Multiply this by 50 weeks and 20 years. There were years where I worked all 52 weeks. And there were many weeks in there where I had 55-65 appointments PLUS another 20-50 hours of management time. But I’ve also had a few reserved years where I refuse to take more than 35 appointments in a week, and where we had multiple trips or went to Greece for 3 weeks. All the same, when you add in my studies, my daily medical and scientific journal reading, my own workouts, it is A LOT of deep deep knowledge, wisdom, and experience. I conservatively place it over 70,000 hours. It could be closer to 85.
In that time I’ve discovered really wild and unexpected troubleshooting, difficult outlier challenges, rare conditions, and many insights which just cannot exist within any lesser amount of experience. There are conditions and client challenges I did not encounter in my first 8 years which I’ve many times now encountered in the past 12. And I managed gyms with thousands of members in my first 8 years in this profession.
So it gives me some worry. It gives me some worry because there are now a lot of really influential people online with far less experience than I had in my first 10 years, far less even than I had in my first 5 years, or even 2, less perhaps than I had logged as a kid when I was obsessed with reading nutrition science and exercise science textbooks.
And these are the voices setting the tone out in the public, out in the ether, out in parlance.
It’s not all bad necessarily. It’s even sometimes flattering to see a fitness trend nowadays which I had pioneered a decade or 2 prior. Whole franchises, companies and cultural movements today are built atop metabolic experiments I ran 10, 20, 30 years ago. But it’s also disappointing to see such simpleton explanations trending, such bad science trending, such bold and wrong advice trending, such entrenched insistence that one single cult is the only way.
I don’t have the will to combat it. I am busy being a real business owner with a real business and a real storefront in the real world. So I’m not wasting effort on the optics of marketing and “looking” like a trendy online personality. But I will take the time from time to time to post and share something which I hope impacts even one person or corrects one of the many pieces of popular and terrible advice floating around. Today, it’s simply this:
1.) be honest
3.) go slow
And if I had to add a 6th, it would be to remind yourself that the distance between where you are and where you want to be is FINITE and involves ACTION which is broken down into measurable objective steps. Health and fitness or careers and business aren’t magic. They are not supernatural. Are there some tricks? Sure. Are there intense techniques? Sure. I have many. I share quite a few. But categorically NO ONE is going to shake those 5 truths.
I saw it in this week. I saw it in the past few decades. To get anywhere worth going, we need to be honest with ourselves. Chances are high that when we are unsure why we aren’t more successful or further along or closer to goals, the first area we must examine is our personal honesty. Then, we need to be tracking what we actually do and measuring how it will or won’t produce the desired outcome (honesty, too, will be paramount here). Implementing productive steps need to be slow. We can always accelerate if we have good footing. But we sometimes can’t even reclaim where we were if we go too fast, get hurt, or burn out. If an effort works, it does not magically keep working. Not to be too circular, but we have to keep working at what works for it to keep working. I suspect honesty and persistence together may do more than the other three combined.
As we grow, we earn more growth. With each step, we can tolerate more. And with each step, the distance to the goal is closed. With each step, the distant is closer. And soon, the unknown is the known, the unbelievable is reached, the seemingly-unattainable is attained.
Red Meat "Research" from Harvard Faculty Who Are Sloppy, Liars, Idiots, Ordered by The Justice Department to Return Millions in Stolen Funds… And Owned by Foreign Interests
And that’s being incredibly, generously kind. Researchers at Harvard just committed academic fraud, sifting responses of 22,000 people who overate and developed type 2 diabetes, then lied and connected red meat, not overeating, to the development of diabetes:
Their own study does not support the claim. It is a scientific and biological impossibility. When you dig further into their inclusion criteria, you find they defined lasagna and ham sandwiches as red meat. They defined a Big Mac with fries and a large coke as red meat. This is actually a really good example of how liars or idiots can abuse epidemiology to try to claim something which is scientifically known to be impossible. A disease caused by excessive and persistent elevated blood sugar toxicity CANNOT be caused by something which DOES NOT RAISE BLOOD SUGAR. Red meat has a glycemic index of ZERO. But the flour in lasagna has a GI of 70 and the whole wheat or white bread on a sandwich is a GI of 70-100. In fact, the addition of the meat to the lasagna or sandwich actually LOWERS the glycemic impact, reducing the glucose volatility and toxicity which causes type 2 diabetes.
The idiots/liars used a dataset of more than 200,000 people to find 22,000 people who overate carbohydrates and calories to give themselves diabetes. The liars stratified results to make it appear like red meat and not overeating gave those 22,000 their diabetes. They did not control for the fact that more smokers ate these “red meat” meals. They did not control for the 30 oz drinks of high fructose corn syrup included in these “red meat” meals.
When you observe the nature of the “study,” realizing that data collection amounted to little more than self-reporting questionnaires, you wonder how anyone could take it seriously. It’s an incredibly flawed study to begin. But as you dive into the data, what this actually means is that there were more than 22,000 people who ate more red meat and didn’t get diabetes. The dataset actually proves the precise opposite of the headlines. Red meat was associated with a statistically significant DECREASED risk of diabetes when controlling for other variables (as actual smart people or legitimate scientists would do). Either through malice or ineptitude, these liars/idiots DID NOT control for the overeating of all food.
The cause of type 2 diabetes is known: persistently elevated and unregulated blood sugar. Red meat has NO carbohydrates and rates ZERO on the glycemic index. It will actually reduce the glycemic impact of carbohydrates eaten concurrently.
We actually already knew for an indisputable fact that red meat decreases risk of diabetes. American consumption of red meat has plummeted EXACTLY as type 2 diabetes prevalence has skyrocketed.
American red meat consumption dropped like a rock since 1976, landing it today at an all-time historic low:
In 1976 only 2% of Americans had type 2 diabetes:
But as of 2022, at least 11.3% of American adults have type 2 diabetes:
Through the course of dropping our red meat consumption in half, we have increased our incidence of diabetes by nearly 600%.
Public health expert, Zoe Harcombe, PhD, enumerated 14 flaws with the study which should have barred it from publishing:
1) the inaccuracy of Food Frequency Questionnaires.
2) the reported intakes were ‘calibrated’, which increased risk ratios.
3) the definition of red meat included sandwiches and lasagne.
4) the serving sizes have changed since the original FFQs.
5) the intakes used to compare people have become more extreme.
6) the study claimed that women consume more red meat than men; that would be a first.
