Bodybuilding Nutritional Myths Debunked.
Appearing in this months Gym Magizine , Irelands newest Fitness Magazine!
Nutrition like religion and politics is one of the most controversial topics on the planet. Bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts are not immune to the dogma that still persists around certain dietary practices that still persist today. Truth is certain beloved bodybuilding nutritional institutions need to be thrown out along with the thong leotards and bodybuilding fashions of the eighties!
In this article I am going to visit some of the most long held traditions in bodybuilding culture and debunk the utility of such dietary practices. I am going to begin with what could be termed the wholly grail of bodybuilding breakfasts, or should I say holy grain!
Oatmeal; the breakfast of champions?
For decades now oatmeal for breakfast has been as synonymous with bodybuilding as dumbbells’ and barbells. On the plus side the relative lesser degree of processing of the grains of steel cut oats is a vast improvement on their boxed cousins (cornflakes, rice crispies etc.) that come loaded with sugar and little else. But the reality of the grain that has been elevated to cult status in the bodybuilding community is not so appealing at least in its placement as the first meal of the day. In order to understand this fully we need to address the circadian rhythm of one of the key hormones that directs the sleep wake cycle. A circadian rhythm is any biological process that shows an oscillating pattern in a 24 hour period.
The Circadian Rhythm of Cortisol
Many gym devotees quake in their Nikes when they hear the word “Cortisol”. Many associate cortisol with being the nemesis of muscle building. This can be true in certain situations but like most things in life Cortisol is a double edged sword. Too much of it at the wrong time can sabotage your bodybuilding goals, not enough of it at the right time and you don’t have enough energy to get out of bed let alone go do a workout!
Cortisol starts to climb in the early hours of the morning around 4am to 6 am. This wakes you up and fires up energy production. Now if you go and ingest a bowl of oatmeal which is essentially carbohydrate this quashes the cortisol and causes a release of serotonin which makes you relaxed and sleepy. Now why would you not want to harness the energising qualities of cortisol at this time of the day? Do you want to be relaxed and sleepy for your mornings work or wide awake and alert?
The second issue with oatmeal or porridge as we Irish like to call it is its ability to induce an intolerance reaction. You see Oats although technically a gluten free grain are prone to cross contamination during the milling and transport process. Many studies have been done to demonstrate this. (1)
Also Oats have been shown to illicit a phenomenon call Cross-Reactivity. This is where some of the amino acid sequences in the protein structures of the oats are so similar to gluten that the body recognises them as such. (2)
What we also need to remember is that gluten sensitivity is not confined to celiac patients. It is estimated that over 70% of Caucasians have an issue with Gluten. So is Oatmeal the breakfast of champions? Not so much. Unless perhaps you are a Japanese Gym rat (or some other ethnicity not prone to gluten sensitivity) taking a duvet day.
Egg Whites; a body building staple?
No more than the humble (and now dethroned) oatmeal egg whites have enjoyed a distinguished career as the most versatile and convenient protein sources. Throw them raw into your shakes to boost protein content, make pancakes with them, or fry/scramble them on a non- stick pan to make a meal in minutes that’s low carb and fat free! How does it get better than that? Not so fast! On paper the egg white looks like every body builders dream but looking beyond the calories, protein content and lack of fat we see the dark side of this bodybuilding staple.
Divide and Conquer
Somewhere back in bodybuilding mythology somebody somewhere thought it was a good idea to separate the yolk from the white and get rid of that pesky fat. Eureka! Another fat free protein rich source was born. Trying to beat or better Mother Nature invariably backfires. You see Mother Nature in creating the delectable egg created such a symphony of perfect nutritional harmony that a mere calorie and macronutrient analysis could not come close to defining its genius. Egg whites without the yolks are like a night without the day or a top without a bottom. It just doesn’t really work. You see egg whites contain a protein called Avidin which strongly binds to a key B vitamin called Biotin. Biotin is necessary for cell growth, fatty acid synthesis, the metabolism of fats and amino acids and even gene stability. Raw egg whites have the greatest capacity to bind to Biotin but cooked egg whites maintain up to 70% capacity to bind with Biotin. (3) Eating a diet rich in egg whites for prolonged periods (and some body builders eat them daily!) could cause severe Biotin deficiency. Egg yolks on the other hand not only have a vast array of nutrients like the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, folate, phosphorus, selenium and carotenoids they also contain Biotin that can mitigate the inherent problems of Avidin.
Egg Whites also contain a glycoprotein called Ovotransferrin (also known as conalbumin) which binds to Iron this gives the egg antimicrobial properties. How much of it is denatured in cooking is not fully known. The egg yolks however supply iron to once again offset this. In conclusion the best way to eat an egg is whole with the whites cooked and the yolks runny.
If egg whites are considered bodybuilding’s most versatile protein then tins of tuna fish are probably considered the most portable and cost effective. Find yourself in a jam needing a meal? No problem. Just peel off the lid and eat straight out of the can! High in protein. Low in calories and fat. What’s not to like? Well for starters tuna fish are described as one of the top feeders of the ocean and in a process known as bio-magnification they concentrate the toxins from the smaller fish they eat. One of those toxins is mercury, one of the most toxic of all metals. Depending on which government data base you check the recommendation is to have no more than 1 small serving every 4 to 11 days depending on the type of tuna ( yellowtail Vs. Skipjack for example). Many bodybuilders eat several cans of tuna a day let alone the monthly tally! Mercury is a potent neurotoxin with severe deleterious effects and we would do well to avoid it where possible.
The second issue with tuna is that more often than not it comes in a can. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a compound found in the can lining. It’s another insidious toxin linked to breast and prostate cancer and infertility to mention but a few. In one study 57% of canned foods contained BPA at toxic levels (4). The Environmental Working Group which analyses research in the public interest sites over 20 research papers showing BPA toxicity. (5)
So maybe it’s now time to review the use of some of these classic bodybuilding food choices. At the end of the day if your food choices don’t contribute to your health they won’t contribute to your training or physique goals either.
Thompson T. Gluten contamination of commercial oat products in the United States. N Engl J Med. 2004;
Silano M, Dessì M, De Vincenzi M, Cornell H. In Vitro tests indicate that certain varieties of oats may be
harmful to patients with coeliac disease. J Gastroenterol Hematol, 2007; 22:528-531
3) (3_) DURANCE, T. D. (1 May 1991). "Residual Avidin Activity in Cooked Egg White Assayed with Improved Sensitivity". Journal of Food Science 56 (3): 707–709
4) (4) Source: Chemical analyses of 97 canned foods by Southern Testing and Research Division of Microbac Laboratories, Inc., North Carolina.
5) (5) http://www.ewg.org/reports/bisphenola
Our bodies, perhaps more than any other aspect of ourselves, are one our greatest tools for self- awareness and self- development. Reason being- the body never lies! You can lie to yourself, you can lie to your spouse , you can lie to your friends and family but your body, that ever faithful friend will always tell you the truth .The body tells us this truth , not in words but in feelings, sensations, perceptions and simply by how it looks , moves and performs.
How your legs look, how strong they are, how symmetrical they are, how structurally balanced they are speaks volumes about the individual.
