Sunday, December 31, 2006


On New Year's Eve or any other day of the year, getting disturbed precedes a decision.

Get fed up and then...make a decision.

Sometimes if you ask yourself the right questions, you can think of something--there's always something--because a sign of health is knowing that one can do better.

Think of something that you've considered doing, or have wanted to get handled in your life. It should be something that if you changed it, starting today, the quality of your life would improve as a result.

The decision could be small, simply deciding to act and do something or the decision can be big, like deciding to change for the better.

New Year's Resolutions are usually not well planned:

"I'm gonna run 5 miles a day"
"I'm gonna lose 5 or 10 pounds"

How are you gonna run 5 miles a day if you injure your leg? When there's a blizzard?
How are you gonna lose 5 or 10 pounds? How are you going to go about it?

Few people stick to their resolutions because they were doomed from the start.

Better resolutions are ones which are more clear about what is the intended goal.
What are we really after? Success!

example: "Sign up at the gym and exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, 3 times a week, for a year. While there, lift weights properly (a cookbook-easy way to start: Body for Life). (Or Yoga. Or fitness classes...) Do this again and again, no matter what, and it becomes a habit."

"Outside of the gym eat clean, 6 times a day and get plenty of sleep and rest."

"...according to Time magazine, training with weights has become the number one athletic activity in the United States."(Arnold's book, p. 64)

If you don't want to think too much about how to get started right without needng to plan every detail at the beginning, or want to skip reading a book about it, I recommend Body for Life. It's all free on their website. Tools for exercise. Cardio. Workout program.

Body for Life workout program, which includes planning for cardio and rest. Follow the instructions and it will work for you in a matter of weeks, months. If not, your nutrition needs changing. If you want cookbook simplicity regarding nutrition, get the Abs Diet, from Men's Health. Otherwise eat clean and eat often (for males, it should be thousands of calories a day; 25% of calories from protein).

Experts agree, the benefits of exercise begin to wane after one hour of rigorous exertion; it's the law of diminishing returns. You don't have to go all out and give yourself a hernia or burn out early in the game. Moderation is the key; the results come with persistence, not short bursts of extreme exertion. The greatest paradox of exercise is that even though you expend more energy through your workouts, you will have more energy for your life outside the gym.

Do easy, comfortable things and life becomes harder later. Do easy, comfortable things and life becomes very boring.

Do "difficult things" and life becomes easier. Do difficult but worthwhile things and your self-esteem grows.

Once you actually do what is "difficult" and do it again and again, it becomes easy; and on it goes, to the next challenge.

I recommend taking a before picture.

2007 is going to be a great year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More Dangerous Than Smoking? Death by Soda

Drinking one soda a day could cause you to gain 15 pounds a year. Other related health risks include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bowel cancer and nerve damage
I think they add caffeine to soft drinks to make them habit-forming, addictive. If it's caffeine a person wants, they can get it from coffee. Coffee consumption is correlated with a decreased incidence of type-2 diabetes, while soda consumption seems to promote type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee has the same benefits as regular coffee, so it's not the caffeine that helps ward off diabetes.

To add value to their sugar water, they carbonate it and add drugs (caffeine). There's a reason why it's less convenient to simply have water at many fast food restaurants. They lose sales and from a highly profitable product because water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and flavoring are cheap.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mary Christmas

If Lloyd Christmas married Mary "Samsonite" Swanson then her name would become...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More on Men and Body Image

Hunky media images have negative effects on men, spark reckless behavior
“Body image is not just a concern for women,” says researcher Deborah Schooler, who’s looked into the adverse effects such media images can have on male self-esteem. “It affects men, too, and it demands attention.”

...Does all this mean it’s unhealthy for “Average Joes,” as the researchers titled their study, to aspire to the lean, muscular body idealized by Michelangelo and Abercrombie alike? One prominent promoter of men’s fitness argues no — unless, of course, it’s an obsession.

“What’s good about that image is that it’s the picture of health,” says David Zinczenko, editor of Men’s Health magazine and a best-selling diet author. “With diabetes rates skyrocketing over the past 70 years, a little more ‘lean’ wouldn’t hurt us.”

Zinczenko points to all the role models with healthy and realistic bodies that have graced magazine covers: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman.

...And what of [Jack] LaLanne, now 92, who so depressed the young Simmons decades ago that he turned off the TV?

