It is. We just don't know to what degree exactly. With more tests, we can increasingly find out. One test means nothing.
In the fourth grade, I once received a C on my report card in spelling. Fortunately, that error was so large that I knew with total confidence that the teacher had made a mistake. I was a linguaphile since I was a tiny child. By fourth grade, it was difficult for me to imagine incorrect spellings for any words. As far back in that year as I could remember, I had received only perfect scores on each spelling test. Perfect. Not just good. Flawless. So, i approached the teacher. She showed me her gridded notebook, where she fastidiously recorded everything with great precision, pointed to my C, assured me that no mistake occurred, and closed the book. I asked her to open it up again. She did. We looked more closely and found that the rows and columns were so tiny that at the very end of the ledger she had accidentally switched my tabulation with a student whose last name landed them right above or beneath me in the notebook. The human eye, after all, can jump around when figures are right next to each other. The teacher apologized, corrected the mistake, and life went on.
I wonder if the mistake hadn’t been so obvious and egregious if I or she would’ve ever known. What if I had a bunch of different test scores, some Bs, some Cs, and so on? If I hadn’t been so confident in my perfect scores, if I hadn’t been insistent, if she hadn’t been willing to question herself, what would have happened? And she was quite organized and rigorous. And this was such a straightforward process. I wonder if/how she handled the other student thereafter.
Any test for which your blood is pulled is variant. That is, the same person will have different values the same day. The same laboratory, when conducting two tests, will have different values with the exact same sample. That’s to say nothing of insufficient draws, contamination of samples, expiry, or patient mix-ups. All of these happen all the time, by the way. It may shock some readers, but at least half of all blood draws give us questionable results: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5851398/. The result is stacked against “normative” outcomes, a statistical term, which itself begs various questions about objective value and analysis.
This is a continuously-examined phenomenon in the world of scientific research. Reproducibility, reliability, and specificity are genuine terms to dig into the effectiveness of any process we use to evaluate the tests which we use to evaluate people. Re-read that. We have to evaluate the TESTS. And a lot of standard physical tests fail the evaluative benchmarks. Take iron for example. Iron and the carrier protein ferritin are THE most accurate blood tests in existence. Ferritin boasts a 99% accuracy and whopping 80% specificity rating: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28043306/. The most accurate-specific test on earth is 99-80 when no mistakes were made.
So we have to ask, what are we doing with lab tests? Are we evaluating the test’s accuracy and gathering many tests as a way to glean insights into health? Or are we taking lab tests as a sort of immutable divine revelation? One lab value every 6-18 months is not really how data collection works. You need more data to determine trends. The fact of the matter is that there is currently a reproducibility crisis in science, where the MAJORITY of published outcomes cannot be replicated by anyone: https://www.nature.com/.../1-500-scientists-lift-the-lid.... Some tests are incredibly reproducible (ie - tests for lead concentrations in blood are over 90% reproducible) while others never were (ie - cell size IgG tests).
Before you pat yourself on the back or dread the meaning of a “bad” value, remind yourself that this is just data. One single DATUM is meaningless. Two are next-to meaningless. Three? Perhaps we’re learning something. 1,000? We might establish a provisional finding. And that is in HARD sciences. Some people hold up one-off psychological insights like Gospel; but the reproducibility in a SOFT “science” like most of psychology is so low as to question the whole field. As neuroscientists take over that field, a lot of our fatalistic beliefs about psychology are being annihilated. I mean, we’re reversing genetically-“determined” Alzheimer’s for Pete’s sake: https://tsailaboratory.mit.edu/news/. You think your cute little therapist quote is final?
I’ve done a cholesterol panel three times in the same day with three substantially different results. And of course this is what should be. The body is in different states at different times.
Most endocrinologists don’t even know that TSH is a useless lab without being paired with several others. Published MDs hire me and learn that WHEN you draw a testosterone lab in the day dictates the outcome. Nothing against them, but how many times have they evaluated a test? We asked our pediatric allergist how many times she’s sent the same sample from the same person as two different samples to check the reliability of her lab. She hadn’t even thought of it. Lol. I have evaluated accuracy and specificity of many tests, many times, sending separate same samples to the same lab and/or multiple labs.
