Charlie's Blog: May 2023


Utilitarian Fitness

America has got to be the only country in the world where people need energy drinks to sit in front of a computer.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a physician, a health professional, or a personal trainer. Do not follow any fitness advice without consulting a doctor first.

The dictum goes that form follows function. This wisdom is teleology applied to life. Everything exists for some end or telos. If you determine that end at the beginning, the design or strategy will usually create itself. Unfortunately, this sort of reflection is rarely done when it comes to fitness and exercise. When people do this reflection, I think that most of them will arrive at the strategy I call "utilitarian fitness."


Most people are familiar with aesthetic fitness. This is exercise done to look good. Bodybuilders are the epitome of this form of fitness. They work to sculpt their bodies into something like a statue. Unfortunately, aesthetic fitness is the most useless fitness that exists. A glance at statistics shows that the mortality rate of bodybuilders is only slightly better than the sedentary man but much worse than professional athletes. Steroids might be a prime culprit for this statistic. I don't know. I just know that performance enhancing drugs are bad for your health.

Looking good is not a substitute for feeling good. Which car would you prefer? A nice shiny sports car with a blown engine? Or, an old work truck with an engine that runs? The correct answer tells us why aesthetic fitness is worthless.


Athletic fitness is your ability to perform well at a sport. Each sport requires a certain body composition. This is why long distance runners don't look like triathletes. This is why football players don't look like cyclists. Each sport trains for its requirements which is why marathoners don't spend much time lifting weights.

Most people do not play sports on any serious level. Even professional athletes will leave their sports by middle age. There is no point training for something you don't do anymore.


Functional fitness is a concept made popular by CrossFit. On paper, functional fitness is the ability to do daily activities. For some weird reason, hauling groceries home requires that you do burpees and deadlifts. Needless to say, CrossFit is stupid. There is no functional fitness to be found in injuring yourself.

Functional fitness is a nice concept that comes close to utilitarian fitness, but it isn't the same thing. Functional fitness is an excuse for doing stupid exercises. You don't have to be a rock climber to climb a flight of stairs. You don't have to be a powerlifter to pick up your kids.


Utilitarian fitness aims at health and the ability to do work. That's it. It doesn't care if you have washboard abs and bulging biceps. Utilitarian fitness seeks to enhance cardiovascular fitness which is the most important for health and longevity. This is the engine in your car. The second aim is to be able to do work without injury or to rehabilitate an injury you already have. This is where strength and flexibility are vital.

What does a utilitarian fitness program look like? A prime component would be daily walks. Walking is the greatest benefit with the least risk of injury. The second would be strength training using bodyweight exercises or modest resistance. Push ups, pull ups, and air squats would be examples of these exercises. The third component is actual work. This would be manual labor activities like raking the yard or cleaning the house or chopping firewood. Work is exercise. I know. That is a mind blowing concept.

You don't need a gym or a fancy machine to achieve utilitarian fitness. You just need some walking shoes, a place to do some simple exercises, or tools for manual labor like a rake, a broom, or a reel lawnmower. The aim should be consistency and avoiding injury.

Some readers will scoff at my utilitarian fitness idea, but I think a glance at the basic US military is a clue to the effectiveness of this idea. Army recruits don't train to be bodybuilders or athletes. They train to become soldiers. This involves marching, doing calisthenics, and performing work like carrying packs or going over obstacle courses. When the recruits do run, they have injuries which the Army has noticed. If you replaced that running with walking or rucking, you would have a great utilitarian fitness program.

These ideas are also what inhabited the mindset of most people before the 1960s and 1970s when running and bodybuilding became popular. Before those fads, people kept in shape by walking, calisthenics, and working in the yard or on the farm. What happened is that people got used to sitting at their desks, in their cars, and on their recliners in front of the TV set. With a steady supply of labor saving devices, the general fitness level declined. Consequently, people pay someone to mow their lawn while they pay to go to some gym. This makes us a society of imbeciles.

I have this wild idea that we should cancel our gym memberships and get rid of our labor saving devices. We should turn off the sports, too. Then, we should spend that time doing manual labor, doing calisthenics, and going for daily walks. This saves time and money. And, it is more sustainable as a lifestyle. It beats those New Year's resolutions that end around March.