In the upright environment, standing on your two feet moving around or participating in sports, forces are generated from the ground up. Studies in elite boxers show that over 70% of the power of the punch is generated from the legs. Novice Olympic lifters and field sport athletes (shot, hammer etc.) start out developing 80 % of the power for lifting the weight or throwing the implement from their upper bodies. Ten years of training later the elite experienced lifter/field athlete now generates 80% of the power from the legs with the upper body contributing only 20% of the power. In my estimation athleticism is mostly about learning how to use your legs to the greatest potential.
Mastery of the physical plane if you are a human being will always be enhanced by getting your legs strong especially in that upright setting. So if your training program does not include plenty of squats and deadlifts with auxiliary exercises like split squats and deadlift variations your legs will not be well served nor will your entire life experience. You see your legs are governed by your base and sacral chakras respectively if we take a dip into Ayurveda.
Your base chakra connects you to the earth. The theme of this chakra is safety, security, survival, and tribal issues (in the modern world this means family, in the scientific world this means genetics.)
The base chakra is the chakra of NOW! Those who are living in the now will have a strong base chakra. There is nothing like some heavy squatting or deadlifting to bring you exquisitely into the now. Being in the now is the ultimate security. All fear , for the most part, comes from worrying about what might happen in the future.
In bodybuilding circles many believe that good legs are simply genetic. Well if you have good genes (a base chakra phenomenon) then you may have a head start. In order to get the best legs for aesthetics or performance you have to do “the leg work”. For this reason the strength and functioning of the legs are in many ways reflective of the individuals’ work ethic, discipline and mental toughness.
Skinny weak legs equal a weak base chakra. The base chakra is the chakra of manifestation. So if you are not realising your goals and dreams maybe you should be squatting more!
Legs covered in a deep layer of fat represent emotional suppression and or a traumatic childhood. The energetics of the first two chakras develop in the early childhood years. In western science we call it Estrogen Dominance. Show me a person with severe Estrogen Dominance who is not an emotional basket case (at least once a month!).
Legs that are skinny are reflective of the overall muscle mass of the body. It’s rare to see someone with impressive leg development without overall body development. The opposite cannot be said.
I have said this before but the top two predictors of your lifespan are 1. How strong you are. 2. How much lean body mass you have. Both of these phenomena are governed by the base chakra. The base chakra also represents your “Will to live”.
Participants in a study called the Danish MONICA project reported in the British Medical journal September 2009 came to the following conclusion:
“A low thigh circumference seems to be associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease or premature death. The adverse effects of small thighs might be related to too little muscle mass in the region. The measure of thigh circumference might be a relevant anthropometric measure to help general practitioners in early identification of individuals at an increased risk of premature morbidity and mortality.”
Your legs are a metaphor for so many things:
Standing up for yourself (self-respect)
Holding your ground
Standing for what you believe in
Doing the Leg work
Taking steps to achieve something
If you are a guy and you like lean legs in a woman maybe you are subconsciously looking for someone who is emotionally evolved.
If you are a female and you like a man with strong well developed legs maybe you are attracted to the good genetics or work ethic they may represent!
Whatever way you slice it strong lean legs are a platform for a grander life experience.
This is a non edited version of an article I wrote for Fit Pro Network magazine. Also published this month on ptonthenet.com
When addressing the subject of weight training for women it should be noted that several benefits of weight training are applicable to both sexes. Weight training has effects that extend to multiple aspects of our health: muscle mass, body composition, bone density, strength, biomechanical health, hormonal affects, psychological effects, anti aging effects, and cardiac health benefits. The challenge for us as personal trainers is to sell these benefits to our female clients so that they may profit from the myriad of positive outcomes associated with properly structured and progressive weight lifting.
What must be understood first and foremost is that weight training for women is not some separate science. The principles of lever arms, time under tension, progressive overload and intelligent program design apply just as equally to women as they do to men. There are some differences of course but not so much that we require radically different thinking in our approach to the subject of lifting weights. In fact it is my contention based on personal experience training myself, training my clients and looking at the literature that focusing on the” principle of individual difference” is more relevant than focusing on gender differences per say.
So what is it about weight training that makes it a must do for anyone seeking health and aesthetic benefits? It’s fair to say that healthy people in general live longer than sick people so if we look at factors that effect longevity then we have some stronger indication of how our training and lifestyle should be structured. The institute that has perhaps carried out more research than any other on the subject of longevity is Tufts University.
In 1991 two professors William Evans PhD and Irwin Rosenberg MD (working for the USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging , located at Tufts University) released a book called “Biomarkers”(1) In it they detailed the results of the factors that influence aging based on their years of research. Surprisingly aerobic capacity didn’t even make the top 3. Even more surprisingly the top two markers to predict life expectancy were 1: Muscle mass and 2: Strength. Nothing fits the bill in attaining these qualities more effectively than training with weights.
Many studies have shown Women to be weaker than men. Laubach reviewed 9 studies in 1976 and came to the conclusion that women are 63.5 percent of men’s total strength (2). But this is not exactly a “fair test”. Men in general are larger and have a greater percentage of lean body mass which accounts largely for these greater strength differences. Females have in fact the same potential for strength development if strength in the genders is compared per cross sectional area of muscle (3)
Simply put women have the same potential to get stronger as their male counterparts if they train using correct protocols. (4)
Addressing the fear of bulking up
One of the biggest concerns that women have when it comes to the subject of weight training is the fear of bulking up. Not only does a picture paint a thousand words it can also leave an indelible mark on the psyche of any woman who has ever seen a Pro “female” bodybuilder. These “ladies” knowingly inject themselves with steroid hormones and a cornucopia of drugs to generate the massive manly bulk that sends the average female into a paranoid stupor. (5)The fact is women who train naturally have a very limited potential to develop a large increase of muscle bulk. In his 30 plus years training genetically gifted females of Olympic calibre, Charles Poliquin has stated that he typically sees a gain of about 4kg of muscle tops with a corresponding reduction in fat mass and overall girth reduction. Again to quote the last study by Staron et al significant increases in maximal isotonic strength (1RM) were observed over a 20 week weight training program for the lower extremity with no change in thigh girth (4). So if women train without steroid hormones i.e. naturally it is very unlikely they will turn into Ms Olympia about as likely as going for a jog would transform the average male into Hussein Bolt!
The benefits of “Quality Mass”.
In the body building culture the holy grail of progress is “Quality Mass”! Unbeknownst to most women they actually want the same thing except ladies call it “toning up.” Tissue types can not morph into other tissue types unless you are part of a sequel to the next terminator movie. What can and does happen every day (when you are training and eating correctly!) is the phenomenon of developing increased lean body mass with concurrent fat loss. A jiggly tissue is replaced by a firm dense one. One that not only looks better in a pair of hot pants but is also life extending (1). But do women have the capacity to build muscle? Based on the research the answer is a resounding yes! In a ground breaking paper published in the NSCA Journal multiple studies are cited that show clearly that weight training in women causes “a reduction in fat weight, an increase in lean weight and either no change or only a slight increase in total body weight. All demonstrated significant increases in strength and in most cases these changes were associated with no change or a decrease in lower body girths and only minimal increases in upper body limb girth” (6)
Growth hormone and the search for the fountain of youth.
