Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG)

Apr 10 2017 |

So Many Supplements: But Which Ones Work?

Apr 10 2017 |

I was just looking at a supplement lineup that included a list of names like Shred This, Ripp That, and Lean Out. Not very descriptive, really. There were so many listed with names all sounding similar, that I was inclined to just skip it. If that’s how I felt (and I know what most ingredients are, what they do, etc), I can imagine the non-expert regular Jane or Joe looking at all that and either closing their browser, or ordering a couple things based on the name alone. Problem is that most people don’t know which ingredient does what, or how much effect the product will give them. In any case, there are no magic pills that are going to transform your body. I’m guessing that those products are preying on people’s desire to take a shortcut and be able to eat however they normally eat, do a little cardio or work out a little, and get a sleek physique. That’s not going to happen. You’ve got to feed your body the right stuff to support lean tissue, build more lean tissue than you currently have, and get it metabolically active! Do you know how to do that? You also have to quit eating the stuff that’s causing you to hold bodyfat or store more bodyfat. Take caffeine for workout energy. It is quite healthy, actually, for your brain and body, in moderate dosages. Eat quality protein, and enough of it. Work out right. That means get strong. Eat lots of nutrient dense, whole foods, and little that is processed. Eat that way, and your sugar cravings will mostly subside, and you’ll see more results than you will with any other method. There’s no getting around it. If you want to look healthy, you have to GET healthy. If you want to look fit, you have to GET fit. Figuring out a way to make it a routine that you can live with makes it a lifestyle… a creates a healthy, fit you! You find the supplements I recommend EVERYone take at!

Artificial Sweetener : Is Splenda (Sucralose) OK or Not?

Apr 10 2017 |

Is Splenda (Sucralose) OK or NOT? NOT! – Splenda (Sucralose) is a chemically manipulated sugar molecule that isn’t absorbed by our bodies like sugar, but affects us in many negative ways.  And unfortunately the manufacturers are trying to get FDA approval to include it in foods, drinks, and other products without including it on the product label! My Opinion:  Don’t touch the stuff.  It’s too easy to eliminate this, amongst all of the other toxins/poisons that we breathe, drink, and can’t easily (or practically) avoid. The following details excerpted from James Bowen, M.D., A physician, biochemist, and survivor of aspartame poisoning who warns about yet another synthetic sweetener, Sucralose.

“By this process chlorocarbons such as sucralose deliver chlorine directly into our cells through normal metabolization. This makes them effective insecticides and preservatives. Preservatives must kill anything alive to prevent bacterial decomposition.”

Dr. Bowen believes ingested chlorocarbon damage continues with the formation of other toxins: “Any chlorocarbons not directly excreted from the body intact can cause immense damage to the processes of human metabolism and, eventually, our internal organs. The liver is a detoxification organ which deals with ingested poisons. Chlorocarbons damage the hepatocytes, the liver’s metabolic cells, and destroy them.

In test animals Splenda produced swollen livers, as do all chlorocarbon poisons, and also calcified the kidneys of test animals in toxicity studies. The brain and nervous system are highly subject to metabolic toxicities and solvency damages by these chemicals. Their high solvency attacks the human nervous system and many other body systems including genetics and the immune function. Thus, chlorocarbon poisoning can cause cancer, birth defects, and immune system destruction. These are well known effects of Dioxin and PCBs which are known deadly chlorocarbons.”

Dr. Bowen continues: “Just like aspartame, which achieved marketplace approval by the Food and Drug Administration when animal studies clearly demonstrated its toxicity, sucralose also failed in clinical trials with animals. Aspartame created brain tumors in rats. Sucralose has been found to shrink thymus glands (the biological seat of immunity) and produce liver inflammation in rats and mice.

You can read more of what Dr. Bowen says about Sucralose at And more about Sucralose and Aspartame at