No single test means ANYTHING. Clients show me a CBC/CMP and think that means anything. No one result tells us anything with finality. Hell, the “normal” range for sodium is 138-142. You’re “normal”. So what? Let me help you out here: by the time any of these are in woeful territory, you’re in the hospital hooked up to tubes. Mid-stage kidney failure patients will often have sodium just below this level. End-stage (yes, I mean actively dying) kidney failure patients have sodium above this level: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9146973/. You can lose 70% of your kidney function and land smack dab in the middle of “normal” on a CBC/CMP. If you want to understand health and fitness as a category over which you can control anything, you’re going to have to do more than a couple tests. You’re going to have to read a little. You’re going to have to ask questions. You’re going to have to gather data.
I once had a very intelligent peer chirp at me for sharing one of my observational findings from over 45,000 hours of professional experience. Her contention? Her therapist disagreed. Ok. And? What makes your therapist’s singular opinion supersede my 45,000 hours of observational data? Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. Where’s the data? Moreover, what makes your inexperienced therapist’s opinion supersede the many other opposing therapist opinions out there, the APA or the NAS? My dad was a clinical psychologist for over 40 years and disagreed with everything this girl’s newbie was saying. So what?
Just do data gathering. None of these findings are final. Your test isn’t final. Your clinician’s insight isn’t final. My observation isn’t final. Lab tests aren’t final. Each is A DATUM. We need DATA.
People seem to really struggle with saying, “so what?” Recently, a person with a congenital heart defect reached out to me. I can’t fit him in my schedule; but I could present him data. Sadly, on the other side of the equation, he received “bad” tests. Ok. So what?
No action plan. The message he got? Fear. Fear. Fear.
Ok. What are your clinicians telling you they’ll DO about the findings? The response he heard: Fear. Fear. Fear.
Ok. What other tests can be done? And what will we DO with that information?
Fear. Fear. Fear.
... pill... fear... nothing.
Ok. Not my kind of science. But common.
Gather data. Don’t place one DATUM on a pedestal as the Grand Vicar. And put lab tests in their proper context.
1 year ago today. Single leg dead w/ 325lbs x 5 (video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNSDFvsH4-D/). Nowhere to go and no distractions, every week was a nonstop outperformance of the prior. Also hitting lifelong PRs on lifts and Weightloss, my remote clients were running up wins like James Bond at the casino. It was a glorious feel-good time with momentum propelling our business into expansion, adding three more, promoting colleagues in their own startups, and taking our cross-country family RV trip. One of the best years of my life, possibly THE best. I got to school my kids 2 days/week (still going, lol). I spent about 167 dollars on gas for the year.
I realize that for many the circumstances were crushing. I’ve been there. 2008, the credit markets imploded as we launched a business. 2016, my co-venturers backed out while expenses ramped up. When we went through crippling uncertainty, though, there was no stimulus, no unemployment, no help... not even compassion from people whose careers I launched. There was no tax break, no delay in IRS filing, no PPP loans, no economic disaster relief, no grants. Not even a “sorry, man - losing your dream and not knowing if you’ll be able to take care of your family sucks.” Nothing. At. All.
I know what challenge is.
Most curious is how zero commutes and more free time than ever led to dramatic worsening of health in Americans. No judgments. I’m simply pointing out, AGAIN, that the calories-in/calories-out myth was annihilated. Most Americans gained an average of 29lbs, with 10% gaining over 50lbs during the vastest free time period in all of global history.
Zero commutes, more free time, and insecurity (tightening of food purchase) led to a dramatic weight gain. Ok. Where are all the calorie priests? Use only calories to explain this. Only calories to explain how MORE TIME and LESS FOOD equals weight gain.
