I recently came across this article in the Huffington Post. It is written by David Katz M.D. Dr. Katz has a very impressive bio and I enjoy his articles and find his views quite spot on. This particular article got me thinking. At first I found parts of it a bit arrogant. Some of the examples he gives are silly, by his own admission, to make a point. But is the overall point an accurate description? Fad diets that make a lot of promises are BS! There is no disagreement here. But what about following recommendations from professionals with degrees and formal education that may be outdated or plain wrong? What about listening to a genetically gifted trainer that gains muscle regardless of the regimen?
What constitutes an “expert” in the fitness industry? Experience? A college degree? Appearance? Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Do the most talented and gifted athletes make the best coaches? Have the most successful coaches in any sport always been the best athletes in their sport? Tom Landry? Don Shula? Phil Jackson? John Wooden? They played professionally but were hardly superstars themselves. So why should anyone listen to them if they weren’t the best athlete in their sport?
Perhaps it may be that their ”natural abilities, capabilities and genetic potential” were not enough to allow them to be better than what they were. Maybe they played at the top of their potential due to proper hard work, perseverance and by meticulously studying every aspect of their chosen sport. Is this any different from what Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade have done? No! Except that in their case they seemed to possess more natural abilities and capabilities. When natural ability and capability are matched with perseverance and proper hard work you get “super stardom” as opposed to a good player.
What about “fitness” experts? Would you listen to an out of shape individual or a highly lean and muscular one, offering fitness advice? Most answer that they would listen to the fit person, after all how can you teach something you don’t follow yourself? It makes perfect sense that if you want to look a certain way finding someone that looks like what you want to look at or that exemplifies leanness and muscularity would be the person to listen to. But what about if that person has always been naturally lean and or muscular? What if that person eats anything they want and not gain any bodyfat? Can they still be the best person for the job?
One of the advantages that comes with age is that time is a great instructional tool. By that I mean the passing years can serve up a lot of reference topics if you pay close enough attention and were blessed enough to listen. My first foray into weight training was joining a gym at 15. It was a no frills old style bodybuilding gym. At that young age my primary motivation was to get more muscular so I could get more attention from girls! What do you want, I was 15! I was fortunate enough, even at that young age, of being a relatively good observer. I remember reading about how Einstein had remarked something about the power of simple observation that was extremely powerful in both problem solving and the forming of hypothesis. So who was I to argue?
In my desire to improve my physique my first attempts were to try to emulate what the top guys were doing. As I got to get acquainted with more of the gym members I began to notice that there were many different body types and they responded very differently to training. I categorized them as follows, Very lean, low bodyfat and sinewy. These guys had trouble increasing body mass and size but were ripped to shreds! Heavier carrying more bodyfat and larger frame individuals. These types had the tendency to be strong yet they weren’t particularly muscular. Their challenge was looking muscular and losing bodyfat. Then there were what I referred to guys like me, average, relatively lean but not ripped, not particularly strong, and muscularity was what would be considered normal. In other words we would not stand out in a crowd with our physique, at least back in the late seventies and early eighties. Our challenge was gaining muscle and losing bodyfat. Then there were the “Greek gods.” These guys were very lean, ripped and had a good degree of muscularity even before they started working out.
They seemed to be impervious to the laws of Nature. They ate anything they wanted and kept their low bodyfat. Their training was almost irrelevant as they would easily gain both mass and strength, regardless of training protocol. I know, I had very close friends that fit all the above. What clearly became evident is that if I wanted results I needed to pay attention to someone that had my general physique and improved it. If I could emulate what they did I should be able to duplicate the results. What could I possibly learn from the type who was naturally gifted? Sure they might develop great knowledge but “the proof is in the pudding” and clear results from a proven plan is pretty strong “pudding!”
I found several “mentors” that had my general body type. It clearly became evident that, although their regimen differed somewhat, there were similarities in principle that stood out. Very important was the diet. In order to compete as bodybuilder you need to lower your bodyfat and retain muscularity. Losing weight, although necessary for most in order to make weight for your weight class, was not the main goal. The main outcome was losing bodyfat! Training helps and is invaluable. Attitude? Tremendous importance. Rest? Of course. What really stood out were the principles to get rid of bodyfat through the diet.
I learned invaluable proven techniques to lower my bodyfat to competition levels. As time passed I kept searching and continued to learn different ways to improve my health, lifestyle and eating habits to not only keep my weight and bodyfat controlled but my health in check. Today there are far too many “gurus” and “pseudo scientists” claiming to have all this “new” information on how to lose weight. Low carb, Paleo, Ketogenic, Vegan and on and on. Next time a “guru” or “pseudo scientist” claims to have all these answers, I suggest you note the following;
* They talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? Too often those that argue through “pseudo science” and claim to have the answers are generally out of shape. If their “science” is so infallible, why are they still out of shape or struggling with their health?
* Are they in good health? What use is there to any regimen if it is detrimental to your health? You can follow the “concentration camp” diet and lose weight, fat and muscle, but at what cost?
* Have you seen pictures of them before in order to determine if they are “naturally gifted” individuals or they achieved their current level through proven protocols? I do not want to listen to an individual that has been muscular or very lean all their life because of genetics, claim that a particular regimen is the reason for their success, and try to sway others to mimic them and obtain the same results!
* How long have they looked like this? Just about anyone can lose weight through a diet. The key is to lose fat and even more importantly to keep it off without great sacrifice, enjoying your food and lifestyle choices because otherwise it’s unsustainable!
* Does their advice require fancy supplements, expensive equipment or complicated formulas to achieve the so called “magic effect?” We need to think and not take everything at face value. Losing weight or fat and improving one’s health is not terribly complicated. Sure there are certain principles that must be adhered to but it’s not complicated in the least bit! We tend to make it complicated because we want it to be “easier!” That explains why there are so many “shams” and overly complicated systems out there. Marketers know this and exploit this desire. Sad really!
“Rome was not built in a day” and you did not gain weight and develop poor habits overnight either. Guess what? It takes time, persistence and the desire to adopt common sense lifestyle and eating principles that will get you back on track. It will not happen overnight, however changing your thoughts and patterns can occur immediately! Just as you are capable of making the wrong choice you are equally empowered to make the right one!