Unmotivation

  

We all hit these points, these ruts. Lack of motivation has many causes. Some are easy to identify, like work or personal stress, being over tired mentally, emotionally, physically, or all of the above. Some reasons are less obvious. Perhaps you’ve been working out for a fairly long period of time, been consistent with your workouts, but no real progress has occurred as far as your fitness goals are concerned. Perhaps you aren’t getting the support at home from family and/or friends, who keep undermining your determination. Perhaps your just bored, or situations in your life cause you to question the point of it all.

The reasons can be as shallow or deep as anything else in life, but it tends to leave you in the same situation: you’re unmotivated. The irony is that when in this state of mind the easiest cure, at least symptomatically, is to exercise: getting all that oxygenated blood pumping furiously through your body can clear your thoughts, improve your mood, and change your perspective of whatever shit you’re dealing with, no matter how deep your shit is.

Just getting your butt in the gym can fix a lot of things, but I know as well as anyone how tough it can be. I know as well as anyone that sometimes the thought: why bother; can be overwhelming. The longest I’ve ever gone without working out at all, as an adult, was 12 months. There have also been long periods of time where my workouts were decidedly underwhelming efforts, barely holding onto my level of fitness, and even allowing my overall fitness to drop dramatically, but getting into the gym at all can make a huge difference to your outlook.

I know the struggle. If this struggle is something you are going through, or have gone through, remember this: everyone goes through it. If you know someone who hasn’t ever hit this kind of rut, they will. Everyone goes through it eventually. More than once. Remember it’s normal. Remember to try to get in the gym anyway. All things pass.

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Where it all begins…Mitochondria

  

This is going to be a heavy post. It will require paying attention. It might be confusing. If you make it to the last paragraph you’ll learn how to work out in a way that will supercharge your physical power in almost every aspect of your life. 

There is so much crap. On the web…in magazines…in books. You have no good way to to figure out the good information from the bad, the legitimate experts from that hucksters and charlatans. If you have very clear fitness goals like I want to body build or I want to run the NYC marathon it’s all actually pretty simple. You don’t need to know that much. You don’t need to understand that much. You can easily find workout programs online to build you up or get you moving mile after mile. Those sites and programs will likely even tell you how to eat, what to eat, how much to eat. And you’ll get to wherever you want to get…up to a point. You’ll be able to complete a marathon, but probably won’t get skinny, or finish it in an impressive time. You’ll be able to pack on muscle, building strength and size in your quadroceps and pecs and lats and deltoids. Up to a point. You probably won’t get ripped. Or as big and strong as you hoped.

You’ll either settle for what you get in that first year and plug away trying futilely to maintain your early improvements or you’ll gradually lose motivation and quit. Or you can keep reading. Learn what’s happening to you, deep drilling into the chemistry of life. And along the way, you may even learn how to spot bullshit when you see and hear it.
MitochondriaThink back to your high school or college biology. I know, most of us tried our best to forget this stuff as soon as the tests were over, but this is kind of important. If you want to give yourself a headache click on the word for an in depth scientific description of what it is and what it does. But I’ll keep it much simpler and specific to its role in exercise.

Mitochondria is a part of almost all human cells. It is where cellular energy is made. It is where ATP-PC (adenosine triphosphate – phosphocreatine ) is synthesized. There are many mitochondria in the cells where mitochondria are present; up to 2000 mitochondria in every heart cell! And mitochondria can replicate. The more mitochondria present in a cell, the more ATP energy that cell can create. And mitochondria replication occurs as a result of regular intense exercise, and most commonly as a result of intense aerobic exercise  or extreme high intensity anaerobic training. This is the true fuel of life and movement and human power. Everything you do is, ultimately, dependent on ATP, and almost every cell in your body is designed to synthesize this stuff for you to use. In terms of stored human energy, it is the high octane super charged turbo injected rocket fuel of the human body. When confronted with a fight of flight life threatening situation, ATP is what’s gonna get you thru whichever choice you make. It is the first source of energy your body will tap into for any physical activity, and part of a grand conveyor belt of energy that your body utilizes to keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing, your brain thinking, and your muscles moving.