It’s not about calories. It’s about stress and mindset. For the person confronting uncertainty, calories explain NOTHING. Stress and mindset explain everything. Hell, there was nothing to do but study and exercise. How did people not get smarter and fitter than all of prior human history?
Let us put away the mythologies. Let us let go of the calorie fairytales. Let us acknowledge the centerpiece of stress and mindset. In so doing, may everyone enjoy a year of unrelenting victories.
Remember that time I was shredded while obese on the BMI? Or those many other times when I was relatively lean while morbidly obese on the BMI?
Societal fixation on scale pisses me off. Americans lose an average of one pound of lean tissue per year after 25 years old or so. This IS physical capability. If, at 50 years old, you weigh about what you did at 25, you’re f***ed. You’re 50lbs fatter and less than half the athlete you were. Simple tasks like tying your shoes or going up a flight of stairs have become noticeably more difficult; and losing weight won't do a damn thing to improve that. It's not age, genius. It's that you threw away all of your muscle, tendons, ligaments, bone density, and connective tissue. Unless, of course, you’ve been training with weight lifting for the past 25 years. Then you’re ok. And you’re probably at a level of physical conditioning which could beat the crap out of your 25-year-old self.
The average American needs to gain about 40lbs to have a fighting chance at weight loss. You can't get LEANer by NOT building LEAN tissue, especially when you've already lost 20-60lbs of LEAN tissue. Studies on weight loss are very clear that more than half of the tissue people lose when they're losing weight is lean tissue. You can't get LEANer by getting less LEAN. You can't get leaner by losing weight alone.
Forget scale, please. Weight loss is associated with shortened lifespan; and repeated weight loss and gain and loss and gain destroys people's health, making them incredibly weak and incredibly fat, even if they're light: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/75/5/840/4689397. How much do you deadlift? How fast can you sprint? If you want to fixate on a meaningful body composition indicator, what’s your waist measurement? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, an adult male has no business having a waist over 31.5 inches; and an adult female has no business having a waist over 27.5 inches. I don’t know about all that; but I do know that I’ve had a 27 inch waist at 225lbs. I have peers who clock in sub-32 inch waistlines while over 250.
How and where you carry what type of weight matters. And the scale cannot give us that measurement. If you aren't diligently working to maintain or build lean tissue, you are getting fatter. There are a lot of people who are heavy but super lean. There are even more who are skinny-looking but super flabby. If you have no lean tissue while flabby, it is a difficult road; but the answer isn't weight loss. The answer is strength gain. Once you have some lean tissue and physical capability rebuilt, you can risk losing some while you burn the fat. You can't risk what you don't have to lose what will only grow as you get weaker.
A few years ago, I decided to educate myself on what popular fitness influencers were saying. I don’t follow these people, because every time I’ve seen any recommendations of theirs, they completely deviate from known science. Also, since I actually work in the fitness industry, I've spent my time... working. It didn't leave a lot of time to observe inexperienced influencers talk about their opinions. At the time I did this review, I looked for reposts or posts from people with 200k to 5 million followers. It was a sort of meta-analysis of the “literature” in my industry, if you will.
I’m not entirely sure how to explain the phenomenon. It’s as if top influencers just never worked full time in a large health and fitness facility. They tend to have no mentors and no evidence of observing many case studies. Largely, they’re young, inexperienced, with almost no background in coaching the hundreds to thousands of people which even a newer coach would have if he or she worked at a larger organization. As such, their recommendations for weight loss for the average person are friggin bonkers. The one guy was talking 400g of carbs per day for weight loss for someone around 200lbs.
I just... *shaking my head* ... I don’t even know where to start. Maybe he’s never worked with a sedentary person. Maybe he’s never worked with broken metabolisms. Maybe he’s never worked with clients who aren’t on piles of stimulants and anabolic drugs. Maybe he has very few experiences with older populations. But this DOES NOT WORK even for someone like me with significantly higher-than-average lean tissue and activity. I know. I’ve tried it. Many, many, many times.