Of the incessant media images, the still-avid exerciser says, “Maybe at least that’ll get ’em out doing something!” Aspiring to today’s ideal body is fine, he says, as long as it’s what you want. He deplores, though, the overly muscular type that “looks like they use steroids. Once you start fooling with Mother Nature, you’re in trouble.”

As for his own image issues, LaLanne, who still works out two hours every morning, says they’re soley focused on sticking around a while longer.

“I can’t afford to die,” LaLanne explains. “It would wreck my image.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Orthorexia and Bigorexia

The DSM-IV-TR, the diagnostic manual for psychiatry, describes mental disorders, mostly for billing purposes. There is a category which includes those who become obsessed with counting calories and many bodybuilders could be considered to have the "illness."

307.5 Eating Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified)

And now there is even a more specific term for the illness, called Orthorexia

Reading such things makes me feel better about myself that I still eat fast food on occasion; sometimes it's a reward to workout even harder, in anticipation of "cheat day."

Keep a cheat day once a week where you allow yourself to eat what you want. I think it's good for one's mental health and helps people avoid the obsession with trying to be "perfect" which only seems to backfire, ironically.

For males who want to improve their appearance, lose weight and feel better, but who also love to eat, and eat a lot--the best activity to consider, is weight-training, not aerobics.

The Rock, in a recent interview in Mens Health says the 3rd secret to his success is to have a large pepperoni pizza, a six-pack of beer and a shot of whiskey, once in a while to "cut" all the clean eating. Go figure.

Bodybuilding would be easier, if only it did not require eating so much food; eating all the calories that are required to keep the body in an anabolic state means eating clean all day long. The aspect of lifting hard in search of the pain is simple compared to the amount of food that has to be eaten. If you love to eat, you are already halfway there; just don't lift like a powerlifter and you can eat clean as much as you want; don't rest for longer than a minute or two between sets.

This applies to women also but most women assume that they'll get so muscular as to become "too big." Here is Arnold's reasoning to get around that myth: Try to get big! Try it! It won't happen even if you want it to, because there is simply not enough testosterone.

The myth comes from female bodybuilders (not figure/fitness competitors, but female bodybuilding competitors) who either: 1) take testosterone and growth hormone or 2) were naturally born with one more testicles in additional to their ovaries

Bigorexia: working out too much

Bigorexia or Muscle dysmorphia is a disorder in which an individual becomes obsessed that they are not muscular enough. Sometimes referred to as bigorexia or reverse anorexia nervosa, it is a very specific case of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

Muscle dysmorphia can cause individuals to:
- Constantly check themselves in a mirror
- Become distressed if a gym session is missed
- Take potentially dangerous drugs (e.g. anabolic steroids)
- Neglecting jobs/relationships/family due to exercising

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gym Bag Stuff

Some of the stuff I keep in my gym bag:

extra pair of lifting gloves
extra t-shirt
chewing gum
extra caffeine tablets
MP3 player
combination lock

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What the good news is

Arnold states, and I also saw it appear in Men's Health twice, that it takes at least a year of heavy persistent training, rest, and nutrition to even find out if one has "good" genetics for building muscle.

I'll give you the shorthand version:

If you can make even one muscle look good when it's flexed, you can do the same thing across your entire body; whether or not you get there depends on how much you want it.

(If you want an overly simple indication right away, look at the "cheekbones" while smiling big. If there's too much of a fat layer to see them, then it's time to do something about it. Don't do what most tend to do and blame or criticize yourself and feel bad; just act. The self-loathing does zero and will only hold you back.)
The consciousness of "self" is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action[6] - This is actually a Zen or Chan maxim which means to "be in the moment" and NOT be distracted by your own thought process. The Zen quote is: "If you seek it, you will NOT find it". The "Western" counterpart to this is the term "Being in the Zone".

Which muscle is worth shooting for then, if you had to pick one? The quadriceps. There are so many good, second-hand benefits that I don't know if I can list them again. Nevertheless, most guys go for the "mirror" muscles first--the pecs or biceps, the muscles that impress other guys, which is fine too.

When they were planning to film Superman, they tried to fill the costume with padding to make Christopher Reeve look more muscular. He made it much, much easier for the producer and for himself by unleashing himself against the weights for a year. It does not take years to get "big" if one goes about it with a bit of forethought.

The results, in terms of muscle, come in months, not years. The good feelings come immediately. (At least do enough to break a sweat each time) People tend to not even bring up the issue and talk about it, until they are certain that lifting in specific ways makes one's muscles bigger; it takes a year to feel certain about changes that begin in weeks, months.