Roughly speaking, our body’s energy systems flow like this: ATP-glycogen (muscle & liver)-Body Fat. This is referred to as the ATP-PC/Glycolitic/Oxidative (or Aerobic) systems (http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/the-three-metabolic-energy-systems).  

   
The human body can tap into other sources of energy in emergencies, most notably proteins (muscle tissue) and calcium (bone mass), but this is always undesirable unless you’re at risk of starvation. This can occur in extreme endurance athletes like ultra distance runners and cyclists who log hundreds of miles a week in training. It’s also why sports nutritionists recommend marathon runners, iron men competitors, and their even more extreme ultra brethren consume the highest amounts of protein; on par with power lifters, body builders, and strength athletes; some experts claiming that  2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is needed to help protect their bodies from the muscle wasting effects of their activities. Keep in mind, that athletic activities at these extremes are not about enhancing health. These are tests of the human condition, and pushing to these limits repeatedly almost always come with long term, physically debilitating, consequences. Yes, there are examples of individuals who can perform at the extremes almost to the day they die. Do not bet you are one of those. You will likely lose and finding out if you are a member of that exclusive 1% of the top 1% physically is probably not worth it to you. If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this and would be ignoring everyone else’s advice, regardless. 

Body builders and Power Lifters like to imagine they need the most protein, but that scrawny marathon runner who runs 10-20 miles every day needs practically as much. Even the somewhat conservative nutritional dietary establishment supports large amounts of protein for this reason: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Another interesting fact about mitochondria is that they can multiply through fission. This is both good and bad, in a way. Give yourself another headache and click on this, and pay attention to the third paragraph for the bad news. In a nutshell, as mitochondria reproduce through fission, the risk of genetic mutations in new cells goes up and causing the formation of free radicals (some evidence suggests free radicals are bad, as I’m sure you’ve heard, though the science is actually quite sketchy in reality). The good news is that the more mitochondria your body possess, the more ATP-CP you have available, and the more efficiently your body replenished depleted stores of ATP-CP. More mitochondria mean you can ultimately train longer, harder, and more frequently.

So now we come to my opinions. If you’re under 60 years old and your worried about free radicals possibly causing cancer you are being stupid, thru no fault of your own. The media has sent you so many confusing and contradictory messages it’s largely impossible to discern good information from bad. For instance, you probably believe there is an epidemic of Cancer and cardiovascular (heart) disease in the USA. But you’re wrong. There are no such epidemics. If there were an epidemic of cancer (really cancers since there are thousands of completely different kinds of cancers unrelated to any other except for one basic characteristic they all share: harmful cellular multiplication), we would see young people dying by the hundreds of thousands every year of this or that cancer. If heart disease were an epidemic we’d be seeing 12-30 years old dying by the hundreds of thousands every year of heart disease. We do not see this.  What we have an epidemic of is old people! People living into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond is the epidemic, and something will, eventually, kill us all. Medical science, good nutrition, and basic hygiene, are great at extending our lifespans, but the longer we live the greater the probability that something will go wrong mechanically or on a cellular level.  That’s, unironically, life. So, do you wanna grow old like this:


Or spend your last years living in this like that:


It’s an easy choice for me. More mitochondria please!!!!

Food is not the enemy

It’s been awhile, I know. Not the best way to grow a blog or a business, but even the best of us can get into funks and I’m far from the best. The past is the past, so let’s move on.

Food is energy and life. It is not the enemy. Sugar is good. Fat is good. Even saturated fat is good. Protein is good. Even protein from red meat is good. Eating meat is good. Not eating meat is conditionally good, but much more complicated and some people simply cannot live healthily on a vegan diet. For the moment I’m not concerned with ethics. I’m not concerned with sustainability. Those issues are beyond the scope of this piece.