7) total red meat was claimed to have a higher risk than both processed red meat and unprocessed red meat. Total red meat is the sum of the other two. It can’t be worse than both.
8) the healthy person confounder. The red meat eater had a higher BMI and was more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise. We can’t adjust for a completely different person.
9) the reported calorie intake was absurd.
10) the characteristics table reported all food intake except the relevant ones – sugar and grains.
11) the headline claims did not adjust for the higher BMI.
12) even if there were no issues 1-11, the study could only suggest association not causation.
13) the relative risk numbers grabbed the headlines; the absolute risk differences were a fraction of one per cent.
14) the plausible mechanisms proposed applied far more sensibly to the bun, fries and fizzy drink (which were ignored) than to the burger.
Largely, Harvard researchers are sloppy. More rigorous academics at Washington University took a much closer look at years of red meat and health research to find no good connection between red meat consumption and any health concerns:
Unsurprisingly, some of the same Harvard researchers involved in this latest fraudulent academic work took umbrage with Washington University’s research. In fact, when Texas A&M affirmed the fact that red meat does not have a causal connection to health risks, faculty at Harvard began to gaslight those at A&M. Since the Harvard faculty didn’t have the intellectual honesty or capacity to present legitimate arguments against Washington or A&M’s studies, the Harvard faculty resorted to ad hominem attacks, accusing them of outside influence. This is more than an irony when Harvard leads all universities in foreign and corporate funding. In return for the personal attacks, the A&M chancellor called upon the president of Harvard to perform an ethics review on several of the Harvard faculty involved:
The reader should understand that Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health is a criminal enterprise, having been forced to pay back over 1.3 million dollars which it stole from the NIH:
Chinese faculty at Harvard have been charged with espionage:
The total amount of foreign influence at Harvard is incalculable. But what we do know is that the T.H. Chan School of Public Health once received a 350 million dollar gift from a billionaire Chinese family:
It’s long been time to reevaluate whether any of Harvard’s public health research is trustworthy. Now we need to take a look at whether we should allow them any more funding. Moreover, what's clearer than ever is that none of us have anything to worry about with red meat in and of itself. We can get into discussions about the accompanying foods and quality of the meat, or even the sustainability concerns. But we need to be done with the doom prophets and ideologues vilifying a single whole food as the culprit in diseases which are undeniably connected to excessive consumption of processed foods.
My daughter ran into the room to have us quiz her Spanish vocabulary. My son couldn’t wait to be tested on the first 41 elements he’d just memorized from the periodic table.
Knowledge loves to be challenged. Discovery yearns to improve where it hasn’t yet explored.
Authority, however… not so much.
People ask me why we do a certain movement, training, or nutritional strategy; and I love that. People ask me how; and I love that. People challenge it. I love that. People bring up, “but I’ve heard…”; and I love that. “But so and so says…”; and I love it. I invite testing. I pray for it. Because I am an expert. Please, come test the limits of my mastery; and I will readily admit where I don’t know. No hesitation. No bluff. In fact, I don’t mind learning a BETTER way to do it.
But some “experts”… not so much. And that’s why I put quotations around the title. People hide behind their names, titles, suffixes, education, franchises, organizations, or even hashtags like #trustthescience in an obvious effort to NOT be tested. They just straight up will not entertain inquiry. They recoil and shrink at the tiniest inference of scrutiny. That, by definition, is not expertise. I try to imagine a master martial artist claiming his technique cannot get any better, but also refusing to get in the ring, EVER. I cannot do it. It's silliness. But for some reason societally we will tolerate the very same tactic when employed in certain academic, scientific research, or political debates. It's actually more silly in those scenarios, as the person in question is making a claim to impose on our beliefs or behaviors. The master martial artist is merely claiming that his own technique cannot improve at all.
I can recall talking to clients whose nutritionists and doctors countered my dietary advice all the way back to 2004. I always loved it and still do. The American Diabetes Association and Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics, which are wholly owned by industry (1,2), have long proclaimed opinions which are at odds with verifiable science. Whenever people challenged me on this, I’d just tell them to buy a glucometer. Once you DO science, you get unshackled from worrying about opinions. I right now have a client who is reversing her diabetes. There are “experts” in those organizations who will say it’s impossible; and all I can see is someone with very limited experience, and even more limited vision and imagination.
Titles are great. Official licensure and proper education is necessary even. But wherever it is abused to avoid questions, we find lack of expertise. In my area of expertise, I continually find many areas of opportunity, for new learning, for improvement. And on average I have thirty-thousand to fifty-thousand MORE hours of professional experience than most of the top “authorities” in my field. I find it brazenly deceitful, therefore, when anyone in any area of health sciences and wellness declares a matter settled, rejecting the cornerstone of learning that IS inquiry.
It’s never settled for experts. Static knowledge which cannot be questioned is only for the novices, the ignorant, the phonies, and the liars.
Expertise invites testing.
The Revolving Door phenomenon, characterized by the seamless transition of personnel between regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the private companies they are tasked with overseeing, has been a subject of intense scrutiny. This practice, exemplified by specific cases of influential individuals who have moved between public and private sectors, raises critical questions about conflicts of interest, potential regulatory capture, and the integrity of public health institutions.
The roots of the revolving door phenomenon can be traced back to the early days of regulatory agencies. Initially modest and resource-limited, agencies like the FDA and CDC sought expertise from industry professionals as they expanded. Over time, this practice evolved into a routine exchange of personnel between public and private realms.
There are actually too numerous of examples to begin to cover in a short blog entry. To give the reader an idea of what this looks like, we will keep it to a short list of seven cases at the CDC and FDA, and a quick reminder of the trend we have now seen with NIH directors. Consider well the financial implications in a variety of other scandals and outright criminal efforts by large companies. Then, the reader should dwell on the influence of funding, regarding the manipulation of studies, the bribery of experts, and the advertising to the public. Finally, the reader ought to contemplate the concurrent shift in science toward stratified datasets instead of empirical biologic studies. It began with the tobacco industry’s efforts to rescue itself in the 1950s, but now this permeates all discussions on science to a degree wherein we forget that there are immense pitfalls to solely relying on human random controlled trials. That is, when we want to study the safety or danger of certain substances and techniques, we tend NOT to look at the cellular response inside humans anymore. Instead, we now tend to gather large datasets on people with specific reporting criteria which can be manipulated with great ease. As if taking a page directly out of the tobacco companies’ book on misdirection, many people will now sweep aside discussions of toxicology and mechanism, requiring “proof” in the format of epidemiology alone. And, as valuable as epidemiology can be to help reduce uncertainty on various investigations, it cannot prove safety, it cannot prove causation, it is not superior to empirical experiments, and it will never be the scientific gold standard or capable of eliminating the need for case studies, clinical experience, and the hard sciences.
Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA Commissioner (2017-2019), is a prominent figure in the revolving door narrative. Before leading the FDA, Gottlieb was a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank with corporate ties. After his tenure at the FDA, Gottlieb joined the board of directors at Pfizer.
Andrew von Eschenbach served as the FDA Commissioner from 2006 to 2009. Following his tenure, he joined BioTime, a biotechnology company, as a member of the board of directors.
Margaret Hamburg held the position of FDA Commissioner from 2009 to 2015, overseeing critical regulatory decisions. Prior to her role at the FDA, Hamburg was on the board of directors for Henry Schein, a global distributor of healthcare products.
Julie Gerberding, the former Director of the CDC from 2002 to 2009, is another notable case. After her tenure at the CDC, she assumed the role of President of Merck's vaccine division.
Tom Frieden, former CDC Director (2009-2017), provides another illustrative case. After leaving the CDC, Frieden joined the global health initiative Resolve to Save Lives. While not a private company, this move highlights the transition from public to quasi-private sector roles. His compensation in this role was reported to be at least $300,000 annually.
Brett Giroir, who served as the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and played a crucial role in COVID-19 testing efforts, joined the board of directors at Cue Health, a health technology company, shortly after leaving his position in the federal government.
Former FDA medical officer Curtis Wright, who approved Oxycontin, went to work for the very company who made the drug two years later (and it just so happened that the drug maker’s efforts to woo him before the approval are well-documented).
While not directly related to the revolving door phenomenon, it is worth noting that some members of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have substantial net worths. Dr. Francis Collins, the former director of the NIH, is estimated to have a net worth exceeding $5 million. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has an estimated net worth exceeding $11 million. These are openly disclosed valuations based on public records, which do not include ties to other assets, and certainly not any shielded or hidden wealth in international holdings, influential networks, or digital currencies.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. British medical doctor, Richard Smith, chief editor at the British Medical Journal for 25 years, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, warned us that scientific journals themselves are merely extensions of the marketing arm of pharmaceutical companies:
And we must add to that awareness the fact that at least 70% of published peer-review research cannot be replicated:
Moreover, it is the wrong and worst research which is cited most often:
Consensus scientific opinions are predominantly based on the preponderance of papers and those most-cited. Thus, we can see that in addition to the revolving door, we have the added disappointment that journals themselves are a marketing apparatus, that most of the research is not very good, and that specifically dubious research is what is often guiding the beliefs even among experts.
And then that state of affairs leads us to tribalist arguments out among the citizenry, when instead we all need to be working together collectively to put the screws to every authoritative organization and human health directive in existence.
These are not isolated affairs. Professionally, I have been combatting anti-science from authoritative health organizations for two decades. Years ago, I had to contend with provably wrong diabetes recommendations by the American Diabetes Association and The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Both recommended styles of eating which will give you diabetes. The food pyramid appears to have been crafted with the intent of giving most of the populace metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Eventually, I just resorted to cold hard experimentalist science instead of arguments. I had diabetic clients test pre and postprandial (after eating) glucoses with different food selections to see for themselves which types of eating reduced blood sugar volatility. Unsurprisingly and totally predictably, they could see for themselves that their doctors and dietitians were not even close to correct. Obviously, low carb and higher dietary fat works the best. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: don’t believe me; don’t believe your expert; DO THE EXPERIMENT YOURSELF. Empiricism annihilates theories and dogma and ideology every time. In the ten to fifteen years since, both organizations walked back their policies on 130 grams of carbs per day (or more), which used to be on their websites. But neither affirm the UK research done at Newcastle University which proves that type-II diabetes is reversible. Think about that. The ADA and AND are still in the Dark Ages. Why? Well, even the funding disclosure on the ADA’s website admits to over $53.6 million from corporate donors, which reads like a veritable Who’s Who of drug makers:
And the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics is completely captured by the food industry:
We could go on. And I have previously. I have written about the refusal of “experts” to acknowledge diabetes reversal here:
Sadly, we are only just getting started. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology were caught with their pants down in 2013, when they decided to recommend another 14 million Americans get on statins:
The whole situation is one of the most flagrant and worrying examples of corporate capture, as not one independent biologist or biochemist on earth agreed with the proclamation, and most researchers rebuked the guidelines. Somehow, Google results today will not even return searches for the AHA or ACC scandal. At the time, scathing criticism abounded. Today, the internet has been scrubbed. A diligent effort on search engines probably can no longer get the reader to find the very article attached above. That's really saying something, because even the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that statins DO NOT REDUCE RISK:
At the very least, the attempt to put millions of additional people on a profit-making drug for the next several decades should be a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. But I find most people don't even recall the scandal. The AHA made no apologies or revisions, and continues to receive over $30 million yearly from drug makers:
Another $690 million comes from “non-corporate” donors, which can and does include individuals who have ties to the very companies which benefit from AHA and ACC recommendations.
And these overt conflicts of interest at the AHA and ACC lead to objectively incorrect information about human health in their printed and online materials. I’ve tackled this before:
The collective memory of the public is short. And the willingness of news organizations to spend any meaningful time on these stories is nearly nonexistent. Rapidly, people forget the scandals, even big and public ones, like when the World Health Organization faked a swine flu pandemic in 2010 in order to line the pockets of vaccine manufacturers:
It is helpful to remember the cautionary tale of Barry Marshall's research on H. Pylori at this juncture. In 1980 he proved that the infection causes ulcers. However, antacids were a multi-billion dollar business; and, as hard as it is for us to imagine now, antibiotics were not a profit model for pharma companies. Drug makers were pushing ahead with antacid medications, despite concerns that they caused cancer:
And the larger scientific community rejected Marshall's work. In fact, in 1983 his peers did not allow him to present his findings. Meanwhile, with antacid treatments, peptic ulcer patients were being permanently damaged by not having access to the cure. Then something magical happened in 1985. Antibiotics became profitable thanks to their newfound widespread use in agriculture:
At last check, the antibiotic market commands about $45 billion per year, and still growing. This provided a more conducive landscape to allow the discussion of Marshall's work through the late 80s and into the 90s. We take it for granted today that ulcers are to be treated with antibiotics, especially after Marshall gained a Nobel Prize in 2005. But the profitability of antacids versus the ever-increasing difficulty in making a profit model for human antibiotic sales almost prevented the science from ever being known.