Women are universally revered for one trait above all others (if they have it!) This trait is beauty. Expose any woman to the secret of enhancing their skin hair and nails all while slowing the aging process and you could just have won a friend for life! You see aging is in many ways a phenomenon of the repair process of tissues slowing down. It’s known that growth hormone decline is part of this aging process. (7). A study published in the December 2006 issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism by the highly respected William Kraemer and company (8) has shown that not only does weight training stimulate growth hormone production but it stimulates a more biologically active growth hormone. The study showed that varying types and sizes of growth hormones were produced depending on the exercise protocol with heavier training producing growth hormone variants of larger sizes. This has serious implications for women who want to harness the benefits of a greater production of growth hormone (bone, muscle development, longevity). Their training programs need to be periodised to include a range of intensity and rep prescriptions. The study tested the repetition ranges of 3 to 12 reps so perhaps its time to nudge women away from the little pink dumbbells and the 20 plus rep sets.
Other benefits in brief
- Weight training alleviates symptoms of depression in women (9)
- Weight training improves insulin sensitivity in women. (10)
- For every 1lb of muscle gained a female can burn up to 50 extra calories a day (11)
- Weight training can result in positive changes in self concept and self esteem for women of varying ages and abilities. (6)
- Women are just as capable of fibre type conversions from weight training. The changes are similar to those in men and suggest that considerable hypertrophy of all major fibre types is possible in women if exercise intensity and duration are sufficient. (4)
- Weight training reduces the risk of osteoporosis as it provides greater osteogenic stimulus than endurance type sports. (12)
- “Highly trained male and female athletes are similar in lower body strength, when expressed per unit of body weight; cardiovascular endurance capacity; body composition; and muscle fiber type. What once appeared to be dramatic biological differences in physiological function between the sexes, may, in fact, be more related to cultural and social restrictions placed on the female as she attains puberty, i.e. a sedentary lifestyle. “ (13)
- “Biomarkers” by William Evans PhD and Irwin Rosenberg MD . Simon and Schuster 1991.
- Laubach “Comparative muscular strength of men and women” . Aviat Space Environ Med 1976 May; 47 (5) 534-42
- Ikai M, Fukunago T : Calculation of muscle strength per unit cross sectional area of Human muscle by means of ultrasonic measurement. Int Z Angew Physiol 1968 ; 26;26-32
- Staron RS et al Muscle Hypertrophy and fast fiber type conversions in heavy resistance-trained women.
- Strauss RH, Liggett MT, Lanese RR. “Anabolic steroid use and perceived effects in ten weight-trained women athletes.”
JAMA. 1985 May 17;253(19):2871-3.
- Strength training for female athletes; a position paper. Part 1 NSCA Journal, Volume 11, number 4, 1989
- Lamberts et al “The endocrinology of aging” Science , Volume 278 , 17 October , 1997
- Kraemer et Al “Chronic resistance training in women potentiates growth hormone in vivo bioactivity; characterisation of molecular mass variants” American journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. December 2006
- Doyne EJ, Ossip-Klein DJ, Bowman ED, Osborn KM, McDougall-Wilson IB, Neimeyer IB. Running Versus Weight Lifting in the Treatment of Depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
- Cuff et al “Effective exercise modality to reduce insulin resistance in women with type II diabetes”, Diabetes Care, Volume 26, number 11, November 2003.
- In his book Life Fit, America's leading epidemiologist, Ralph Paffenbarger, M.D., makes the following statement regarding the effects of muscle gain and metabolic change: "Indeed, when you replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of muscle, your weight remains the same, but you can expect to expend 500 or more additional kilocalories each day at rest." In other words, Paffenbarger ascribes the resting metabolic requirement for 1 pound of muscle at 50 calories per day.
- Ari Heinonen et al “Bone mineral density of female athletes in different sports” Journal of Bone and Mineral, Volume 23, Issue 1, October 1993, Pages 1-14
13. Wilmore JH “The application of science to sport: physiological profiles of male and female athletes.”
Wikipedia defines sabotage as:
“A deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. As a rule, saboteurs try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions.”
It is derived from the French sabot (a wooden shoe or clog) via its derivative saboter (to knock with the foot, or work carelessly).
Simply put self-sabotage is tripping yourself up - getting in your own way. For the most part self-sabotage is done subconsciously.
Why is this relevant to your quest for the dream body/ increased bench press/ more muscular or toned physique? Its highly relevant because once you have figured out your goals and a blueprint for achieving those goals (nutrition plan, training schedule, lifestyle modifications) self-sabotage is the only thing that can really stop you. In the poetic lyrics of Radiohead:
“You do it to yourself, you do
and that's what really hurts
Is that you do it to yourself
Just you and no one else
you do it to yourself
you do it to yourself “
So what exactly are the kinds of behaviours that lead to self- sabotage? I am going to outline a few examples but there are many. Humankind’s ability to be self- destructive is legendary and you can probably draw up your own personal list at the end of this.
1. Leaving junk foods in your house.
My motto is “if you don’t buy it you can’t try it!!” Avoid sabotaging your eat clean efforts by only stocking healthy nutritious foods in your house. That tub of Ben and Jerry’s will literally talk you into eating it!
2. Deciding to go it alone regarding training and nutrition advice.
This might seem like a good idea and very cost effective but you are actually sabotaging your efforts immediately. Unless you have been studying nutrition and exercise science for decades knowing what works for you is extremely hit and miss to say the least. According to Brian Tracey “for every 1 dollar you invest in yourself it will return 30 dollars to your bottom line” that’s 30:1 or 3000 % return on your investment. Simply put your journey to your dream body with professional coaching is 3000% closer than the winging it yourself method.
3. Skimping on your investment.
Whatever your budget you should seek out the best possible advice or training you can afford. The cheapest will not necessarily work out to be the bargain in the long run. Charles Poliquin told this true story in one of his seminars. One of his pro athlete clients was looking to make the grade for a very prestigious team with a multi- million dollar contract at stake. Working with Poliquin he got his contract and made it to the big time. For a subsequent season the same athlete hired a cheaper less experienced coach. His performance suffered so severely he lost his contract. Lesson –don’t be cheap. Get the best you can afford. It will pay in the long run.
“World-class achievers hire world-class personal coaches, advisors and mentors”
4. Be on time for your workouts.
Psychotherapists know from clinical experience that clients who arrive late consistently are avoiding “their stuff”. They are looking for a way to sabotage their therapy. Some people will subconsciously derail themselves by constantly showing up late or maybe even picking an argument with their trainer or therapist or sponsor to avoid doing the work on themselves. This also very conveniently gives the individual in question a beautiful opportunity to abdicate responsibility for the demise of the partnership. It’s the same way that people sabotage great relationships and drive great partners away.