It’s not as if all popular influencers are bad guys and gals. Though their websites look like a clickbait trap with “Buy It Now” links every other line, I don’t actually believe that they’re all clueless underhanded fakes or snake oil salesmen. In fact, the one guy making this outrageous recommendation above clearly does know a few things about exercise science. He seems like an otherwise genuine strength coach, focusing on intelligent practices for lifting technique. For LIFTING. For nutrition... go elsewhere, please.
I’ve been thinking about and studying nutrition science for over 30 years. Professionally, this is a large part of my life of the past 17. And I have come to a point of ZERO ideology. I’m simply a pragmatist. Whatever works works. An average person whose activity is low MAY succeed somehow magically listening to these kooks. I’m open to that possibility. But the likelihood is very low. Possible, sure. Probable, no.
Beware the ideologues. I mean, I get it. Young and inexperienced people find an approach and it becomes their TRUTH. In 1989 I picked up a textbook on nutrition, and that was my TRUTH. In 1994, I got a complete food counts index and food scale, and that was my TRUTH. In 1996, I ordered MuscleNow, and that was my TRUTH. The following year, I obtained a copy of Eat Right 4 Your Type, and that became my TRUTH. By the time I took Fundamentals of Health And Human Physiology in college (2003), my rigid nutrition beliefs were becoming nuanced. But think about that. That took almost 15 years to become more mature in dietary understanding. A lot of these famous influencers and online weight loss programs or applications are just now in their developmental journey where I was in the 80s.
After I started this career, one of my first specialty certifications was in sports nutrition (2005). By that point, I wrestled truth away from “expert opinion” by just running my own experiments with glucometers and metabolic measurement masks. By 2012, I had over a dozen nutritionist certifications, but still decided to watch the entire USMLE1 medical lecture series, be in the pilot group for Precision Nutrition, and complete LTF’s Weight Loss Coaching cert. Nearly 10 years later, I can say firmly that none of those are my TRUTHs. They’re each valuable perspectives. They inform.
32 years into it, and I have no truth. I have only pragmatism. Every year I hear about some “new” fad, some “new” app, some “new” diet idea; and it always turns out to be something I ran experiments on 10-25 years ago. Why am I no longer doing it? Because each approach is incomplete. No one has THE truth in nutrition. There are many effective approaches. There is no single superior tactic which forever and always beats all others.
Beware the ideologues. Beware the popular influencers. Beware the weight loss apps and online services. They grabbed onto a weight loss “truth” or fitness “truth” because they’re inexperienced and don’t know any better. In time, they too may grow. Give them time. But don’t give them your attention.
Left, 7 months into eating very high saturated dietary fat, primarily grassfed beef. My “protective” cholesterol was in the 90s. My “non-protective” cholesterol was 70. Right, 3 months into eating mostly plants/lower fat foods, the last month exclusively plants, and the 11 days before that test I only ate organic vegetables and fruits. The cleanest vegan diet possible, as there were no grains and only organic fresh produce. Zero dietary fat at the end. My “protective” cholesterol plummeted (halved). My “non-protective” cholesterol skyrocketed (doubled).
I cannot tolerate plant-based eating. I’ve wished that I could many times over the past thirty years (https://www.elev8wellness.com/.../for-some-of-us-veganism... ). In the past fifteen, I have been closely monitoring blood markers. And every experiment is essentially the same. I keep wishing/hoping that I could be partly vegetarian; but every time I try it, my health deteriorates. With nuts and seeds, avocados and coconut, no matter how I modify, I just don’t respond well. I will meet an early grave if I cease eating animal-based nutrition. For me, I thrive on animal proteins and animal fats. My biological makeup simply does not jive otherwise. I don’t want this to be true.
I want these results not to be true. And I am philosophically committed to the possibility that plant-based eating might improve health for some people. If the choice is between processed garbage pretending to be food or a commitment to plant-based eating, then please, by all means, go plant-based. Of course fresh plants beat processed quasi-food that allegedly contains animal products.