The severe conflicts of interest in these and other health-related organizations place us all in difficult terrain. We have reached a tipping point, wherein, as much as any of us would like to trust some of the declarations of the FDA, CDC, WHO, NIH, ADA, AND, AHA, ACC, NAS, and on and on the list goes, we simply cannot. We cannot trust these modern day priests and churches any more than any of us could trust the medieval authorities. They are too wrong too often. They are too tied to plutocratic control. And we have no major counteroffensive or safeguard other than intense, unrelenting distrust. The stakes for their mistakes and misdirection are too high. Gone is our former hope that the press would provide a bulwark against the strategically misleading efforts of major profiteers. Deep pockets influence the very stories and ideas we are even allowed to see. The US is the only country on earth that allows widespread direct-to-patient drug advertising. By 2016, pharmaceutical companies allocated $6.4 BILLION to advertise drugs:
Keep in mind that these are the known and direct marketing numbers. This does not include those “non-corporate” individual influential dollars we covered previously. This does not include the revolving door. This does not include all of the funding for that non-replicable research that comprises 70% or more of the papers in science. Really think about this. Think about the astronomical figures we are talking, just to influence purchase. Think about the implications. Think about what this must mean in terms of which candidates, and experts, and messages the media outlets are even allowed to air for us.
It leaves a pretty dystopian landscape, since there is no clear way out. Every time We the People might band together to combat corruption, we end up fighting each other instead, while handing over more power to the corruption we should fight. The political fissure in America is illustrative of how everyone ends up supporting the same bedrock problem at one point or another. Conservative groups empowered wealthy corporate messaging in 2010, hidden within the guise of free speech (#citizensunited). Liberal groups empowered wealthy corporate messaging in 2020, hidden within the guise of science (#trustthescience). And around the circle goes. Political and ideological tribes keep empowering the same exact wealthy corporate messages, all while thinking they are making an appeal to some higher values.
I am still a bit astonished at the willingness of so-called conservatives to defend corporate profiteering, and even more astonished at the willingness of so-called liberals to defend corporate profiteers. The former is not CONSERVing a free market. The latter is not LIBERAting the general public from misinformation and control. Republicans and democrats are running around going to bat for the exact same wealthy powerhouses. How is any defense of a giant multi-national corporation in line with support for a Republic or a Democracy? Pfizer is not the good guy simply by being involved in a form of capitalism. Pfizer is not the good guy simply by being involved in a form of science. Pfizer, or any of these giant organizations whose only interest is in power for itself, is not the good guy. Ever. Not today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not almost. Not by a long shot. Not that anyone should need a reminder, but the companies who own the messaging of our would-be regulatory agencies are by and large criminals. Literally. Pfizer was ordered to pay $2.4 BILLION for healthcare fraud in 2009:
Pfizer lied in marketing of drugs:
Pfizer illegally bribed overseas businesses for years:
And, of course, it is not Pfizer alone. Merck was caught in one of the largest fraud schemes in history:
Purdue and Sackler are still in negotiations over their $6 billion settlement regarding the bribery of the FDA and knowingly creating the opioid epidemic:
The big 3 were settling on a combined $26 billion for their parts in the opioid epidemic which is already responsible for half a million American deaths:
Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $2.2 billion for having bribed doctors and pharmacists:
Hopefully, you get the idea. But if you don’t, feel free to search every single drug manufacturer and “fraud,” “lies,” “bribery,” “kickback,” and related phrases. There are thousands of cases. Here’s a short list of some settlements regarding false claims, Medicare fraud, and bribery:
However, all of a sudden, when the pharmaceutical industry appeared to have found itself on the “correct” side of political debate during the pandemic, many people who would normally pride themselves on distrust of pharmaceutical industry, ironically, vehemently defended the pharmaceutical industry. More than that, defenders of the corporate profiteers vilified their own countrymen who dared to ask if we should be so trusting of pharmaceutical interests.
That’s a problem.
And it remains a problem even when we move our focus from the Pfizers of the world to the regulatory agencies or official organizations who are supposed to be disinterested groups, because, as I painstakingly detailed above, they are NOT disinterested. They are merely arms of the marketing apparatchik of the drug manufacturers and industrial giants of the world.
My hope had been that sober and moderate minds would move increasingly back to a default position of extreme skepticism against wealthy corporations once the tribal rhetoric died down. But three-and-half years after the peak pandemic worry, well into the endemic phase, I’m not so sure. In daily conversations I find that people won’t really acknowledge the fundamental problem with choosing an ideological or political side. They like their sides, even when it means allying themselves with the pharmaceutical industry or wealthy corporations. They keep to their sides, even when confronted with irrefutable contrarian evidence.
Look no further than discussions on vaccines, and you find almost no one who can manage to place himself or herself in a third camp. People immediately stake out a “pro” or “anti” position, and this tends to be informed first by what type of virtue someone wants to signal or which political camp with which someone prefers to be associated. That’s not actually how science works. There are risks AND benefits. AND different drugs or vaccines carry different ratios of risks and benefits. Nowhere does there exist a space to be “pro” or “anti” with regard to an entire category of unrelated or variant substances, especially by tribalist pressures. Some of X may be good. Some of X may be bad. Science does not have a place to be 100% pro-X all the time. Science does not have a place to 100% anti-X all the time. Each particular individual substance must be individually evaluated; and each one will have different degrees of risk or effectiveness.
The resistance against nuance, or new or different ideas is not shocking. Over the past two decades as a health and fitness professional I have seen people refuse to budge off of clearly anti-science beliefs around the “badness” of cholesterol, or salt, or saturated fat, or red meat, or youth weightlifting, or fill-in-the-blank-here. People really like their tribes. People really want to side with wealthy corporations even while in the very act of saying they do not.
The tipping point has brought us to a place where that type of simpleton sidism simply will not do. The sides and tribalism and the ardent defense of really big pocketbooks is not advancing any of the common people. A brief look at American health statistics will show that none of the popular medical advice or popular health and fitness advice has been productive. It is the opposite of effective. It is embedded in a backdrop of ideological and political division, a ruse to keep the majority of people at each other’s throats, distracting us from the rampant corruption and corporate control of messaging. That’s just the stark health outcomes. When we expand our view to look at how wealth is distributed and how real purchase power of the middle class has evaporated since the 1970s, we can see that there is a concerted effort to consolidate all power and money in a tiny oligarchy which effortlessly pits the whims of common folk against each other.
