June is here! With its arrival come sunny days, warm weather, and the opportunity to show off all of the hard work that you put in over the long and cold winter months. For many of us, summer is a familiar face. We enjoy the sun, the sand, and the cool breezes of a warm summer day. We look forward to everything that summer has to offer.
For others, by contrast, summer is looked upon with fear and dread. Recent statistics show that over 120 million Americans are overweight or obese. This number is staggering. With images in the media portraying "the perfect form", many weight-conscious persons experience frustration, anxiety, and depression. The prospects of exposing their bodies at the beach, or any social function, is a source of enormous stress. While the media fosters [and almost forces] an attitude of competition with others and conformity to the "ideal" image, bodybuilding and fitness promote health, wellness and self-esteem.
Last year in North America, over 50 million prescriptions were written for commercial anti-depressants. As in times past, people continue to suffer from disease processes such as anxiety and depression. Today, however, many of the causes of such disease processes result from man-made conditions. The fast-paced lives that people are leading result in increased stress levels, and little or no time for relaxation or physical exercise. Resulting from this, many people take the latest and greatest mood masking pharmacological wonder drugs to offset the effects of their anxieties and depressions. What many people fail to realize is that the very thing missing in their lives is the solution to their problems.
For millions of people exercise is a tremendous away to both relieve and control anxiety and its effects. Truly, bodybuilding and exercise are holistic approaches to physical, mental and spiritual health. If more people were to take up exercise programs and incorporate those programs into their lifestyles, people would be free from both the causes and the effects of stress, anxiety and depression.
Yes. Bodybuilding offers you freedom in your life. Instead of taking antidepressants and suffering their side effects, you can instead make bodybuilding a lifelong journey, where the only side effects are enhanced moods, a sense of self-discipline, body fat reduction, increased protein synthesis, and more. The choice to choose freedom is yours.
Whatever your choice may be, when you go out this summer to the beach, to the cottage, or anywhere else, and you're enjoying the sunny day and the cool breezes, remember that bodybuilding is about individual progress, not about comparing yourself to others. It is about individual evolution; not conformity to a so-called ideal image.
Health and wellness are lifetime pursuits that are characterized by physical activity, sound mental health, and adequate levels of self-esteem. Bodybuilding is about being better and healthier today than you were yesterday, and about becoming healthier and better tomorrow than you are right now. Good luck on your journey!
I love your column. I've had gynecomastia for a while now. I am 17 and it's still here. I know for a fact that it is not going to go away on its own because my dad also has it. My dad has accepted his, but I just can't live with mine!
I have been lifting weights since I was 12, and it seems like all those years in the weight room, all those protein shakes and bars, and all that stuff just went to waste because I thought it would at least minimize this, but it has not. Do you have any suggestions?? I'm 5'6" and weigh 160lbs with 10-12% bodyfat.
Gynecomastia is a condition that occurs when the balance of testosterone and estrogen within the body is disrupted. The result is often a buildup of fatty tissue behind one or more nipples in the pectoral region of the body. This disruption can occur for many reasons. Here are some of them:
- Exposure to estrogenic compounds in the environment
In today's North American society, estrogenic compounds are virtually everywhere. Ordinary tap water, for example, may contain estrogenic substances. Many women take birth control pills, and many older women are treated using hormonal replacement therapy. Hormones are often excreted from the body and into the environment via the urinary tract. These hormones can end up in the water supply. Most water treatment facilities screen water only for harmful bacteria like e-coli and fecal pathogens. Hormones, antibiotics and other medications frequently survive the water purification process. I do not want to sound alarmist, but for this reason I recommend drinking bottled water.
Having said that, it is also important to realize that plastic is a major source of estrogenic compounds. Many things are packaged in plastic these days. From milk bags and milk jugs, to water bottles and even baby toys; estrogen is everywhere.
While it is unrealistic and unnecessary to eliminate all plastics from ones environment, recent studies show that the more damage or wear a plastic container has sustained, the more likely it is that estrogenic compounds will be leeched from the material. For this reason, use plastic containers like water bottles only several times if they are made from flimsy materials that breakdown easily. Once they have become worn or damaged, dispose of them promptly.
