Saturday, May 29, 2010

Your Knees Are Just Hinges

Knee replacements would be virtually unnecessary if people would stop forcing their joints do what their muscles were intended to do, but hey, in order to do that you'd actually have to have some muscle, right?
Our joints —all of them— are simply hinges. No joint in your body was meant to bear weight or act as a shock absorber or brake. Yet 95% of all people are so weak from muscle atrophy that they must stress the joints to accomplish any given task.
If your knees hurt when climbing stairs it's because you are not using your butt muscles or your quadriceps and hamstrings efficiently to do the work of propelling your body up those stairs.
Watching most people perform squats or leg presses at the gym makes me cringe because of the extreme and completely unnecessary and counter-productive stress they are putting on their hinges.
If your elbows, shoulders, knees etc. hurt at the gym, it's because you are doing your exercises wrong. Flex your muscles immediately before commencing the movement, and keep them flexed throughout. This takes concentration, so block out whatever is happening around you.

What Is Your Definition Of Sacrifice?

People who think that it's a sacrifice not to eat whatever they want, thoughtlessly and whenever, and it's a sacrifice to go to the gym instead of sitting in front of the TV "relaxing after a hard day" have an odd idea of what sacrifice is. Looking great and feeling great is a sacrifice only to those too lazy to actually do what's required. EVERYONE would like to look fantastic. EVERYONE wants to feel great, and be filled with confidence and high self esteem. But most can't keep their mouths closed or get their feet moving, so they delude themselves into thinking that achieving the above requires sacrifice.

I've trained non-stop except for time off for the flu or colds for 25 years. And as you go, you become motivated by your successes, even though I was never happy with my own progress. No matter how good I looked I always thought I should look better considering my diet and exercise regimen.

Progress will ALWAYS seem slower that what you anticipate. You just need to celebrate the gains you make and keep on track. As I always say, looking this way and feeling this way is so superior to any food or time that others think I am "sacrificing" —that their not getting it just makes me chuckle. I know any negativity from others is just an expression of their own disappointment in themselves and their lack of will to go after what they really want.

When it just becomes part of your lifestyle rather than some sacrifice or challenge it's far easier than the couch potatoes want you to believe. diet and exercise regimen.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bodybuilding.com and Other Forums: Yikes!

A few people have asked why I'm not very active on the bodybuilding.com forums. Honestly, it's because the forums are 90% populated by guys who should be at the gym rather than wasting their day in front of the computer. "Would you rather have big shoulders or a big penis?" is a great example of the brilliant ideas and exchanges found there.

Most forum posts are repetitions of posts made last week, but the posters are too lazy to scroll through to see if their dilemma has been hashed out previously (I can guarantee it has). One guy emailed me because he looked and felt terrible and wanted me to take the time to help him by detailing a comprehensive workout and diet plan just for him, even though I have written a book on the subject. How someone who by his own hand looks and feels terrible has incongruously developed such a sense of entitlement at the same time is one of the great mysteries of psychology.

The problem with most people who hang out on fitness or fat-loss sites is that they flat out refuse to do the research or take any action. They want to "talk" about it instead, and think that somehow that counts as progress. I feel sorry for the posters on forums who do the work and who do ask intelligent questions, because one has to sift through a torrent of junk before ever encountering them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

GREAT INSPIRATION

Comment:
Greetings from the UK.
I found your profile on bodybuilding.com and you have been an inspiration to me to train... @ 45 I was in terrible shape and my health was not good. I used to body-build in my twenties and thirties but injuries and having kids kinda put the spanner in the works. But finding and listening to your philosophy on training helped me train the right way and without the baggage that I see younger men bring to the gym, and the gains this time are much better and I look better for it...as a fellow trainer who's in it for the long haul ..many thanks for just being...
Many thanks,
Ray


Response:
Thanks Ray. Unlike a business, or relationships, where you may not see any appreciable results for the time and effort you put in, improving your body by cutting back on fat and nutrition-poor foods, and working out, lets us experience success fast, and it looks good and feels good 24/7. As a trainer you probably wonder the same thing I do...how can so many people not want this?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Shopping In Order To Lose Fat

Whether you're a regular person trying to lose love handles, or a bodybuilder trying to refine your abs, what you eat can either give you the results you want, or remove you farther from them.