The downside of utilitarian fitness is that it doesn't do much for your vanity. There is no finisher's medal for walking your neighborhood. There is no trophy for mowing your lawn. I doubt you will ever achieve a sculpted physique with this program. But you should end up feeling better and living better. You may even live longer. Plus, it is fun living by common sense. This hits when you see someone hurting themselves with those other exercise programs.

Is there a future for utilitarian fitness? Probably not. There is no marketing campaign for this concept mainly because there are no branded products or services to sell. Utilitarian fitness is just an idea which is free for those who choose to embrace it. In a world where marketing competes with free, marketing is always going to win. Marketing is simply propaganda for the private enterprise.

Utilitarian fitness is for those people who see through the marketing nonsense to embrace common sense. This hit me after seeing those nasty injuries on the CrossFit failure videos on YouTube. Those things are not for people with weak stomachs. I asked the obvious question. Why would people send themselves to the hospital for the sake of this stupidity? The answer is marketing. Once you take the red pill of common sense, this marketing loses its grip on your mind.


Modesty in Material Things

 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out. But having food, and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content. For they that will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition. For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.

This is the second time I have used this bible verse. The first time was for the Voluntary Poverty Manifesto. I looked for an alternative verse for this post, but I can't do better than what St. Paul wrote here. This passage is a touchstone for me about how you should live your life. I will now share some stories of people not living this way because they are immodest in material things.

Modesty usually refers to how women dress. There is no sin in being beautiful, but it is shameful for women to dress in such a way to arouse lust. This requires discernment, but I can tell you that a thong bikini is not modest. Likewise, there is no sin in being wealthy, but it is shameful to flaunt that wealth in such a way to arouse envy. I will give some recent examples from my own parish.

One fine Sunday, Father Jerk blasts out that one of our older parishioners owns a beach house in addition to his residential home. Now, I don't think this is anyone's business. I think Father Jerk was being a jerk in keeping with his character as a narcissist and a jerk. As for the embarrassed parishioner, I have always considered him a fine fellow and still do. But I admit that this information caused my respect for him to slip a notch. I was better off not knowing about that beach house, but I can't unknow it now thanks to Father Jerk.

I think beach houses, lake houses, mountain cabins, and all vacation homes are immodest. I think one home is plenty. As for vacations, you are always better off renting. These second homes bought only for pleasure are indulgences that make no financial sense, but they are certainly status objects. People buy them as trophies of success, and the old fellow who owned the beach home was certainly successful in his career as an engineer. It was certainly enough to inflame the envy and hatred of Father Jerk.

Now, I don't care about what other people own. I think most possessions especially the ones serving conspicuous consumption are stupid. In short, if you own a beach house, you are an idiot. That's your problem not mine. Just as an immodest woman is a whore, a man immodest in his material things is a fool. Here are some more recent examples of foolishness from my parish.

One day, I saw an elderly couple pull up in the parking lot. They were driving a brand new Ford Mustang. You would expect a Buick sedan or a Toyota Camry. But these were Boomers, and Boomers gotta boom! It blew my mind because the elderly gentleman could barely walk. He had to have been close to eighty years old. His wife who was driving was firmly in her seventies. I cannot fathom why anyone of any age would need or even prefer a Mustang.

This couple are not the worst offenders. Another parishioner drives a sparkling new Rolls-Royce. I confess to never having seen one outside of a magazine or a TV show. I was blown away by the thing. It literally dripped of immodesty. Naturally, the driver was another Boomer.

We have a doctor in our parish that we call Doctor Ego because his narcissism is on an equal level as that of Father Jerk. His wife and he owned a historic mansion in our town and a lake house. He used to make a living as a real doctor but now prefers to be some kind of motivational speaker. To his credit, Doctor Ego liquidated that historic home and lives in the lake house full time now. Motivational speaking must not pay so well these days.

