Christmas Round-up

Well, it's been a bit crazy lately, but I'm finally posting again. I had a terrific Christmas in Arizona with some family. How was yours?

Remember my ideal Christmas wish list? Well, I think my family has been reading my blog.

Among my gifts were:

- Gucci by Gucci
- A one year subscription to Men's Health
- A Samsung digital camcorder
- And a scuba certification course of my choosing!

A terrific score, I'd have to say.

How'd you make out?

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The 0, 1, 2, 3 Alcohol Consumption Plan

As we learned in my Alcohol and Weight Training post earlier this month, there's no getting around the fact that alcohol and bodybuilding do not mix. It retards muscle growth, dehydrates your muscle cells, blocks the absorption of many important nutrients, and actually lowers testosterone.

I'm realist, however, and know that not many guys -- if any -- are going to stop drinking alcohol for the sake of muscle development. Subsequently, quite a few of you have written me in response to my post and asked for a responsible plan for consuming alcohol.

Here's what I suggest: 0, 1, 2, 3.

The 0, 1, 2, 3 Alcohol Consumption Plan, as I call it, is an easy way to remember how to drink responsibly.

Here's how it works:

0 - You can always choose to not drink at all. Be the DD and your buddies will owe you one. Be the mysteriously sexy guy at the bar sipping ice water, maintaining your composure with the ladies while your buddies play drunken grab@$$ in the corner. We're not teenagers any more, gents. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the evening with a clear mind.

1 - Drink no more than one alcoholic beverage per hour. This allows your liver to more efficiently process the alcohol.

2 - Drink no more than two nights a week.

3 - Drink no more than three alcoholic beverages in a given evening.

Prime example? Last night I went out to dinner at STK in West Hollywood with my corporate cohorts. Upon arrival, I partook in a bottle of Stella Artois with my office workout partner, and with my fillet I enjoyed a half glass of Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon. Two drinks in four hours.

A few of my associates were surprised to see the 'health guru' drinking alcohol -- considering my self-imposed health standards. But I see nothing wrong with a drink here and there. Like most things related to health (as you have seen from my theory of competing theories), I find the truth is somewhere in the middle. Excessive drinking is dumb, but one would also be remiss to believe that having a drink now and again can't be beneficial.

If you think the 0, 1, 2, 3 plan this is too strict, consider that most credible research I've seen shows us that the benefits of alcohol end after one drink.

If you're looking to get smashed, I can't help you. Be on your way.

But if you're looking to partake in a responsible social drinking regimen (so as to not hinder your exercise regimen), I highly recommend the 0, 1, 2, 3 plan.

Try it out for a few weekends. Let me know what you think.

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The 300 Workout (Video Added)

I love the movie 300. Absolutely love it. It's a brilliantly different kind of movie experience, and intense beyond belief.

Truly a man's movie.

If you haven't seen it (WTF?), I highly recommend you do so. In fact, at the time of this post, 300 is probably my third favorite movie of all time -- behind Gladiator and The Departed (also movies you MUST see).

Any way, I found this great article on the now famous 300 workout that really peaked my curiosity. One of these months I'll dedicate some time to building up to and taking the 300 test.

The workout gets its name from the total number of repetitions. But those 300 reps weren't done daily, as some media accounts report, Twight says. Rather, the 300 workout was the finale of months of training, a kind of graduation test, after actors had weight lifted and trained with tools such as medicine balls and Kettlebells (cast iron weights with handles).

It's daunting, and includes these weight-training moves:

* 25 pull-ups
* 50 deadlifts at 135 pounds
* 50 push-ups
* 50 box jumps with a 24-inch box
* 50 "floor wipers" (a core and shoulders exercise at 135 pounds)
* 50 "clean and press" at 36 pounds (a weight-lifting exercise)
* 25 more pull-ups -- for a total of 300 reps

There's no rest between movements and the score is based on total time, Twight says.

Behind-the-Scenes Work
But before that graduation test, Twight says, there were months of work, transforming the actors and stuntmen not just physically but mentally, he notes. "Zack [Snyder, the director,] wanted the Spartans to appear as though they had been fighting together since they were children," he says.

Continue reading...

That's motivating.

Anyone out there done the 300 Workout?

Oh, and no post about the movie 300 would be complete without a shot of the queen herself, Lena Headey.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.