Supplements and Guidelines for Better Health and Fitness

Apr 10 2017 |

You can read and listen to the videos about probiotics here… general, look to avoid MSG, (“natural flavor”, and all of the other forms of MSG), artificial everything, but especially sweeteners, sucralose (an artificial sweetener, but they don’t have to call it that), and trans fats. Vitamin Shoppe has the following that I recommend that you start taking: Whey Protein – (not an absolute must, but easy and convenient way to bump up protein intake, which you might not be able to eat enough of, otherwise)  Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey: Natural Vanilla Flavor (this has no artificial sweeteners, nor sucralose) Glutamine – You can get VitaShoppe’s cheapest brand, or order from or other via a search.  A 2.2lb canister (1 Kilogram) costing around $35 is a decent deal.  I have found it as cheap as $20/KG and bought a bunch of it to stock up.  You will benefit from taking about 5/10 grams (for Leslie/John dosages) immediately before AND after your workout, or take one or two times each day on non-workout days also. Greens Formula – You can order these from me at the link below, or find an OK version at Vita Shoppe.  You’ll like mine better, and they’re as good or better than anything available.  I would recommend buying a case of 12, but I’ll leave that up to you… no hard sell.  Everyone who’s ever gotten them from me continues to order them, and say that none others compare.  In any case, I recommend at least Leslie = 1/John = 2 scoops a day for both of you.  And more for optimal health. FYI… I take 4 or 5 scoops every single day, and Susan takes 2 scoops/day.  This is something that I can not emphasize the importance of, and benefit of, enough. has the following: Coconut Oil – this is great as supplemental fat, has MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides, which the brain can burn in the absence of fructose), and has all kinds of anti-bacterial, anti-virus, anti-fungal properties, and more.  You can/should use it on your skin as well. BioAstin – has astaxanthin, which has a load of great properties, including being a natural sunscreen (from the inside-out).  I recommend using it for sun protection and nothing else, unless you’re going to be exposed for hours and have no other means of protection.  That should be few and far between.  I also recommend that you get real sun exposure to the point that you keep a nice tan.  No burning, if possible, but nice and brown. 🙂 or has the following: Probiotics – you will benefit from taking these every day.  You can read about my experience and dosages, and experiment yourself.  Roughly 20Billion organisms per capsule is a convenient dosage.  I have taken as much as 100Billion worth every couple of hours when feeling like a sore throat was beginning, and it has always been gone by the next day or two.  You can take some with high carb meals to help digestion be more complete.  The idea is to keep your Good to Bad bacteria ratio POSITIVE in your GI Tract.  Sugar (or carbs that convert to glucose, fructose, etc) feeds BAD bacteria, so taking probiotics with higher carb meals counters that effect. Ubiquinol – for the brain.  Something it needs (more usable form of Co-Q10, especially for people over 40) to function right. will no doubt have some good info about it and everything else that you care to read about.  He overdoes it a bit with too much info, but he offers a wealth of info and research summaries and sources. Fish Oils with high DHA – smart to include, even if you take coconut oil and flax oil, hemp oil, etc that have a good amount of Omega-3s.  Fish Oil is utilized by the body so well. This is something I can order for you from MetaGenics, and the quality is top-notch.  FYI, my doc friend says the Krill oil tends to oxidize, so he recommends MetaGenics.  Vitamin Shoppe will have some in the refrigerated section.

The Myth of Knees Over Toes

Apr 10 2017 |

It was way back when… during the early 1990’s when I was personal training in Houston, that an aerobics instructor friend told me that the way I was doing lunges was wrong.  And our knees-over-toes discussion ensued. After decades of continuing to hear trainers instruct their clients to not allow their knees to go past their toes while doing squats or lunges (as if they’d dislocate their knee immediately if they did so even once!), I had shaken my head in disbelief long enough… I decided to look for the research. I was happy to find the video below.  It shows a simple lunge.  While the movement isn’t the absolute BEST, it is correct in its simplest form. What I discovered is that the American Council on Exercise posted the video, and their own certified “experts” and others berated them because the woman demonstrating the lunge was doing so with her knees traveling past her toes a bit.  As you can read in the linked material below, they found a need to post a followup that explained the following (I am paraphrasing, by the way):

Hey people!  We used to teach it one way.  New research in the ensuing 20 years showed that we were wrong!  So now we teach it the new and improved way!  Stop moaning about it and learn something new!

The numbers: 1978 showed that a vertical lower leg reduced shearing forces on the knee during a squat. A 2003 study confirmed that knee stress increased by 28% when the knees moved past the toes, but hip stress increased nearly 1000% when forward movement of the knee was restricted! So by all means, keep your knees from moving out over your toes to where it feels most comfortable and correct… but allow your hips to be stressed 1000% more in the process!  Good choice! The impactful paragraph from the article…

It is a myth, however, that you should “never let your knees go past your toes while doing a squat or lunge.”This belief originated from a study that is more than 30 years old (1978 Duke University study that found maintaining a vertical lower leg as much as possible reduced shearing forces on the knee during a squat). The truth is that leaning forward too much is more likely what is truly causing the problem or injury. In 2003, University of Memphis research confirmed that knee stress increased by 28% when the knees were allowed to move past the toes while performing a squat. However, hip stress increased nearly 1,000% when forward movement of the knee was restricted.

