Saturday, May 29, 2010

Doping And You

"I don't think it is possible for a weight man to compete internationally without using anabolic steroids," says Dr. H. Kay Dooley, director of the Wood Memorial Clinic in Pomona, Calif., one of the few physicians who openly endorse use of anabolic steroids. "All the weight men on the Olympic team had to take steroids. Otherwise they would not have been in the running."

That excerpt is from article from Sports Illustrated on doping in sports. I mentioned last week that I got sick of covering this topic because of the way it’s handled in the media. This article is fresh and candid. Of course I’m interested in doping. Any person’s whose job is human performance can’t ignore anything, medical or not, that improves it because the latest research always trickles down. Whatever sports scientists are doing to help athletes win gold medals will in some form become a component of the next version of P90X.

In both training and nutrition we distill what’s happening at the pinnacle of the sport; tossing aside anything dangerous and embracing that which works. Of course we never advocate doping but drugs generally stimulate natural reactions which can be improved through diet and supplementation. The latter is not as effective but trends still follow medical research. We look through natural pathways for similar reactions. Famous sports surgeon Dr. Robert Kerlan explains the problems with this difference in the article.

"I'm not a therapeutic nihilist," says Kerlan "Situations arise where there are valid medical reasons for prescribing drugs for athletes. There are special occupational health problems in some sports. However, the excessive and secretive use of drugs is likely to become a major athletic scandal, one that will shake public confidence in many sports just as the gambling scandal tarnished the reputation of basketball. The essence of sports is matching the natural ability of men. When you start using drugs, money or anything else surreptitiously to gain an unnatural advantage, you have corrupted the purpose of sports as well as the individuals involved in the practice."

Doping is a well known problem but the press, for the most part, has done a horrible job explaining it. I guess our love of black and white has led the media to create heroes and villains and pit them against each other. The article paints a slightly different picture of drug use in sports.

The whole matter has been succinctly summarized by Hal Connolly, a veteran of four U.S. Olympic teams.

"My experience," says Connolly, "tells me that an athlete will use any aid to improve his performance short of killing himself."

In the press Americans that are yet to be busted often take a holier than thou approach. After getting beaten by some Chinese swimmers one American woman proudly proclaimed she was “the fasted clean swimmer in the world.” The press loved it. However, Americans appear to be leading the race, not following.

"American athletes have the most expensive urine in the world," says Ray Baldwin, trainer at Xavier University.

After all, Americans are, by far, the most doped society in the world as the article points out.

Setting aside ethical considerations for the moment, there are obvious reasons why athletes should use so many drugs. The most obvious is that there are more drugs available these days for everyone than ever before. Furthermore, we have all been sold on the efficacy of drugs. We believe that the overflowing pharmacopoeia is one of the unquestioned triumphs of the age. We have been sold on drugs empirically because we have tried them and enjoy the results. We have been sold by countless magazine and newspaper stories about wonder drugs—many of which later turned out to be less than wondrous—by massive pro-drug propaganda campaigns mounted by pharmaceutical manufacturers, by TV actors dressed in doctors' coats and by real doctors, many of whom are very quick with the prescription pad. Generally, we have accepted rather uncritically the central message of this persuasive pitch—drugs are good for you. These days it is a cultural reflex to reach for a vial, an atomizer, a capsule or a needle if you suffer from fever, chills, aches, pains, nausea, nasal congestion, irritability, the doldrums, sluggishness, body odor, obesity, emaciation, too many kids, not enough kids, nagging backache or tired blood.

The press doesn’t seem to acknowledge this at all, treating dopers as if they some form of modern freak show. Old school athletes are lionized. When plucked from the woodwork of retirement they feign surprise. Instead of copping to the fact that drugs may have been around in their day, they offer their opinions in an air of denial similar to Louie, the corrupt police chief in Casablanca’s reaction when coerced to change his stance on gambling in Bogie’s bar, “I’m shocked, SHOCKED, to see gambling going on in this establishment!”

Yet drugs have been a part of sport for as long as they’ve been a part of society:

By bringing together athletes from all over the world and dumping them into the most formidable sporting pressure cooker yet devised, the quadrennial Olympic Games have traditionally (it took four physicians to revive the marathon winner of the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, an American, Tom Hicks, who proved to be loaded on strychnine and brandy) served as an exchange for drugs and drug recipes.