While other environmental sources of estrogen exist, the two I just presented are the major ones that, as a bodybuilder, you can take active measures to avoid.
- Drastic changes in dietary habits
Bodybuilders modify dietary habits to suit particular goals. An example of this would be the "contest diet" and the "post-contest diet." While one is marked by a shortage of calories, an excess of calories marks the other. The problem with this approach [strict caloric limitation followed by caloric abundance] is that the body is always operating in a position of extremes. Put another way, your body is either in a state of famine or fat. After being in a state of famine, the body hordes excess calories, because it does not know that food will always be available. For this, you can blame evolution.
A side effect of this is that the body puts on fat at an unprecedented rate. You can see this effect in people who "yo-yo" diet. Sure, they "lose weight" but then gain it all back, and then some, once the starvation diet is over. When the body stores fat in this fashion there is a potential that some fat will be stored in the pectoral region, specifically behind the nipples. Thus, gynocomastia can occur in association with rapid and excessive increases in body mass.
- Medical issues
Because gynecomastia can occur as a result of other causes beyond those just described, it is not a condition that should be taken lightly. Make no mistake: gyno can kill. Gynecomastia can be an indicator for a fatal disease process: testicular cancer.
Often, women use the "self-screening" method to check for lumps in their breast tissue. When used in conjunction with mammography this method is effective at detecting cancerous tumors in breast tissue. Many men are not aware that a similar procedure should be practiced for them. I am speaking, specifically, about self-examination of the testicles. It is important to check the testicles routinely for any abnormal lumps. Even if you do not suspect a problem, it is wise to remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Before you become alarmed [which will only increase your cortisol levels], you should also be aware that at your age gynecomastia is a common condition in males. Hormone levels are very much in flux in youth, and gynecomastia can occur as a result. When this happens it often DOES go away after hormone levels normalize in early adulthood. As for your father, his situation may be completely different from yours. His condition, I suspect, is attributable to a decline in testosterone levels associated with his age.
I recommend strongly that you consult with your family doctor, and request a referral to an endocrinologist [hormone doctor]. You at least want to give your mind some ease by finding out the cause of the condition.
One method of treatment that has some scientific backing is using the drug tamoxifen citrate, otherwise known as nolvadex. I've known guys who used nolvadex for gynocomastia with pretty good results. Others have tried drugs like clomid, but nolvadex seems to do a better job of getting rid of gynocomastia without having to go under the knife.
Having said that, because you are 17, because possession of this drug without a physicians authorization is illegal, and because I value my freedom, I can not recommend that you pursue this course of action. My job is simply to "tell is like it is" and educate the public.
Often times, because of your age, the doctor will be hesitant to operate, although that is an option. Most times, however, the best course of action is to wait until your natural hormone levels normalize. In any case, you can discuss those options with your health care team. In the mean time, my advice to you is this: try to reduce your bodyfat levels, and stay on a clean diet as much as possible. Also, avoid from any hormonal products like prohormones or anabolic or androgenic steroids [AAS]. Your hormone system is already out of balance and you do not want to make an already existing condition any worse.
I am 20 years old and am interested is doing a cycle of steroids. I am probably done growing but being a short 5'7 I would like to grow a little taller if my body will allow it. I know it probably won't happen but just in case I would rather play it safe then always wondering if I stunted my growth. I read in a few places that non-aromatizing steroids do not stunt growth. What do you think?
Stature - or height - is determined primarily by the length of the long bones in the body. How large and robust these bones become is determined by factors like diet, genetics and physical stress placed upon the body. The human body has 206 bones, not counting the teeth. The long bones in the body are [from top to bottom]: the humerus, radius and ulna, femur, fibula and tibia.
In adolescence the long bones are not yet fused, and thus consist of three parts: the epiphysis, diaphysis and metaphysis. Let me explain a bit about each so that you can better understand the answer to your question.
