No Olympia For Me This Year

Fun times from Olympia 2011 with Anca and Farinaz

For the past seven years, I have attended Olympia every year and have always enjoyed the whole experience. This year, however, I will not be attending since the main sports supplement company I work with, SWAT Fuel, will not have a presence there this time around. What is strange for me is that I am not bothered by the fact that I won’t be rubbing elbows with the fitness and bodybuilding icons I have come to know over the years. In some sense I am actually relieved that I will get a break this year, since I have been traveling more this year and could use a staycation.

For those of you who are wondering what event I will be at next, please come by and say hi at the Ferrigno Legacy on November 18th and 19th. I will be at the Flexpo, handing out samples of SWAT Fuel’s 9mm+P, which is a combination preworkout/endurance/thermogenic formula unlike anything else on the market!

For more information and tickets to the Ferrigno Legacy, please visit: https://www.ferrignolegacy.com/

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Jerry Frederick Of Ironman Magazine Fame

While at Joe Wheatley’s Muscle Beach event on Labor Day, I had the pleasant surprise of seeing Jerry Frederick, whom I hadn’t seen in several years. He was sitting under the main canopy, with his ever-present breakaway reading glasses around his neck. I was just tickled to see him. For those of you in the bodybuilding world, you know that this man had worked for Ironman Magazine as one of their staff photographers for several decades. He has always had a strong passion for the world of competitive bodybuilding, and has gone out of his way to create content with athletes such as myself to use for features within the publication.

Jerry and I chatted for several minutes, and he was full of smiles and that sweet, gentle demeanor which makes him so loveable. I was saddened to hear that he has a neuromuscular disorder which could be Parkinson’s but which hasn’t been definitively diagnosed yet. Hopefully Jerry will be placed on a treatment plan which halts the progression of the disorder.

What The Hell Is “If It Fits Your Macros” Anyway?

You have probably heard about the “If It Fits Your Macros” (or IIFYM) trend which has been increasing in popularity within the fitness and bodybuilding world. It’s not surprising that the concept was embraced and developed by people within the industry who were sick and tired of adhering to monotonous, restrictive meal plans in which the vast majority of foods were labeled as evil and forbidden. On a personal note, I jumped on the IIFYM bandwagon as well because I was fed up with avoiding certain so-called “bad” foods and also dealing with metabolic burnout from years of caloric restriction. What surprised me was the positive manner in which my body responded to taking in maintenance calories as opposed to constantly functioning at a caloric deficit which only served to slow down my metabolism.

The term macro refers to the principal nutrients which the body requires: protein, fat, carbohydrates. IIFYM dictates that as long as you fulfill the energy needs of your body, you can obtain calories from any food source. Let’s face it: your body needs a certain amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat, along with fiber and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals in order to function optimally, but it doesn’t scrutinize every macronutrient gram as it is thrown into the body. On the other side of the coin, it is also important to bear in mind that most proponents of IIFYM do not consume large amounts of junk food either. As long as quality protein is consumed in adequate amounts to contribute to muscle growth and repair, along with micronutrients and dietary fiber to support normal digestion, it shouldn’t matter if a small percentage of caloric daily intake is obtained from discretionary or junk food items.

My personal opinion is that the quality of carbs still should come into play if you are employing an IIFYM approach. However, if the majority of carbs comes from quality sources such as oats, sweet potatoes and brown rice, a small amount of junk carbs (cookies, Pop Tarts) shouldn’t tip the balance too much. I am a fan of carb BACKloading and believe the largest insulin spike should come at night before you sleep, since you will be fasting for several hours.

I know some of you are still reading this with great skepticism and want to hold onto your six boring meals of tilapia and green beans every day, refusing to accept the concept of loosening the reins a bit and actually enjoying a variety of foods. IIFYM doesn’t mean that you lose control and eat whatever you want, whenever you want. What it DOES mean is that foods will no longer be forbidden or “bad”, and that you can actually consume them on a fairly regular basis as long as you keep track of your daily nutrient intake.

The main drawback of IIFYM is that you must track your food intake, which in a sense is another form of food fixation. However, there is a greater chance that you will meet your body’s nutrient needs than if you follow a cookie cutter, calorie restricted, orthorexia lover’s contest prep meal plan. When clean eating is followed 100% and the majority of food sources are banned, caloric restriction is almost inevitable. Such caloric restriction, when practiced for an extended period of time, will cause fat loss to stall and metabolism to slow down.