When Barry Bonds came clean his entire era of sluggers’ records were dismissed by the traditionalists for cheating. The press wants records to revert back to an era where sports where clean. You know, like Hank Aaron’s numbers from the 70s. Greg LeMond, the time Tour de France winner in the 80s, has been once of the most vocal opponents of modern cycling’s drug addiction yet he hardly mentions drugs during his career, even though the most famous drug-related cycling death happened to Tom Simpson in 1967.

But the most fascinating aspect of this article is that it was published in 1969. No matter how the press wants to handle it, we can’t escape the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ken Ferguson of Utah State University, who went on to play professional football in Canada, has said that 90% of college linemen have used steroids. "I'd say anybody who has graduated from college to professional football in the last four years has used them," said Ferguson in 1968.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

When Not To Diet

Over the past month or so Romney and I have been fighting a bug we picked up in Europe. While we’ve been able to perform through it—meaning we’ve been able to work and exercise—it hasn’t allowed us to train and diet with our usual vigor. I’ve written a lot about not training when you’re sick and other times when it’s best to back off of your training, but I don’t think I’ve written much on when you shouldn’t diet. Fighting illness is one of those times.

It probably seems obvious that your need nutrients when you’re sick. Illness is both the opposite and the same thing that exercise is to your body. It’s physical breakdown. So in the same way that your nutrient needs change while you’re training they change while you’re sick.

There is one big difference. Training is—-or should be—-planned and self induced. Illness obviously is not. This means that you can attempt to match your diet to your training. For example, you can both lose weight and gain targeted muscle mass if you eat well and target your nutrient intake properly. When you’re sick, however, you can’t guess exactly what is wrong and, therefore, you can’t be as precise with your diet. Attempting to reduce caloric intake when you’re sick could deprive your body of nutrients needed to fight your illness and end up prolonging it. So during times of illness I always err on the side of eating more.

Of course this is dependant on your daily lifestyle. If you’re over indulgent in general than you may end up eating less when you’re sick. You’re body doesn’t need a six pack, bag of chips, or pint of ice cream when it’s sick. It needs nutrients. If those are part of your daily regimen you can eat healthy foods all day long and still probably be reducing your caloric intake. But if, say, you’re doing Insanity and it’s lean diet plan you’ll, for sure, want to start eating more until you feel better.

Professional athletes during the height of their seasons, especially those in weight dependant sports, are always on the verge of getting sick. This is because they fine tune their bodies to the upmost; watching every calorie and training full bore. When you’re training hard and eating clean, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, you’re body is similar to one of an athlete. The more finely tuned a machine is the easier it is for something to go wrong. When you throw illness into the fray it’s time to stop redlining, throttle back your RPMs, and cruise for a while.

It’s always tough to shed germs picked up on a different continent. Adding a lot of air traveling into the mix makes it harder to shake. We’ve both been on the move since we got home and finally, a month later, we’re ready get our training and diet back on the rivet; eschewing extra calories and burning off the stored body fat we no longer need for protection with some hard training.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ridin' Dirty

This blog used to cover doping in sports until I grew bored of discussing how the media handles it. Last week’s Floyd Landis announcement is too juicy so, for one day at least, TSD is back in the fray. For those of you who haven’t heard—wait, if you’re HERE you must have passed through a net portal so never mind. Anyway, Landis came clean and then some: pointing fingers at obvious targets, like LA and the US Postal Service team; less obvious, like Dave Zabriske and Michael Berry; to down right obsequient, tossing out conspiracy theories like a lycra-clad version of Deep Throat, stating the Texan paid off the UCI in order to cover up a positive drug test.

While Landis solidified his status as a loony—sort of the Jose Canseco of cycling—he really didn’t have a lot of reputation to tarnish at this point, meaning that he must have been trying to clear his own mind’s burden of deceit. He does, after all, come from Mennonite roots. He even alluded to this by stating, “My credibility is shot. I don’t expect anyone to believe me,” meaning that it’s probably not the money making ploy many suggest. And while the press has jumped on the loony angle it would do us well to remember that most of Canseco’s “mad ramblings” are turning out to be true.