It's easy to pick on Boomers, but we also have a Gen X dermatologist I call Doctor Skin. This man is awesome. He has a large family. His children are well mannered. His wife and daughters wear chapel veils to Mass. He is well regarded in our parish and community. I actually admired him until I discovered that he bought and lives in one of the finest historic mansions in our town. At a million bucks, it was a sweet deal, but it is the house equivalent of the Rolls-Royce. It's only practical quality is its size. It even has a guest house which is as large as a residential home in our county. Needless to say, it is disgusting in its opulence and splendor.

Now, I use nicknames to spare these people the embarrassment they should feel over these things. The stories are true, but the names are changed to protect the guilty. I now encourage you to read again the quoted scripture above. How do you reconcile these lifestyle choices with what Paul has taught us? You can't. But idiots will try.

What is modest about a Rolls-Royce or a mansion? Try and argue that point with a straight face. You might as well argue that a G-string on a stripper is modest attire because most of her privates are covered. It just boggles the mind. I know millionaires who are not even Catholic who live more modestly than these people.

Now, I am not going to go down the social justice Marxist path of guilt tripping people for not being poor. Being poor helps no one. If you have wealth, put it in the bank instead of inflating your lifestyle. That's just smart. It's even smarter if you invest in heavenly treasure. This would be helping someone who owns neither home nor car. But for the sake of your own soul, don't blow it on a Rolls-Royce. That is just ridiculous.

I am not into envy. Never have been, and never will be. The only thing I covet from a man is virtue. I am more impressed by the wealthy man who doesn't flaunt it than by the temporarily wealthy man trying to show off. I do not care about your ride, your home, your vacation home, your private jet, your yacht, or your trophy wife with the botox and artificial breasts.

I am grateful for the food on my table, the clothes on my back, and the roof over my head. God has not left me in want. I am content with these things. I am a nobody, so I don't waste my resources trying to change this or anyone's opinion of me. I prefer not to be envied because envy is essentially hatred. People will still envy you no matter what, but you shouldn't help them out on this. Live a simple and humble lifestyle. This is both holy and good sense.

It has been my experience that people who lack modesty in material things do not keep those things. Some wise up and opt for a simpler lifestyle. Others are forced into a simpler lifestyle as their fortunes change. As for those with modesty, it has been my experience that they enjoy lives of greater stability and tranquility. Those are the people I admire because they know the true value of things.



There are two good days in a boat owner's life. The first day is when he buys the boat. The second day is when he sells it.

I am not a fan of toys. I hate toys. These are not the toys that kids like to play with such as firetrucks, Legos, and action figures. These are those ridiculous big boy toys such as the muscle car, the motorcycle, the ATV, the RV, the bass boat, and on and on. I despise those toys, and I despise them for good reasons.

The seed of my antipathy for toys was planted when I was young watching my dad blow time, money, and energy on cars, a camper, a boat, and a motorcycle. I watched him outgrow these impulses as he gravitated to more useful things like work trucks, lawnmowers, tractors, and backhoes. For some reason, those things got used way more than the boat. This is because those things were tools. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Unlike my old man, I never got into toys. I never cared for them. Part of the reason was because I was cerebral and would rather read books or listen to music than ride motorcycles or go fishing. Another part of the reason was hearing my old man make jokes about other dads running up their credit cards to buy these toys. As far as I know, the old man always paid cash for his toys until he stopped buying them completely. Regardless, my disdain for toys began early for me. I never bought any of this crap.

For my peers, it was a different story. All of my blue collar working friends liked two things--toys and financing those toys. I noticed that I always drove the oldest car or truck in the lot while everyone else upgraded to new Jeeps, muscle cars, and sports cars. Some drove shiny new Harley-Davidson motorcycles. My dream car has always been a work truck. You can get things done with a truck. For my peers, a truck is just what you need to pull your boat trailer, your motorcycle trailer, your ATV trailer, or your RV.

I never had the money for these toys. My peers didn't have it either. But the financing is always there to turn your dreams into nightmares. I've never known anyone who paid straight cash for a brand new bass boat. Needless to say, the purchase of these toys on credit turn into ticking time bombs waiting for a layoff or economic downturn to obliterate the lifestyles of these fools.

