February 15, 2002

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I enjoyed meeting many of you at last week's seminar, and as always, the questions arose as to whether specific products are "good or bad." I wish it were that simple. I really wish I could come up with a list of Good Products, Bad Products, and "Somewhere In-Between" Products. It's just that things aren't that black and white when it comes to fitness, nutrition, and fat reduction.

If I were to ask if pizza is good or bad . . . while it isn't the optimal food for leanness, it certainly has its fair share of vital nutrients, and if you love the taste, a good pizza can be reeeeaaaallllly good! Get a pizza made with whole wheat flour and fiber content is significantly increased. Trade standard pizza meats for sliced chicken breast and fat content is significantly decreased. If, however, someone seeking to lose 40 or 50 pounds develops an intimate relationship with the Domino's delivery person, daily pizza binges will deter that person from achieving the desired goal. I guess that makes it bad.

Bread, good or bad? Atkins says bad. Mainstream nutritionists say good. I say . . . it's an impossible question to answer. Whole grain bread is extremely nutritious, provides carbohydrates that can be used as energy, and can be used to turn sliced turkey breast into a mobile meal. So it's good. The carbohydrates in bread, however, do go through some processing, thus, they are pretty readily converted into triglycerides and stored as fat. Hmmm. So I guess bread's bad.

If I'm confusing you, I'll stop. Here's the reality. If you eat frequently, sugar-free low-fat balanced meals containing an adequate mix of proteins and complex carbs from natural food sources, you're going to do OK in the nutrition department. With time and study you can pick up some nutritional strategies that further allow you to zero in on specific results. That doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite foods.

A glass of wine has its place, as do chocolate kisses and Fruit Loops. No, you don't want to go on the wine, kisses, and Fruit Loops Diet if your personal mission includes optimal health and a body representative of physical excellence, but if you love those foods, to eliminate them from your life would be a crime. If you exercise with resistance and aerobically, your body learns to utilize more of the nutrients in the foods you eat, fats and carbohydrates can be dissipated as heat (energy), and proteins can be used to build new healthy cells. As metabolism speeds up, your body becomes even more efficient at burning through the less supportive foods.

With that said, there are a few things that can be sorted into categories titled Good, Bad, and Ugly.

(I must admit, I've always been a Clint Eastwood fan, so my categorizing might have a familiar ring to it).

I'll provide a few examples . . .

The Good

Those big balls . . . stability balls. They're good. Really good. They aren't magic, and they really don't "do" anything, but they are such a valuable tool for exercise directed at improving real world performance and function. The stability balls allow you to recruit balance muscles and stabilizer muscles just as you do throughout the course of a day. While health club machines have their place, they do ask you to perform unnatural movements in order to isolate muscles.

By bringing some of the standard exercises, such as the abdominal crunch, the dumbbell chest press, or the side lateral raise, to a stability ball, while the target muscles are being stimulated, they are acting in conjunction with the body as a whole. My new book, the Best You've Ever Been, incorporates stability ball movements into the Intermediate and Advanced programs. It's almost comical to see 100 people walk out of a seminar of mine carrying oversized beach balls, but for many, that simple tool has made the difference between struggling through ineffective workouts and actually beginning to improve form and function. If you think the big balls are only for beginners, give me 10 minutes to prove you wrong.

The Bad

Sometimes potentially bad things hide in packages attempting to make them look good. If you've already read my article on ephedrine, you're aware of the risks (if not . . . click here for some quick enlightenment). What you might not be aware of is that even if you scan the labels of the hottest new fat burners for ephedrine, you might miss it. With all of the bad press ephedrine products are getting, and with all the money the ephedrine sellers are making, some people in charge of product distribution had to share a brainstorm that went something like this . . .

"If we include ephedrine, people will lose weight, and if we include ephedrine people will feel all zippy and cranked up, if we include ephedrine people will develop an addicition so they'll buy the product again, and if people never know it's in there but we work within the loose supplement label laws, we'll make a fortune!"