Nutrition is a big mystery for most people. But the truth is, snacks and fast food will keep you from reaching your goal. So what can you eat instead?

Buy the biggest and best calorie and fat gram counter book you can find. Search on Amazon.com and on the right side of the book page you'll find real bargains in the "Used and New from" section.

Sit down after you have eaten a meal, so you're not hungry, and go through the book, highlighting all the foods you love that are low in fat, low in calories, and low in carbs. You will find scores of foods that fit these criteria, or even hundreds. Most people love a juicy ripe peach or mango, but all too often pass these up at the market in favor of a bag of cookies.

Make up a shopping list of favorite foods from the book, and buy only those. Remember, these are foods you really like, so there's no need to feel deprived. It's simply about substituting one food you love for another.

You Can't Eat What Isn't In The House

Eating Better means Shopping Better, and I always check out others' shopping carts in line at the check out stand. Obese people's carts are piled with snack foods and prepared foods from the deli, and all kinds of frozen meals, but then again, so are skinny people's. The fact is, only we control what we eat, and ground zero is our own kitchen.
Open your kitchen cupboards. If you see packages of crackers, chips, cookies or other easily ingested grab foods, then your goals are being sabotaged.
When I come in the house, starving, I will grab whatever is available and appeals to me. If I had potato chips or other no-prep foods in the house, I would attack those. If I don't --and experience has taught me not to keep them around-- then I have to prepare something else.
One solution is to cook more food than I want for dinner so I have leftovers to grab the next day. And because I cook healthy foods that I enjoy eating, this is no sacrifice.
Some people feel deprived when they can't eat exactly what they want whenever they want it. Others feel deprived because they don't have the kind of body or level of health and mobility they long for.

You have to decide which of the two you are, and shop accordingly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Vickie: The Voice Of Experience

Have to tell you how much I loved your post and enjoyed your profile.

I've been active and thin my entire life, always enjoyed looking 10 years younger than my girlfriends. It never fails that my overweight friends always ask me "Vickie, how do you stay so thin". There's no magic here- I've just always stayed really active. I've been thru every fitness craze and always come back to lifting.

I took a few years off from resistance training- had a physical challenge that I was told I'd never come back from. As an athlete, I had to really dig deep to get past that, "I've always done everything right, why me" mind set but when I got to the other side of it, a much different girl emerged. Way stronger in the broken places and much more than 'just a great body".

So now in my early 50's I return to weight training. It's incredible how my body has responded especially because i didn't have a ton of fat obscuring my muscle.

I feel so much more 'magnetic' and attractive at this stage of my life than I did in my thirties or forties. Confidence in yourself, having your feet on the deck for a while and doing the most i can with my own tiny, mighty body has been like wearing a special perfume in my experience.

I hope you don't think its out of line to say this but i've seen guys in my gym in their 40's walk past women in their 30's to get to this 50 something woman even in age crazy Los Angeles. I've bet that you've had that experience.

Your inner game is soooo important. But you really can't explain that to someone who hasn't experienced that themselves.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Water, Clean and Pure

Plenty of clean water for drinking and cooking should be everyone's goal. Bottled water is expensive and of questionable value. Costco has a killer under-sink filter that is cheaper and better than anything available, trapping pathogens as well as microscopic debris. And it comes with a year's supply of filters, and a really handsome chrome water spout for your sink, all for about $150.
The Pur or Britta water pitchers with filters are a far better investment than bottled water is, except the price of the pitcher itself is ridiculous, especially for a piece of plastic that breaks easily.
Paying someone to filter tap water and supply it to you in bottles is crazy when you can use a pitcher or the Costco filter to make your own.
Drinks lots of water, but 8 glasses a day is a little much I think, unless you have a job or sport that makes you sweat profusely. Water engorges your skin and muscle cells, plumping them up, making skin softer and smoother, and giving muscle a more toned appearance.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Indespensible Workout Foods Increase Overall Attractiveness

I think you know that the best bodybuilder foods aren't just for bodybuilders.
The following foods promote glowing, healthy skin and increased muscle tone, for a more attractive you, whether you are male or female: here's a list of some of some foods you should be eating on a regular basis:

-salmon with the skin on: this kind of fat is awesomely healthy
-broccoli and asparagus
-sweet potatoes
-chicken/turkey breast
-beans / lentils
-oatmeal
-whole grain bread, rice, pasta

It goes without saying that the health benefits are decreased substantially if you add butter, cream, sugar or fatty ingredients to these, or any foods. Monosaturated oils, on the other hand, may indeed add calories, but are healthy: nut oils, olive oil, avocado oil.
Comment:
Worked chest today and I really felt the chest working. I have adopted the one-body part per workout deal. I wanted to keep training and training, but I had to force myself to stop. I wanted to do MORE! I love to train, so that was real tough; I had a lot of energy and power!
I really felt the pecs working. I was only pressing 60's, but man, the pec was working real nice.