UPDATE 12/17/2008: A buddy of mine at work sent me this video. Dude's almost 40 years old and did the 300 Workout in 24:50.

Just makes me want to do it more.

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Fitness Boot Camp

Late last week I accepted an offer to instruct a fitness boot camp at the local university. The university, a private Christian institution, offers active fitness classes such as pilates, martial arts, dance, etc., free of charge to students (well, nothing is free, I'm sure they're paying for it with tuition dollars).

Next semester, they want to add a fitness boot camp. I wish that sort of thing existed when I was in college.

Any way, a friend of mine instructs the pilates class there, and recommended me to the program coordinator. He contacted me last Thursday, and I accepted without hesitation.

Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked.

While I have yet to take a fitness boot camp class personally, I suppose going through actual Marine Corps boot camp and knowing a little something about personal fitness are all the credentials I need to instruct one.

My university course will be 5-weeks in length, from February 2 through March 6, taking place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 7-8AM. Ideally, I prefer the class to begin at 6AM. However, I have to remember that we're dealing with college students here. Heck, I'll be amazed if they just show up on a consistent basis.

I'll be spending a good chunk of time in January researching other programs, and building a 5-week course of my own. Of course a lot will depend on the students (i.e. fitness level, motivation, etc.), but I need to at least lay out the basics. I want to really challenge participants, as well as make it fun enough that they crave the next session. The premise of my course will be the same as others -- to keep students moving the entire time. But I'll try to lace the course with flare from my own background, without getting too militant, of course.

If you've ever taken a boot camp course, I'd be more than interested to hear about your experience -- specifically your most and least favorite exercises. Do you have any online resources I should take into consideration?

Even if you haven't taken a boot camp course, what exercises do you think I should incorporate?

Help me build a killer course!

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Evaluating the Efficacy of Alternative Medicine

Just came across this interesting article in Newsweek by Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert: The Truth About Alternative Medicine.

Is natural better? Apparently, a lot of women think so. A survey released today by the National Institutes of Health found that 42.8 percent of American women use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, compared to 33.5 percent of men. That's similar to the gender difference in use of conventional medicine, says Richard Nahin, of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The most popular alternative remedies were nonvitamin and nonmineral products such as fish oil, omega-3 and glucosamine. Use of mind-body therapies such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga has also climbed since the last such poll in 2002. The report, which uses data from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, also provides even more specific clues about the most likely consumers of these treatments: 50-somethings who have graduate degrees, are relatively well off financially, live in the West and have quit smoking.

That's a pretty desirable demographic, and marketing for natural products and supplements often aims squarely at the common ailments and anxieties of women in that target group, especially hot flashes, memory problems and arthritis. But by the time they reach a certain age, women should have learned a few things—like being wary of claims for miracle cures.

Continue reading...

Much like the Dr. Sheldon Marks article on which I posted last week, I like these kinds of articles that sift through misconceptions and take a look at the data.

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What Time of Day is Best to Workout?

Admittedly, this question is more complex than it may first appear. The answer isn't as simple as morning, noon, or night.

Personally, I have experience with an exercise routine at each of these times. I've done the 6am gym sessions before work. I've done the lunch hour power sessions half way through my work day. I've done the after work grind as the day is coming to a close.

And as cliche as it may sound, my general rule of thumb is that the best time of day to exercise is the time that works the best for you.

I think it's safe to say that a majority of people who exercise consistently do so early in the day, as it is easier to form the exercise habit through morning exercise. Aside from this, morning workouts raise your heart rate and metabolism, which in turn allows your body to burn more calories earlier in the day.

However, body temperature is at its lowest 1-3 hours before awakening, making morning a time of naturally lower energy and blood flow. And what good does that do Mr. Construction if he has to be at the job site -- which is 30 minutes from his house -- at 6AM?

A mid-day routine can be a great way to utilize your lunch hour, as it helps regulate hunger, and helps you avoid break-time snacking. Plus, your body temperature and hormone levels are higher than first thing in the morning.

But what good does that do Mrs. Corporate if she's always getting roped into unexpected mid-day meetings, doesn't have a gym nearby, and wouldn't have time to stretch and warm-up even if she did?

Some research suggests that 6pm is actually the best time of day to workout -- as it relates to hormone levels, body temperature, lung function, etc. Specifically, body temperature and hormone levels generally peak at 6pm, and we know exercising 3 hours before or after that peak will probably give you your best workout -- as it relates to endurance and muscle-building.