5. Find conscious ways to work on your self-esteem.
Basically all self -sabotage boils down to poor self-esteem. If you love and value yourself enough you invest in yourself, you are honest with yourself, you own up and take responsibility when you mess something up and it’s your own fault, you recognise your own weaknesses and make preparations to prevent these weaknesses from sabotaging your progress. People with high self -esteem tend to focus on lifting with excellent form. People with low self -esteem lift with their egos ( heavy weight and terrible form.)
The process of self-sabotage keeps you in alignment with how you see yourself. This is why fat people may still see themselves as fat even after they have lost all of the weight and many sabotage their way back to their original or even larger size. Working on your self-esteem may come in the form of private therapy or affirmations or simply a commitment to exercising and nourishing your body with good foods. Whatever way you slice it the higher your self- esteem the less the incidents of self-sabotage will plague your quest for your dream body! At the end of the day the only thing standing in your way is YOU!
In today’s blog I am going to look at some interesting ideas outside of training and nutrition that may just help you to progress further in that pesky war on fat!
- Hang a mirror in your kitchen.
Research at Cornell University in New York, US, showed that when you can see exactly how much you've been eating, you tend to eat almost a third less.
2. Out of site, out of mind.
Do not leave food packages around on your kitchen table or anywhere in view. Tidy them away into your cupboards and fridge. Research from the journal Environment & Behaviour shows that foods on display tend to make you over eat!
3. Bright lights, big appetite.
Dr Brian Wansink, Professor of nutritional Science at the University of Illinois has demonstrated that restaurant eaters seated in an area of bright lighting consumed more food than those seated in dim light areas. The theory is that artificial lights and can stimulate a stress response producing cortisol which in turn stimulates appetite.
4. Colour me slim.
Research shows that the colour blue suppresses appetite as it’s rare in nature to find blue foods. So one strategy is to eat your food off blue plates. Conversely the colours red and orange stimulate appetite which can lead you to eat up to 33% more ( www.colormatters.com).
5. Size matters!
This is an old one but no harm in revisiting it.
Moving from a 12-inch to a 10-inch dinner plate leads people to serve and eat 22% less (The Perils of Plate Size: Waist, Waste, and Wallet (2008), Brian Wansink and Koert van Ittersum, Journal of Marketing)
6. You are who you spend time with.
"Tell me thy company, and I'll tell thee what thou art," (from Don Quixote)
Researchers say our risk of obesity increases 37% if our spouses are overweight (vs. 57% for overweight friends and 40% for overweight siblings).
A. Christakis and J.H. Fowler, "The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Over 32 Years," New England Journal of Medicine 357(4): 370-379 (July 2007)
So just spending time with fit lean and healthy friends could make you leaner! Another good reason to have regular personal training sessions with someone in great shape (and ideally very knowledgeable and qualified as well!)
7. Social gluttony!
People eat on average between 44% and 50% more in social situations (parties, eating out in a group) as demonstrated by appetite researcher Barbara Rolls at Penn State University.
Cut down on the social gatherings and eat more at home if fat loss is your goal.
8. Low fat lies
Research shows that people who buy foods with low fat labels eat 16-23% more total calories per day. Sometimes if you think you are “being good” you compensate in other ways, in this case by overeating.
"Can Low-Fat Nutrition Labels Lead to Obesity? (2006), Brian Wansink and Pierre Chandon, Journal of Marketing Research 43:4 (November), 605-17..
Message? Ditch the low fat foods and eat real ones instead.
9. That which is measured gets improved
This is a principle I learned from Charles Poliquin. If we regularly monitor certain variables for some psychological reason we can influence them for the better. This phenomenon was fabulously demonstrated by Tim Ferris in “The four hour body”. In it he recounts a story of an overweight male who if I remember correctly was a computer geek or statistician ( the guy loved numbers and quantification). He wrote down his weight and projected a time line several months ahead with a much lower weight and joined the two points. His goal was to keep his weight in line with the downward trajectory of his graph between two extremes. He made no effort to change his eating habits nor did he exercise. As the weeks went on his weight started to mirror the downward trajectory ( he was happy when he was bang on course and a little pissed if he lost too much weight !). At the end he reached his goal weight! What does this mean to you? Get your body fat tested regularly. Apart from the feedback of progress it could psychologically propel you forward to better results because you know you are being monitored. The reverse psychology of this would be only using the scale to measure progress. Last week I measured a client who lost 11 lbs of fat and gained 12 lbs of muscle . On the scale his body weight was up 1 lb! This could be psychologically damaging if we did not do a body comp test to see the true story.
10. The placebo effect
This is another one I learned from Charles Poliquin. A study was done on a group of chamber maids (recent study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer) in a Hotel. One group was told that cleaning hotel rooms was fabulous exercise and would help with weight loss. The other group was told nothing. All persons in the study were weighed and at the conclusion of the study the group who were told that the work was great exercise all lost a statistically significant amount of weight! The other group did not lose weight. No dietary or other lifestyle changes were made.
In conclusion trying out some of these mental tricks might just help you drop a few extra pounds but until you reach the meditative capacity of the Dali Lama keep exercising and make good food choices too!
“There is no such thing as idle thought”
From “a course in miracles”
In order to manifest anything in our lives be it perfect health or a beach season worthy physique we must turn our attention to the role that the mind (our thoughts and beliefs) plays in the whole process. Our thoughts flow in a seemly endless stream of chit chat through our minds on a daily basis. Few people realise the power that they have. Every single thought has creative power. Every single thought generates an effect. In fact YOU, right NOW are creating your life based on the thoughts running through your mind. Old negative belief patterns generate behaviours that will sabotage our best intentions. If you really want to take charge of your life you must acknowledge the role that the mind has in generating all of our experiences. If you fail to do this you will only ever scratch the surface of your potential. You will be one of those people who try to rely on will power to lose weight. You will be one of those people who think that the solution to your health/physique problems is dependent on finding that magic therapist, supplement, diet….whatever. You will be one of those people who invariably find an excuse to give up on your exercise or healthy eating plan. In short you sabotage yourself by believing that the power to generate change or generate success lies outside of yourself. Success always starts and ends with yourself. That’s what personal responsibility and personal power are all about. That is what free will is all about. Free will is the gift to choose the life you want. Everybody has been given this gift, few individuals ever choose to take it out of the wrapping….. You are the answer to your own prayers! The solution lies within you. Within the creative genius of your own mind. Unfortunately we don’t get instruction on how to harness this creative force at school or university. We learn to weld our minds shut, to think of ourselves as being far less capable than we are. We believe rubbish that we have been programmed to believe. We limit our potential every day with many negative thoughts:…oh I was never good at sports, oh but my family are prone to obesity, oh but I’ve always been like that, oh but I have no will power…..the excuses and the lies go on and on. Ladies and Gentlemen its time to take the power back! You give your mind over to brainwashing advertising campaigns every day. You gave your mind over to Teachers , Parents , siblings and friends. You built up a picture of yourself based on outside information. What if that picture was wrong? What if you are way more amazing than you ever realised? What could you not achieve in your life? How good do you think you would start to feel about yourself? How excited would you be to jump out of bed and start each day knowing that the power to create and transform your life lies within you every minute of every hour of every day of your entire existence. The body is a learning device for the mind. The mind is the servant of the Spirit ( only when we are living consciously) . When we don’t live consciously the mind runs on automatic pilot causing chaos, disease and dysfunction. The only way to win the war of mind is to take complete and absolute responsibility for every single thing in your life from the food you put into your body to the thoughts that run through your mind to the good the bad and the ugly in your life. I read somewhere that if your going to blame someone for your failures in life then you should also credit others with your success. You are doing it all. You are running the whole show from the vista of your mind. According to Barbara Ann Brenan (author of hands of light and NASSA Physicist by the way) “Matter arises out of Mind”. So if you are going to change your body please first change your mind.