If it's been a year and not much has happened, I can break it down to what you're doing "wrong," what most likely holds many back from getting the best results, is either:

1 nutrition
2 posture
3 lifting form and/or neglecting the legs or back
4 intensity

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Right calf after a workout

I was looking through old photos and I found this one; it's of my lower right leg, an hour after doing standing calf raises; taken in March of this year. I'm not flexing and I didn't train my soleus that day. My heel is off the ground and my knee is bent, but you can't tell that from the photo

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


About 3 years ago I decided I wanted to put on muscle and get fit. I bought the book by Arnold, the New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. It was only twenty-five bucks yet had the heft of a small city's phone book.

Arnold's book changed my view of bodybuilding. I had considered bodybuilders' appearance as "grotesque" and abnormal. If you read through it once, the guys in the photographs start to look more normal, oddly enough. After reading Arnold's book I had enough knowledge to get started. I read it repeatedly, I was gradually memorizing it, and could read through the entire thing in a couple of hours, whenever I wanted to reignite the fire under my bottom.

Arnold's book is written in such a way that a person without prior knowledge of bodybuilding can read it and learn that bodybuilding does not involve steroids or synthetic hormones--that anyone who assumes otherwise is in for failure; it's only cheating one's self.

I found out later that Arnold currently admits years of steroid (ab)use and actually advocated their use among his peers and in pamphlets. But the argument he makes in his book is nevertheless sound, tempting as it is to make that ad hominem attack and call Arnold a hypocrite, etc. Nevertheless he is correct, in his book. Also, we didn't know things then that we know now. And he has enough integrity to come clean and just admit it, instead of lying.

I do respect Arnold for writing thebook; it was inspiring enough and also gave me a proper direction to take, so I highly recommend it. I would say that persuading someone to do what he suggests is a feat in itself. Few individuals are able to convince people to pursue the "pain." Arnold can say what he does confidently because if anyone does what he says, they actually get what he promises.

In short my caveat to you, reader, is: Arnold advises hanging up pictures of competitors on the wall to strive to look like them. YET he does not tell you anywhere in the book that he and likely most or all other competitors took steroids to get there. Don't set yourself up for frustration (not getting what you expect). Get the poster, the Muscular System.

What was actually disappointing to me though was not finding out about Arnold's past or how much of competitive bodybuilding is contaminated with banned substances.

Deep down, what disappointed me more was that some things he described as part of the joy of bodybuilding, I felt I didn't enjoy. He wrote about how bodybuilders love to look at their muscles in the mirror, flexing and posing--they revel in the satisfaction and payoff for their hard work.

I did not feel like that. I didn't even like looking at my own body unless it was while I worked out. I thought there was something wrong with me; I started wondering if I had body dysmorphia, an illness where one's perception of his own body is distorted, burdened with feelings of constant inadequacy about body appearance, even when it's great by most people's standards. It's like anorexia for males. Just that thought was depressing in itself. But I kept going back because lifting made me feel great afterwards and nothing in the world clears my head as well as a rigorous and prolonged period of exertion. I don't think it's just me, who is like this (hint, hint ;)

I had lost about 20 lbs of fat and added about 25 pounds of muscle over all that time, but I still felt that something was still not 'right.' I liked looking at my legs below the knee, but that was about it. I learned to leg press 720 lbs ten times and squat 400 lbs but I didn't care, and I still don't. Strength is one of my last concerns.

Thankfully, I don't have body dysmorphia. It wasn't until relatively recently that I understand better, the source of every problem I had with my physique and what was screwing up every upper body exercise I did: Upper Cross Syndrome. "Syndrome" makes it sound like a disease, but the word just means that it involves a number of typical characteristics, which are:
The upper crossed syndrome is defined as tightness of the upper trapezius, pectoralis major, and levator scapulae and weakness of the rhomboids, serratus anterior, middle and lower trapezius, and the deep neck flexors, especially the scalene muscles. link
I started fixing my shoulders about a year ago, using this program, the Perfect Posture Plan. At least 3 or 4 times in the past year, I had thought my shoulders were finally "fixed," I even posted on this blog about it. I underestimated how badly slumped forward my shoulders were; my entire shoulder girdle was pulled forward and locked in position that way, the older exercises I returned to after 'completing' PPP only contributed to the problem.