In 2007 and 2008 when the housing market imploded, I noticed many toys in front yards with FOR SALE signs on them. It bugged me that so many people had wasted so much for equipment of leisure. The seeds of my disdain for toys blossomed into a tree of hatred that still lives and grows today. I can't stand watching hardworking people fall into this trap. If you wonder why the rich get rich while the poor stay poor, it all comes down to those toys and the financing of their purchase.

I do not believe in buying toys. I prefer to buy tools. The work truck is the top tool for a man. The second would be a good mower or lawn tractor. The third would be a utility trailer for those tools. A tractor is also useful. These things have zero sex appeal. They aren't fun. You can't brag about owning them. I suspect people buy toys to impress other people. I don't care what other people think about me.

I would like to believe that people learned some lessons from those bad economic times, but they haven't. In my neighborhood, the neighbor across the street owns two bass boats. Another neighbor bought a muscle car. Down the road, there is a guy who owns four boats and an RV camper. People regularly go down my street on ATVs and golf carts. And to rub dirt in the wound, they pay lawn services to come mow their yards. The mind boggles. I won't get into the cars except to say that a visiting relative said our neighborhood resembled a car dealership with all of the vehicles she saw.

The Gentle Reader may accuse me of being Mr. No Fun, but I am fun. I think I am a lot of fun because I am not stressed about making the payments on useless toys. But I think it is possible to have fun without ruining your life and finances in the process. For instance, you can fish off of a bank, dock, or pier. You don't need a boat for that. But if you still want a boat, you can always rent a boat for the two times a year you actually go fishing. There are also cheap and used boats that will get you on the water as good as a brand new boat. You just don't get to impress your buddies. And the fish don't care. As for the RV thing, rent a cabin for the other two times a year you go on vacation. When it comes to leisure, you are always better off renting.

I believe in cheap fun which is a topic for another post. I just refuse to take the bait that I need to borrow money and buy crap in order to enjoy life. I find the worldliness behind this stupidity to be utterly bizarre. But that is the fate of blue collar people. They are too stupid to say no to this garbage. The company store never died.

I watch working class men take the bait every time it is cast before them. A mechanic and homesteader on YouTube bought a boat. Why? A co-worker bought a muscle car in his retirement. Why? Do they let you drive your age instead of the speed limit? But I know they will pay a price for all this. The boat owner usually gets bored with the thing and takes a 50% loss when he sells the boat a few years later. Others will find themselves looking at foreclosure on their homes and will try to liquidate these toys in their desperation. Or, they will drive to work in their toy only to come back to the parking lot to see it repossessed. That would be funny if it wasn't so sad and pathetic.

Don't buy toys. Buy tools instead. Let hard work be your sport and hobby. And if you want to have fun, turn on the radio and sit in a chair or go for a walk. Those things are relatively free which makes them more enjoyable. I manage to have a good time each day, and it doesn't cost me anything.


4 Walking Tips

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.

I have been walking for a couple of years now. Technically, I have been walking since I was a toddler, but I was just fooling around then. I got serious after spending time in physical therapy relearning how to walk after my accident. I would like to keep walking though I still struggle with my balance. I walk daily now, and I have 4 tips that make my walking more enjoyable.

1. Wear sensible shoes.

I am not a podiatrist or a shoe expert. I am just someone who notices the gimmick shoes that have been popular for the last decade. One gimmick shoe would be the minimalist shoes or barefoot shoes. Another type of shoe are the maximalist shoes that look like pillows strapped to your feet. I call them Frankenstein shoes. Then, there are the walking shoes that look like rockers for your feet. I don't think these are safe. Then, there are trail shoes which are no different from regular shoes except for the aesthetics of the upper and some kind of grippy sole you don't need unless you are climbing mountains. I think this is just marketing to get you to buy an extra pair of shoes you don't really need.

My personal choice of walking shoe is the New Balance 608s which are cheap, basic, and comfortable. I wear them on all terrains. You will probably find another shoe to be a better wear. My advice is to ignore the marketing and get a sensible pair of shoes that work for you.