Whether it's fact or fiction I don’t care. I don’t need to see LA get busted. I don’t need to see cycling spend anymore time getting dragged through the muck. I love the sport and think it's on the mend. It’s gotten slower, and given that: a) race routes have gotten easier; b) equipment has improved; c) training has improved it must be cleaner, though not necessarily clean. I do, however, find it fascinating for another reason; the logistics of it all.

I'm therefore presenting a way for Floyd to make some coin (you know,apart from rapping). What I’m really interested in is what Landis did, exactly, and how much it affected him. I think he should collaborate on a book, perhaps with Tyler Hamilton, David Millar, Joe Papp, and anyone else who lost big paydays due to doping, that details everything. I'll put my pre-order in right now.

If Landis wants to serve the public, as he claims is his agenda, it would greatly help to understand how the process works in detail. When people see how much hard work goes into doping it will dissuade a lot more doping than it promotes. Chronicling the sacrifices, the costs, and all its upsides and downsides will burst the magic bubble PEDs float around in. Landis won the Tour not because he doped but because he did an almost insane amount of hard work. Sure, the juice helped and is absolutely cheating, but it was just one of many components that must be maximized in order to win.

I’m not defending doping. I’d love to see it completely gone. But it’s always been around and the more open we are about it the better chance we have of fighting it. In my day athletes were doping all around me. I was curious but never quite in the club. I studied them and knew the downsides—-I witnessed many downsides, in fact. For me, I never felt my talent justified the risks. Doping doesn’t make athletes; it’s just another aid. If you’re not near the top naturally you’ll never get their through any amount of cheating. I never felt I was at that level. I knew many less talented athletes then me that doped and not one ever made the big time.

I’ve been called a lab rat but was never privy to much medical science. I experimented with “crazy” diets, supplement regimens, and training schedules. I never went chemical. The worst side effects I’ve experienced were headaches, sleepless nights, and soft tissue injuries. And while I’ve had some decent athletics accomplishments I know, for certain, that all the scientists at Amgen couldn’t have handed me the maillot jaune. I think that Landis could demystify doping, help the public understand the highest level of sport, humanize it, and, ultimately, learn to appreciate it more. It would also help us more easily target those who are cheating.

To leave you on a positive note, Tour Of California winner Mick Rogers dedicated his win to his Italian coach, anti-doping crusader Professor Aldo Sassi. Sassi is also the coach of both Cadel Evans and Ivan Basso, who led the Giro to the top of the most feared climb in all of cycling: Mount Zoncolon. Says Sassi,

"Cycling has improved a lot. Things have really cleaned up. If either Ivan or Cadel win the Giro, we'll have the proof that you can win without doping. I totally trust them and I'm certain they wouldn't do anything to hurt me…."

He then quantified Basso’s climb with this data, which shows how the more information we have on doping can help to curb it:

Basso climbed the 10.1km to the summit of Monte Zoncolan in a time of 40:45, one minute and 45 seconds slower than Gilberto Simoni in 2007. His average speed was 14.7km and he put out an average of 395 watts on the climb. The VAM (Velocità Ascensionale Media) or average climbing speed adjusted for the gradient, was calculated at 1777m/hour. Basso's power to weight ratio was 5.68km/h. In the past Sassi has said that any value over 6.2w/kg for a long effort on a major climb at the end of a stage race could be an indication of doping.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zig Zag Dieting and Listening To Your Body

This is a reference post, which I’m creating because I couldn’t find this info for what I was planning on writing today. Given that we dish this advice all the time I thought we must have an FAQ about it on the Message Boards. Alas, we don’t. So instead of writing the information down over and over I’m creating a post to reference each time anyone at Beachbody refers to zig zag dieting. You hear the phase “listen to your body” all the time. Zig zag dieting actually teaches your body how to have a conversation with you.

Not to be confused with yo-yo dieting, zig zag is a technique that should be used any time you want to increase or decrease your daily caloric intake and can be used to find out what your caloric intake should be. Instead of moving straight to a new daily caloric number you move in smaller increments on a staggered schedule. Here’s an example of how it works:

Say, for example, you’re eating 1500 calories a day and have been for a period of time where you’ve lost weight. Now your weight loss has stagnated. This is one of our most common scenarios because the new, fitter you has a different body composition than the former you. You have more muscle and a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR). In order to continue your weight loss you need to eat more because 1500 calories isn’t enough—even though it once was—and now your body is reacting by slowing its metabolism and releasing cortisol in a protective response (often called starvation mode because this is how your body would respond to being starved).