The first thing to understand is that bones grow in a predictable pattern. Having said that, bone growth occurs unequally at different ends of each bone. The diaphysis is the part of the bone that is the center of the long bone in adolescence. In adolescence the epiphyses sit on both ends of the bone [joints], and the growing part of the diaphysis is the metaphysis. The metaphysis is the part of the diaphysis that is growing. The Greek term "meta" means "beyond", so this term would make sense if you picture new bone growth areas as being "beyond" already existing bone - ie being the growing parts of bone that are beyond the already existing bone. The illustration provided is of a somewhat poor quality, but it was all that I was able to locate.
How does the body make or remove bone, you ask? By way of osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The thyroid gland secretes thyrocalcitonin which is responsible for moving calcium into bones from the blood by stimulating osteoblasts. By contrast, the parathyroid glands secrete parathyroid hormone which moves calcium from bone into blood by stimulating osteoclasts.
All of this may be confusing, but I assure you, it is important to understand. One final key to stature determination is somatropin - human growth hormone. You see, somatropin is responsible for fusing the epiphysis to the diaphysis in late adolescence and early adulthood. Put another way: human growth hormone fuses bone so that no more stature growth is possible after a certain point in a persons life. HGH is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain.
So, the answer to your question is: it is very unlikely that you will get any taller [regardless of what steroids you take], but an increase in stature for you is not impossible. Supplementing with a growth hormone precursor supplement will not do any good toward trying to become taller. The bottom line is that stature is largely determined by genetics and diet.
To exploit the almost infinitesimal possibility that you will gain height I suggest working out hard [to stimulate your hormone system] and focus on compound movements like squats, deadlifts and flat bench press. Also, be sure to consume a quality multivitamin and ensure that your calcium levels are reasonably high. You can also try getting one of those hanging devices that use gravity boots to hang you from the ceiling.
One other option that you might consider is a new surgery method from China. In a nutshell what happens is this: They break your femur in both legs and insert metal rods and bolts into your legs. The result is that you can often gain a foot in height! The bad news is that after the surgery you are unable to walk for a long time (if ever), and it is very costly.
As for steroids they will not help or hurt you in your quest to get taller but they might give you a nasty case of gyno, in which case your only worry will be buying a bras that's big enough! If it puts your mind at ease, consider that Franco Columbu was Mr. Olympia several times, at a "tall" 5'4. His height came from the awe that his physique inspired in others. In reality, no one really noticed or cared that he was not the "tallest" man on stage. Only one thing mattered: he was the best.
Think also about Lee Priest. The man is a marvel; a virtual superman. He is able to take on his competitors and win. Or, consider the phenomenal and spectacular career of Shawn Ray. It is not how tall you are that matters at the end of the day: it is how muscular you are and how tall you stand.
So, this leaves you with two reasonable alternatives: Accept your height [not your "shortness"!] and work WITH it instead of against it, or develop such a killer body that your height is no longer an issue that affects your self esteem. Whatever your choice, do it the Lee Labrada way: with class!
I had a baby a couple of years ago and I am having a lot of trouble losing the weight. Could you tell me what are healthy foods to eat and what kind of exercises are good for leaning up and losing weight? I know my problem is not eating right so please can you help me get back in shape?
I appreciate your courage for sending in this question, and I admire your desire to get back into shape. As rewarding as motherhood can be, it comes with the price of physical pain and, often, a gain in unwanted bodyfat.
You identified your eating habits as the primary source of concern, so I will focus on that area, and then write a bit about exercise.
It is important to realize first that no matter how much exercise you do, if your eating habits are not consistent with your stated goal, you will not get to be where you want to be. It is impossible to overstate the significance and importance of proper nutrition when it comes to exercise and getting the kind of body that you desire.