If you can choose intelligent high qualify fresh food of any sort, do that, especially if animal products are part of the array. I have no data at all to support the idea that intelligent vegan eating beats intelligent paleo or carnivore dieting. I don’t WANT this to be the case. But biology, chemistry, and physics don’t care what any of us WANT to be true. Of the top 20 food allergies, 16 are plants. And I’m not excited about the animal-based four (ie - dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish) in moderate-to-high dose, if we are looking to reduce inflammation.
My own experiments cannot confirm any benefit of plant-based eating. The ethical argument, which I used to like, seems to be fading as we discover that harvesting kills far more animals and habitat.
Believe what you like. I believe what I DON’T like, because I DO empirical science.
And that was 50 years ago. The CDC statistics on obesity from just the past 15 years are jarring (a 1/3 increase); and the stats on severe obesity are worse (doubling).
The 30 day detoxes and infomercial fitness ain’t cutting it. The Crossfit organization, Fitbit trackers, Instagram influencers, and everything else which cropped up into popularity in the past 15 years has done absolutely nothing to positively impact American health and wellness. Their rise correlates very tightly with an ACCELERATION in the obesity epidemic. The increase in unhealthiness is increasing.
Concisely, we have to change the way we live. We have to become less soft. JFK knew it. You know it. I know it. It’s not about pop fads. It’s not about getting your steps in. It’s about toughening up, hardening up, and living with more self-discipline.
When confronting any decision on activity or nutrition, the pertinent question is this: what does the soft person do? And what does the disciplined grown-up do? It’s a very simple guide. No need to overcomplicate it. No need to overthink it.
In the 1990s the University of Tennessee conducted research on 57 subjects, finding that persistent cardio-focused training keeps systolic blood pressure above 200 mmHg in the untrained populace while over 220 in the trained populace: https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/9/11/1099/124285. Their findings, including 30 citations, were published in the Journal of Hypertension. In the almost 30 years since, exercise scientists have corroborated these findings many times over.
Contrast that solid University of Tennessee research against this opinion piece by the American College of Cardiology: https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2020/08/07/08/07/exercise-in-aortopathy. The ACC opinion piece, which presents no study results itself, and includes a paltry 11 footnotes, is somewhere between shoddily-crafted and purposely misleading. It's not clear whether the authors have any experience with exercise-related blood pressure testing at all; it's very clear that they have no reading of the literature; and it's even more clear that they ignored basic academic rigor in their use of citations. Curiously, the authors of the opinion piece omitted the thousands of pertinent blood pressure studies conducted by exercise physiologists for decades. Yet, the authors decided to begin the section on recommendations for non-competitive athletes with “there is little data to guide safe levels of exercise”. Then, IN THE SAME SECTION they included an alleged peak systolic pressure from advanced athletes (paragraph 3, footnote 10). More curiously, when you follow that footnote to the paper it references, you find the paper does not even use the peak systolic figure cited in the ACC piece. That alone makes the American College of Cardiology suspect for complicity in academic fraud. At the least, they abused and misrepresented the cited paper. Moreover, that same cited paper actually recommended weight lifting (the exact opposite of the implication of the opinion piece). The nice thing about the cited paper is it at least included an attempt at quantifying intensity, specifically outlining a bench press of up to no more than 50% of the person’s bodyweight: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20924328/.
Only two authors are listed for penning the opinion piece. No disclosure information whatsoever appears for either author on the ACC website, except that both men are fellows for the organization. Outside of the site, search results appears to show the first has a background in mechanical engineering with no obvious pedigree working with exercise-related blood pressure testing himself. The second has been involved with collegiate and professional sports teams, and should know better. Both ignored the KNOWN fact that endurance athletes have a defined aortic diameter increase: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32101252/. Strength athletes do not. How did this opinion piece pass review for publishing on the ACC site?