The title of my blog today comes from a statement made by Dr Jonny Bowden PhD. I have to say I whole heartedly agree and I want to elaborate why so that you may avoid some of the pitfalls that every wannabe lean machine faces.
Were back to balancing those pesky equations folks! And what an equation the fat loss puzzle turns out to be. You see there isn’t just one type of science we
need to consider when it comes to understanding the fat loss conundrum. I call it “wet science” versus “dry science”. Physicists often joke that theirs is a dry science . No mess no blood sweat
and tears like the disciplines of chemistry and biology . You see what many people have been doing today is treating fat loss as if it were a dry science - inanimate, mathematical, linear ,
predicable down to a caloric equation. The dry science folks believe all weight/fat loss boils down to eat less , move more. God wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple ! Well maybe not
because if it was your body would look something like the bomb calorimeter below.
Not very sexy, right? A bomb calorimeter is used to calculate the energy content of food . When you burn the food in the crucible it causes the temperature of the water to increase by a certain number of degrees and using clever calculations ( which I wont bore you with!) you calculate the inherent energy in the food in K joules or calories. Now the general equation to sum up whats going on above is :
C6H12O6 +6 O2 ----à6 H20 + 6CO2 + energy release
Translation! Glucose + Oxygen burns to give carbon dioxide + Water and energy is released in this process.
Unfortunately for the dry scientist trying to explain fat loss by physics the human body does not look or function like an inanimate metallic
And the equation for “combustion” in the human body is way more complex! Its called the Krebs cycle (see below).
“Combustion “ in the human body is called respiration . Even if you flunked your high school chemistry class you can see the two reactions are worlds apart! A myriad of factors can influence the quality of energy production in the human body. If you are dehydrated it affects the quality of respiration, if you are toxic some co factors needed in a particular stage in the Krebs cycle above may be depleted, if you favour one macronutrient for fuel over another this modifies the cycle favouring one pathway over another. All of these factors will influence the rate of the various reactions . The rate of the reactions will influence the quality of the energy ( fast burst of energy versus slow steady release of energy). You are even genetically predisposed to being more proficient at some segments of the krebs cycle while downplaying others. We know this because some cultures like the Inuit Eskimos survive on a diet of almost zero carbohydrate and still they respire or produce energy perfectly.
Some pathways of energy production waste energy as heat in a process called thermogenisis. The more complex a molecule is the more likely this will happen . Bottom line , a calorie is not always a calorie. Will the amino acids in your 100g grams of steak be burned for energy or will they be used to repair tissue and detoxify your body instead. How many fates does 100 grams of sugar have once it hits your system?
There are many questions to be asked . But here are some of the things we do know:
Calorie restriction causes fat and weight loss.
Diets of various macronutrient make up ( % proteins carbs and fats) have all been shown to produce weight/fat loss.
My personal observations:
You will not sustain a diet that does not satisfy your appetite. Appetite is one of the most primitive drives of the human brain ( the reptilian brain). It is even more powerful than the drive for sex. Trying to ignore your appetite long term would be as successful as banning porn from the internet! Good luck with that!
The natural instinct of a human being is to over eat certain foods.
With the advent of modern processed foods our normal regulatory system for appetite control is confounded. Will 100 calories of Pringles fill me up the same as 100 calories of turkey breast or will the delicate balance of salt , fat and refined carbs make me want to eat 500 calories more? Will the amino acid tryptophan present in the turkey breast calm and balance my brain with renewed serotonin so that the urge to overeat is suppressed?
Its easy to underestimate portion sizes. Even if you eat what appears to be a healthy diet if you eat too much of anything you will gain weight. The laws of physics still apply albeit with some modifications in an organic animate world where hormones, biochemical reactions , neurotransmitters and psychology all impact the outcome of your fat loss quest.
My advice to you is to eat a whole foods diet that satisfies your appetite and still exercise portion control. If you get your biosignature tested it will be a whole lot easier as the ideal macronutrient ratio for your body is written all over your fat storage pattern and a competent biosignature practitioner can decipher the code for you.
Physics + Biology + Chemistry -+ Mental/Emotional Factors ----------> The whole story of fat loss
Fat cells live and die in a multi dimensional world, don’t approach their destruction in a one dimensional way.
In a world where we have so much information about training , nutrition , biochemistry, hormones , deficiencies and functional medical testing why are so many people still fat, weak, skinny , ill , in pain? Well maybe the answer does not lay in the next training program or nutritional supplement. Maybe we have reached an era whereby only relying on an intellectual understanding of how the body works is just not enough anymore. Maybe we are ready and or desperate for a paradigm shift in our consciousness with regard to what makes and molds this physical experience we call life.
I say this not just based on my own life experience and personal challenges but based on looking around me at fellow practitioners in the fields of health and strength and by witnessing the challenges my own clients encounter on a daily basis. Example 1: One of the leading lights in nutritional theory and practice, Robert Crayon, died recently. He barely reached his forties and died of colon cancer. Did he have a low fibre issue or dysbiosis or a nutrient issue. I doubt it. Example 2: The leading researcher in spinal biomechanics , Stuart McGill, whom I have had the privilege to meet and partake of his instruction and wisdom has himself an ongoing “Back issue” still unresolved. Is he missing a key exercise or postural awareness technique? I doubt it. Example 3: Charles Poliquin, my mentor for all things in the field of strength and exercise has had on ongoing issue for years with his right shoulder girdle. This guy’s knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, training, rehab, nutrition, functional medicine, Chinese medicine, meridians etc seems to know no bounds. He has had every manual manipulation on the planet. Does he need the next new thing in manual therapy? I doubt it.
Am I judging these people as having some sort of short coming? No. What I am saying is that if some of THE most intellectually evolved minds on the planet in the fields of health and strength have issues that remain unresolved then maybe a purely intellectual paradigm of how the body works is insufficient.
Candace Pert PhD in her book “Molecules of emotion” has shown clearly through scientific experimentation during her PhD research that what we call emotions are actually a biochemical phenomenon. Feelings interact with matter to produce the biochemical’s that drive our emotions. Thoughts and beliefs can also “mold matter”. The need for double blind placebo studies is a testament to this fact. Now many of us are aware of the power of the mind to affect all outcomes of human experience. To quote an Irish expression “we have ripped the hole out of this one”. There are hypnotherapy courses going two a penny out there, NLP is no longer some weird science and goal setting is almost passé.