It should come as no surprise then that empirical science is generally not even discussed. The framework for nearly every human health science debate is our interpretations of epidemiological tables, NOT experiments which could be observed and replicated and tested and verified or disproven.
That’s new. That’s engineered to fit perfectly with the revolving door, conflicts of interest in funding, advertising, and monopolistic control of messaging. That’s a problem.
The tobacco industry left an indelible mark on science, even if it ultimately failed to exonerate itself in a court of public opinion. From the 1950s to the 1970s tobacco industry interests set about swaying scientific opinion merely through funding. That is, they knew that if tobacco companies set out to fund research, it would just so happen to be increasingly LESS critical of the tobacco-cancer connection:
Categorically, what occurred in this period of time was a vehement insistence on epidemiology instead of biologic studies. If you subject human cells to smoking, asbestos and tar in a laboratory, it’s pretty clear what happens. If instead you compile enormous epidemiological reports on smokers and reported responses, stratify the results, and present interpolation, there is a lot of wiggle room to say whatever you or your benefactors want to say. If you generate desired conditions for a randomized controlled trial, you can actually prove the opposite of scientific fact WHILE claiming you abided by the gold standard. Scientific fraud and selective data presentation is significantly easier in RCTs than in finite experiments. Try to recall the Nature article above on how 70% of peer-reviewed published research cannot be replicated. Try to guess if that 70% is empirical biologic research or if it is epidemiology.
That trend continues to this day.
In toxicology and biologic studies, we find that any suspension of aluminum or mercury is unsafe to inject into the body. No matter what type of chemical bond they are in, they cross the blood brain barrier and damage neural cells:
The toxicology has no sides. This is irrefutable. It is replicable. Any research facility can conduct the experiment and falsify it. No one has.
Likewise, cholesterol cannot generate heart disease. There is no biologic evidence that it ever could. Nothing in biochemistry allows for it. Any research facility could show how cholesterol molecules are generative in cardiovascular disease. None do.
There are no sides here.
That is the hard science.
That is the only science.
Until someone comes along with soft science, to present stratified results from meticulously-crafted random controlled trials. They decide on the reporting method. They gather the data. They choose how to contrast groups. They generate the inclusion and exclusion criteria. And then they present an interpretation to create the impression there is a debate or another side. Precisely like when the tobacco companies wanted to invent the appearance of uncertainty or debate, many people today hold up epidemiological results as the superior determinant in scientific causation. In fact, you may get labelled a pejorative simply by asking about mechanism or known biology. In fact, you may find yourself joining in the labelling and tarring and feathering of anyone who asks about empirical science or biologic studies.
If we can even take the slightest step back, we can see we have willingly entered total insanity. Imagine awaiting and debating the epidemiology on asbestos and its risks today. If we had not come to a consensus about asbestos and its harm in the 1940s, that would be the case. We would have a whole group of researchers presenting dissenting opinions on the way the RCT data should be interpreted. In fact, it might be considered ignorance to discuss how the microscopic fire-resistant prismatic needles of asbestos destroy human tissue. We might find ourselves ignoring biologic and empirical science about asbestos, only to hold up whatever the industry-funded epidemiology says alone.
We have to create a new paradigm. Sadly, in health-related science, we must adopt a painful degree of disapproval, a painful degree of suspicion and distrust. The conflicts of interest run too deep to hand over our trust. If we are to err in a direction, it must be one that opposes powerful organizations. And the more painful behavior within that adoption could be working together with otherwise political or ideological adversaries. It is going to require some serious ego death and eating a lot of humble pie. Even that may be unlikely to solve our crisis, because we need to go the distance and be adamant that epidemiological datasets are not science in the strictest sense. They are tools, but ones subservient to toxicology, biologic studies, empirical experiments, clinical experience, case studies, and reproducible or verifiable facts.
There are many medical and scientific thinkers who have already sounded the alarm on the limitations of RCTs. We need to begin listening to them. We need to take up the language of Ellis' and Adams' 1997 paper in the International Journal of Clinical Practice: "The Cult of The Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial." It is not a coincidence that the rise of the cult of the double-blind placebo-controlled trial runs parallel to the worsening of health outcomes. As RCTs have become a religious banner of scientific truth, health outcomes have worsened. As influential people ignore empirical biological facts and known scientific mechanism in favor of epidemiology, the public is getting exactly the wrong messages. We can no longer allow RCTs to command our unquestioning devotion. We can consider them as a very small part of the puzzle - a puzzle whose majority is comprised of biologic studies, toxicology, case studies, empirical experiments, clinical experience. But we MUST NOT keep getting fooled into forgetting the hard science while mesmerized by cherry-picked, fraudulent, or manipulated numbers.
We have hit the tipping point with conflicts of interest in human health-related science. We have to be keenly aware of the dangers, between the revolving door, the corporate funding, the interested funding, the advertising juggernaut, and the attempt to replace hard sciences with soft sciences. And we must work together to push back toward a genuine age of science and reason, a genuine democratic effort, a genuine free market. In so doing, may we reclaim common sense itself, our health, our brotherhood of mankind, and our free society.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
In health and fitness journeys, as in all of life, there will be tough times. In fact, one might look at the health and fitness journey with great parallel to any other challenge. Your life is informed by your health. And is not your health and fitness some measure of your life? In the past ten years of my career more so than the first decade of it, I have come to appreciate the long game for all clients and even for all people. I now see that those who stayed plugged in for 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 years all accomplished physical feats that NO ninety-day or six-month transformation has EVER done. I have seen my now-70s clients capable of things their 50s or 30s selves had no prayer of doing.
And it’s gotten me to think about this concept at the highest level. Only those who persist through the greatest difficulty will receive the greatest joy. Compare the grandmaster to the novice chess player. Compare the marathon winner to the first-time runner. Compare the prima ballerina to the tripping introductory dance student. Compare the mathematician to the kid struggling with his first equations. Compare the concert pianist to the leaner whose hands ache at first forms. And on we could go. Joy is borne from challenge, repeated, relentless, and lengthy. As such, why not take joy in the very moments of pain which will lead to our development?
