Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Selfie

There’s no better way to accurately gauge your strength training progress than photography, but a selfie falls short. Since full-body selfies are taken in a mirror, that’s what you’re seeing — the same view you see in the mirror.
To more accurately track your progress, enlist a friend, or put your camera on a tripod (or ladder or table or other stationary resting place), set the self-timer and standing in front of a plain wall, take straight-on shots from all four angles: front, back, left side, right side.
A month from now set up the identical situation (especially the same lighting, whether natural or artificial) and repeat.
Lots of before-and-after photos used in ads to sell you products or services are rigged by changing the lighting, having the subject tense their ab muscles, taking the photo immediately after a workout so that the subject has a pump, etc.
Keeping your chosen photo set up the same from photo shoot to photo shoot will allow you to accurately gauge your progress.
On the other hand, when taking selfies for social reasons, you’ll want to show yourself off at your best, so do whatever it takes to create the most flattering shot.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Human Growth Hormone

In the year 2000 I participated in a UCLA Medical Center study for HGH, or human growth hormone. The study was conducted in part to determine what the ideal dose of HGH would be in those prescribed it. I stayed in the study just three months due to the physical discomfort, especially in my hands and feet.
Around age 21 the ends of our bones seal off and further bone growth stops. This means, for one thing, after age 21 we won't be getting any taller. I'm not an expert in HGH, just a short-term participant in a medical study, but I do know that HGH used in children who are deemed small for their age accelerates both bone and muscle growth. In adults, the bones can no longer lengthen. The effect on me personally was that my bones were trying to grow regardless of their inability to do so, which created pressure at the ends of bones, in my hands, feet and legs. In addition, I had up to that point had developed what I thought was an esthetically pleasing physique. My ideal weight was 185 lbs., but after three months on HGH I weighed 200 lbs., and I was no longer happy with my appearance. So this esthetic result too contributed to my disenchantment with HGH and ending my participation in the study.
Many bodybuilders' main goal is indeed size, but my priority was "the look" as I perceived it to be, rather than getting big at any cost. Both friends and strangers however reacted very positively to the change in me. A noted sculptor, Kira Od, asked that I pose for her for her series of bronze castings of male physiques topped by animal heads, such as horse, or in my case, a water buffalo.
In the end, the decision to employ the use of medically supervised testosterone, nandrolone or HGH is a highly personal one. These three pharmaceuticals saved thousands of lives in the 80s and 90s when the AIDS epidemic was at is most horrifying, when muscle wasting was the number one cause of terrible bacterial and fungal infections' ability to take a foothold in patients and no drugs were yet available to treat HIV. The bizarre beliefs that certain ignorant, fearful individuals embrace, that certain pharmaceuticals are inherently "bad" or "unsavory" for example, is to be questioned always. A timely case is medical marijuana, its use by people who are suffering or dying demonized as "illegal" and "immoral" with all fury that control-freak behaviorists can muster.
Who are these people whose lives are so screwed up that their paramount objective becomes controlling others?
Using pharmaceuticals bought on the street is crazy, pure and simple. If you feel you would benefit from growth-enhancing pharmaceuticals, there are many ways that a doctor can prescribe them for you. It is essential that your blood work be monitored closely. Every pharmaceutical has it's potential negative side effects, as watching TV ads for them in which the list of side effect warnings take up almost the entire voice-over in those commercials. Growth-enhancing pharmas in fact are safer, under a physician's supervision, than Tylenol as proven by the statistics. Over 100,000 Americans annually end up in the ER due to Tylenol use.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Circumstances In Opposition

I hear you. You want to exercise, work out, swim, etc., but circumstances impede your way.
I am once again living in a community where there is no gym within a reasonable drive, and when I go to the gym the commute takes longer than the actual workout. It's a 40 minute drive each way, so the getting ready, the commute, finding parking and the workout itself eat up three to three-and-a-half hours a day. That's a lot of time not to be attending to income-generating business. So as an alternative I work out at home. But the basic equipment at home doesn't even begin to compare with the sophistication and variety at the gym, and so my progress is stunted.
What to do, what to do?
Happiness in life to a large measure begins with acceptance. And that includes not beating yourself up when you are truly making an effort. When I drive to the gym I feel guilty that I am ignoring work in a diminished economy where having an income that allows me to grow a rainy day fund is imperative for my own peace of mind. And the best way for me to do that is stay at home and put in the work hours, because peace of mind is something at the very top of my list. But when I don't go to the gym I feel guilty in a different way because my personal fitness goals suffer. I think Oprah places this dilemma under the heading of "having it all."
Right now I can't have it all.
For many years I was in a situation that was ideal for reaching my fitness goal. Economically and personally things were better, because the 2008 crash hadn't happened yet. Then I lived in a huge city, 15 minutes from 4 different phenomenal gyms and certain complications that exist today did not exist then. Today I live in a rural place that I love, and having  friends in distressed situations involving finances, health issues and relationship fiascos, despite things not being even close perfect in my own case, has made me fully realize what I do have and how lucky I am compared to my friends.
Like any normal person, I do want it all, and so should you. But we can't always have what we want when we want it. All we can do is make the best of what we have at this moment and keep laying the groundwork for the future so we'll be prepared when opportunity again presents itself.

Metabolism Slowdown

Commentors take me to task for my basic denial of metabolism slowdown as pertains to age. They are mad at me for my view that it isn't age that slows metabolism, it's the slowdown in activity and the denial about what we're eating, and how much, that slows metabolism.
I understand that science supports the idea of age-related metabolism slowdown, which makes lazy people VERY happy. "Yay! Science agrees with me! See? I told you!"
I may be dumb when it comes to some things, but I'm very smart when it comes to others, like denial, procrastination, projecting, and excuse-making. I see right through that stuff, and THAT makes people mad. Because I won't let them off the hook about it.
But I do! I do let everyone off the hook by famously saying you don't have to eat right, or work out or exercise. The police will not come to your door and drag you away.
Writing to me in a futile attempt to make your contrarian point will not work. I'm empathetic only up to a certain point. You don't have to read my book or blog or watch my videos. But you insist  on doing these things regardless, and then you want to argue about it.
I urge you to stop this nonsense. Rather, just live your life and be happy. Eat. Lay on the sofa. Watch duck shows. But stop complaining. You can't have it both ways, intentionally sabotaging yourself, then lying about it ("Honest! I eat like a bird!") and then whining about the result.