At times this could be a lot more because huge caloric reductions can work in the initial stages of a program for deconditioned people. Let’s say that the individual in question runs a caloric calculation and figures they need 2,500 calories per day.

Weight times 10, plus 10-30% for daily activity depending on how active you are, plus the estimated caloric burn of your exercise, or just go here.

You don’t want to jump straight to 2500 calories. First, it would create some shock to your system and, second, it may be wrong as those calculators only give ballpark figures. The most effective thing to do is to zig zag your caloric intake. In this instance I would recommend eating 2000 calories per day for 3-4 days per week and 1500 calories the other days. Then you note how your body responds, which I would expect to be positively on the higher caloric days and by feeling famished on the low-cal days.

You want to be energized but not hungry, so after a week or two of this I would bump up to around 2200 cals for 4 or 5 days and 1500 cals on 2 days for, maybe one week. If I’m still starving on the low days try bumping them up to 2000 and see how you respond. Use this tactic until you regulate, which means that you’re energized but not hungry and also not full. You can tell when you’re eating too many calories because you’ll begin to feel full, you won’t digest your food between meals, and you’ll feel more lethargic at the beginning of workouts.

Zig zag dieting works whether you need to reduce or increase your caloric intake, and whether you need a subtle change or dramatic change. There is no numbers formula except to increase/decrease in small increments between 200 and 500 calories a day and to zig zag your caloric intake two to four times per week. Then you just listen and let your body tell you how much you should eat.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Salt: How Much Or How Little?

The US government recently lowered its recommendation for sodium consumption, which has led to a lot of questions on our Beachbody diets. Salt, which is made up of sodium and chloride, is one of the least well understood nutrients we consume. It’s absolutely essential for life, so much so that wars have been fought over it. Yet over consumption of this prized mineral is one of the greatest health risks our society faces. The problem is that most of us haven’t a clue on how much we need and the government, which hands out a blanket standard for an entire population, isn’t helping. Fortunately it’s not all that complicated. So let’s take a look at how much salt we need daily, and how to avoid getting too much.

The above is a sneak peek of an article I’m writing on salt consumption. Today’s blog is primarily to reference a great article by Dr. Bill Misner, who unknowingly has been one of my mentors. Misner, now retired, is an outstanding age group athlete and formerly the nutrition expert at Hammer Nutrition. Many of his theories were once at odds with the nutritional musings of the national “experts”. Over time most of those experts were proven wrong. Misner’s once maverick ideas on nutrition, especially for endurance athletes, is now the standard most adhere to.


As you’ll see Dr. Bill, as we call him, likes to throw numbers and science around. In the article I’ll interpret and deconstruct his commentary, along with a few others, but for this blog I’m going to over simplify.

Essentially, this problem with salt is this:

We don’t need very much of it at all to function daily if we’re sedentary, maybe 500mg a day at most. In fact, a recent study concluded that 70% of Americans were sedentary so even though we’ve chopped around a thousand milligrams off of the RDA we’re still high at 1,500mg/day.

Exercise, however, is a massive variable. The more we exercise the more salt we need. In fact, we can burn off 2,000mg of it in one hour of intense exercise in hot weather. So simple math shows us that the RDA should be between 500mg/day and perhaps 10,000 or more mg/day for someone doing an Ironman in July. Of course you only need that 10,000mg on the event day. Each day’s consumption should reflect activity to some degree.

As a society we eat far too much salt. In fact, the average sedentary person eats over 2,000mg/day and the average endurance athlete over 6,000mg/day to account for how much they sweat. Restaurants and convenience foods are the culprit as they are loaded with salt. Now here’s the rub:

“Limiting sodium is recommended since research supports that chronic consumption of more than 2300 milligrams per day may contribute to Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Hypertension, Muscle Stiffness, Edema, Irritability, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), Liver disorders, Ulcers, and Cataracts.”