Unfortunately, most people reciting the old method probably didn’t really understand what they were doing, nor why they were reciting that method.  They were just reciting something they were told.  So they probably wouldn’t be able to tell whether or not the “new” method was really better or not.  That’s why fundamental understanding is best, and essential if you’re going to try to teach someone else. Back to my friend in Houston, and the debate that we had… She was one of those who was reciting a technique based on what she read in a book (and was told in a class), not what she experienced and adapted based on what she “felt” in her own body-in-motion. Bottom line?  I was unable to convince her, but I was right.  I came to do lunges the correct way, intuitively, based on my own knowledge and experience, and upon my keen understanding of what correct muscle movement “feels” like.  I knew, without a doubt, that what I was doing was safe and effective, and that it was the movement that impacted the muscles in the best possible way. But that’s the way that I found was most effective for my clients’ success in their fitness strategy… teach them to correctly FEEL what the muscles are supposed to be doing first.  Then they’ll be able to assess a new exercise, movement, or machine on their own and know whether it’s safe, effective, good, or bad, and be confident about their assessment. The lunging video that received the negative comments… I only see a few of those comments now. and the ACE article followup… and a forum that referred to the ACE article along with some other links…

Weight-lifting: the ultimate exercise form

Apr 10 2017 |

lifting weights, if done the right way, is the ultimate way to spend the least amount of time and effort, to get the most results. Any other form of exercise could be a personal preference, but for the best return on investment of time & effort, there is no equal to resistance training! The bottom line is that equating activities to calories is stupid. Figuring out how much you can get away with is counter productive. You need to know the most important, impactful facts and figures. So you need to know that putting crap into your body is going to come ta price. You can get away with it sometimes, but generally, you should adopt a way of life and eating that gives the body what it needs… EVERYTHING that it needs! But nothing else. Most of the time. When your body is chiseled, detoxified, clean, pure (as practical), and overall healthy, vibrant, strong (functionally is most important), and capable of day to day action, plus maybe a little more (ok, for some of us, we want to be A LOT more capable of action! Superhero, anyone?), then you’ll probably LOOK great, feel great, and BE strong, healthy, and able to kick @$$!

Supplements to take

Apr 10 2017 |

The 5 supplements that everyone should take for overall health and anti-aging are listed below. It’s just my opinion, so do a little research on your own and see if you agree. Probiotics – boosts immune function and intestinal health… through the roof! Glutamine – an amino acid that enhances immune function Green formula – powdered superfood formula with the anti-oxidant power of 20+ servings of fruits & vegetables in each scoop! Omega 3 Fats – fish oils or flax seed oil Detox Formula – optimal cleansing nutrition of the body, providing gastrointestinal, liver, kidney, and inflammatory condition support.

Master Your Own Physical Self

Apr 10 2017 |

If you’re ready to become the master of your own physical self, you should start to learn about the following: Health – Become fit, and you’ll become healthier. Eat to become more fit, and you’ll become healthier as well. It’ll change the way you look, feel, function, and how well you age! Fitness – If you don’t know your own body yet, what are you waiting for? Start slow, start basic, be consistent. I would suggest using resistance training to learn and understand how each muscle group works. Understanding the sensations you feel will allow you to understand your body, how it moves, how it functions. You’ll be athletic, if not a good athlete. And you’ll be the master of your own body! Once you’ve done that, the rest is much easier. The all around athlete will be fit in all 4 categories out of necessity, and they’ll be lean as well. Lean means more flexible, quicker, more agile, and more efficient cardiovascularly. Resistance training – generally speaking, this means weightlifting or workout machines. Core training – stability ball training, floor work, balance training, Pilates, yoga, etc. Stretching – yoga, Pilates, stability ball work, other conventional stretching. Cardiovascular training – running, biking, jump rope, boxing, kickboxing, etc, or various gym cardio machines.   Nutrition – What you eat matters. The effects are on the inside, and sooner or later they show up on the outside, and as real health problems. The best foods: Protein – eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, beef Carbohydrates – yams or sweet potatoes, fruits, vegetables.  If you’re going to eat a grain, whole raw oats are better than the rest. Fats – from fish, almonds, cashews, avocado, egg yolks, and coconut oil

My Lumbar Disc Disease – Cured!