2. Get a boonie hat.

The boonie hat is my favorite style of hat to wear during the hot and sunny parts of the year. This brimmed hat keeps the sun off better than a ball cap. It also keeps rain out of your eyes if you get caught in a downpour. And the chin strap keeps the hat from blowing off your head on windy days.

3. Walk for time instead of steps or distance.

I do not own a FitBit or pedometer or smartwatch or any other fitness tracking device. Instead, I wear an old school Casio G-Shock that has a stopwatch and a timer. I usually set my timer for an hour and walk until I hear the beep on my watch. Longer or shorter walks are timed on the stopwatch.

Why does it matter? I think counting steps makes you OCD. When I walk, I walk. I don't try and pepper in steps throughout my day to get to that magical 10,000 steps. I don't look at my FitBit at 9:30 PM and start pacing the living room to get in those last 500 steps. Because I walk for time, I can schedule my walks and also forget those walks when I am done.

There isn't a lot of gear when it comes to walking, so I see those fitness trackers and the 10,000 step thing to be hype and marketing to sell products. I remember one co-worker who annoyed people to slip outside to smoke a cigarette. Then, she quit smoking and started walking except she would slip outside to get in her steps on her FitBit. The walking thing was as annoying as the smoking thing.

4. Walk without distractions.

I remember a story from a decade ago about a runner on a beach who was struck by a disabled airplane. The runner was listening to his iPod and didn't hear the plane or see it before it hit him. That is a fluke sort of story, and he might have been struck anyway without the distraction from the iPod. But I think he would have had a better chance of survival if he had been present instead of listening to his device.

I have never understood people who have to walk or run with earbuds or headphones. I can understood using this stuff on treadmills or stationary bicycles which are boring. But I think you are safer walking without those distractions in your ears. I also think you can enjoy the walk more when you endure the boredom a bit until your mind kicks in and allows you time and space to think deeply.


Those are my 4 walking tips that make my walks more enjoyable. There are plenty of other tips from other sources, but these are the ones unique to me. Walking is as simple as it gets.


Walking Is My Therapy

I always imagine myself deep in a hole unable to crawl out.

I must begin this post with the disclaimer that I am not a doctor, healthcare professional, mental health worker, personal trainer, or anything else. I am simply someone who walks for health and fitness and writes about it on a blog. These are just my personal observations. If you want professional advice and opinions, then you need to consult a professional.

I do not think running cures or alleviates depression. I think running causes and exacerbates depression. I came to this conclusion after watching a recent video about an ultrarunner who attempted suicide. She said that she found comfort for her depression in a surprising place--walking. The walking benefited her so greatly that she started a program to bring the mental health benefits of walking to others. I found this story ironic because running was not a therapy to her. This is in contrast to the book Running Is My Therapy by Scott Douglas which argues that running is a benefit to mental health. I disagree with Mr. Douglas.

I have not read the book, and I don't plan on reading it. This is because I used to run, and it did nothing for my mental health except make me feel worse. The thesis of the book strikes me as more wish than reality. Runners wish that running cured depression. I have never met a happy runner.

I have met and discovered a lot of happy walkers. I am one of them. My wife will attest that I am in a much better mood when I come back from a walk. There are reams of research that back up this discovery that walking has many mental health benefits. I do not see the same amount of research for running. 

There is research that makes the claim of mental health benefits for running, but I find them inconclusive. I suspect that the benefits are relative to exertion. A slow jogger doesn't strike me as much different from a brisk walker. A fast runner who competes in races is a different story. So, I will fill in the blanks with my speculations as I wait for more conclusive research from the professionals.

I think runners are more prone to depression because they are tired. Yes, I know. That is a simple and unsophisticated conclusion. What I know from personal experience is that I am in a bad mood when I am tired and hungry. Walking will make you tired but not as tired as running. Walking is pleasant and invigorating. Running is painful and exhausting. If you doubt this, look at the faces of runners at a marathon. They are all grimacing from the effort. These are not the faces of people having a good time.

Ultrarunners are notorious for going to very dark mental places. Rob Krar is the poster boy for ultrarunning darkness. What takes these athletes to such dark pits of despair? They are simply tired and in need of calories. Running 100 mile races will do that to you. It's known as bonking. This is when your glycogen stores get depleted, and your body switches to burning fat to keep going. It isn't pleasant or invigorating.

