Monthly Archives: April 2006

Build yourself up, don’t beat yourself up

A couples of Sundays ago The NY Times had an article on aging boomers beating their bodies to stay young. It was very interesting.

I don’t know how many of you read it but in a nutshell, the past 30 years or so of physical activity (spurred on by the jogging craze of the 70’s) has left thousands of people damaged, crippled and in worse shape than they were in before.

I won’t say I told you so.

But they, the damaged and the beaten up (so says the article), aren’t going to quit. No sirree Bob.

The brainwashing runs (mind the pun) deep.

It’s not the folks who do it for fun and know the risks that I take issue with. Go on and take ‘no holds barred’ fighting classes for all I care. Life should be fun, right?!

It’s the folks that do it because they think they have to and, after being told they don’t and shown the scientific evidence to prove such, just keep on hurting themselves that get my goat.

People are so deeply entrenched in the worldview belief of exercise (i.e., more is better, you need all three fitness components, aerobics should be the focus, etc.) they feel too embarrassed to allow themselves to admit they fell for the fitness spiel. They keep hurting themselves almost as if they are punishing themselves for being so gullible.

I beg you to stop and think it over.

I quit the martial arts, Karate in particular, in 1995.  After 20 + years of flinging my limbs and body into other people and very hard objects something dawned on me.

I was in pain.

In fact, while hobbling home after a Karate class one evening  I realized that if an 8 year old attacked me I’d be licked for sure.

About 6 months after quitting, feeling angry, like a loser, a wimp and a quitter I clearly remember thinking to myself "Boy, does my body feel good."

I never looked back.

Since then I have created Serious Strength and Slow Burn and have been feeling tight, strong, quick and able. My routine physicals are always amazing and I literally feel like I could play college baseball right now.

The moral of this story: Violence (to your body) begets violence. Don’t beat yourself up – build yourself up.

All exercise programs are not created equal

I know I’ve blogged on this before but I think it’s important to say it again .

I think it’s high time everyone was told the truth about physical activity and the corresponding benefits they each impart to your person.

Over the years in talking to thousands of people about exercise I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of us believe that so long as movement is part of the picture, all exercise is virtually the same thing.

What I mean by this is, whether you are doing Yoga or Pilates or walking or playing tennis, or jogging or Nia-ing, or rollerblading, or biking, or stepping, or spinning or trampolining, Tai-Bo-ing or

weight training

the results will be the same.

No they won’t – not even close.

It’s really quite unbelievable to me how many people are almost desperate for an exercise program that really works, makes them feel stronger, tighter, healthier something they can fit into their schedule and when handed the answer on a silver platter, reject it with vehemence when it does not fit their world view.

What is that world view?

That exercise should be and must be fun to do.

The fitness industry supports this falsehood almost everywhere you look.

Shame on them.

But truth be told, they have all kinds of adult Romper Room-esque things to sell. So what do we expect?

If you want real health benefits, benefits beyond the smallest fraction of what you can achieve with past time activities, you must engage in resistance training.

Take it or leave it folks. The truth is sometimes hard to hear and accept.

Perhaps it would help if I admitted that you don’t have to do it my way, the SlowBurn way for it to be effective.

Perhaps not. But here’s the kicker – if you wait too long to start a resistance training program you WILL sacrifice the benefits you could have.

Starting earlier say in your 40’s will have greater and more profound effects on your overall health and body shape than if you start in your 60’s. By then your hormones have already greatly decreased and you will not be able to achieve what you could have had you started earlier.

But it’s still good to start anytime, even in your 80’s!

We all have an hour a week. And that is really all you need, tops.

Even 30 minutes benefits you greatly.

Strength Training – It’s the most potent physical medicine available.

Take it.

Opinion vs. Fact – Who’s your Daddy?

Fact I hope.

I am shocked and amazed at how many people argue that which they do not know.

"Meat is not good for you! It’s dirty." one woman declared on the phone to me the other day. (You can read my last blog for the folly behind this statement.)

"Well even so, stretching is just plain common sense." a PhD in exercise science wrote after being presented with umpteenth research studies showing that stretching does absolutely nothing to enhance muscles, joints, etc. and can actually harm joints and decrease athletic performance.

"I don’t need muscles!" a woman vented a few months back. Let’s imagine her without any shall we? I don’t think we need science to help us here.