Food is not the enemy…You are. You want to behave like a child and eat and drink without thinking about the consequences. You want to consume all the junk foods and dessert foods you want; that your parents wouldn’t let you have before dinner; and you want to eat as much as you want because you’re an adult now and no one can tell you what to do.

Now your fat. You have high blood pressure and diabetes and can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath or needing to rest half way up. You’ve crippled yourself. It’s your fault. Not McDonald’s fault. Not Coca Cola’s fault. Not Nabisco or Entenmann’s fault. Yours. Yes the media puts out a lot of confusing messages; this or that food or calorie source is bad or good for you, and the pharmaceutical companies are always looking for a new marketing gimmick that our medical community is ill equipped to understand or combat. Your doctor is not a medical researcher. They are told what medicines to use to treat whatever conditions, and they are even told what conditions they are supposed to treat. That’s how a woman’s monthly cycle; the most natural experience a human female can have; gets turned into a treatable medical condition. It’s why we have viagra. Old man can’t get an erection? Is it possible he’s actually just to damn old? This is fundamental biology. So’s eating and drinking. Fundamental. Biology.

Eat too much and you gain weight. Lift heavy weights and eat too much and you gain muscle weight. Eat too much and sit on the couch you gain fat weight. Eat too much and run 10-15 miles/day every day and…well…you can’t really eat too much if you’re running 10-15 miles a day every day. 

As far as weight management is concerned, a calorie is a calorie. Forget the media. Forget what passes as common knowledge. A calorie is a calorie and if you eat too many of them you will gain weight. If you eat too few you will lose weight. Eat way too few and you will also lose a lot of energy which can have a negative effect on your ability to exercise effectively. Exercise less, or less effectively, and the amount of calories you can eat without gaining unwanted weight goes down. 

Sugar is not bad. Consuming sugary snacks and drinks sitting on the couch for 4 hours is terrible. Fat, any fat, is not bad. Consuming lots of fatty foods; regardless of whether they are saturated or unsaturated or whatever other terms the media and medical establishment applies to them (linoleic, oleic blah blah) while sitting on the couch for 4 hours is bad. Animal based proteins are not bad. As a matter of fact, they are superior. But just eating lots of protein while sitting on the couch for 4 hours is terrible.

Sitting on the couch for 4 hours is not bad. Watch a good movie, cuddling with a loved one, spouse, lover, dog or cat, is wonderful and de-stressing. Just don’t shovel calories into your mouth like a black hole devouring a solar system.

Use your common sense. Accept the consequences of your own decisions. Wake the fuck up and pay attention to yourself. If you catch yourself  in the middle of an unconscious eating and drinking frenzy, stop it. The more you practice stopping, the better you’ll get at stoping until you never unconsciously start. 

This actually works in all aspects of life, not just with food and exercise. No ones perfect. And anyone who knows me personally knows I suck at it in almost every way. Except with food and exercise. And if you see me, you know it works.

Good luck.

Training with Intent

INTENT. 1 a : the act or fact of intending : purpose; b : the state of mind with which an act is done

When you go to the gym and exercise/train, what is your intent? That is, what do you intend to accomplish? Do you even think about it, or do you just go to the gym and “do a bunch of stuff” and hope for the best? If so, have you thought about what you’re actually hoping for?

It’s shocking how many people in the gym never think about any of this. Working out without intent is akin to being given a destination to a town somewhere in North America that you never heard of, and told to find your way there without using a road map, gps, or any other device more complicated than asking random people for directions. Good luck finding your way. You might, but it’s not likely.

Intent can be very personal if you actually have any, but I’m going to try to break it up into a few categories; some specific and some necessarily broad and vague, in alphabetical order since importance is an individual decision:

1: Anaerobic- body building/body shaping
2: Aerobic/anaerobic-weigh loss/weight management
3: Aerobic/anaerobic-cardiovascular health
4: Aerobic-Athletic endurance performance
5: Anaerobic-Athletic performance for strength and power
6: Aerobic/Anaerobic-sports specific performance
7: Anaerobic-anti aging
8: Aerobic/Anaerobic-Health
9: Entertainment
10:Social

Once you’ve chosen the intention of your exercise, you have the opportunity to make an informed choice about what kind of exercises to engage in. Want to train for the next NYC marathon?  Do you want to just finish, or are you trying to see how fast you can finish? #’s 2,3,4,6 apply to you for sure, #’s 9 and 10 might if performance isn’t an issue. Engaging in exercises that adhere to #’s 1,5,7 could prove very counter productive to your immediate goals.