Response:
60s are a good heavy dumbbell weight. When you see theses pro BBs doing 100 lb dumbbells, understand they are huge, have anabolic help, and are still taking chances.

Bob Paris was a major BB star in the '80s and he was questioned about his biceps workout and how he got away with doing preacher curls with a 60lb. barbell, yet he was huge and cut and the envy of all.

"If I can make a 60 feel like a 100, who's going to break the news to my biceps?", he said.

That quote was a turning point for me, as he was saying, it's not how much weight you use, it's how you use the weight.

If you watch the Charles Glass videos on bodybuilding.com, notice his instruction on posture/form when performing chest. Make sure there is no curve in your lower back: keep the entire back and shoulders completely in contact with the bench: this will force the pecs to do all the work.

I am glad to hear you are so motivated. There is nothing like seeing and feeling progress to keep you upping the ante. Instead of increasing weight, try to perfect your form, forcing the target muscle to take on more and more of the full stress of moving that weight, and also, try to rest less and less between sets for the aerobic benefit. Those two things will tire you and leave you less wanting to work out more. Put EVERYTHING, mentally and physically, into each workout, and you'll be very satisfied, and very tired. Your muscles grow while you're at rest. Don't rob your muscles of their full potential to build and shape by your taxing them again too soon.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

After Giving Birth, What To Do About The Stomach?

Question:
Any advice? I do a lot of cardio and crunches, but haven't notice a big difference. I know my stomach will never be the same after having twins two years ago, but I would like to see a little improvement. Any suggestions?

Answer:
I know that many women really have a problem accepting strength training, as they seem to believe they'll look like a freak, but the opposite is actually true. The women who compete in the Fitness Universe pageant demonstrate that strength training does amazing things for bodies of all ages.
Performing leg presses on the leg press machine, and/or performing squats with correct form on a Smith Machine, concentrating on keeping your core muscles tight and flexed during the entire 8-10 reps, WILL change your stomach problem.
Both men and women erroneously want to believe that crunches or other ab exercises alone will transform their abs, but little will happen if you are not working your entire body. You can't just solely do ab exercises, especially after having given birth to twins (congratulations by the way), to transform yourself.
Too few women are willing set the bar high, and complain about "unrealistic beauty standards", but unless we choose the best of the best as our role models, our own progress will be minimal. Don't be turned off by the world-class bodies at the Miss Fitness Universe page, with videos. Yes, it's flashy, but remember that ALL these women strength train at the gym alongside the sweaty big boys to achieve this level of fitness and beauty.

Copy and paste this code to see a good Smith Machine youtube video performed by a female:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU36k3-p5UI

...and a leg press demo, without instruction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc1wlk9PzBc

The link to Ms. Fitness Universe:

fitnessuniverse.com/

Monday, February 15, 2010

How To Avoid Choosing A Really Bad Gym

Most of us have visited, or even worse, been a member out of necessity of an exceptionally bad gym. Nothing hurts more than not having a choice, and in the city of Hilo Hawaii, where I spend a lot of time these days, the choices are, with the exception of BJ Penn's, absolutely dismal. And that affects my workout goals negatively.

Of the 100-plus gyms I have worked out in and/or been a member of, the worst have always been coincidentally owned or managed by people who did not themselves work out, and that is your first clue: what do the manager/employees/owner look like, and how do they conduct themselves?

I quit World Gym in Glendale California because it was owned by an overweight elderly couple with no clue, and was staffed by a morbidly obese female relative whose disdain for the customers was overt. It was actually a good basic gym and virtually empty at midday when I worked out, much to my appreciation, but when I found a better gym, I had to move on. What made me stay as long as I did was a bond I had formed with some of the terrific members, which made leaving a harder decision to arrive at.