How about if you met your macronutrient needs without having to banish most foods from your diet? So many people in the world of fitness suffer from orthorexia, a psychopathological condition in which foods are labeled as “good” or “bad”, and in which individuals become socially isolated over their need to eat “correctly”. I have seen so many competitors struggle with an increasing difficulty in losing fat, so their coaches restrict their calories even more and ban more foods from their meal plans. Fruit, healthy fats, and healthy carbs are stripped away in an effort to lean the competitor out. Another thing to consider is what food deprivation does to people. If a food is “bad”, suddenly the temptation to indulge in that bad food is intensified.

You might want to consider trying IIFYM if you are in a slump with your current meal plan. You may feel like a hamster on a very boring and restrictive “clean eating” wheel in which you are only allowed to eat very specific foods in certain combinations. For some of you who have been doing this incessantly for years, you may have noticed over time that it has become more and more difficult to lose weight. Your meal plan is probably VERY rigid and VERY boring, consisting of foods you are probably so sick of that if you never had to eat them ever again, you would rejoice in the streets for days. Give IIFYM a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how your body responds.

Weight Training Won’t Make You Big, Ladies!

This was taken the day I won my IFBB Pro Card. I was training 4-5 hours a day at the gym, lifting heavy. I never got bigger than this, nor did I want to.

It still boggles my mind how many women are afraid to lift weights for fear that they will become huge and look like big, hulking men. How wrong they are! I will tell you right now that the answer to the question which serves as the title of this feature is, completely, unequivocally, NO. I often speak with female clients and patients of all ages who lament the fact that they cannot get the sculpted, lean bodies they covet, despite working out regularly. The problem stems from a couple of things:

1. They do not feed their bodies properly.
2. They do not lift weights, or if they do, they do not practice a lifting regimen that would bring about the physical changes they want.

I see ladies at the gym who will jump on a cardio machine for 20 to 30 minutes of easy cardio, then, if they had an indulgent night of eating or partying, they may extend their cardio sessions for a longer period of time at the same intensity. Before or after this, they may hit a few sets of uninspired exercises with light weights. These women barely break a sweat, yet they expect their bodies to transform. I’ve got news for you: that type of workout will ensure that you remain at the same level of fitness, and over time, you will see what little conditioning you may have plummet despite all your consistency.

It is a gross misconception that by lifting light weights and taking it easy at the gym, they will avoid getting bulky and will tone their muscles. Women are built differently than men, and simply do not have the testosterone levels necessary to build significant, bulky muscle mass. You need to challenge your body and create the muscle microtears necessary to build shapely, lean muscle. That means you need to lift heavier weights and break a sweat!

There are a multitude of benefits to lifting heavier weights, which I detail below.

CURVY, LEAN MUSCLE:

When you lift heavier weights, you will be rewarded with better muscle definition. Lifting very light weights will never challenge the muscles, so the muscles will never grow. I know I have scared some ladies, but think about a woman who has great muscle tone, but is still lean and feminine. A woman like that lifts weights that are heavy enough to spark muscle growth. If you follow suit, you will end up lean and more defined without being bulky.

GREATER OVERALL STRENGTH:

By lifting heavier weights, you will become stronger, and everyday activities will become easier to perform. You will also gain more structural stability from the greater muscle density which can protect your back and your joints.

IMPROVED BALANCE, COORDINATION AND POSTURE:

By improving muscle tone through weight training, you will enjoy better balance, greater overall coordination, and better posture.

IMPROVED BONE DENSITY:

Resistance training improves bone density by stressing the bones, thus triggering bone growth. This confers a protective effect against development of osteoporosis, especially in petite women.

HIGHER METABOLISM:

When you work out with heavier weights, you create tears in the muscles worked. When you do this, you expend a greater number of calories in order to repair those microtears.

LOWER BODY FAT:

Your body fat stores, particularly in the midsection, will be better utilized when you perform weight training with heavier weights.

PREVENTION OF MAJOR DISEASES:

Challenging weight training with heavier weights will reduce your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It will also lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol. In addition, your risk of diabetes and breast cancer will drop significantly.

BETTER IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTION:

Moderate exercise reduces stress, and by doing so, enables your body to produce more white blood cells to combat infection. In addition, the shift in attention from the troubles of the day while you are weight training will reduce the stress which can suppress your immune system.

GREATER WELL-BEING:

Vigorous resistance training boosts endorphin (natural opiates produced in the brain) levels, which create a sense of well-being. It will also stave off depression and produce a more restful sleep.

REDUCED PMS SYMPTOMS:

As stated previously, weight training is a terrific mood elevator and regulator. It also has a positive impact on hormone levels, increasing blood levels of estrogen, growth hormone, and testosterone. This counteracts the drop in estrogen and rise in progesterone which occurs right around the time before menstruation.