Apr 10 2017 |

spineFirst off, I would call it a condition.  The American Medical Association calls it degenerative lumbar disc disease, but that’s another blog post.  My first back injury was a result of doing light warm-up leg presses in the gym.  I knew it immediately, after going a little too deep with a repetition.  There was pain and reduced range of motion.  The doctor gave me ibuprofen and told me to rest it.  I’ve re-injured the area a few other times over the ensuing 20 years, all of them while lifting weights (heavy straight legged deadlifts once, light front squats another time).  So I eliminated regular squats, leg presses, and straight legged dead lifts, as well as dead lifts for years, doing other exercises to compensate. Over the years, chiropractic adjustments helped heal the area after injury and keep my back feeling good the rest of the time.  I had recurring sciatic nerve impingement at various times over 10 years, and prevented it from affecting me by stretching my hamstrings and glutes, along with chiropractic adjustments.  If I didn’t stretch for more than a few days in a row, I would start to feel slight impingement of the nerve and that insidious dull ache that would get worse with each passing day.  It was a constant reminder of the physical vulnerability and the wrong movement could cause another relapse.  One time, a sneeze in the shower caused pressure on that nerve and a jolt of massive pain (I was instructed that bending my knees before sneezing will prevent that!), followed by a week of chiro adjustments, being extremely careful, and not being able to work out!  All that changed just six months ago. A chiropractor who happens to work out at my gym told me about a device he invented called Spinal Stretch.  The device sounded interesting, so I visited his office, where he took an x-ray of my lower lumbar (free of charge… wow, nice guy!), and explained the x-ray (nothing new to me, that the L5-S1 joint shows a smaller than usual disc space, which is why the nerve gets impinged upon so easily).  He also showed me literature that was pretty convincing – that sufficient spinal decompression can relieve disc compression issues, and even regenerate disc tissue.  He then had me try his traction device after demonstrating it himself.  I wanted to give it a try, so I paid him for the Spinal Stretch, and began to use it at home. During that first week of use, Dr. Starr explained to me, at the gym, that the way I was stretching (each and every day, religiously) was compressing the fluid and nutrients from my spinal discs, and exacerbating my condition.  I knew with certainty that those stretches were the only thing that had prevented my sciatic nerve from acting up over the last 10 years, but with reservation, I told David that I would refrain from doing them for a couple weeks… as long as I didn’t feel my sciatic nerve start to complain. So I used his Spinal Stretch nearly every day for the first few months.  No pain.  No issues!  Due to a hectic schedule (and being symptom free, of course), I’ve only used it about 5 times over the last few months.  And still – no pain, no issues!  I would have used it more if my back started acting up, but it just hasn’t.  That fact is a good one, but I do plan to use it consistently over the next few months and then to take another x-ray to see if my L5-S1 disc space looks like it has regenerated.  And if I had to use it every day, that would be OK too, but even better if I don’t have to! So anyone who has a low back problem should give traction a try.  But now I’ll explain the evidence in the literature that was so convincing to me.

The Science Behind Spinal Decompression

First off, there’s ample evidence that people have deterioration of the spinal structures, specifically, degeneration of the spinal lumbar discs, beginning in their second and third decades of life, and it worsens with age.  Causes are genetic inheritance, age, inadequate hydration and nutrition to the discs, and loading (compression) history.  That’s the case for athletes and non-athletes. One thing that got research going strong in this area was the observation that astronauts in weightlessness gained up to two and a half inches in height during space flight, which decreased to zero after being on earth for 24 hours.  What they realized was that the uncompressed spine in weightlessness was a result of the discs absorbing fluid (along with the all-important nutrients carried by that fluid).  And that the spine in earth’s gravity is compressed quite a bit, comparatively.  In fact, some astronauts complained of back pain in weightlessness, and they realized that it was due to the discs being extra full of fluid (think balloon that expands a little too much).  They invented a compression suit to remedy the problem, and didn’t have the problem again. Compression and decompression (they call it compression/distraction in the literature) pushes fluid out and diffuses fluid back into the discs, respectively.  The key to healthy discs is to keep loading to a minimum, in general, and to decompress the spine on a regular basis, which results in fluid and nutrients diffusing into the discs.  Simply laying down minimizes loading, but spinal compression (loading) is still present due to normal muscular tension. The figure below shows spinal loading for various positions.  Laying down face up, laying on your side, standing, bending at various angles, and sitting at various angles.   Note that the spine is more loaded when sitting than standing. There are numerous ways to decompress the spine, but some of them seem silly.  There is inversion (hanging from your feet), which results in blood pooling in the brain and eyes (potentially dangerous).  There are various traction apparatuses that are big and bulky, used for experiment, mostly, and would probably be impractical for home use.  There is floating in water.  Water exercise is good due to the body being unloaded, but it’s not the end-all be-all for fitness or spinal decompression.  And then there is the Spinal Stretch.  It weighs four pounds, fits in a small carrying bag that fits in a suitcase, and provides plenty of decompression force.  I used it for three months, 30 minutes half the time, 20 minutes the other half, and read a book while I was laying there. To come full circle, I have to tell you about the experiments with rabbits, mice, and rats.  Various experiments and follow-ups for verification, control groups, etc… good, solid research protocol was followed.  Loading of the spines were done over 28 days that resulted in moderate disc degeneration, followed by 28 days of decompression (distraction).  They took measurements by removing the rabbit spines in one experiment, and measuring disc spacing and dead cell number before/after;  another rabbit study measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as gene and protein expression levels. The conclusion?  That distraction results in disc rehydration, and that tissue recovery occurs on a biological, cellular, and a biomechanical level. The study with mice and rats was done similarly, with the conclusion that mice and rat discs are a good mechanical model for the human disc.  The correlations between lumbar spine properties and animal body weight was evidence that quadruped animal lumbar spines are a good model for bipedal human spines.  Now that’s pretty interesting!