This is an interesting issue that I also experienced at the now-demolished City Gym in Downtown Los Angeles. I was the only caucasian member, and the gym was very basic with none of the latest equipment, yet other members were so supportive, inclusive and friendly that they kept me coming back despite much better equipped gyms opening closer to my house, until City Gym had to close its doors to make way for redevelopment.

Bally's in Hollywood was a complete chaotic mess and astonishingly crowded, making achieving a focused workout, and parking, impossible. Which reminds me, you do NOT want to sign a contract, or allow a health club access to your money via your credit card. Signing a contract just to work out is preposterous: think about it. Have you ever signed a contract for far more vital endeavors, such as going to school, or getting a job? Neither have I.

Gold's Hollywood has amazing equipment but is very crowded, and has a staff of cleaners agressively vacuuming around your feet as you are performing your exercises, with cords stretching above the floor, tripping members. Despite repeated falls, the owner insisted that round the clock vacuuming take precedence over the safety or comfort of members. One Sunday we showed up with men jackhammering-up the concrete floor, while the gym filled with members! We were astonished. The noise was deafening and the air so thick with dust that we literally could not see across the gym, yet the owners persisted with demolition and the idiot members didn't have enough common sense to leave and come back another time. We turned right 'round and walked out.

Spencer's in Hilo is in profound disrepair, and neither owner nor staff works out. Pointing out poorly maintained or incorrectly repaired equipment or suggestions for improvements have been met with hostility. Even the ceiling fans remain broken for years on end after they fail, despite steamy indoor temperatures hovering near 90 degrees, no cross ventilation and no air conditioning. The roof has leaked for years, and every time it rains, which can be daily in Hilo, buckets are scattered about to catch the drips, and to trip people up. However, on the bright side, Spencer's is cleaned continually.

Having problems, especially multiple problems, with any given gym makes me wonder why I have never had any problem at all with some others, such as the de Haro World Gym in San Francisco. I have worked out at this gym dozens of times since 1994, in every season, and I have never had any issue with it. It's a huge gym, very well equipped, with a staff that has gone out of their way for me more than a few times.

Gold's Gym in South Buffalo NY, now closed, was one of the best run and maintained gyms I have worked out in, with a staff that both welcomed and acted upon customers' suggestions. It is sad to see terrible gyms chug along year after year, while really fine gyms close down.

Every gym is filled with equipment that needs continual monitoring by staff who know how it all works and how it should be functioning, and who will listen to and consider customers' concerns, so obviously a gym whose owner or employees do not use the equipment should be seen as a giant red flag. Nothing will sabotage your fitness goals faster than equipment that is actually working against you, or worse, an injury caused by poorly functioning equipment. And don't count on other members' expertise either, as 95% of members have no idea when equipment is optimally functional. Worse, at the owner-ignored gyms, disregard for the customers' concerns about equipment always went hand in hand with their basic disrespect for the customer in general.

What the bad gyms also had in common were owners and staff who never thanked the customers for their business, and a few were actually hostile toward the customer, taking offense when any criticism was voiced, such as non-functioning equipment, improper repairs, or poor set-up and design.

Even with the best gyms there will be some give and take; things you love about it and things you don't, so you have to keep your main fitness goals in mind and decide if the things you hate are interfering in your overall process. Positive or negative word of mouth is important, but not all members have the same amount of experience, expertise, or goals, and may see the same issue in opposing ways.

What it ultimately comes down to is a choice between what you can live with and what you can't.

Vic Siepke; 60 Years Ago, and Today





Vic Siepke won the Mr. Michigan Title in 1951. Had there been any appreciable bodybuilding scene at the time, this Detroit firefighter would have been a superstar. Here is a photo of Jim almost 60 years ago, and a link to a 2005 news article looking quite fit and happy:

http://www.thevillagesdailysun.com/articles/2005/03/09/villages/villages01.txt

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Because Sometimes We Just Feel Threatened




Photos: me and Gene in his home, before, and Gene in December 2009, after.

My badly overweight longtime friend Gene began getting sick more and more often. Unlike most people, who decide to do nothing, Gene immediately reevaluated his life, changed his diet and joined Gold's Gym Hollywood. Gold's Hollywood is a celebrity gym filled with beautiful men and women, both famous, and not so much.