In the coming weeks I’ll touch on training methodologies to best carry out each of the above categories.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy thanksgiving everyone. Remember to enjoy yourselves in a stress free day. Eat and drink a little of everything if you have self control. Eat a lot of what you love and skip everything else if you don’t have self control, and workout Saturday and Sunday like crazy.

New, original material post coming next week.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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NYTimes: Experts Reshape Treatment Guide for Cholesterol

I’ve been arguing with my doctors for years that the cholesterol guidelines were either arbitrary or handwritten by the pharmaceutical industry to ensure as many people as possible were given prescriptions.

The relationship between cholesterol and heart disease is tenuous, and highly anecdotal, and I’ve watched the “acceptable” number continuously drop over the years, all while other criteria were constantly added to the mix of excuses to add more people to the prescription drug rolls. Now we’re told the number isn’t so important after all.

We need a truly independent FDA that funds it’s own health research and then commissions big pharma after the fact. Read on.

http://nyti.ms/17sUo88

The guidelines from the nation’s leading heart organizations will fundamentally reshape the use of cholesterol-lowering statin medicines now prescribed for a quarter of Americans over 40.

“ Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. ” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Training Gimmicks and Training that Works

Training Gimmicks and Training that Works

Exercise should be fun is a common sentiment I hear all the time from clients, prospective clients, health club members, and trainers trying to build their client base, but should it be fun?

That depends on what you consider fun, I suppose. Some people love grueling hard work and find enormous physical efforts bordering on the impossible to be fun. Most people don’t.

The argument is often made that any activity that gets a person doing more than they normally would have, must also be beneficial; hence *exercise classes like Zumba and SoulCycle*

[Wendy Learns to SoulCycle – YouTube](

“Wendy Learns to SoulCycle – YouTube”)

that are only marginally more intense than a fast paced walk are promoted as fun alternatives to the harder workouts associated with traditional weight lifting, Spinning, running, etc.

On the other end of the exercise spectrum you have the *extreme intensity activities like CrossFit [What is CrossFit? – YouTube](

“What is CrossFit? – YouTube”)

[The Problem(s) With Crossfit – Gawker](http://gawker.com/5928989/the-problems-with-crossfit “The Problem(s) With Crossfit – Gawker”)

and all its derivatives*. These encourage you to workout at extreme intensities with no real specific goal in mind beyond getting better at doing those specific workouts, unpredictable body shaping results (maybe you’ll bulk up or maybe get skinny), no transferable improvements for sports or other athletic activities, and an extremely high risk of injuries.

Michael Boyle is one of the most highly respected strength and Conditioning coaches in the world of NCAA collegiate athletics and professional sports, with dozens of published books to his credit. This is what he has to say about CrossFit.

Members and inexperienced trainers often fail to understand that the chronically out of shape civilian has no concept of what exercise intensity means. They actually believe that coming to the gym 2 hours a week is a lot of work. They believe pushing 50 lb. on a leg press is tremendous, even though they might weigh 180 lbs themselves. It’s not their fault. They have no reference points at all. Also, they’re really not that interested in whatever goals they might tell you and themselves, they have. Anyone who really cared about fitness and athletics would likely have been engaging in fitness and athletic activities most of their lives to begin with. And then there is belief. Most of our clients don’t really believe they can get in shape. They don’t really have goals. They have fantasies that deep down they believe are impossible to achieve, and so undermine their own efforts every chance they get by consuming junk food or too much food or exercising without consistency or jumping from fad diet to fad workout to discouragement and abandonment of any effort.