Scott Douglas confesses to suffering from depression and makes the claim that running brings him relief from his condition. As I said, I do not believe him. Running while depressed is like eating prunes when you are starving. This fellow is similarly unconvincing.

I do not think running causes depression. I just don't think it helps. It takes a great deal of energy to go for a run which has to be impossible for someone already depressed. Going for a walk is not nearly as daunting as going for a run. My mood brightens within ten minutes of starting a walk.

Testing my hypothesis is fairly simple. Go for a run and then record how you feel at the end of it. Go for a walk for a similar amount of time and record how you feel at the end of that. I have heard enough testimonies from ex-runners turned walkers that walking is the better and more enjoyable option.

Walking is definitely my therapy. I am grateful to God that I am able to walk. That ability was in doubt for a time, but I can say that walking has been a journey back to wellness. All of that research on the benefits of walking has certainly proven true for me. I still have much further to go, but I can say that those daily walks outdoors have benefited me so far.

As I said, I am not a professional on these things. I am just an experiment of one. I can attest that the benefits I experience with walking are similar to the experiences of many others. I am just putting my ditto mark on their testimonies. Maybe you will put your ditto mark there, too.

Depression: A Walking Prescription

Bob Sallis, MD: Walking and Depression


From Vegan to Carbovore

Throughout civilization and around the world, six foods have provided our primary fuel: barley, corn, millet, potatoes, rice, and wheat.

I am no longer a vegan. I still adhere to a plant based diet, so I haven't changed what I eat. What has changed is the term "vegan." Back in 2013 when I began this journey, vegan just meant that you didn't eat meat, dairy, and eggs. Then, it grew to include honey because beekeeping traumatizes bees. And you couldn't wear leather products like a belt or shoes. Essentially, being vegan went from being a diet to being a religion. I already have a religion. It does not include the worship of animals.

To make a distinction, there are people who say they are WFPB which stands for "whole food, plant based." That is a mouthful to say. The gist is they adhere to a vegan diet but not a vegan ethos or lifestyle. I decided that I needed a better term, and I have settled on "carbovore" because I follow the basic tenets of The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall. As far as I know, I am the first and only person to use this label in this way. I hope it catches on.

The inspiration for the new label comes from carnivores who only eat meat. Now, I eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts in addition to carbohydrates. I just don't eat meat, dairy, and eggs. McDougall prefers the term "starchivore." I don't find it as catchy as "carbovore."

There are a lot of low carb diets out there--Atkins, Paleo, Keto, and Carnivore. Carbs have been demonized as the cause of everything bad by these low carb idiots. Consequently, I want to champion carbs once more. This is why I am a carbovore.

There is also plenty of idiocy on the vegan side. You have raw food types who end up malnourished and quit their diets to go back to steak and eggs. You can't survive and thrive without cooked foods which means carbohydrates. Most of the world lives on carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is the fuel that built civilization not berries and beef.

Most vegans are left wing Marxists with many being sodomites. They also roll environmentalism into their woke religion. The epitome of their idiocy is that you should be willing to damage your health for the sake of animals and the planet. This is just too stupid for me to accept.

I follow a plant based diet for my health. That's it. If someone pointed out to me empirical data showing that this diet was detrimental to my health, I would drop it and go back to eating meat, dairy, and eggs. I am still waiting for that data. It's not there. Plus, I was in awful shape when I ate that animal crap. Meanwhile, all of my peers who do eat that crap have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastric reflux. I have none of these issues. Why would I want to go back to that?

At the end of the day, I don't care what you eat. Unlike most vegans, I don't push this way of eating on anyone. It isn't religion for me. As for meatheads, I can sit back and watch them suffer needlessly and not say a word. Between vegans and meatheads, I find the meatheads to be more obnoxious. As a carbovore, I avoid the idiocy of both these camps.

Finally, I am not a doctor, dietitian, nutritionist, or health professional. I recommend that you do your own research. I did my own research which is how I came to eat a plant based diet.