But what good does that do Mr. Entrepreneur who runs a side business at night -- complete with its own set of distractions -- after spending 8 hours at the office for his full-time job?

So again, I conclude that the best time is really the time that best works for you. Don't stress about it too much.

If working out in early in the morning allows you the time you need to get a solid workout and stick to a routine free from distraction, so be it.

If you can depend on a consistent lunch hour at work and have a gym nearby, why not?

If exercising at night fits your schedule, go for it.

The important thing is that you're making time for exercise on a consistent basis. The rest is just details.

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My Girlfriend Has A High Sexual Appetite

Male performance anxiety
This is a genuine and serious problem, I assure you, which is causing me some considerable anxiety when making love. My girlfriend has a high sexual appetite, which means that she wants this "sorted" fairly quickly, which in turn obviously rebounds onto performance anxiety on me....and I am afraid that if I cant get it "sorted" or perform when making love within a reasonable time, that she is going to look elsewhere, if you take my meaning.
Continue to "My Girlfriend Has A High Sexual Appetite" story.....
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If I had to send Santa my ideal Christmas wish list...

In no particular order, it would look a little something like this:

1. Gucci by Gucci
2. Nose Devil by Cooperfish (preferably the 10'1'' GC1335)
3. Modern Eagle II by Paul Reed Smith Guitars (Charcoal)
4. Men's Health and GQ Magazine lifetime subscriptions
5. 6.4MP High-Definition Digital Camcorder by Samsung
6. Supermodel X Snowboard by Burton
7. XD Sub-compact by Springfield Armory (.40)
8. All-expenses-paid scuba diving vacation to the Galapagos Islands
9. 2009 V-Rod Muscle by Harley Davidson
10. Megan Fox

And yours would be... ?

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The Daniel Craig 007 Workout: Day 5

Today I finished the weekday portion of the Daniel Craig Workout.

Power Circuit
Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 3

- Clean and Press
- Weighted Knee Raise
- Weighted Stepups
- Pull-up
- Triceps Dips
- Incline Pushup

And what a way to finish. My workout buddy ended up pulling out of the circuit right before the incline pushups -- to puke. Now that's the sign of a good circuit.

We pushed hard through the exercises, and even I was feeling quite gassed -- yet somehow energized -- at the end. It's all about finishing strong, gents.

This weekend... just a little light cardio both Saturday and Sunday. And that about does it for the Daniel Craig Workout.

You'll be pulling Bond girls in no time.

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The Daniel Craig 007 Workout: Day 4

Yesterday was day four of the Daniel Craig 007 Workout.

Shoulders and Arms
Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 4

- Incline Biceps Curls
- Triceps Dips
- Lateral Raises
- Shoulder Press

Pretty simple day, if you're anything like me and work your arms and shoulders frequently. My legs, however, are definitely paying me back for day three.

I'll be honest, my legs are sore as hell. And doing my second pilates class that same night only exacerbated my painful recovery.

But it's all good. That's why I throw these random celebrity-type workouts into my routine. It's good to force yourself out of your zone every once and awhile. I'm more than reminded of how neglected my legs have been.

As for today... power circuit.

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The Cologne Evolution

Men should smell good. And I don't mean just good.

Men should smell reeeally good.

Aside from gym sessions, I think we should always strive to elicit double-takes from women solely based on our scent.

Work? Yup.

At home? Yup.

Weekends? Yup.

Out with friends? Of course.

Personally, I can think of two colognes that I have owned in the last ten or some odd years that have truly stood out among the rest in terms of double-takes and a bombardment of "excuse me, what cologne are you wearing?" encounters with the lady folk.

In college, it was Aqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani. Since joining the professional world, it has been Polo Black by Ralph Lauren.

If you've ever smelled those two colognes, I think it's quite easy to realize my style. A bit sweeter and sportier -- as I've never been a rigid, or musty sort of guy.

But now my stock is running low, so I'm in search of the next great female-head-turning fragrance for dudes... and I think I just found it.

I was thumbing through the latest issue of Men's Health Magazine when I came across the advertisment for Gucci by Gucci.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Gucci's latest spray-on sex appeal seems to be the natural progression in my cologne evolution. Still on the sweeter side, but even more refined than my trusty Polo Black.

