 at most like 35 40 contractions per minute so they’re necessarily higher power contractions whereas on the bike you know you’re at 60 65 70 whatever rpm so it’s your muscles aren’t contracting as uh quite as hard to do the same amount of work and so i think it’s more compatible like as an addition right you’re not going to over fatigue yourself whereas like i think anyone who’s like done a lot of olympic lifting or deadlifting and then they try to row like unless you’re really well adapted to that that can be challenging very interesting makes a lot of sense

very cool and i’ve got one more question for you russ um so this is i read all your journal journal articles and crossfit journal um what’s your friend time what’s your best friend time gosh so i think it’s either 249 or 251. but you know if you know crossfitters always assume the worst

don’t don’t look about that 249.

awesome well russ i we’ve had a ton of fun today um thanks for coming on is there anything you’d like to anyone to know about um any links we can direct people to that might be helpful um

yeah if i said anything that didn’t make sense to you you can harass me on twitter oh no green plus and e so g r e e n plus and e on twitter perfect i want to come at you bro awesome well thanks russ we really appreciate it thanks for us thank you doctor thank you all

well that’s our show for today i’m will jarvis and i’m will’s dad join us next week for more narratives

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