So, with that in mind, here are some foods that work very well at helping the body become, and stay, lean.
|Chicken breast [without skin]||Protein|
|Fresh or flash frozen fish||Protein|
|Low Fat Cottage Cheese||Protein|
|Salmon||Protein / Fat|
|All Natural Peanut Butter||Protein / Fat|
|Nuts and Seeds||Fat|
|Nuts and Seeds||Fat|
|Olive Oil||Olive Oil|
|Sweet Potatoes [yams]||Carbohydrates|
|Fibrous Vegetables / Hot Peppers||Carbohydrates|
This list is not exhaustive but it gives you an idea as to what will help you become and stay lean. The most important thing to realize is that grocery shopping is half of the battle! You must shop with precision, with health and your GOAL in mind. If, then, after shopping in this fashion, you arise in the middle of the night looking for something fattening [full of sugar] and it is not there to eat, guess what happens? You won't get fat to begin with because you maintained your vigilance in the grocery store! For more information on shopping please refer to my article Grocery Shopping For The Bodybuilder! While you are not a bodybuilder, the human body works pretty much the same no matter who you are. The information in that publication will prove very helpful in your quest to lose bodyfat.
One thing that I want to address is the idea that the foods listed above taste "bland" or "dry." Often in Western society when people do not like the flavor of a food they add SUGAR to sweeten it up and make it more agreeable. This is a mistake that is responsible for the epidemic of obesity. Instead, as a healthy person on their way to being even MORE healthy, you will want to use SPICES to provide your food with flavor. Spices have no calories and taste better than sugar. In fact, they don't rot your teeth like sugars do, so you will save money when you go to the dentist, too.
I also recommend supplementing with calcium and a multivitamin. Studies show that childbirth causes calcium loss from the bones. Women are at increased risk for osteoporosis [thinning of the bones] so it is important to make sure that you do your bit to offset any problems in that area.
Exercise is the other key that you correctly identified. It is necessary to incorporate light weights into your exercise regimen and also some cardiovascular work. It is a good idea to make the program that you start FUN. For example, you could get a woman from work to go with you and you could catch up on what was on TV while you work out. Or, you can set goals together and cheer each other on. For the cardio, you might go rollerblading or play some basketball. In this way you will begin a healthy lifestyle and most importantly you will stick with it because it will be FUN!
I recommend, as final advice, to get a check-up with your doctor. Any supplements you are considering taking [like a fat burner], please make sure that you are able, medically, to take them. Being healthy is exactly about that: health.
Remember, though, that all women are beautiful no matter how they appear on the outside, and mothers even more so. It takes someone special to be a mother; it takes someone with strength, desire, and power. Motherhood certainly requires a person with enough strength to overcome the obstacles presented by a fitness program. You will do great, I am sure of it. Please write back to me with your results!
I have been weight training for a few years now. One thing I am confused about is a good bodypart split. One author like Steve Holman of Ironman Magazine says that most people should train a bodypart twice a week, and recommends training the upper body one day and lower the next. The upper body day is taxing both mentally and physically. How would you recommend I split it up? I train 4 days a week.
I do not follow the writings of Mr. Holman, but I certainly disagree with his recommendation to train a bodypart twice weekly. Aside from the fact that most of us actually have real lives, training a bodypart twice weekly allows for little to no recovery time. In fact, unless you're chemically assisted, it is unlikely that you can train with that frequency and with that intensity for any long period of time. I do think, however, that as a shocking technique training a lagging body part twice weekly is one solution in a bag of tricks that should be used only sparingly.
Upper body and lower body workouts are great for people who have limited time, and for beginners. However, you are in the intermediate range because you have been training for several years. Therefore, I recommend following the split that I outlined in the article The Ultimate Mass Building Workout!
One of the problems with the magazines is that their focus is on SELLING magazines and advertisements. This means, simply, that their advice has to be SO GENERAL that it includes everyone - everyone who is buying, that is. But not everyone is the same, nor will everyone respond the same to the advice given in the magazines. So, it is almost ALWAYS true that advice in the magazines is going to be WRONG [in differing degrees] for the majority of the people out there. When a magazine tries to be everything to everyone, it ends up becoming nothing to no one. The only question is whether or not the people who read those magazines realize that this is the case.
The benefit of a Q and A column like this is that you get SPECIFIC, TAILORED information that suits YOU, instead of you trying to force your body into someone else's generalized mold. In fact, in the Authors Personal in May's column I indicated that generic "one-size-fits all" information will never appear here.
This column won't ever become generalized like the magazines, because the focus of this column is different. The focus of this column is not about selling as many magazines to as many people as possible. No. The focus of this column is YOU. Your training, your questions, your health, and most importantly, YOUR results.