Many believe it is just strictly the luck of good genetics or bad, and there is some truth in that. But good genetics that get you by when your 20 will fail you when you’re in your 30’s unless you take action. The sooner you start the better, but it’s never too late.

Photo 1

Photo 1

First, I’d like to thank Monica for the kind praise, as it was all her hard work and willingness to follow my slightly sadistic advice to the letter.

Monica isn’t an actress or professional model. She’s a “real” woman with a real job and has a real commitment to her workouts and getting the results that she wants. She doesn’t live in the gym 4 hours a day, and she knows that when it’s time to work out you work out damn hard and real smart (or hire a real smart trainer like me) and then you go home. I won’t be specific about her age, but she wasn’t a child when we started, and 10 years later she looks better than she ever did. Period.

Forget the trends. This isn’t rocket science. I’ve been at this for 29 years and the fundamentals haven’t changed. Do what I say you need to do in order to achieve your goals (or whatever shorter term measures I deem more appropriate for each individual) and you will.

Train smart. Train hard. Don’t be a mark for every con game that comes around.

See you in the gym.

 

Hmm…

How much should YOU exercise? This article has no advice for you. It does say how little exercise is necessary for a sedentary adult over their initial 12 week period of beginning an exercise regimen.. Is that you? Do you fit that description?

The problem that this research is attempting to address is that the vast majority of our fellow Americans (upwards of 90%) engage in absolutely no regular exercise at all. Zip. Zero. Despite all the health info available, most American perceive the effort of exercise as too much, for results that are too nebulously distant, to warrant their attention.

These researchers are attempting to address this by finding the absolute minimum effort necessary to improve health. It’s sort of like trying to address world hunger by figuring out the absolute minimum amount of food a human needs to remain alive. Great idea.

My own opinion is that most people, deep down, don’t want to extend their own lives. They may be afraid of death when it’s staring them in the face, but their day to day lives are such efforts of futility that any distraction, however unhealthy, is preferable to the hard work it might take to extend these futile lives most of us are forced into. And I believe that this is how most people feel, even if its only subconsciously.

If you read the article carefully, all the way to the end, it does talk about the limitations and flaws of these studies as they’ve been done thus far. Worth a read, so long as you read carefully to the end.
http://nyti.ms/11WeJJK

NYTimes: The Rise of the Minimalist Workout

People have long been trying to figure out what the right amount of exercise is, but the focus lately is on the shortest period possible.

Beating a dead horse…

Ok, the Lance Armstrong scandal has died down somewhat, but I just want to ask this: Where is the deafening political outcry over this heinous immoral educational cheating? Where are the front page headlines attacking the 35% + of ALL COLLEGE STUDENTS who routinely cheat their way through college by taking these brain STEROIDS? Where are the congressional committees investigating students and the college/universities that facilitate this abuse? After all, how is a “clean” scholar supposed to “compete” with these “brain juiced” cheaters for lucrative scholarships that could save a student a hundred thousand or more dollars in tuition costs?

Really, how is it different?

It’s not.  It’s the same damn thing.  And the celebrity athlete should be no more vilified than these desperate students who are simply trying to do whatever it takes to compete and succeed in the world their parents created for them.

Just saying…
http://nyti.ms/11UgdY7

NYTimes: Attention-Deficit Drugs Face New Campus Rules

Misuse of attention deficit drugs has become a problem on campuses, and colleges are reconsidering how — and even if — their student health offices should try to diagnose A.D.H.D.

Atheism and the Martial Arts

The problems with magical thinking…not really related to my blog, but understanding the difference between reality science based training and magical faith based beliefs is important. The lesson is the same. If only bad training could punch you in the face.. Read the interview through the part about the two video’s. then watch the video’s in order to get the magnitude of how anyone can get seduced into delusional beliefs and become CONVINCED it is real and true.
Then repeat this mantra “magic is make believe, or insanity when you can’t turn the make believe off”.

Here’s the link to the full article:
http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/what-martial-arts-have-to-do-with-atheism/275273/

Scott