But athletes need to worry about hyponatremia, a life-threatening situation where sodium levels are diluted due to sweating and excessive water consumption. However, randomly consuming more sodium along with more water does not seem to be the best course of action. Instead, athletes who lessened both water and sodium intake to 24-28 ounces of water and 300-600mg of sodium/chloride, along with other electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium) per hour while training and racing, along with lowering their overall daily sodium consumption, performed best. The bottom line was that athletes who lowered their overall salt intake and only increased it based on the needs of their daily training performed best.

The article doesn’t go into this but lowering your salt intake is easy if you eat natural foods, which contain almost no sodium. This is why wars were fought over salt before there was a processed food industry; we were always looking for more. But 500mg is only about a quarter teaspoon. If you’re someone who eats out a lot, or buys packaged foods, you should pay attention to the sodium content on the label. It is then vital that salt is added to your diet to account for exercise. 300-600mg/hr should be added in normal condition, and more in hot weather.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rockaineering On Dogma: Mount Wilson

Here's a slideshow and photo essay of our little adventure this weekend. It looks best if you click the slideshow option on the upper left, then hit F11 to make it full screen, then slow the timing down so you can read the captions. Enjoy.

Beta: below are some details on the route. Do not read if you're one of those who don't like Chris Mac's guidebooks and think mountain route descriptions should be kept vague.

The route description in the photos from Mike Lewis, who did the FA with Brian McCray, is hyperbole to the degree that stacking Rainbow Wall on top of Levitation accurately describes the length of the route but not the difficultly. Dogma is easier than RW and harder than Levitation but not as sustained, percentage-wise, as either. It is a much bigger day than both. My comment that it makes RW seem like a sport climb is accurate as that route is very straightforward in comparison.

The route has a lot of bolts but isn’t a sport climb. You can fall a long way and if you can’t climb solid 5.11 you might want to bring a hook or two. If you can the rack is simple: 14 or so QD’s, 4 or 5 cams from a #1 Camalot down, and 4 or 5 small nuts. We probably placed less than 10 pieces total. The hard climbing is bolted but not in a way where you can cheat through the hard moves. You must be able to hang on. A 70m rope allows you to descend, so the route isn’t very committing. If bailing is an option bring some tat to back up the belays, especially on the lower half.

The approach and route description in the new RR guide is excellent (as is that entire guide). We parked at Oak Creek and walked in on the road/trail system. The trail up is marked with a cairn between Mt Wilson and the Wilson pimple. Follow cairns all the way (don’t get sucked up earlier gullies) to the “red band”.

Down and left of the red band you climb into White Rot Gully. There is a cairn leading up into it but also to a very sketchy traverse left. The left traverse ends at a fixed rope that leads into Willy’s Colouir. While shorter this option is dangerous on crumbly rock with a death fall. I don’t recommend it.

Instead of traversing left, we climbed up into White Rot Gully. A lot of 4th and easy 5th class scrambling lead under a huge chockstone. Climb above it to a point where you’re under Resolution Arete, then look for a cairn heading down the next gully. Scramble down this. There is a section, on the left, where you need to make a somewhat scary jump (easy but don’t fall), or you can rap further right from a sling. At the bottom you’ll head up into Willy’s. This up and down bit probably takes 30 minutes, though we did it in about 15 once we had it dialed. Totally worth not risking your life for the extra time, in our opinion.

Willy’s is tricky. Climb through a lot of bushes and stay mainly on the left, though you climb back and forth on each side. There is an odd 5th class move here and there and a lot of vegetation to deal with. Again, when you find the right way it goes quickly. The base of the route does not have a cairn (like the book says) but is pretty obvious. You look for a chimney with a fin on the right, which you climb, that has a wide crack on its right. You pass a couple of bolts that people must use to rap Willy’s (though it’s easy to down climb) and a couple of routes on the left. Plan on 2 hours on sight but, like I said, we did it in just over an hour when we knew the way (though we are ultra runners and sorta fast).

The route description in the book is spot on. It’s almost impossible to get lost. The first belay is a couple of slings are a small tree. Un-rope the third pitch traverse and for the Sherwood Forest, but that’s it.