Interestingly, Gene decided he needed a trainer as he felt unsure about how to go about getting in shape, and he hired a female trainer with an unremarkable physique, even though Gold's has dozens of male trainers in amazing shape, from triathalon-honed bodies to competitive bodybuilders, and everything in between.

Why did he hire an unremarkably built female trainer? Because he was intimidated. Gene thought that a trainer with a great physique would demand more of him and expect results... and he wasn't confident enough that he could keep up, so he viewed the female as less of a challenge and less of a threat. And indeed she was.

Within a few months however, Gene's confidence soared as his physique transformed due to his new eating regimen and workout ethic, and he hired a new trainer, a male bodybuilder. He had overcome a hurdle, and found that he could indeed push himself to his limits. Surrounded at Gold's by the kinds of physiques that he himself longed to have, he decided he wanted to put real muscle on his frame, and the logical way to do that was to hire a trainer who looked the part and had reached the very goal Gene wanted to reach.

Gene helped me understand why people hire trainers who look like they don't work out themselves: it's more comfortable for them, even if it is illogical.

Most of us would not hire a homeless guy to handle our investment portfolio, but apparently thousands of people hire trainers who can't even create an attractive body for themselves, let alone for their clients.

If you have a trainer, or plan to hire one in the future, and don't made impressive, fast progress within the first four-to-six weeks, then it's time to find a new trainer. One who knows what he or she is doing, one who looks the part, and will gently but firmly push you toward your personal best.

I've decided to be happy, because it is good for my health.
- Voltaire

Nobody Can Fix You But You.

One of the most entertaining things about my socializing with doctors and nurses is the bizarre-but-true war stories that they enjoy relating in all their gory detail. A favorite medical topic is the extreme lengths to which many individuals will go to avoid dealing with a chronic debilitating problem.

One common scenario that is intriguing is the ability many people have to ignore a jaw-dropping circumstance that is not only a serious threat to their lives, but which is extremely uncomfortable, and looks awful at the same time.

One doctor related a story about a morbidly obese woman admitted to his San Francisco teaching hospital who carried dozens of copies of something called “The Large Person’s Bill Of Rights” everywhere. She handed one of these sheets to every person in the hospital who she came in contact with. The manifesto proclaimed her inner beauty and outlined her expectations about of how deferentially she expected to be treated as a “woman of size”, as she described herself.

While she was being admitted, one of the nurses suffered a serious back injury while trying to help her team transfer the patient’s nearly 500-pound bulk from a gurney to a hospital bed. This feat took the cooperation of many hands, as one could imagine. The patient expressed little concern that the nurse was injured at her behest. When told about it, her reaction was “Well, that’s her job”.

The patient’s pressing problem was an enormous hernia literally as large as a beach ball located below her left ribcage. To reach this size, the hernia would had to have been ignored for years until its sheer volume and impediment overcame the impressive degree of detachment and denial the patient had been capable of.

While she sat propped up in bed, the doctor recalled with amusement that the patient nonchalantly used the enormous bulge that the hernia created as a convenient elbow rest while she lectured medical personnel about her expectations of digified treatment and complained bitterly about not being able to eat solid food before her operation.

Her husband was a very thin man who appeared quiet and brow-beaten. In between his running errands for her he sat dutifully by her side as she lectured and complained.

Her operation was initially a success, and the patient remained intabated in the ICU, meaning a tube was placed down her throat to facilitate breathing. However, while in recovery she began convulsing, and despite emergency medical personnel‘s attempts to resuscitate her, she died. During the process of trying to save her, the doctors removed the intabation tube from her throat and discovered it was packed solid with chunks of undigested hamburgers and French fries, which she had vomited up, then choked on while unconscious.

Ignoring orders that she absolutely must not eat any solid food in the 24 hours before her operation, she had her compliant husband go to a close-by fast food restaurant and sneak food into the hospital for her.

The same doctor on another day examined a man who seemed sane enough, but his hernia was so preposterously far gone that his intestines were hanging down almost to his knee under the skin of his inner thigh before he decided to seek medical advice. The doctor laughs about being at first taken aback by seeing the enormous bulge in the man’s pants hanging down his leg, thinking perhaps he had a legendary porn star in his examination room.

