The Fine Print

Many years ago, back when I was working as a bodybuilding style personal trainer, I remember seeing other trainers spending countless amounts of money on supplements and protein drinks.  This used to bug me to death.  Not only have I not ever been a big advocate of these types of things but it also bothered me that most of these trainers were overweight and not fit.  They may have had big muscles and could bench press 400lbs but they were not physically fit.  I decided to do a little comparison of my own with the most commonly bought protein shake.  After breaking down the numbers, my conclusion showed that these guys were basically buying high dollar chocolate milk.  The calories, protein, carbs, and fat content were extremely close in numbers.

The health and fitness craze that became really popular in the 1980's has created a multi-billion dollar nutritional supplement industry.  Every health and fitness magazine is flooded with their advertisements.  There is a pill or a drink for everything.  Whether you need to lose weight, gain weight, need energy or have more consistent bowel movements, you bet there is a product marketed for it.  And with these supplements, there is the fine print.  That is my favorite part.  Most people miss it but it is the first thing I look for.  The fine print is basically the advice that should be taken instead of taking the actual supplement itself.  Look at any weight loss pill, advertisement or commercial.  They say their product can help you lose weight but that is really only if you read and follow the fine print.  The fine print says that in addition to taking the supplement to also exercise and follow a balanced diet.  As we all know, if we will exercise and follow a balanced diet, there would be no need for a diet pill. 

I remember a similar product that was marketed as jump shoes.  These were shoes that had a large, bulky piece of rubber on the front of the shoe which in turn made you walk on your toes.  They were meant to work your calf muscles and therefore help you gain more vertical on your jumps.  The fine print gave a specific workout that should be followed that incorporated the actual muscles that could improve jumping.  Jumping power is increased by working the large muscles of the lower body, not the calf muscles, and working them with explosive movements.  If you train the big muscles correctly, the smaller muscles like the calves are trained as well.

The point is that there are many supplements that promise all kinds of results.  Energy drinks are all the rage right now but are usually loaded with nothing more than sugar or caffeine.  My suggestion if you want more energy is to read the fine print where it says to eat a well-balanced diet and get 8 hours of sleep.  You are more than welcome to buy one of the hundreds of diet pills available but following the advice in the fine print will be more effective than the pill itself.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.  CrossFit says it best with their World Class Fitness in 100 Words.
•Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and NO sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
•Practice and train major lifts: deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstands, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast.
•Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. ROUTINE IS THE ENEMY. Keep workouts short and intense.
•Regularly learn and play new sports!


There is NO Off-Season

I know that I have a tendency to pick on bodybuilders but they just give me such ammunition with their approach to fitness.  I remember many years ago going to the movies with Amber and running into a couple of local gym rats.  These were the guys that everyone knew spent countless hours building their biceps and reputations as the big guys at the local gym.  These were also the same guys who 360 days out of the year looked fat and bloated and the other 5 days during the year looked lean, vascular and almost sickly.  While standing in line at the concessions counter, I noticed them both buying the biggest tub of popcorn and drenching it with butter.  They also bought a large soft drink to wash it all down with.  Knowing these guys, I posed the question of whether or not that was a part of their diet.  The bigger of the two guys sharply and arrogantly responded with "It's the off-season pal!"

Off-Season?  There is no off-season.  Life will inevitably punish those who have an off-season.  We train to be fit and healthy all year long.  I guess that is why diet is a four letter word.  Diets are not meant to last forever and have a built-in off-season.  The definition of off-season is a time of suspended or reduced activity.  For many people it really is a time to be lazy and to excuse inactivity and poor dietary choices.  Some people live their entire lives with off-seasons.  Others eat right and exercise and then slip into their off-season and negate everything they had worked for.

I want my family, clients, and myself to be prepared for any given contingency on any given day of the year.  If life requires me to escape a natural disaster, I want to be prepared.  If life requires me to carry my groceries up several flights of stairs, I want to be prepared.  If life requires me to handle the stress of a busy schedule, I want to be prepared.  There are no off-seasons.  I have to be prepared at all times and the fitness we promote will do just that.  Save the off-seasons for sports.  Health and fitness is year round.