Sunday, February 28, 2010

After Giving Birth, What To Do About The Stomach?

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?

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:

...and a leg press demo, without instruction:

The link to Ms. Fitness Universe:

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:

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:,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:

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.,0,1902979.story