There is "little data"? Do me a favor. Go on PubMed and punch in search string "exercise blood pressure." It returns 40,106 results. FORTY-THOUSAND. There is "little data" to form exercise recommendations regarding blood pressure? No. There is little rigor in authors for the American College of Cardiology. There is a ton of data to form opinions about blood pressures in exercise. In a review of THIRTY STUDIES on the blood pressure effect of resistance training, WE KNOW FOR A FACT THAT A SINGLE BOUT OF LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE FOR TWENTY-FOUR HOURS: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27512052/. A SINGLE BOUT. One strength training workout reduces blood pressure for twenty-four hours. No amount of cardio training can boast this. And by the time cardio training could show these types of beneficial adaptations, aortic diameter is increased, raising rupture risk for certain populations.
Anyone who reads scientific literature on physiology knows these things. The absence of the FORTY-THOUSAND papers from the ACC opinion piece is concerning. Even inside the conventional medical world, there are strongly worded summaries stating that “concerns about the risks of exercise, particularly that of moderate intensity, appear un-founded” (bottom right paragraph of page 1: https://www.archives-pmr.org/.../S0003-9993(12)00551-5/pdf). The reader may not readily understand this. But for those of us who have actually conducted blood pressure experiments and studied the applicable research, we know that a lot of this discussion is contrived. How the individual encounters tension in the body will dictate pressure and therefore danger. To be clear, if you cram down on yourself to open a pickle jar, you might spike above 300 mmHg. If you properly breathe through 500lb squats for 12-15 reps, you won’t achieve any mean arterial pressure increase. If you get into the enthusiast world of endurance training, you may be keeping your blood pressure above 200 mmHg for 4-20 hours per week. This is risky. Even if you get into elite competitive strength athletics, you won’t encounter elevations in blood pressure for more than an aggregate of a few minutes per week. This is not risky.
So what the heck exactly is going on?
Well, it appears a lot of armchair philosophers have waded into the arena of official recommendations without their own data, without test results, without a familiarity with the literature, and without even properly citing supporting materials. It wouldn't even matter, except that they are speaking for the entirety of American cardiology. And, as usual, with simpletons, they present very little specificity with regard to load, intensity, breathing, and sustained effort. A fraudulent, errant, uniformed, and wholly inadequate opinion piece is standing where a well-crafted academic work could be summarizing known science. That's incredibly problematic.
It strikes me as one part odd and three parts insane, because I have been taking blood pressure readings with myself and clients for almost 20 years and KNOW the opposite of the two authors' implied message to be true. I can assure you that an advanced athlete DURING a maximal lift will raise systolic pressures very high (this is a good thing) for a moment. Yes. That is true. But as the review of 30 studies on resistance training and blood pressure shows us, inherently weight lifting only confers improved blood vessel health in-between and after training. Meanwhile, cardio training raises blood pressure and keeps it there. Even a damaged circulatory system is built to withstand momentary spikes without risk. Even a perfect circulatory system is not built to endure sustained pressure increases without risk. This isn't that hard of a concept to understand, frankly.
Thus, I decided to renew my testing experience this past week. I have medical grade arm cuffs which I've used in comparable experiments before. This go round, I obtained a pricey wrist cuff which I could more readily use in different stances and activities. I first took 40 readings in different positions and activity to ensure the baseline is accurate to other medical grade readings and that we will have reliable comparisons. In the past few days, I’ve continued to do countless more tests to confirm or deny initial results. Putting aside my career intake of some 2,000 tests, just this past week I’ve taken at least another 100 readings. Videos of some of the tests are here (https://www.instagram.com/p/CMmRvNIHWX6/) with more to come.
- seated baselines, ave 126/83
- standing baselines, ave 138/87
- deep squat with 160lbs, no change
- deep squat with 250lbs, no change
- deep squat with 340lbs, pressure down
- partial squat with 430lbs, pressure down
- stand with 700lbs, no change
- incline fast walk, errored out cuff (210+?)
- incline med walk, error (210+?)
- flat slow walk, error (210+?)
- elliptical all, error (210+?)
- recumbent intense, error (210+?)