Other doctors tell of ignored infections or festering sores that resulted in permanent mutilation and enduring muscle and nerve impairing facial disfigurements which could have been easily treated at their outset. Instead, the patient chose to ignore, tolerate and even worsen his condition by picking at the wounds for months or years on end.

In case you might tend to believe that stories like this just involve the homeless or the ignorant, think again. I was intrigued one day while watching TV to see Rosie O’ Donnell, then the mother of three small children, repeatedly removing a bandage from an injured hand on her talk show to exhibit her wound to each new guest, whether they wanted to look or not.

She admitted she had removed the stitches from the wound herself prematurely instead of waiting for the doctor to do it. She also admitted she couldn’t keep from picking at it. Doctor friends who saw the same show shook their heads and matter-of-factly remarked that she had an obsessive-compulsive disorder. A few days later she was off the show and in the hospital while doctors fought to save her severely infected hand from amputation.

My point in relating these war stories is to illustrate how certain individuals can somehow not only ignore, but learn to casually coexist with conditions that are not only painful, but uncomfortable, disfiguring, and seemingly intolerable. These examples also illustrate the ability of the human body and mind to slowly adapt to, and people’s ability to become fascinated by, dangerous, raw, and disabling conditions.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Five Simple Ways To Lose ALL That Extra Weight:

The link below to the L.A. Times story makes for interesting reading for all the comments after the story left by readers, and the endless list of excuses they give for why they are fat:

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-fat-fatigue1-2010feb01,0,1902979.story

A silly yet common excuse is not having the "time to plan my diet." They're kidding, right? How is it they have no time to plan their diet but all this extra time to concoct excuses for themselves?

OK, I'll make it easy for those busy, busy people who claim to be mystified by the whole eating thing:

Five Simple Ways To Lose ALL That Extra Weight

1. Do not eat in restaurants: cook your own food.

2. Learn to cook. Nobody in their right mind depends on others for their basic survival. If you're a woman who is proud of not being able to cook, just like your dysfunctional Sex And The City heroines, shut off the TV and open a cookbook. Any man who marries a woman so clueless that she has no interest in learning to cook to keep her future children alive -or her husband happy- is an idiot. How is is that more men know how to cook than women?

2. Never eat fast food. Ever. EVER.

3. Keep no snack foods in your house. You can't eat what isn't there.

4. Eat a big breakfast and lunch, and a light dinner. Eat no food after 6 pm.

5. Join Weight watchers for the camaraderie and support. I am not affiliated with Weight watchers in any way.

Do any one of the above and you will lose weight. Do all the above and you will lose weight so fast that people will be astounded.

Monday, February 1, 2010

America's Most Amazing 71 Year-Old Physique


Check out the amazing Jim Morris, multi title holder and personal trainer extraordinaire at http://www.gymmorris.com

The Fat Fight Continues: L.A. Times

An article in the 02/01/10 L.A. Times featured rants from people who feel their rights are being circumvented to accommodate outspoken fat people. Believing you have the right to be fat is far different from believing others must accommodate your fat. It harkens back to the preposterous claims of "smokers' rights", when the nicotine addicts demanded unlimited access to our breathing air. Fat people are demanding rights that supercede those of normal weighted people, and why not? Smokers demanded rights that superceded the rights of the vast majority who do not smoke, and for a hundred years, got them.

Entitlement is a fascinating issue.

However, the Big Brother aspect of rules and regulations against fat people does help make it a little sinister. Individuals can't control the banks, the mortgage companies, the government, the war —so they pursue an issue they feel they can control and make a difference. They don't know how to remedy things when the credit card company arbitrarily slashes their credit limit, making it impossible to buy things and contribute to economic recovery, but when the fat guy next to them on the plane puts his arm rest up so he can spill over into their seat —now THAT they can control.

http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-fat-fatigue1-2010feb01,0,1902979.story

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don't Let Others Decide Your Future For You

The Encyclopedia Brittanica defines a pharmaceutical as a "substance used in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease and for restoring, correcting, or modifying organic functions."

Without question, it is completely acceptable in our society for sick people to take fist-fulls of physician-prescribed pharmaceuticals in an attempt to offset the damage they've done to themselves as the result of decades of smoking, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, and other poor lifestyle choices.