Bodybuilding is about finding what works for YOU, and then sticking to it. Try the split in The Ultimate Mass Building Workout! If your body tells you to modify it, do so. But always listen to YOUR body, it knows best.
I am a lesbian female bodybuilder. I have been working out at the gym near my house for the past 4 1/2 years. Lately every week I keep seeing one particular woman there. I am attracted to her and I would like to approach her but I'm not sure if she is straight or not. What is the proper gym etiquette for my situation and how should I approach her? Please help.
It's not always easy to be unlike many other people. I am sure this is not the first time in your life that you have experienced apprehension about approaching someone you are interested in. At least you were thoughtful enough to think about your situation and how the other person might feel. Your question tells me that you are a thoughtful person who both cares about your own feelings and the feelings of your fellow gym member. My hat to you for your thoughtfulness.
You asked me what gym etiquette I think you should use when approaching this woman, and my answer to you is NONE. In fact, I do not recommend asking her on a date in the gym or taking it beyond conservative courteousness at that location.
It is unknown to me whether this woman is aware of you. If she isn't, you must see to it that she becomes aware of you. How so? Ask her for a spot! In fact, do this several times until you begin to talk about other things, like training. When talking about that you can work the conversation into things of mutual interest. Talk about TV, talk about politics, and if all else fails talk about the weather. In doing this you will be "getting your foot in the door" with this woman in a non-threatening manner, and you will also be in her presence on a recurring basis. This will cement a memory of you into her mind, and when you are in the gym next you will have someone to say hello to.
You see, the first step to talking to someone, getting to know them, AND getting to know about them, is to make them aware that you exist and are a friendly face. If you do that you will have effectively laid the groundwork.
My advice to you is to be friends with her first. Establish yourself as a friendly face, and someone with whom she can have a friendly, non-threatening, intelligent conversation. Under no circumstances do I recommend "dropping hints." People are not stupid and if you do this you will undermine or destroy the reputation you will have built with her, and then your chance will be gone. Become her friend, be there for her, and find out what she enjoys doing in her spare time. BUT, and this is the distinction: Do so, not because you have an ulterior motive, but because you really want to get to know this other human being. Deal with her as a PERSON instead of a woman or a potential lover.
Also, deal with YOURSELF as a human being, instead of reminding yourself that you are a "lesbian." Let your humanity define you, instead of the labels that society uses to separate one class of people from another class of people. Labels only mean something when we buy into them. They only define us when we let them because we fail to define ourselves.
Being totally genuine in your conduct is important. I don't think being sneaky is a good idea, nor would it be moral. Being nice to someone just to serve an agenda is really wrong, so I encourage you to be as sincere as possible.
After you have found out her interests, you have conversation material. Even if you don't like football and she does, there is something to talk about, as long as you acquire knowledge on football. I think you get the idea.
Location is key. I mentioned that it is not a good idea to approach her in the gym. It would be similar to approaching someone at work with a personal matter that they would rather keep private. You must approach her, after being her friend, in an environment that is non-threatening, and in a non-threatening way. You do not want to put her "on the spot" where she must make a potentially embarrassing decision in front of a group of people. If she has to make a decision like this, the result will be that you will lose out in favor of self-protection.
As you get to know her you will get the answer to your question as to whether or not she is a lesbian, bi-sexual or straight. In fact, your answer may come out in casual conversation, thus sparing you the anxiety of even having to ask. If she is lesbian or bisexual and shows interest in you then you have both a friend and a lover. If she is straight and wants to be friends then you have made a friend. Either way, if you follow the advice and procedure outlined here, you can't lose.
Come back next month to see YOUR questions answered! From steroids to supplements to sexuality, workouts to weight loss and more, the answers you want are here!
The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider. The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers. Further, the author does not warrant or guarantee that the information contained in written publications, from him or any source is accurate or error-free. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the publication that you may find offensive. You are solely responsible for viewing and/or using the material contained in the authored publications in compliance with the laws of your country of residence, and your personal conscience. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications.
Copyright © Clayton South, 2003 All rights reserved.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and author of this publication.