Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sugar, Sugar, Everywhere

I do love my sweet stuff, but have always been choosey about which sweet I eat. For example I don’t eat bargain pastries, cookies, ice cream or the like, but I will eat quality versions of these foods. The key here is that I “choose” rather than allow others to choose for me.
What I don’t choose is all the hidden sugar in just about everything commercially produced and sold in supermarkets. Bread is a great example of a food that has no need for sugar. Historically, for thousands of years, bread never contained sugar, but reading labels now will reveal that the vast majority of breads sold in supermarkets do contain sugar. Keep in mind that other ingredients such as corn syrup, raisin syrup, fructose, molasses, etc. are also sugars.
Other foods have, through the years, been alternately labeled as good for us or bad for us, such as coffee, eggs and the like, and these wax and wane with the season, seemingly. But sugar has always been marked as a villain, and keeping sugar intake low is universally believed to be a good and healthful goal. Sickeningly sweet breakfast cereals like Cap'n Crunch or Lucky Charms shouldn't be on anyone's menu, especially children's. The entire reliance on cereal as a now-traditional breakfast meal is an amazingly successful marketing ploy by that industry when you think about it. "Traditional" means "I do it this way because others tell me I should and I don't have a free will to make my own decisions."
Save your sugar intake for foods that would not be what they are without it, such as desserts. Reject foods containing sugar that would not suffer from the lack of it, such as commercially produced pasta sauces, frozen skillet meals, bread, crackers and a whole host of other foods that make you ask questions like, why does a salty cracker need sugar?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Richard Sullivan at age 52

Bodybuilding = Bone Building.

In 2012 my doctor recommended I join a state study that as a bonus included lots of medical tests not covered by any medical insurance, tests which, had I been obliged to pay for them, would cost a small fortune. I jumped at the chance. Among these was a full body scan whose purpose among other things was to measure overall bone density. At first after viewing the results the staff thought there had been a mistake. The scan showed that in my 60s I had the bone density of a male in his early 20s.
They could observe that I was externally in exceptional physical shape, not just ‘for my age’ as the classic back-handed compliment goes, but for any age. There’s nothing like a medical professional who’s in terrible shape him/herself qualifying your physical condition despite your being in better shape than 95% of the general population. But I digress.
The scan revealed that years of strength training had had a profound impact on my skeletal frame.
In my early 30s I suffered from back ache and weakness in the back that made walking more than five blocks tiring and painful. I knew intuitively that I needed to strengthen my back muscles and that my then-current exercise routine was lacking. That gave me the impetus to approach a competitive bodybuilder at my gym and convince him I’d make a very good workout partner. Luckily for me he was also a great instructor/trainer. I made phenomenal progress quickly because I was motivated by fear of what lay ahead for me in the not-too distant future, my being too young at the time to be rightfully suffering from such an “old person’s” problem.
Younger people might begin strength training purely for vanity’s sake, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. But if they make strength training a life-long endeavor, the payoff will be a rich one as they remain strong, flexible, active and attractive at a time when most of their peers will be experiencing the opposite.