Climbing tips:

The chimney pitch is great. I liked my choice to go left side in but Mick seemed happy right. It’s well protected on bolts where it's hard, though the slab above is sporty.

Our friend broke a hold on the crux pitch and we both thought the resulting pull was hard for 11c (felt like easy 12) but good. After this pull don’t get suckered straight up toward the next bolt. Instead, look for some crimps out right to clip from. Then hang on for a sporty runout overhanging traverse where you can’t clip the next bolt until you’re above it. This section is the crux. Blow the last move and it’s 30’minimum, though safe. Good stuff.

The next pitch is tricky, also with fall potential, but you’re on your feet more as it’s vertical.

The next pitch is brilliant but does have a bolt placement out left where it’s easier, and obvious, to climb right and do a hard clip way left. This happens a fair bit on the route. The climbing isn’t always right over the bolts (like sport climbing). Either holds have broken or the FA team bolted it looking for harder sequences that didn’t happen (they were “disappointed” the route wasn’t harder).

The 5th pitch off the Forest has a crack, which is bolted on its right. My fingers didn’t fit in the crack and I climbed the face right of the bolts. Not sure if this is correct but it worked. The slab above is thoughtful.

The rock deteriorates after the final ledge. The 11 pitch is tricky and fun but the rock is bad. The 5.8 above is easy enough but you need to be careful. There’s enough gear not to die but no one wants to take a cheese grating 80 footer at this point. I was tapping on nearly every hold. These last two pitches can be combined with a 70m rope. Your 14 draws are more than ample.

We climbed the route in 8 hours with a break (to “kick back”) and without rushing, though our friends took 12. It’s a route that seems more fun if you’re not in a hurry. It could be done a lot faster but speed climbing would be rolling the dice a bit with the rock.

We opted to try the “fast but hard to find” Oak Creek descent. Here’s some key beta.

Walk past the limestone/sandstone break (where you would drop into First Creek) almost all the way back to mountainside. There is a trail but it’s faint and hard to see. Drop down nearly the last ridge line (after some rocks on the crest). The second to last ridgeline is best but the last works (we did). Looking down you should see some ponderosa pines between the ridge lines (in fact you can site these from the top before you descend, but then you lose them until this point). Head down the ridge, finally dropping into the pines and finally to the creek bed. At some point down the ridge you’ll see a rock with another rock sitting on top that “looks like a VW bus”. Follow the creek bed down and around this to its right, then back left into the LEFT drainage. From here on it’s a little canyoneering adventure down to Oak Creek. In this drainage you’ll begin to see cairns and all the raps are fixed (you don’t need a harness, they are short batman sections).

We did this in 3.5 hours totally lost. Not totally but unsure where we were going with some wrong turns. Get it dialed and 2.5 seems reasonable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Nutrition 911: The Emergency Course On What To Eat

Here’s a Straight Dope for your reference files. I wrote this series of articles a few years back and have been tinkering with it since. Next year I’d like to turn it into a book, so any and all thoughts and ideas you have are appreciated.

The gist of this series came about as we were helping people on the Message Boards and realized that worrying about glycemic index or ketosis was a waste of time if you didn’t know the difference between proteins and fats. As it turns out, most people over think their diets and need to revert to square one. This, of course, is because most of us learn about nutrition through the media instead of school. That's why we think "no fat" is good and only vitamins we need are the "8 essential" ones in Pop Tarts. Then we get even crazier notions; like we’re fat because we didn’t realize that carrots were high in the GI scale, or because cortisol's been attacking our belly, or that our macronutrient ranges is off 5%, and not because we sit on our asses all day and eat fast food. And since schools have mostly 86’d their nutrition programs (probably to keep kids from rioting when they learned what the school was feeding them) we needed to begin our education from a much more remedial place.

The basic concept is this: it doesn’t do you any good to listen to some doctor yammer on about the differences between docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid if we don’t know the difference between salmon and flaxseed. So that's where this series starts, with the basics of nutrition that you're faced with every day. It's not nutrition for dummies; it's nutrition for the uninformed and the misinformed. No math, not a lot of science, just the facts to the best of my understanding.

This is not the complete series that will be in the book, nor the order, but I'd like to get your thoughts and critiques on layout nonetheless.