How much awareness do we have about the realm of feelings? Again to put an Irish-ism in “Sweet feck all”! Why? Because it is the next frontier of Human awareness/consciousness. Feelings are the language of the soul and though this may sound very new age and fluffy, the language of the soul has not been our modus operandi for a very long time. We have collectively been seduced by the head, by the thinking and the intellectual masturbation.
What if being in touch with our feelings and not just our bodies and thoughts had the power to transform our lives? Turns out it does, we just don’t know it yet. Candice Pert has come to the conclusion that “Your Body is your subconscious mind”. That’s a pretty big statement but she has evidence to back it up. During her research on neuropeptides (a type of chemical messenger) she discovered that in order to function as messengers these neuropeptides needed “docking stations” known as receptor sites to bring the message home. She discovered receptor sites for opiates in the brain. Her later research discovered the same opiate receptor sites all over the body! So feeling is not just a cerebral phenomenon it’s actually more visceral. In fairness the Chinese have been on to this fact for millennia they just have not quantified it in a Western biochemical way. As more and more receptor sites were found in the brain the corresponding receptor sites were found in the body. Your body “feels” all over. These feelings are a type of communication system. This communication links the brain to the body. This was recently discovered with research into serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness. Yes receptor sites for this chemical were found in the brain but it turns out the gut produces 80 % of all of the body’s serotonin. But there’s more! It turns out the body and brain are connected by these chemicals and have a feedback mechanism with each other e.g. Gut/ Brain, Brain/Gut. According to the late Crayhon this feed back mechanism is actually 80/20 feedback from Gut to Brain! So if you are feeling depressed or unmotivated to do your workout maybe you need to check your digestion rather than sign up for some happy pills!
Hormones, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides….what ever way you look at it they are all “molecules of emotion” and just like the feedback loop between brain and gut goes both ways the feed back loop between feelings and chemicals goes both ways. Hormones affect feelings and feelings create biochemical effects!
What is your body saying about you? What subconscious story lies underneath those fat cells? When I do a biosignature assessment on a client I am not just looking at their hormone profile but their life story. As Carolyn Myss author of Anatomy of the spirit sates “Your biography becomes your biology”. So tell me what is your body’s story?
January has come and gone. How many people are still on track with their body transformation goals? Well the very fact that you may have made a body transformation goal on January first speaks volumes about your mindset and your mindset is one of the top two predictors of your success in any endeavour. In a small but very inspiring book called Mastery, George Leonard outlined 3 personality types The Dabbler, the Hacker and the Master. Mr. Leonard’s overall conclusion in this book was those who are on the path of Mastery are the only ones destined for success. In today’s blog I wish to apply the idea of these personality types to the quest for a lean and healthy body. Can you identify what type of personality you are? Remember awareness is the first step. If you become aware that your behaviours are not conducive to long term results then maybe you too will make that all important decision to commit to the path of mastery.
So let’s start with the Dabbler. He or she kinda, sorta thinks they would like to shape up a bit. They use phrases like "Oh I don’t really want to loose weight, I just want to tone up a bit!" and my personal favourites “I don’t want to loose my "curves" (ladies) " I don’t want to get too big" (guys or girls)! The dabbler is well versed in every trendy diet going. They have tried the GI diet, the Mediterranean diet, the low fat diet and what ever diet is recently in vogue among the Hollywood stars. With exercise it’s the same. They always know what is recently "fashionable" in the fitness world. They will be the first ones to sign up to a Zumba class and when body pump was in vogue they tried it before telling all of their friends to join in. They tried vibration training, Pilates and kettle bells for maybe one or two month’s tops. The Dabbler is still out of shape. The Dabbler is always complaining that no matter what he or she does nothing seems to shift the weight, the thunder thighs , the belly ...whatever...The dabbler is on a constant search for the exercise class , training method or diet that will finally work.
The Hacker has a slightly different but equally dysfunctional approach. This person may be motivated by some special occasion like New Year, going on a sun holiday, getting married or a birthday approaching ending in a zero. The hacker does not plan or consult any external source for advice. They typically say “I know what works for me”. They restrict calories drastically or adopt an extreme method like going vegan. All the bad vices food wise are totally banned. Then an extreme training method is adopted. Maybe they sign up for a triathlon or go to the gym 7 days a week for 2 hours at a time. They hack and hack and hack away and maybe drop a lot of weight. Their clothes are falling off them, their faces look drawn and dark circles appear under their eyes. Then something happens to stop the hacker in their tracks. D day arrives, the wedding, the holiday the birthday. Suddenly they are not motivated anymore and the exercise stops and they are back eating "normally". Or they get injured and can’t train or they just get so exhausted and depleted that they say "screw it”. Now they gain all of the weight back plus ten lbs more.
What the Dabbler and the Hacker do not realise is that they are asleep on their quest. The first step is to wake up. The only path to attain results that last is the path of wakefulness - the path of mastery. Maybe that’s why they call it the quest for the "dream body". For many people it will remain a dream, a pipe dream! The path of wakefulness is the path of Mastery. When you have your eyes and ears wide open you are awake, you are ready for the truth, you can handle the truth. When you are asleep you are in denial, you surround yourself with people who support your denial. The owner of the sun tanning salon who just bought a new vibration plate and can’t tell the difference between a pectoralis and a periformis will support your delusion. He or she will take your money and point you to a corner and tell you to follow the pictures on the chart. The celebrity endorsing the latest bullshit device like the shake weight will support your delusion. Why wouldn’t they! They are making big bucks off the back of your deluded state of slumber!
Right about now would be a good time to listen to Rage against the machine "Wake up!" on you tube.
Those on the path of Masteryrealise the following:
1. If I just landed a job as the office gofer fetching coffee I will not make CEO of the company in 6 weeks. i.e. You will not be CEO of your own body in 6 weeks.
2. If you want to become top of your field it’s probably not a good move to change careers every couple of months. Ditto your exercise choice or nutrition plan.
3. If you want to have a happy and healthy relationship with your partner being nice and kind to them for a few months won’t be enough. Saying gee honey don’t you remember when I was good to you back in 1987 for a whole 12 weeks probably wont fly? How your body looks depends on your daily relationship with your body.
4. The typical Olympic Athlete takes at least ten years to master their sport and they get expert coaching in spite of being genetically gifted at their sport. It will take you years to master what works for your unique genetics and getting help or mentoring is the smart choice.
5. Temporary efforts give temporary results.
Can you handle the truth?
If you want to live a happy and healthy life and look good physically then the number one bang for you buck is without a doubt weightlifting!
In my estimation lifting weights in a structured and progressive way is the greatest gift that the western mind has contributed to global health. Weightlifting represents the yang to the oriental ying styles of training like yoga and chi gung. As a former high school chemistry teacher I like balanced equations so in my world ying + yang equals a complete equation. An equation that maximises your health, longevity and aesthetic prowess.
Many individuals think they have a well rounded program by doing yoga and going for a jog but this could not be further from the truth. You see the yang part of the equation for overall health and longevity is strength and power - the male energies. And this is not just my opinion. According to Hippocrates “There are in fact two things, science and opinion, the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance”.
So in the pursuit of knowledge rather than the proliferation of ignorance let’s look at the facts.