- recumbent med, pressure up (175-180)
- recumbent slow, pressure up (174-177)
There is an effort in the cardiology medical community against performing actual scientific inquiry, utilizing appropriate tests, honest citation, and trustworthy interpretation of the known findings. The exercise science and exercise physiology communities appear to be more in-line with the known biology and physiology, understanding the breadth of intensity-vs-pressure relationships, and honestly communicating that knowledge to an audience.
Moderate-to-high intensity cardio will raise pressures persistently. Low intensity cardio is suspect. Endurance exercise is unavoidably risky at all intensities, even in healthy individuals. Chronic moderate-to-high intensity has defined correlations with negative morphological remodeling such as aortic diameter increases and ventricular hypertrophy.
High intensity lifting with high-pressure breath work will raise pressures momentarily. Risk is unclear. Moderate intensity lifting with continuous breath work will lower or maintain pressures. Risk is low-to-none, even in compromised populations. Low intensity lifting has no risk with regard to known and testable blood pressure metrics. There are no correlations or even proposed plausible causal relationships between strengthening and negative cardiac adaptation.
You have to seize change. It means being quick. I took this screenshot a year ago yesterday. Mid March 2020, I had already converted to 70-90% virtual appointments. While the big box gyms and others resisted the coming tidal wave, we grew. While they lost billions of dollars debating the emerging infection, I had already adapted, expanded, added equipment and then more coaches. I watched fitness influencers begin to piece together at-home programs and virtual seminars by April, May and June. It was already old news to me then. Heck, it was old news before the pandemic, as I'd already been doing at least a third of appointments virtually for close to eight years. It was such old news to me and we were so secure in our business that we had to take a family vacation for most of June because I was getting burned out from taking on so much new business, so much expansion, so much upside.
It’s not always easy to be one-hundred lightyears ahead of a trend. It absolutely isn’t. But I have one piece of advice: reevaluate how good you actually are at adaptability. People talk a big game about being fearless in the face of change; but then they look exactly the same no matter what tide shift comes their way. I don't talk about being fearless in the face of change. I don't talk. I just change.
I coach a lot more MDs and health experts than other strength coaches and nutritionists. So I never really had the grand luxury to delude myself about the pandemic. Clients have been giving me the inside scoop of treating actual Covid patients and their own epidemiological numbers for thirteen months. I had a big advantage in that sense.
But there is a lot more to it than that. I don’t hold onto the past, with anything. I see a lot of people make a concrete decision to suffer. You heard me. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is a choice.
Being adaptable means being so quick with change that it looks to others like luck or prescience or magic. Not just with the pandemic, with everything, people throw away the opportunity of today because they can’t let go of a past which maybe never even was. If you’re gripping the past, the lost, and the imaginary with all your might, you don’t have a free hand to reach for the now, the available, and the real. Don’t just relent to change. Don’t just embrace it. Open your hands. Seize it.
In 1973, the University Department of Medicine at Dundee, Scotland, published findings on a patient who completed a 382 day fast: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/.../pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf
You didn’t misread. THREE-HUNDRED EIGHTY-TWO days. Blood markers improved. Unsurprisingly, the man went from 456lbs to 180lbs. Shockingly, he was doing a pretty good job keeping off the weight at year 5 thereafter, only scooting up to 196lbs.
Gluttony is the sin Americans just don’t touch. Guaranteed, if you’ve ever heard sermons condemning any behavior, it wasn’t gluttony. If you've heard any activist get up on a pedestal and rail on about the failings of mankind, I know it wasn't about gluttony. We will happily entertain any other subject, except mismanaged eating. You’ll find plenty of books trying to square the hoarding of wealth with Christian theology. You’ll find endless posts on gun rights versus gun control. You’ll encounter a nonstop barrage of proper pronoun etiquette shares. But gluttony? ... uhhhhh... no thanks.