Bottom Line

Too many people have low back issues that can be corrected without surgery.  If you don’t have low back issues, you can prevent them by “taking care” of yourself, but decompression with a traction device is a simple, effective thing that you can do in a few minutes at home a few times a week.  I thought I was going to have to live with my issue forever, and maybe eventually have surgery.  Now I’d bet that I won’t need surgery, and that my one previously bad disc is probably going to be healthy for a long, long time.

Update on February 24, 2013

Over the past two and a half years, I’ve used my traction device (Spinal Stretch) a couple dozen times, a few days here, a few days there, with much time in between without it at all.  The times I’ve used it is when I feel like my low back is a little “out of whack”, and using it once, twice, or three times in as many days puts me back to normal.  Normal in my case is very strong, and doing free barbell squats again, straight legged deadlifts (with dumbbells only so far, with at most a 60 lb pair), and deadlifts, too!

Update on July 26, 2017

I am actually posting this update as a result of being referred to someone with a low back issue who is searching for answers.  I referred them to this blog post, and recognize that it is time for an update.

I have used the Spinal Stretch a handful of times over the last few years… when I feel like I need it.  I get chiropractic here and there, sometimes regularly, sometimes not for quite some time.  Currently, I haven’t had Chiro in about 6 months (though I DO self-adjust a little), just as a reference point.  My strength, mobility, and functionality (back and whole body) are at very high levels, and I have deadlifted 385 lbs for the first time ever just a few weeks ago.  405 lbs here I come! 😉

Weightlifting Gloves, Straps, and Belts… Just for Show?

Apr 10 2017 |

“Manly” men think they’re for “girly” men.  My brother asked me once, “do those gloves and weightlifting belt actually do something for you, or do you just have those for show?” I smiled.  Then I explained. When I was asked that question umpteen times back in the day, when the “fitness craze” was just hitting full stride, I answered simply that “a girlfriend in the past had said the calluses on my hands were too rough, so she bought me a pair of gloves and asked me to wear them. “  And then I explained the other benefits. Gloves help keep calluses from forming on your hands.  They also help you grip the bar, weights, machine handles, and everything else in the gym.  Dumbbells with knurled metal will tear your hands up, so a good weightlifting glove will save them, if not prevent calluses, completely. While I’m at it, I may as well round out this short post by mentioning weightlifting straps, as well.  Arguments against are that your grip strength won’t be as good if you use them, because your hands and forearms won’t have to work as hard.  Well, I’ve had a disc slip in my lower lumbar when trying to get situated with 120 lb dumbbells on an incline bench.  I happened to forget my straps that day, and that was the last time I attempted to handle poundage like that without straps.  All it takes is the tiniest of miscues or slips. Plus, you can always get another rep or three if you’re using straps on a lift that really utilizes grip strength.  Hanging wide grip chinups are a good example.  Your grip can be a limiting factor if your back is strong enough and is capable of doing more reps than your hand grip will allow.  Use straps and you can focus on your back, doing as many reps as possible that your back strength and endurance allow… not grip strength and endurance.  If I’m working my back, I want my back to fail, not my hands.  Same with every other muscle group. And then there are weight-lifting belts.  They have their place.  For powerlifters, a necessity.  For others, depending, they can help, especially if you’re injured.  If you’re otherwise healthy and uninjured, I would suggest lifting without a weight-lifting belt, unless you’re lifting massive amounts of weight.  Then use one for those super heavy lifts, but not otherwise.  Your core, your abdominals… will work a bit more without a belt.  And your form will probably be better as a result. But that’s just my take.  Opinions vary!    Try it both ways and let me know what YOU think!