According to Tufts University, the two leading predictors of lifespan are 1. How much lean body mass you maintain over the course of your lifetime.
2. How strong you are.
No exercise prescription in the world fits the bill more effectively than weightlifting. The greatest exponents of both mass and strength among the athletic community are
Bodybuilders, Olympic lifters, Power lifters and Strong man competitors and these guys and girls all lift weight exclusively for their respective disciplines. And before you
ladies quake in your Jimmy Choos at the thoughts of becoming “too bulky” lets look at the facts. Women do not have the hormonal wherewithal to develop massive bulk! We have a tiny fraction of the
sex hormone testosterone which is largely responsible for a mans ability to get big and muscular. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at a picture of Canadian Olympic lifter Marilou Dozois from
Canada. She came 10th in the world at the Beijing Olympics. At a strength training seminar at the Poliquin strength institute in Rhode Island I had the benefit of seeing Marilou in
action. Funny enough the thing I noticed more than her amazing strength was her tiny waist. It was so small she would make Dita Von Tease look chunky! So much for weightlifting making you look
blocky! She was so lean, toned and feminine that no one would guess that she trained on average twice a day lifting weights that would make most grown men cry! (see photos below)
So now that we have addressed the fear of looking manly lets look at some more amazing benefits of weight training for the ladies. If anything weight training benefits women even more than men!
Fact: Weight training increases insulin sensitivity. Your food (blood sugar) has two choices in life. Go into your liver and muscle cells to be stored as glycogen or go into the fat cells making them even fatter (they have virtually an infinite capacity to expand). Now if you lift weight heavy and often enough the blood sugar gets shuttled into your muscle cells to recover from the hard training. Translation…..bye bye muffin top!
Fact: Weight training programs designed by a competent coach can get rid of saddle bags and thunder thighs. Weight training elicits a number of hormonal effects that are extremely beneficial for fat loss one of them being an anti estrogenic effect. You have to have a coach who knows how to design this type of work out. Look for a Poliquin certified coach, ideally this coach is also certified in biosignature.
Fact: The closest thing you will get to the fountain of youth naturally is weight training. You see weight training at an appropriate intensity can generate massive amounts of growth hormone. This hormone tells the body “burn fat like crazy”. It also tells the body maintain and build some lean firm tissue (muscle). This hormone is fabulous for skin, hair and nails. Ladies and Gents who lift frequently invariably look years younger than their peers. That’s growth hormone for ya! Gotta love it! How much growth hormone will you produce doing yoga, jogging or Pilates the answer respectively are 0%, 0% and 0%.
Fact: The BEST way to get rid of bingo wings is to lift heavy weights. This boosts your natural level of testosterone and you will get leaner in the arms. By the way this is accompanied by an increased sex drive and a profound increase in confidence. You see testosterone is the hormone of confidence and self belief. That’s why most men invariably overestimate how good they look and most women underestimate how good they look.
Fact: The gimmicky training styles on offer these days are just that, gimmicks and they will not benefit your body in a holistic way. If a training system is intelligent it will do you good both inside and out. Lets for a moment look at a method that on paper looks good and will really appeal to many ladies until they get educated further. I could have picked a multitude but lets look at the Tracy Anderson Method. The focus is to develop “a teeny tiny dancer’s body”. For anyone with an IQ above the level of a cretin the alarm bells should already be sounding. Being “teeny, tiny” is neither healthy nor desirable. Why? In order to get “teeny, tiny “a phenomenon called atrophy has to occur. This is tissue wasting. In this case the tissue that is mostly wasting is muscle. Why would that be the case? Well Ms Anderson espouses a view that you need to do a large volume of repetitions, 50, 80 a hundred or even more per set! This is equivalent to doing a mini marathon in your muscle cells. When you do small repeated contractions in a muscle cell one of the things that eventually happens is a phenomenon called tissue necrosis or cell death. Just Google marathon runners and tissue necrosis and you’ll get an eye full.
Guess Ms Anderson did not major in exercise physiology. Now if you waste that muscle you will get smaller but at a cost, decreased lifespan (see above from Tufts University) and increased risk of osteoporosis. You see strong powerful contractions of muscles on your joint and bone structure illicit an increase in bone density. Heavy weight training does this better than anything else.
Curiously one of the protégés of the method Gwyneth Paltrow was recently diagnosed with osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis).
So ladies just because you look good on the outside does not mean all is well on the inside if your system of training is not backed by science and sound principles of exercise physiology.
Weight training is the king of yang style exercise developing strength and power and creating positive hormonal effects; combine it with a ying style of training like yoga or stretching or chi gung or Pilates for flexibility and stability and to enhance recovery. Looking great on the outside, feeling good on the inside. Now that’s what I call a well rounded program.
Most people know they need to exercise to stay in shape and be healthy . There are so many exercise options available how do you know which one to pick? Well first of all you must be clear on your goals for begining the method you choose. Those goals could be, reduce body fat, build some muscle ( lean body mass), improve bone density, develop a more toned body, Get better body symmetry, eliminate back pain or other joint pain, reduce risk of serious disease like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, have fun, be social, learn about your body, learn to love your body, reduce the rate of aging, look exceptional for your age, overhaul your whole lifestyle, improve your self esteem and self confidence. I could go on! Exercise can deliver so many wonderful benefits above and beyond losing weight! I am going to take you through an analysis of some different training methods and look at the pros and cons of each and leave you with my own personal reccomendations at the end. Just like nutrition everybody has an opinion on what exercise is best ( and its usually the exercise that that person is doing!). Personal opinion and informed opinion are two very different things. Personal opinion is just that , what an individual thinks based on what they have experienced or like themselves. Informed opinion is based on principals and scientific criterion so is objective rather than subjective. Lets kick it off!
The most fundamental movement pattern in existance, cheap, can do it anywhere, no fancy equipment needed, no technical instruction needed. The benifits of walking include improved aerobic capacity, a training of your heart and lungs. If you do it outside you get a great benifit of fresh air and sunlight. Is it great for fat loss and muscle tone ? Well as Dr Fred Hatfield states (PHd exercise physiology, founder of international sports science association and world record power lifter) Walking is good for the clinically obese. If you are very out of shape walking will provide a significant overload to your system to generate a training effect. This training effect lasts 6-8 weeks unless the individual goes for longer and longer walks or adds more and more sessions each week. Your body adapts to EVERYTHING! Adaptation equals a saturation point in the ability to change. Change equals fat loss, greater heart and lung function, increased bone density. If any system is not getting harder you will plateau ie you will stay the same. One of the most important principles in assessing the effectiveness of any workout routine is the principle of progressive overload. If what you are doing does not allow you to make progressive changes then you will not change!
The downside of walking for fat loss is you would have to walk longer and longer every day to make continued gains. Most people walk the same length and time in their weekly routine. Their bodies stay the same. Yes the heart and lungs are getting some benifit but for fat loss and muscle tone not much! The more you walk the more you become like a japanese car . You get maximally fuel effecient. For fat burning and changing your body you need to strive for ineffeciency! This means what ever you are doing should be somewhat of a shock to your system . Your body is now forced to dig deep and in doing so you get a metabolic boost. You want to develop the metabolism of a gas guzzling car like a ferrari! Walking will not do this.