The leading causes of death and skyrocketing medical costs are all tied into gluttony. But we won’t touch the subject. It kills more people than every other hot topic combined. The thing is, it’s not only unpopular to discuss. It’s anathema. Even bringing it up is essentially a call to action for the thought police to shut down the idea before more than a couple people entertain it. And that’s just with SELF-imposed restriction as the talking point.
What if you had to pass a rigorous background check before you could obtain more than 300 calories of food per day for yourself? What if you needed to complete a licensing program before allowed in restaurants or grocery stores? What if online food sales were banned? What if the state levied a 10,000 dollar fine for every pound gained per year? Our intentional early deaths and outrageous medical costs don’t stop at our wallets or in our yards. Shouldn’t the government intervene in the most widespread cause of death in America?
If we dare to mention government fines or external impositions to control gluttony, forget about it. People will burn your house down before you see the first pitchfork in the distance. They won’t suffer the discussion on SELF-imposed management. Forget about external imposition.
I just find it very interesting. In any other subject, people are just peachy with affirming the opposite of their alleged belief in some other discussion. Even the most hardcore capitalists are ok with a 100% communist/socialized military in the US. No choice or capitalist price controls. No free market. No private intervention. No problem. Even the staunchest liberals are ok with discussing imposed vaccine measures. No personal freedom. No personal choice. No identity. No inner space allowed. No problem.
And the list goes on. Except with gluttony. Even though gluttony is tied to lack of sustainability, climate impact, toxic consumerism, and leading health risks, nope. Just won’t touch it. Hell, we joke about it. The church bake sale is just fine. The hoarding of Girl Scout cookies is A-ok. The binges and endless food porn are worthy of regular social media posts. Not only aren’t they vilified, demonized, regulated, they are held up as a sort of fun braggadocio, carefree silliness, light-hearted humor.
During no prior time in history was gluttony as widespread or damaging. Sin. Total disrespect for the temple, for ones neighbor, for the Earth, for creation. The cost of our early deaths and skyrocketing medical care don’t stop in our wallets or in our yards. Yet, for some reason, it’s easier to point out the splinter in everyone else’s eye than remove the plank from our own.
We at least need to talk about it.
When we train long duration efforts, we REDUCE athletic performance (relative to that individual’s potential). Low speed efforts train a person to become less powerful, lower balance, and, as the reader might expect, lower speed. This is why jogging and walking can be suspect for individuals who want to dramatically improve health and fitness. Low resistance with slow reps can be not just a waste of time but an ally in reducing your fitness.
Zoom in on the table to see how even resistance training aimed at size gain/muscular failure is inferior at athletic performance results.
There are three types of skeletal muscle fibers: I, IIA, and IIX. They’re also known as Slow Oxidative, Fast Oxidative, and Fast Glycolytic, respectively. Each serves a different portion of the energy spectrum. You can also see why, when referencing this terminology, people who want to improve health prospects regarding prediabetes ought to spend some time working on type IIX (as the name implies, glucose is disposed). To be clear, once skilled enough to be safe, people should be training speed and training maximal weights WITHOUT going to failure. Training for advancement in one area reduces the relative outcome in the other two. This is a biological law, not something which can be subverted by force of will or hoping it isn’t true.
And it’s imperative that the fitness professionals and laypeople keep this in mind. Most popular programming and pop fitness recommendations aren’t just untrue. They’re counterproductive for most of the populace most of the time. Professional athletes and fanatics who train 15-40+ hours per week are often succeeding IN SPITE of inefficient programs. The average person can’t afford the time to use nonsense recommendations from gifted genetic freaks or uneducated fanatics.
For the absolute beginner, yes, just begin with movement, any movement. After that stage, endeavor for some muscle gain in order to combat lean tissue loss. But for athletic improvements (ie - agility, balance, speed, acceleration, power), low speed exercise, including to muscular failure, doesn’t yield as good of results as high speed ands strength.
Everyone runs out of time in a given week, which is where periodization enters. That is, to glean benefits for all energy systems, one can emphasize one modality of training for a period of weeks or months before moving to another. Just remember: each one causes a relative reduction in the others.