"Walking is the best form of exercise." Joe D the M.D. confidently proclaimed in a conversation with him about ‘wellness’ (how I abhor this word). Walk all you like doc, but research indicates clearly that active people (sans resistance training) and sedentary people lose muscle and bone at the exact same rate. Shouldn’t he know this before he goes around saying this stuff?

"I don’t believe in weights." a top trainer claims (referring to weight lifting). Believe in them? I mean, what do you say in response to this except "OK."

"The only thing that works for me is Yoga." a woman steadfastly said to me after calling for info on my training services. And when pressed, admitted she has never done anything but.

Sometimes I get so frustrated I want to get my real estate license and sell huts in Costa Rica (they don’t have a military budget – I like that).

All ideas to combat this my opinion supercedes fact phenomenon are like sooooo welcome.

And what does this all mean for you? When a trainer, doctor, therapist, etc. tells you something that can affect you in multiple ways, demand the science and ditch their opinion.

The Healing Foods Pyramid

When I read the new Healing Foods Pyramid created by the University of Michigan Integrated Medicine I cringed. I laughed. I wept.

Healingfoodspyramid Since I’m too lame to figure out how to put bigger pictures on this blog here is the URL so you can see up close.

There are a few fascinating things with this new HFP.

If you look at it, you’ll see that water is the most important element. Kudos to the UMIM for getting that right. Bless you.

But then the rest of Sugar Mountain falls apart.

If you think about it (which these folks clearly didn’t) the order of importance (if you’re going to use a pyramid) should be from most important to survival to the least – not from what is popular to least popular in terms of diet ideology. The pyramid should be based on science.

So water takes the number one spot. No problemo. Without water we die pretty fast even if we eat tons of fruits. (Caveat: IF you did not drink pure water but instead drank coffee, tea, juice, beer, etc. your health might suffer but you would not die. This is true. However, that is because the largest ingredient in these beverages is in fact water.)

So let’s say liquid is the most important substance and water is the best liquid. OK.

Next? What’s in the on deck circle? According to the HFP its fruits and veggies. But given our goal of sticking to science not popularity, what really should come next? What is the next most important substance that without it we’d suffer or even die?

Fat and protein.

In fact, on a diet of pure fat and protein (EX: A juicy hormone, antibiotic, grass fed steak, salmon with he skin, etc.) you could live forever and ever and suffer no ill health. (I’m sure some folks will want to challenge me on this. Go for it.  Just do your homework first to avoid embarrassment.)

If all you did was eat plants and fruit, well, you ain’t hanging around on this planet for too long in any healthy way. Bear in mind the Vegan – the most extreme of all the plant based eaters NEEDS to take vitamin supplements or she will suffer vitamin/mineral deficiencies and perish.

But why? If plants and fruits are so healthy why is this so?

The fat meat/fish/egg eater on the other hand does NOT need to take supplements. 

If we did a contest to see who gets to take the second place stand by virtue of survival on their diet the meat eater wins.

Now – somebody stop me! I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking "Fred it’s about portions – we agree all people need all food types it’s portions.

Yeah? Well then how come the Healing FP clearly states that you can have 2 Martini’s daily but only 1 or 2 servings of meat per week?

And how come the Healing FP teaches that pretzels are healthier than eggs? Go look my friends. In the breads section there is a picture of a freaking pretzel. (That was the part that made me weep. In my mind I saw this scene: "Hey obese kid! C’mere! Put that egg down right now! Here’s a pretzel instead.)

They even put seasonings ahead of meat. I take this to mean it’s healthier to eat daily servings of Paprika than steak!

No. fat and protein get second place and fruits and veggies get third.

4th place? Grains. Well, let’s think survival again. Now that we are drinking lots of water, eating a lions share of meat (What would happen to a Lion on the HFP? I shudder at the thought.) with some seasonal fruits and berries do we need anything else to survive and survive well?

I’m waiting…like what? What do grains provide (and lets toss those party favor legumes in as well) that fat, meat and veggies/fruits don’t?

I’ve asked this of quite a few registered dietitians and not one was able to tell me. Name a single micronutrient that an all fatmeat/veggie/fruit diet doesn’t provide. Don’t think too hard because the answer is…


So these two get stricken from the pyramid entirely since we do not need them. Bear in mind that the HFP pyramid is not intended to be a menu at a restaurant. It is intended to be a list of food stuffs we’re supposed to eat.

To sum up, I propose the Hahn Health Cylinder:

  1. Water
  2. Healthy fats, meat, eggs, fish/seafood
  3. veggies, fruit

The rest is not healing because they are not necessary. They are flotsam.

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