However, it is NOT acceptable in our society for healthy individuals to take physician-prescribed pharmaceuticals to further enhance their good health, well being, quality of life, and intelligent lifestyle choices.

In other words, prescribing pharmaceuticals to people who have worked long and hard to destroy their health is GOOD. But prescribing pharmaceuticals to people who have worked long and hard to remain healthy is BAD.

How upside-down crazy is that?

Recently I saw yet another story, this one in the Los Angeles Times, about Dr. Jeffrey Life, who is known as the "70 year old guy with the 20 year old body." Predictably there was a flurry of negative criticism against this man who is on a physician- supervised program of hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, as are millions of other people in the US and around the world.

For those who are unaware, as we humans get older, our bodies lose their ability to produce essential hormones. Note that the key word here is "essential". HRT is the process of replenishing the natural essential hormones our bodies used to make in copious quantities but no longer do. Women can experience terrible physical and emotional symptoms as they approach menopause, and HRT can go a long way in improving their situation. For men, the positive results of HRT can be just as miraculous, by reinvigorating libido, increasing lean muscle mass, instilling a general feeling of well-being, and increasing energy, strength and stamina.

Now, who would ever guess that so many people, even some doctors, seem to think HRT is a bad idea? Is it everyone's ultimate goal to become fat, weak, immobile, depressed and to no longer have a reason to live as they age?

Those women who are considering HRT but are concerned about the reported increased risk in heart disease or breast cancer need to understand that they are already at FAR greater risk for these diseases if they are obese, if they smoke, or if they have an alcohol or substance abuse problem. Millions of people smoke and say "to hell with the risk." Millions of people are obese and say "to hell with the risk." For women suffering severe symptoms of menopause, they need to consider the true risks of their decision, or indecision, concerning HRT, especially compared to the far greater risks posed by obesity, alcohol or drug abuse, or smoking.

Millions of men are taking a medically prescribed pharmaceutical for hair loss called Propecia. How serious a health issue is a receding hairline compared to the swift downhill slide of debilitating aging, and the inherent loss of strength, vitality, muscle mass, libido and overall sense of well being?

"I want my hair back, but not my youthful physique, strength, libido, optimism, ability to burn fat, and happier demeanor"?

I have yet to see, hear, or read one single diatribe against Propecia, or ridicule or disdain for the millions of men who take this pharmaceutical for no valid reason other than vanity, but mention HRT or steroids and keyboards glow red hot. You don't have to be a shrink to figure that out.

And what about Viagra? Society applauds a medically prescribed pharmaceutical that makes my penis hard but condemns a medically prescribed pharmaceutical that increases my desire to actually put that same erection to use? That's insanity.

What this and all hypocrisy is about, is the fear of being left behind, of looking bad in comparison. People who have never exercised, eaten sensibly or refrained from inhaling toxic substances are so damaged and incapacitated by their 40s, —a decade when the chickens truly come home to roost— that some are deeply threatened by those who have lived their lives judiciously.

It's humiliating enough for them to have to share the same air with people their own age whose vibrant health and comparative youthfulness shines a naked spotlight on their decades of self destructive lifestyle choices. But to have to compete with them for the same sex partners —and life's other rewards that favor the healthy, strong and attractive— seems to them an abomination.

For the "health nuts" to want to take advantage of pharmaceuticals to become even better, stronger and more agile widens the chasm between the two groups to an intolerable level.

My grandmother always said "the person who is criticizing you is telling the world much more about themselves than they are about you." People who are in physical distress and decline by their own hand who attempt to belittle contemporaries who are clearly light years superior to them physically —and by default, emotionally as well— look downright stupid, but lack the intelligence and the ability to self-assess to realize the insecurities they are revealing about themselves.

Be aware that troubled aging men and women who have abused their health can feel very threatened by contemporaries who by comparison, glaringly reveal the results of their own bad decisions. There is no greater regret than the lost opportunities of an old man or old lady, especially when those opportunities were willingly tossed away. You have to decide what's best for you as regards your future. And that means walking away from those who do not want you to thrive, or worse, are actively trying to prevent you from thriving.

If you are interested in HRT, the place to start is a consult with a specialist whose area of expertise is focused, and his knowledge up to the minute. Not everyone can tolerate HRT, and for your information I myself cannot. But if my docs can find some way to get me back on HRT safely, I will jump at the chance.