Note: it's important to understand that nutrition, like all science, changes over time by definition. As studies shed light on new hypothesis' the field changes. Science, however, generally changes very slowly. Laws change faster and informing people how to eat requires helping them sift through marketing BS. So by the time you read this some information could be out of date, but it should still be relevant to how you think about eating.

Nutrition 911: Here's the straight 411, so you can avoid a dietary 911

Part II: What to Eat

Part III: Deciphering Marketing Jargon

Part IV: What "Fat Free" and "Low Carb" Really Mean

Part V: 5 Quick Steps to Mastering Food Labels

Part VI: Sweeteners

Part VII: Sugar vs. Fat: Which Is Worse?

Part VIII: The Worst Food in the World

IX: 10 Reasons to Drink Water

X: What's in Your Water?

XI: Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine

XII: Jumbo Juices and Crappuccinos

XIII: Juice, Juicing, and Fruit – The Differences

XIV: Energy Drinks – Do They Really Give You Wings?

XV The Best & Worst Cocktails

XVI To Fast Or Not To Fast?

XVII The Best Food On The Planet

XVIII Nutrient Timing: What and When You Should Eat

XIX: Supps, Drugs, and Rock and Roll

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Breaking The Chain

“For every cyclist on the planet, that moment when you’re out of form and you’re struggling to get back up, that’s the hardest part of cycling, whether it’s November, January or June. You feel every pedal stroke.” – Mark Cavendish

My travel schedule has meant that I’m even later than normal at getting my base miles in. I’ve had a few good rides, and some time on the trainer, but anytime you plan to take your fitness to the next level on the bike you know there will be dog days ahead. And that’s where I’m at right now. I see a lot of heart pounding, gut wrenching, blurry-eyed, dying-a-thousand-deaths style rides in my immediate future. And even though they’ll be moments out on the road where I’m questioning my sanity, I relish the thought of the weeks ahead.

I did manage to get a leg up on my training with a decent adult fitness camp with the lads last weekend. I say adult in reference to our beverages, of which there were plenty. But something’s got to ease the pain of those first hours en masse and it might as well be Oly.

No chain, as in riding so strongly that it feels as though your bike lacks a chain, is the goal of every cyclist. Moments like these, always fleeting, are the main motivation for getting back into shape. To fly up a big climb effortless, to chase down anyone who attacks the pack, to explore a trail not caring about the terrain ahead because you know you’ll be able to handle anything it dishes out; these are the reasons we choose to suffer.

Conversely, my chain feels like someone’s taken a few lengths out of it. In fact, I broke one last weekend by pedaling squares where it should have been circles. But fitness will come. Little by little I’ll add links to my chain until next time, the break will be metaphoric.

wildlife and wildflowers: pics all courtesy of Reed “The Big Engine” Bartlett

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Summit 2010: I'll Keep Trying If You Keep Trying

“OH MY GOD,” was the first thing Debbie Siebers said to me at this year’s Team Beachbody Summit. The exasperated look on her face was one of disbelief—perhaps even shock—which was saying something coming from Debbie, who has trained movie stars and performed in front of huge crowds—including a Super Bowl—many times.

debbie the rock star

Debbie was the first in a line-up of Beachbody trainers to lead a workout involving all the attendees of the 2010 Beachbody Summit. Having led workouts at every meeting we’ve had you’d think she’d be ready. But, as Tony Horton says back in our first big hit, Power 90, “things are startin’ to happen” and, this year, we can officially say that the Beachbody Revolution is more than a slogan. A thousand Team Beachbody coaches packed the Century Plaza’s convention hall and greeted Debbie like a rock star. And despite the fact that “it was so crowded people could hardly move” one Beachbody coach claimed that he and a few others had burned 1,400 calories according to their heart rate monitors.

rev abs' brett hobel works the crowd while shaun t impresses with his vertical.

Siebers had shouldered her flabbergasted-ness on me because we were around back when Beachbody was barely a mom and pop operation. In those days the office consisted of the two founders, Carl and Jon, and the two Heathers (both still here). As consultants there were three trainers: Tony, Debbie, and me. There was no talk of revolution, or even Team Beachbody. Back then we were only concerned with making another good exercise program.