What else can walking not do? It will not give you good flexibility as the range of motion is too small. It is not great for bone density ( better than sitting on your ass , true!) as you are not doing heavy weight bearing , just your own body weight. It will not train structural balance in your muscles so if for example your hamstrings are relatively weak compared to you quads it will not help you and may make things worse! Walking will not cure a bad back though it can be a usefull addition to a good corrective program. Walking will not improve your lean body mass. Lean body mass is what is left in your body once all the fat is removed. Lean body mass is life extending! In fact it is the number one predictor of your entire lifespan according to research from Tufts University in the United states ( the leading institute in the world on longevety research). The more you walk the more you risk canibalising your precious lean body mass and muscle tissue! Thats why a lot of long distance walkers and runners look so stringy. They have wasted their muscle tissue! You see muscle tissue is very metabolically active so the body is smart. If you are doing long aerobic sessions which are energy costly the body reduces the expense by dumping the tissue with the greatest caloric demands. And there you are jumping on your bathroom scales thinking you are doing a great job. Such myopic vision can only end in tears....
Ok Im just warming up! The final kicker for exercise choices like walking is the double edged sword of Oxygen. Oxygen is needed for life on this earth . Humans use it as ONE of the mechanisms to produce energy in a reaction called the Krebs cycle which is part of a physiological process called Respiration. In simple language C6H12O6 + O2 -----> CO2 + H2O + Energy. Glucose and oxygen " burn" to give energy. So far so good, right? Well up to a point. Like I said oxygen is a double edged sword. It is a highly reactive molecule and not a one trick poney! Oxygen is one of THE most powerful oxidising species ever!Almost everone has heard of the term antioxidant but few realise what it means. An antioxidant "battles " against chemical species that cause Oxidation. Oxygen is a very potent oxidising agent ( in the early days of chemistry chemists classified oxidation reactions as ones where molecules combined with oxygen) .
So whats my point among all of the molecules and brain twisting reactions? Oxygen can also do a lot of damage in your body if you are EXCESSIVELY exposed to it. Oxygen causes oxidation, too much oxidation equals brain ageing, tissue dammage , inflamation. Does that mean you should cut down on breathing? No, stupid!!! It just means you should not overdo any aerobic exercise in a futile attempt to get healthier. Ladies you will get more wrinkles if you do excessive amounts of aerobic exercise! Not a good move . Am I saying never go for a walk? No . Just dont do it with the faulty notion that its helping you burn fat week after week month after month on the same old routine. You only have a certain amount of time each week so you need to make more informed choices and select exercise styles that give you the greatest bang for the buck in terms of multi faceted results. The biggest benift of walking in my estimation is getting people out into nature, fresh air and sunlight. This is life extending and food for the soul. You will not see me power walking on any of my relaxing "nature walks". Tune in next time for the demolition of faulty exercise propaganda!
Its that time of the year again and the masses are ready for the latest and greatest next furrow into their fat loss efforts. Why do so many people fail? Why do 90 % of dieters fail? Why do most people quit the gym or fitness routine before even january is out? Well in my experience ( 23 years and still going strong!) people approach the topic with a very low level of consciousness. Consciousness is just another word for awareness, and awareness is the starting point for all trasformative processes. Many view their bodies as seperate entities from themselves. Some external apendage that needs to be fixed. Your body is you. Your body is a living testament to your mindset, the state of your emotional health, your physical health and your spiritual awareness. By spiritual awareness I do not mean morality or religion ( sorry Im a recovering Catholic...). What I do mean is that we are able to see things from a higher perspective, we are able to join the dots and see the bigger picture.
Your body is a metaphor for your whole life experience to date! As one writer put it ( Caroline Myss) " Your biography becomes your biology"!
The creative process is an inside job. It starts with desire ( a feeling of what we want), this triggers a chain of thought processes ( some good , many utter rubish) and then the potential to take action ( or sit on the fence).
Transforming your body is a creative process! You want to recreate yourself into a healthy , lean and strong individual. But most people dont start with the feeling and desire . They start with a thought process " I want to loose weight" and jump straight away to an external solution to their problem. The more flambouyant and outrageously exagerated the method the more the ego is seduced. Now I call the ego " mini me"! Its the lowest level of consciousness. This is where 90% of the population starts! No wonder the failure rate is so high! " mini me" is unevolved and has a todler level of consciousness. " I want it and I want it now" , " I want a new toy, gadget, diet , the next best thing" , " I need to be entertained", " this diet is boring". These are all of the thought processes coming through an unevolved consciousness thats destined to fail. " Mini me" does not like change at all. Its way too scary. "Mini me " wants to keep you small weak and the same. "Mini me" is ruled by fear.
You see that fact of the matter is there are thousands of different diets around and I bet for each diet you will find many people who got amazing results on it! Ditto training techniques. Some are smater systems than others for sure. But the bottom line is the key to success does not necessarily lay in the method but the mindset, emotional state and conviction of the individual.
When you start the process of changing your body all aspects of your being come along for the ride. If your physical body changes, your mental and emotional bodies will also change! When you start to apply discipline to your eating and training for example your eating becomes more functional and less of an emotional salve. I read a sad story of Britains fattest man this week he is about 60 stone. His first love at the age of 20 broke his heart and he comfort ate his way through 20, 000 calories a day for the last 20 years. If only he had known about weight watchers points system!
The point is knowing what to do is not enough. You can only move from knowing to doing with awareness. By becoming the silent "witness" to your life the reasons for all of your past failures will become apparant. You need great courage for this process. I have found that the more strength you build in the body the more you can fortify that courage. For every weakness there is a solution . And the solution is not the latest fad or new years resolution made on a whim and cast aside with careless ease.
1. Most people dont realise that what they are actually trying to lose is fat not weight per say. Losing weight is relatively easy , losing fat requires a scientific and structured approach .
2. Only focusing on exercise . Sumo wrestlers train on average 8 hours a day!
3. Only focusing on diet. There are 4 main pathways to get results like the 4 legs of a stool. Exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and nutrient support. Miss one leg and the whole system collapses.
4. Failing to mentally prepare.
5. Failing to emotionally prepare.
6. Making up your own approach. Somebody once said " a person who represents himself in court has an idiot for a client". Winging it yourself is very hit and miss as witnessed by the fact that 95% of dieters will regain all of their weight loss in one year or less.
7. Changing your nutritional plan too radically. This creates what I call "the elastic band effect". Force yourself in a new direction too rapidly and bam! The you just snap, you binge , you fall off your plan.
8. Following standard government guidelines . If you follow the food pyramid you are well on your way to looking like one of the sumo wrestlers mentioned earlier.
9. Believing media hype on weightloss. Do you really believe the drop a jeans size by eating breakfast cereal advertising?
10. Jumping from one plan to the next. For every diet out there there will be some people who have had great success and mainy who failed on it. The biggest secret of all time is the ability to stay consistent. Before you start any diet ask yourself " can I see myself eating this way for the rest of my life"?