Ephedrine shows up under many different names, some rarely recognized by even educated label perusers. Here are just a few:

Ma Huang, Heartwood, Cal Ma Huang, Ephedra, Desert Tea, Brigham Tea, Mexican Tea, Epitonin, Herba Ephedrae, Mahuuanggen , and Sea Grape. So now with this revised list can you become an ephedrine detective. Nope. The enitre list is far longer. One in four drugs in the U.S. is derived from an herb. Ephedrine is one such drug, and there are an endless list of herbs that contain ephedrine alkaloids, not to mention that each herb might be referred to by five or six different names depending on the language of the region it's grown. While savvy sports nutrition and diet buffs have learned that Ma Huang or Ephedra are ingredients that indicate ephedrine being present, many of the supplement manufacturers have now moved to include another herbal source of ephedrine, Sida Cordifolia, an herb used in India less readily recognized as a source of ephedrine alkaloids.

Staying with my original theory, things rarely fall cleanly into a category. There are medicinal uses for ephedrine and for someone who suffers with asthma, ephedrine can be a life saver. So why am I including it in a "bad" category? I'm really not. I want you to understand my point. While the compound may have some value to people, the part of the equation that is clearly and indisputably bad is the fact that supplement manufacturers using label deceit and trickery to deliver a product to consumers, some of whom might be at risk. Some of those people died. Now that's just plan BAD!

The Ugly

Drugs used randomly and for non-medicinal purposes can be ugly. I've seen the "benefits" of Anabolic Steroid use among competitive athletes who were honest enough to share their stories with me. I've also, unfortunately seen the downside ranging from potentially lethal staff infections to serious conditions of hypertension. As time moves forward, the drug use in sports gets uglier and uglier. I remember watching a bodybuilder inject ecycline into his calf. Ecycline is a drug that causes an immediate and intense muscle contraction. He was in such severe agony he literally couldn't walk. That was the most bizarre pursuit of athletic excellence I'd ever seen . . . but that was a decade ago. Today I meet bodybuilders who are injecting prostaglandins between steroid cycles . . . to the tune of 16 injections . . . a day! I've seen bodybuilders inject Synthol into their biceps. It's sort of like injecting silly putty so the muscle appears larger . . . and freakier, and in some cases, unwise use of synthol can lead to disfigurement. I've met former bodybuilders psychologically addicted to testosterone and chemically addicted to prescription pain killers.

The Path to Betterment

If you're looking for shortcuts, there aren't any. Is that bad? No, that's good! If you remember that you'll save a lot of money by remaining protected from sellers of "bad" and "ugly" offerings. There's even more good news. If you're willing to combine the right nutrition with moderate aerobic exercise and a concern for muscle, there are very few limits to the physical improvement you can achieve.

The feedback I've received on my new book, the Best You've Ever Been, is the greatest reward I could ask for. People are "getting it." The book is empowering them to understand the realities behind physique improvement. It clears up all of the confusion, making the path to betterment crystal clear. If you don't yet have a copy, you can order it through the Online Superstore or by calling Holly in my office at 1 800 552-1998.

And if You Live in South Florida . . .

There's only one more! One more seminar in South Florida this year! You don't want to miss it!

As always, I promise this one will be my best to date! The "Best" Seminar, entitled "Breakthroughs" is taking place May 16, 2002 at the 17th Street Marina Marriott in Fort Lauderdale. If you want to make sure you're on a path toward being the Best You've Ever Been, commit to being there! I'll cover not only the truth behind food labeling, and the real story behind supplements, but the inside secrets to making health and fitness simple and long lasting. This one's open to 1,000 people, but it will sell out. I'll be talking it up on my radio show, on ZETA, and during all of my appearances between now and then, so our posting of the words "Sold Out" is only a matter of time. Don't miss out. Register now!

Of Interest to Fitness Professionals:

  • The long awaited re-release of the Health & Wealth Newsletter receives rave reviews!
  • The PEAK Weekend is now an international full blown conference event! It's gonna kick ass! I mean it! 500 trainers from around the world will learn how to power up their businesses and profits . . . but they'll learn to do so by actually doing some good for people! I'll share, not only the ins and outs of profitably operating a Personal Training business, but also the fine details that make the difference between clients getting "some" result, and clients being amazed by the progress they make! Call Holly for details, 1 800 552-1998 or sign up on line!

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