The ad describes the cologne as such:

Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme combines classic masculine appeal with cool, contemporary elegance, and is inspired by the warmth and sensuality of incense.

I'm wondering... have you tried Gucci? If so, is it worth the cash?

Which colognes have you found to work the best?

What has been your cologne evolution?

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Purpose and Limitations: What you Need to Know Before Giving Advice at the Gym

As a general rule of thumb, I have a strict rule about offering advice at the gym. Before offering any type of training tips, there are two questions you need to ask the person before imparting your divine wisdom:

1. What are you training for? (i.e. appearance, rehab, lose weight, gain weight, specific activity, hobby, competition, etc.)

2. What are your limitations? (i.e. medical, physical, mental, scheduling, etc.)

Allow me to elaborate on each of these with two short anecdotes.

The Airborne Sit-up
I'm a United States Marine -- and proud of it. But in order to become a parachutist, I had to attend the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. And needless to say, Marines and soldiers do things a bit differently.

In order to pass the airborne physical fitness test, I had to train to do sit-ups like the Army does sit-ups. Makes sense, right?

As Marines, we do crunches. But the Army does old school, hand-behind-your-head sit-ups. They may not be the best kind of sit-up, but if that's what I have to do, so be it.

It doesn't make much sense to critique my ugly Army sit-ups without knowing exactly what I'm training for, does it? How does giving advice on the superiority of crunches over full-blown, neck-wrenching, back-bending sit-ups help me without knowing why I'm doing them?

Answer: it doesn't.

The Shoulder Injury
I grew up in the Midwest and wrestled for a high school in Minnesota -- home to one of the nation's greatest collegiate wrestling teams, the Minnesota Gophers.

During a varsity tournament match my junior year, my opponent (seeded 1st in the tournament, I was seeded 2nd) obtained an illegal hold of my head and snapped my neck to the side -- inflicting paralysis and nerve root damage in my left shoulder (C5).

Long story short, my season was over, but I learned to compensate and found a way to wrestle my senior year (with personal coaching from Jim Mastro, recipient of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Medal of Courage).

It took years for my shoulder to fully recover, but in the interim, I was able to perform a modified shoulder press and some other strange looking shoulder exercises.

It wouldn't have made much sense to give me shoulder exercise advice without knowing the extent of my limitations, would it?

Now, I'm not trying to be a complete jerk on the subject. It could very well be that you see a gym newbie doing sit-ups or shoulder presses all wrong, and wish to be a gentleman (or lady) and offer a little innocent advice. It could very well be that someone is simply doing an exercise wrong and needs to be corrected.

I'm not saying don't give advice.

My point is that you should at least discover the purpose behind that person's training, and any limitations they may have. Even when folks come to me with a specific question, I respond first with those two questions.

1. What are you training for?
2. What are your limitations?

After obtaining the answers, I fully believe much more proper advice can be given.


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The Daniel Craig 007 Workout: Day 3

Alright. So today was the legs portion of the Daniel Craig 007 Workout.

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 4

- Squat
- Straight-Leg Deadlift
- Hamstring Curl
- Weighted Lunge

As I mentioned on Day 1, I've been neglecting my legs and focusing on my chest, back, and arms for some time now. With that in mind, I was definitely at a lower weight than usual, but I really focused on full range of motion and squeezing out perfect, controlled form.

I'm going through this routine with a cohort of mine, who I have been training for a few weeks now. He struggled with the deadlifts, mainly because he had so much trouble with his form (i.e. keeping his back straight). But hey, the guy had never lifted before, and now has a gym membership and works out 5 days a week with me during our lunch hour. We worked through it. That sort of stuff motivates me.

You know that shakey feeling you get when you work a neglected muscle group thoroughly? Yeah. I got that.

Tomorrow... shoulders and arms.

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Alcohol and Weight Training

A Facebook buddy of mine asked me about the negative effects of drinking on working out. So I thought I'd address the issue with a post.

Prepare yourself.

The short answer is this: alcohol does effect bodybuilding negatively.

Here's the deal. We all know by now that alcohol is very fattening. But what you may not know is that (and how) alcohol retards muscle growth. This occurs not only as a result of hangovers lowering your workout intensity, but alcohol actually lowers protein synthesis by something like 20%.

There are a couple reasons for this. First, alcohol dehydrates your muscle cells. Plain and simple. As most of us know, hydrated and even over-hydrated muscles (i.e. during a creatine regimen) allows for a much higher anabolic environment. When you drink alcohol, your cells won't be able to hold as much water -- thus making it much harder to build muscle.