We hit the hard times and look to get through them. It could be as simple as a stalled scale. And I’ve seen many people shoot themselves in the foot long-term because of impatience in something so trivial. Those hard times could be graver: genuine hardship. I perused my photos recently to find not only the one included in this article, but many like it. Monthly, and sometimes more, we found ourselves in clinics and the ER the first few years of our son's life, not just wondering if, but readying ourselves to be grieving parents. There were days so dark that we'd do best to forget them altogether, weeks so long that our minds were lost to them with only a photo here and there to recall any of it. What I do remember is always a sliver of joy that my boy was still with me, even if I might lose him in the very next moment. Somehow, we got through. Somehow, I latched on to a faint whisper of joy in that darkness.
Not everybody does.
What if, more fundamentally, we ought to look to take pure joy in those hard times? After all, even the frailest newborn might make it through easy times and good times. But it takes a bona fide badass to make it through testing. What else is maturity but the visceral realization of duty over difficulty, responsibility over desire, and the patience to endure?
Is there a greater label than perseverance? One who builds this skill is built for all of life, beginning to end and all the parts in between. But a person without perseverance is only built for a tiny part of life, the soft moments which anyone could weather. That person is a perpetual child, and not in the good ways, not in the beautiful ways, not in the wondrous ways.
There will be hard seasons, not just moments: to lose a child or a loved one; to lose yourself or your life; to lose your home or your job; to lose dignity; to lose innocence; to lose health; to lose trust; to lose wealth; to lose dreams; to lose hope; to lose.
The losses will come. That is a guarantee. For all, loss is truth: one day soon to come; soon thereafter; and after yet again. Therefore, perseverance sits above truth, and joy higher still.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face many trials.
Enjoy the hard times.
1.) no time under tension
2.) no true progressive overload
3.) strong belief in diet myths
Time Under Tension
Watch the tempo of someone who has built piles of muscle and you’ll notice that he’s long learned to embrace the discomfort of effort. Forget about the weight on the bar for a moment and watch how much time his muscles are withstanding the load. Now, watch a toothpick-limbed waif and you see this herky-jerky nonsense. Always. To this day, every guy I’ve ever met who “can’t seem to put on size” I GUARANTEE does not control weight while it moves WITH gravity. The eccentric tempo is 0 seconds. Deadlift drops to the floor. Bench press plummets to the chest. Squat catapults into the ground. There is no embrace of the effort. There is an explosive jerk, albeit weak, followed by nothing. The weight burps up from its place of resting and promptly hurtles itself back into the earth.
To overcome this is going to take A LOT of ego check. Most guys who think they’re 300lb dead lifters should actually be using 110lbs. Guys who think they’re 225lb bench pressers are 65-85lb benchers. The good news is that in 3-6 months you’ll be using your prior weight, except with control and some actual muscle on your frame.
Skinny guy squats the 45lb bar. In a year he squats 200lbs. NO PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. Why? Because when he squatted 45lbs, he used his entire range of motion, controlled the weight, and managed it under muscular tension for almost 60 seconds. Now, with 200lbs, he does a 1/8th to 1/16th squat for about 8 seconds looking like an epileptic chicken.
Progressive overload means MORE when comparing apples to apples. You can’t just put more weight on a bar. You can’t just fudge the accomplishment. OBVIOUSLY. Look at your limbs. They haven’t changed because you flee from effort. You run away from discomfort. You REDUCE tension and stress. And that is why you don’t progress.
Check ego. Reference time under tension. Reduce the weight on the bar. And continue progressing the SAME movement in the SAME way. No more short-changing the range of motion and the duration of effort.
This is most critical with regard to lower body training, because this is where the heaviest loads will be managed, therefore promoting growth hormone signaling, which we will cover shortly.
Every guy or gal who’s come to me complaining about an inability to build muscle is eating about 1/10th of what it took me to gain muscle and then whining about how much they’re eating.
It’s actually stupid simple. If you aren’t growing, you aren’t eating enough. It doesn’t matter what you think is enough AT ALL. All that matters is what it takes. If you can’t grow at 4,500 calories per day, go to 6,000. If you aren’t packing on size at 6, go to 8. Elite endurance athletes LOSE weight eating 10,000 calories per day because their energy expenditure is so high: https://sportsmedicine-open.springeropen.com/.../s40798... . It really doesn’t matter at all what you think is enough. All that matters is what it takes.
The inadequate eating is often paired with superstitions about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates exert almost zero impact on beneficial hormones (with the exception of the insulin increase during or after intense workouts, which still pales in comparison to the effect of being in a hypERcaloric state). Dietary fat inculcates better sex hormone balance. Also, dietary fat is significantly more dense (2.25 times more calories per gram) than carbs. Thus, when looking to fit in a greater energy intake, little guys are barking up precisely the wrong tree with carbs. Moreover, during rest, carbs will not produce any advantageous increase in lean tissue. Only protein and fats will promote the gain people want. Thus, generally, little guys are eating too many carbs WHILE eating insufficient amounts of overall food.
Testosterone Is Not The Problem
There is a heavy fixation on testosterone among many people without adequate education on physiology. You can see this crop up in limiting beliefs about muscle gain and in philosophically-errant arguments about trans athletes.
Testosterone, albeit important, is ONE piece of a very complex puzzle. The person’s conversion rate to other hormones matters a lot more. An overstressed person with incredibly high conversion to estrone, dht, and cortisol will see a WORSENING of fitness if we increase his or her testosterone. What actually matters is RESILIENCE. For a few people, resilience improves with an increase in testosterone. But not for everyone, and certainly not in the same amounts or duration.
And what matters most for growth of athletic capability is on-site (within the muscle itself) IGF expression. That is, this is promoted mostly through training intensely and consistently followed by RECOVERY. I have shocking case studies on this, wherein a very consistent lifelong natural athlete with low testosterone is built and shredded, whereas an obese and weak former athlete and long-time steroid user has high natural levels of testosterone. You read that right. The guy with no drug use has LOW T and great results from consistency. The guy with long time drug use (discontinued years ago) has HIGH T and no results due to lack of consistent discipline.
Testosterone is an incredibly weak substance per molecule actually, while something like estrogen is much more potent. Women have two to forty times more testosterone than estrogen in their bodies. Amounts matter, but only in relationship to other physiological mechanisms. I’ve known super low stress guys who just seem to pack on piles of muscle (obviously, eating and therefore recovery increase). I’ve known super high stress guys who just get worse with even a tiny dose of anything we would expect to be anabolic.
I have older female clients who add 1mg of testosterone cream per week and reverse osteoporosis. I have older male clients who add 75mg of testosterone per week and reverse heart disease, diabetes, prostate growth, and cognitive decline. I have known peers who take 1,000mg per week and get little more than a fluid increase (bloat) with no obvious long term advantage. I have known peers who add 200mg and gradually keep recovering and no longer getting injured. Only a small handful of people seem to be able to tolerate (let alone benefit from) high doses, and even among them I tend to see almost no improvement in athleticism after 2-5 years.