A passionate fitness trainer’s ultimate goal is to get as many people fit and healthy as possible. The vision and hard work of our founders has allowed us to reach an audience that I’m pretty sure none of us ever considered. It’s a bit like a dream, really, but a serendipitous one because I doubt the reality of what is going on could have even made its way into our subconscious a decade ago. But since we’ve been given this opportunity we’re going to run with it for as long as we can.

carl's closing remarks

I wasn’t slotted to give a presentation at the Summit except as part of a panel to explain the science behind Chalene Johnsons's upcoming Turbo Fire program. But after three days of answering questions virtually non-stop I think I will give one next year, if only to try and sum up the most popular inquires and save my voice, which was almost completely shot by the end. Apparently, more people want to hear my scientific mumbo jumbo than we thought.

with coaches reaf and joey, just prior me giving a late-night rehab demonstration.

And to all of you who thanked me for what I do, I want to thank you too. It’s your work and dedication that makes it possible for me to do my job more effectively and, hopefully, to continually expand my knowledge so that we, as a team, can continue to pay it forward to a world that badly needs us. No one becomes a fitness trainer or nutritionist in order to make money. It has to be a personal passion. But if we can find a way to sustain our lives by doing what we’re passionate about there isn’t much more that we can ask for.

Before I start sounding too serious I’m going to wrap this up with a line from Eddie Adams from Torrance, aka Dirk Diggler. “We can always do better. I’m going to keep trying if you guys keep trying. Let’s keep rocking and rolling, man.”



on top: with million dollar body grand prize winner, cammie lusk, and her inspiring story below.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

When Not To Have A Training Schedule

I’m sitting here in a cold-induced post-travel haze evaluating my next round of training. My athletic objectives for the year have crystallized somewhat since December, and the focus of this round is the ground work for a big challenge in the fall. I have some goals along the way, however, so I’ll need to throw a few peaks into the schedule. Since some of the peaks are power oriented it presents a unique challenge given my fall birthday challenge will require massive increases in endurance.

The first thing that I ask people about making training schedules is their goals. Without an objective it’s hard to make a plan. You’re better off just following along with someone else (doing 90x, Crossfit workout, etc). It’s only when you have goals that you need to create your own plan. My goals at this time are:

1. Tick my climbing hit list for the year
2. Get ready for a big birthday challenge in the fall
3. Prep for the world duathlon championships next year

During the long days of summer I often just throw thoughts on training aside and get outside. In general I think it’s a great plan, provided you make time to do it, because if you spend enough time playing outside fitness follows. This year has more focused goals than most. I’ve got to improve my wattage on the bike and my speed in running, since I haven’t raced seriously in a few years. I also need to make some sacrifices by playing less and training more if I ever want to send my mega climbing project. I still need long days—a lot of them—and since long days diminish your ability to train for power I’m relishing the chance to push my body beyond where it’s gone before. I foresee a lot of suffering on the horizon, but the here and now presents a challenge.

The Giro d’ Italia kicks off in a week and riding a virtual Giro would be a great way to build my cycling base. As fun and tempting as it is I’m not going to do it. I’d like to take the current climbing form I have and knock off some of my list before it gets hot. Therefore, May is going to be a peaking phase in climbing and a preparatory phase for both riding and running.

This means that climbing days will be focused on getting stuff done. Redpointing and climbing hard, not training. Biking and running will be base miles. Not all slow aerobic miles but not racing either; just a lot of quality time on the roads and trails. When I’m training like this I don’t focus on much gym stuff and, instead, stick to a maintenance workout schedule. For this I’ll use p90X +. The synergist moves of X+ don’t work as well into long training programs (because they work too many areas at once) but are great for keeping your muscles in balance, which is vital when you’re performing at 100%.

Due to my immediate goals I think it’s best to not have a set schedule. This is hard to impress upon many of you Beachbody faithful because all of our programs come with schedules. For performance, however, when you are pushing your body to its maximum on some days, it’s better if you can listen to your body and base your training on how it feels. Train hard when you’re training and rest when you need rest. No compromise.

Performance windows are short. You can’t peak all the time. My current plan is to get as much done as possible before it gets hot, and then get back to a more set training scheduling leading to another big peak in the fall. I’ll post my numbers at the end of the month so you can see how this worked.