I did regain the ability to pull my shoulder blades together by doing the PPP, but I still had not relearned how to use my shoulder muscles in coordination with my chest and back, again.
What I describe may sound extreme, but I didn't look like Quasimodo. Destablized shoulders detrimentally affect how every lift is done, but the appearance is subtle. I see at least a handful of strangers daily who I would bet have upper-cross syndrome.

I understand now why I rarely liked how I looked in photographs; why I've always thrown a football "like a girl," and why my posterior deltoids were thin and underdeveloped. I don't even have a "before" picture of myself without clothes because I didn't want to take pictures of myself. And no matter how much or how hard I worked them, my pecs and deltoids didn't grow much; they looked partly good only while I was "training" them, yet I was merely filling them with a little more blood.

Now that my shoulders are pulled back farther and previously neglected muscles in my back are activated, it is a strange feeling to have shoulders, weird as that is to write. I feel like I have half a grapefruit at the top of each arm where clavicle meets humerus. It feels both good and funny.

I'm happy about it! I never considered posture to be that important before, Arnold doesn't mention it specifically, besides warning not to stand on stage with one's belly hanging out while others do their routines.

Posture is so important that it makes a good body look bad and a bad body look better.

No matter how well you think you "know" how to do an exercise there is always a little necessity for improvement or variation every so often.

The simplest way to describe 'upper cross syndrome' is that it is an imbalance between the chest and back, which oppose each other. It's like a tug-o-war and the front of the body is winning; the position of thee center flag (shoulders) is a good distance in favor of the "back team" buying dinner for the winning "chest team," except that the winning team doesn't get larger. All that happens: chest team gets shorter while back team gets longer. :|

Remember what Arnold writes about training every single muscle. Train your neck. Yes, your neck, especially where you're tilting your head back.

Keep going.

Don't Quit

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill.
When funds are low and the debts are high.
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns.
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:

Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you must not QUIT.
-author unknown
I know it's a bit trite but I like the how the rhythm accompanies the meaning of the words :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm Still Here

It was good to take a break; like taking a step back and observing from a different angle. I'm working on the circled parts currently. :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dieting vs. Exercise

Women who are clinically obese don't need to diet to improve their health, say UK researchers.

A programme which encouraged women not to diet but to take part in exercise classes found significant improvements in health and mental well-being.

The women in the study were also taught about good eating habits, such as how to cook, and received social support.

After a year, the women had only lost a little weight but were significantly fitter and happier with themselves.
...and after another year, I would bet these women will still be happy and still losing weight. Wouldn't you think they would be better off than those who lost a larger amount of weight but were still feeling lousy and thus more likely to gain it all back? The key is in the activity.

It's not just the obese who should exercise. It's everybody who needs to exercise, in order to feel normal or great. "Dieting" is a sham and has turned into a disgraceful money-making endeavor for those profiting from people not exercising; contributing to the myth that physical activity is optional. It's not. Look around. Do fad diets and weight-loss centers work for longer than the short-term? If they really worked, wouldn't these sorts of 'services' begin disappearing from a lack of demand? Are these people giving out (selling) fish or teaching people how to fish for themselves? Weyt Watchers and NootriSystems have figured out that they can get people to depend on them and pay them for all their food, at every meal. It sounds nuts, but that's all they do. They feed people false beliefs that they "don't have time" to cook or exercise instead of pointing out that they simply never bothered to try. It's a Jedi mind trick.

Most people who diet gain all the weight back, plus an additional 2 lbs. Dieting is crock.

Exercise is not optional it just appears that way these days. Ask the right questions. The right question is not "which diet do I choose?" The right question is, "what activities will help me lose weight and that I will enjoy and have fun doing?"

You don't have to run! Personally, I don't like the pounding my body takes from all the jarring foot planting from running for long periods. I like to row (rowing is mostly a leg exercise that burns more calories than running). Pick something that's fun and that'll make it easier to keep coming back. Then focus on how great you're gonna look and how good it feels to be moving and alive.

Don't imagine/hallucinate/fear that people are looking at your butt in baggy sweats today. I think most people who imagine exercise as dreadful or think it's not fun, spend most of their exercise time focusing on things that are not worth thinking about. What most people see: a person who has just realized how fed up they are, got disturbed enough to do something, and is on the road to achieving their goals.

Focus on your goals consistently and you will get there, even if you forget why you're doing it.