Again, it’s going to come back to the top three:
1.) no time under tension
2.) no true progressive overload
3.) strong belief in diet myths
Without addressing these, it really won’t matter much what other avenues someone explores. I’ve been in the fitness world long enough to see up close the 10-20 year outcomes.
Some people have receptors built for it. Some people don’t. Some people have great conversion and tolerance. Some people don’t. What we always see is that it comes down to resilience. If stress management doesn’t improve, long term outcomes are not good, because the body won’t be able to handle time under tension, progressive overload, or distribute the increased food appropriately.
First, watch the video above:
One week in Tampa I train with my good friend and one of the absolute top coaches in the business, Adam Bisek; and we ended up in the background of Derek Lunsford’s (super nice guy, btw) video shoot. The next, I grab a lift with my friend and former client, one of the best IFBB pro athletes in MN state history, Donna Randall. The next, I join my long-time buddy, Mike Duffy, an expert who’s trained with special teams. Next, I workout with another good friend and former business partner, an LEO who squatted 700lbs in high school. Whether it was last Fall in Europe or Winter in Ohio and Georgia, whether it’s with an elite coach/athlete or a novice/beginner/outsider, I get something out of every different interaction.
Not everybody will hire an expert all the time for every single fitness decision. Ok. So start hanging out with friends and working out with them. Let’s normalize that.
Sure, I get the advantage of owning a movement lab, Elev8wellness, where I gain 50 more hours of professional experience every week. And I have to be honest: I did make some of the most outrageous strength gains in private isolation without distraction. I have clients who in virtual workouts made more progress than I’ve ever seen gym-goers make. BUT that’s not applicable to most people. Most people’s interface with fitness is watching some influencer girl do bridges on her IKEA couch in her studio apartment.
You need some active feedback. You need some interaction. Not ready for a professional coach? Totally fine. Just start making “workout lunches,” “gym coffees,” “lifting dates.” Let’s normalize it. Your friend who’s never been to the gym has the same or more experience than some of the top influencer accounts I’ve seen. We need to support each other in actual reality. And we can all use live input and feedback.
I asked ChatGPT to list the requirements for people to gain as much muscle as possible; and it churned out the following ten-point list:
And actually, this list isn’t bad. In my personal experience going from around 160lbs as a full-grown adult in 2000 to as much as 290lbs in 2007, without even knowing it, I had followed this list more or less. Zero performance enhancing drugs.
There are a few things I’d refine or add, however.
With regard to progressive overload and nutrition, there is an extra layer of precision a person hellbent on gaining muscle would want to employ. It has three parts:
1.) Every single workout, every single week, you MUST lift more than the prior while gaining size.
This is critical. It doesn’t have to be much. But it has to be. You have to FORCE the body to change. Think about it this way: if you are a bigger and stronger animal with more muscle, the stimulus to get to the next level must be greater than the stimulus which got you to the prior musculature. AND, when you’re eating more than you used to, there is no reason why you couldn’t lift more than you previously did when you had less fuel than you now have.
Now, this could mean that you pay extra special attention to 2.5lb plates, extra attention to adding one single extra rep, buying a set of magnetic fractional weights even. Whatever it is, you MUST do more in a real, measurable, meaningful way. It does not have to be a lot more. But it has to be more. And a very small amount more each week run over the course of a year or years adds up to quite a lot actually.
2.) Every single week, you MUST eat more than the prior while gaining size.
This dovetails with the prior point. If you’re lifting more, you need more food to repair. If you eat more, you’ll lift more. If you are a bigger animal, it takes more energy just to maintain. And you are hellbent on gaining size. So it better keep increasing.
The ChatGPT list says 250-500 extra calories. That’s middling. Some people jump up 1,000 or more. You could add as little as 100. But the following week you will need ANOTHER 100. And so on. The degree of jump will contain risks and rewards. The smaller the degree of change, the smaller risk and smaller reward. But the week that passes with NO change confers NO reward. Remember that.
3.) You MUST be committed to gaining some body fat.
There are a lot of influencers nowadays who look exactly the same as they did 5 or 10 years ago who talk about lean bulking. Can it be done? Sure. But the reality is that if you are truly going to take your body to your actual limit and push it to grow, you will need a progressive eating strategy to ensure recovery and growth. Inevitably, on the upswing, you’re going to overshoot your caloric need by some. This will result in body fat. If you’re super worried, what you could do is make the weekly jumps less dramatic, which will also reduce how dramatic the size and strength gains are. But it will also prevent too much spillover from happening.
And that’s probably best anyway. Universally, we find that when body fat percentage rises too much, feed efficiency drops (a greater percent of the calories eaten do NOT go to muscle). Also, if you have too much excess fat to lose, you risk shedding too much lean tissue on the cut down. And this does happen a lot, even with the most devoted of dieters who train hard. And it’s a serious bummer, because people put in so much effort to end up not too far from where they started.
Sadly, too many natural lifters chalk up this “going in circles” to the fact that they’re natural, when really it’s that they weren’t forcing the body to change enough, they didn’t stay big enough long enough (generating a new normal), and generally they’re overzealous on the cutdown (losing precious lean mass). AND they don’t sleep or recover enough. If someone isn’t getting surplus sleep, he simply isn’t serious about gaining muscle.
If you demand from your body to lift more than it did the week prior for two years straight (100 weeks of 1-2% increases), and you’re not under-rested, when you cut down, you will have more muscle mass on the body than you did three years ago. A LOT MORE. That’s just a logical fact. The biggest mistake I see a lot of natural lifters make is that they so worry about gaining any amount of body fat that they’re eating too light from beginning to end, training at too low an intensity from beginning to end, and diet hard as hell on the cutdown, sometimes ending up even smaller than when they started years ago. When they add crap sleep to the equation, they may be smaller AND fatter than when they started.
Possibly more pernicious than that, I’ve now seen a lot of influencers arguing that natural lifters can and ought to do outrageously lengthy and volume-filled workouts. There is no way any natural lifter is going to make progress with that on a cutdown. They’re just going to burn up lean tissue and possibly end smaller than before the bulking period.
Go hard. Go slow. Be smart. Make everything persistently progressive. Gain a modest amount of body fat on purpose for a time. Get to a very low body fat percentage for a time. Get sleep. Repeat.
