Getting In Shape For All Of The Right Reasons: Part II
Hello, my friends! I hope you are treating life well! In the first part of this blog, I spoke about the difference between muscle, strength, and even “fitness” versus true health. Today, I want to take it one step further.
When I was 25-years-old, I remember thinking that I was in the best shape of my life. As far as muscle and strength go, I was right. I also remember rationalizing that any supplement that built muscle was a good supplement. However, I did not care to check the ingredients of the supplements that I was taking simply because the ads in Muscle and Fitness told me that they were all “scientifically proven by clinical studies.” Little did I know about slanted corporate-sponsored studies at the time, and little did I do my homework.
I am much wiser now. However, I thought that you might be interested in seeing just how “healthy” the supplements and foods I was eating were. Here is what a typical day looked like for me:
-200 mg of caffeine 3xday! I speak of the formerly popular, “Xenadrine.” This was for the “thermogenic” effect that was touted for its fat-burning properties.
-75 mg of ephedra per day! We all know what happened to this little bad boy . . . BANNED, baby! Numerous studies and incident reports show the heart-pounding effects of this nasty substance when taken in excess. And it certainly was in excess when I was taking it.
-Pre-workout concoction with the following gems of health:
-Aspartame: A known carcinogen
-Sucrolose: Another artificial sweetener that kills up to 50% of your good gut bacteria crucial for digestion and immune health
-Acesulfame Potassium: A suspected carcinogen with a laundry list of side effects to go along with it!
-Artificial dyes and colors: Also suspected to be long-term carcinogens with a myriad of other associated allergens.
-More caffeine! This was on top of the ripped fuel I was already taking. Holy crap! I am surprised my kidneys and liver made it through the caffeine barrage!
-About 10 other ingredients that are too large to pronounce in this article that certainly are not natural and not good for health!
-Nitric Oxide: The jury is still out on this one, but many studies are not too keen the “goodness” of pumping this natural substance into your veins and arteries.
Now let’s shift to one of the main staples of my previous diet. At the time, I thought I was doing well until I learned about our modern processing techniques and genetically modified organisms (GMO). I would frequently eat wheat bread thinking that it was nutritious and healthy. True, it is better than plain white bread, but most of the bread that I was consuming was likely made from genetically modified wheat. Not to mention that it was low in fiber and high on the glycemic index! In other words, I was shooting my blood sugar through the roof day in and day out! To make matters worse, I was happy about it back then because it meant that I was “growing quality muscle” because I was riding an insulin (an anabolic or muscle-building hormone) wave!
I want to expand briefly on genetically modified organisms (GMO). I am sure that 90% of the readers of this article do not have a sufficient breadth of knowledge concerning this concept. I would encourage you to do your research on this subject and find out what is happening regarding this scary topic—often off of our collective radar.
Often times, we assume that if it is on the grocery shelf that it must be okay! If you feel this way, I would invite you read my Ingredient Investigator Extraordinaire series here on the blog. I would also encourage you to check out www.mercola.com to find out more about GMO, processed foods, and the like. This website is an excellent source, and Dr. Mercola has thoroughly researched his arguments. Please read in depth before you judge. Remember, just because you are learning something new does not make it wrong. For example, once you learn about genetically modified corn, you might find yourself averse to it after knowing the potential health effects associated with it.
As a young man in my early and mid-twenties, I truly was ignorant of the difference between true health and fitness. The goal is to get the best of both worlds! You should strive for maximum fitness and also strive for maximum health! They are not–and should not–be mutually exclusive in your life! Do your homework and learn the differences between these three fundamental nutritional choices that you will indeed face in your everyday life:
-Organic vs. conventional food
-Processed vs. natural/whole
-Genetically modified vs. naturally grown
I would invite you to have an open mind as you explore these topics further. It is no coincidence that our national (and global) rate of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and metabolic syndrome is skyrocketing in the last 40 years of our existence. It is time to educate ourselves and turn the tide. Life is good my friends!