One day in the early 2000s, at Naperville school district, students heaved and panted, crossing the finish line of their fastest mile runs in PE class. The gym teacher looked on with worry as the slowest girl in class rounded her next-to-last lap, dead last, with still the final length to go. To their credit, the other classmates cheered her on as she pushed the last leg of a clearly toilsome journey. The gym teacher’s moment of pride turned to a sinking heart as he watched the girl visibly slow down right at the final stretch where he’d hoped she would push herself.
All students wore heart rate monitors. The teacher reviewed the data. The slowest girl actually logged the highest average heart rate in the whole class. And that last stretch where he thought she’d given up? Her rate kept going highER. She had actually pushed harder than any other student. She had actually pushed hardER at the end.
True story. Read “Spark” some time.
This real-life study illustrates that a lot of “out-of-shape” people work harder and more intensely than a lot of “in-shape” people. But we let out external comparisons mislead us. All of us.
The reality is that as important as intensity can be, consistency is king. None of the most ridiculously in-shape people I know work out maximally hard every set, every workout, every day. Their defining characteristic is simply that they don’t quit. Most of the people I’ve known who struggled immensely with fitness over the years have logged many punitive and outrageously hard workouts. But they aren’t consistent.
In your fitness journey, be careful comparing outward performance to others or seeking painful intensity as a virtue.
Just don’t quit.
Toward the end of 2015 I noticed a marketing push by Jesse Itzler for his book “Living with A Seal”. I posted about it, which Jesse saw. He then contacted me directly and sent me a signed copy of his book a few months later. I was in disbelief as the return address was his actual home with his wife, Sara Blakely.
At the time I liked the mental toughness of the unidentified “Seal” character in Jesse’s book; but even then I warned about how simply pushing hard can be bad methodology. Sure, for people stuck in the excuse-making mode, there is a lot to be learned there. Nevertheless, pushing insanely hard isn’t actually a method or a strategy for 99% of people, and it certainly doesn’t achieve fulfillment or balance.
We have to be very careful about survivor bias. I didn’t wear a bike helmet or a seat belt as a kid. That I’m just fine doesn’t mean those are good tactics. I survived to tell the story. I too used to start my day between 2 and 4am, 7 days per week, and hammered out days which are unbelievable to people, FOR YEARS. That doesn’t mean it was a good idea for others. That doesn’t mean I was able to have balance with my family or maximize my time with loved ones who are no longer among us. It doesn’t mean I improved my long-term health prospects. It just means I survived.
A year or two later, the mythical “Seal” whom Jesse had built up in his marketing push, book, and interviews came out of the shadows to reveal his true identity: David Goggins. Already known in some ultra-endurance circles, Goggins stepped out into the public eye, and meteorically he skyrocketed to fame and stardom. Again, there is a lot to be gleaned from Goggins’ messages about inaction, combatting it and combatting the desire to weakly shut down and give in to our lesser selves.
The fact of the matter is that the Goggins mindset, though rare, is not singular. Lots of people push themselves and too hard, but they don’t survive to tell us how cruelty to their bodies was the right tactic. Through actual debilitating injury, sickness, or fractured relationships, they decide to reevaluate the idea. Goggins survived really dumb solipsistic training, outrageously imbalanced priorities, incredibly self-centered schedules. That doesn’t make it a good idea for others. It doesn’t make it a good idea for him. To his credit, he does say that what he does isn’t for everyone. To his credit, his primary message is that people have so much untapped potential they’ll never even know.
But there IS a problem. First of all, we have still not helped the majority of people find a way to get involved in fitness which progresses them and stays with them over the long-term. So more “go hard until you puke, and then keep going” messaging isn’t really winning any converts or having a net positive impact on the world. The health and fitness statistics for the average populace keep worsening, sadly. We need more realistic and reasonable messages, not more from extremists.
In fact, I have increasingly come to worry that watching other people do really hard physical feats may be worsening outcomes for all. Voyeurs and virtue signalers don’t do the hard work, by definition. We discovered some years ago that wearing a fitness tracker worsens outcomes: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2553448. That’s right. Wearing a FitBit or other tracker can make you fat, or at least REDUCE the amount of loss you would’ve had. One of the reasons is that wearing the device flips a virtue switch in the brain convincing the wearer that he or she has “done something” merely by wearing the device. Likewise, as fitness influencers have exploded into existence, the general populace has gotten more unhealthy at a FASTER rate than before. It’s likely that people watch someone like Goggins and think they “did something” by virtue of merely watching him or feeling his message resonate, without actually DOING anything.
Second, there are just as many dangers on the other side of inaction, just as many or more dysfunctions that crop up in relationships, just as many or more dangers of being a monochromatic caricature of a successful person. People get lost in obsessions, even ones which started with good intentions and transformative drive.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Yes, mostly people need to get off their butts and move, get off their phones and live, confront fears, not cower in the face of challenge, get up and DO. When things get tough, yes, harden up. Good.
HOW do we get people to improve? Call me crazy; but I don’t think injuring themselves and burning up 6 hours per day on inefficient training methods is going to do it. We know that wearing trackers doesn’t do it. I don’t think that watching OTHER people do hard work gets it done either. Sustainable progress will keep coming back to moderate alterations. Developing consistency isn’t about shock, excitement, feelings of motivation, or punishing hours which most people just aren’t ever going to do. It’s about one positive step right now. And another after that.
And in six months, five years, ten years, if people haven’t figured out how to reasonably balance their progress with the rest of their lives, they aren’t still stepping. In a given bout, in a given moment, the 40% rule or the Goggins tough love is apropos. But then the bills come, the work deadline drops, the end of quarter occurs, the family member dies, and life happens… and the regular people literally do not have the immense luxury of sitting back on their fame, fortune, book deal, cult of personality, and multi-million follower base of supporters.
When you need to break the addiction to excuses, any guru will do. Goggins has no monopoly on it. Any tough love message will suffice. But you also have to acknowledge that you aren’t doing anything by simply listening to another tough love message, another pep rally moment, another podcast, another article, another reel. You have to actually go do the work. Moreover, when you are ready to stay consistent and balance your desired progress with the rest of your life, then scrap the gurus, keep a minimal weekly practice in place, recover, DO NOT push too hard, DO NOT embrace “no pain, no gain” mindsets.
Just do. And just be consistent. There’s no way to do that if you truly drive yourself into the ground, into exhaustion, into dysfunctional solitude, into injury, into brokenness.