Next, we see that it can severely hurt muscle growth because alcohol blocks the absorption of many important nutrients that are key to muscle contraction, relaxation and growth. These nutrients include, but are not limited to: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium. We all agree those are important to muscle growth, yes?

Lastly, alcohol actually lowers testosterone and increases estrogen. Yes, estrogen. In one study conducted, male testosterone levels were measured before and after the consumption of alcohol. At the most intoxicated state, testosterone levels had dropped to an average of 25% lower.

Try to remember that the next time you're throwing back to get down with the ladies.

Boilerplate answer? Alcohol and bodybuilding do not mix. Over an extended period of time, drinking alcohol will cause you to gain fat and lose muscle.

Not exactly what we're going for, is it? So while I don't recommend anyone stop drinking all together (because I'm certainly not going to), I do recommend people limit drinking and try their best to keep it in moderation. You have to decide what the means for yourself.

Oh, quick side note. If you're on Facebook, feel free to request me as a friend and let me know you found me by way of this blog.

Don't worry, I'll approve ya.

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The Daniel Craig 007 Workout: Day 2

Today was chest and back.

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 4

- Incline Bench Press
- Pullup
- Incline Pushup
- Incline Pec Flys

If you struggled with 3 sets of 10 pull-ups yesterday, I'm sure you loved 4 sets of 10 pull-ups today. I almost failed after pull-up #8 on the last set.

I said almost. This quick workout is about gritting your teeth and grinding it out.

The only thing I switched from the original workout was the incline pushups. Instead of putting my feet on a bench (which were all taken), I used a ball and turned up the heat a bit on my core. Of course, my core was already fatigued from last night's pilates session -- so that felt great.

The rest of the routine was pretty standard. Again, make sure you keep up the pace to facilitate a cardio component.

Tomorrow... legs.

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Pilates is for Men

Why? Because I said so. And because pilates kicked my @$$ last night.

Allow me to explain...

After work, myself and two of my best buds decided to take a friend up on her offer to participate in her pilates class at the local university.

For those who don't know, pilates is a fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany. Joe originally referred to his method as Contrology, because he believed his method utilized the mind to control muscles.

The program focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which are essential to providing support for the spine. In particular, pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, and aim to strengthen the deep torso muscles.

In short -- pilates rips your core.

It was only shortly after our warm-up exercises that I knew I was in for a world of hurt. I've got a strong core -- or so I thought -- but this was on a whole different level. And I'm stoked on it.

My core was thrashed. Internal and external abdominal obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis -- you name it. My lower back was pumped up. My thighs were burning. Heck, even my triceps. Who knew that isometric girl push-ups could hurt so bad?

On the downside, my flexibility -- or lack thereof -- definitely hindered some of the exercises. However, after an hour, I could already feel increased flexibility in my hamstrings as an additional benefit of the workout.

If you're one of those guys who is antsy about checking out a pilates class, I get it. Pilates was always a girl workout in my mind too. But those days are over and done with. There's nothing girlie about a wicked core workout (especially since you might get a chance to meet some ladies).

So get over it.

You want ripped summer abs? START NOW.

Check out a class and let me know your experience. I know I've got quite a few pilates sessions in my immediate future.

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The Daniel Craig 007 Workout: Day 1

As I eluded to in my post outlining The Daniel Craig 007 Workout, I began the routine this afternoon with my office workout buddy.

Today was the power circuit.

Reps: 10 of each exercise
Sets: 3

- Clean and Press
- Weighted Knee Raise
- Weighted Stepups
- Pull-up
- Incline Pushup
- Triceps Dips

I have to admit, I've neglected by legs for a few weeks now, so the clean presses kicked my @$$. But my shoulders are strong so the finish felt great. The rest of the exercises were pretty standard. The pull-ups will probably kick your @$$ if you haven't been doing them on a consistent basis. So be on the lookout for that. (Luckily, I do pull-ups often to maintain my high Marine Corps PFT score.)

My workout buddy and I kept a rapid pace, so the cardio element was definitely present. I recommend only resting as long as it takes your buddy to do the exercise -- or approximately 30 seconds if you're a loner. We completed the workout in about 30 minutes.

Not a bad little circuit.

Tomorrow... chest and back.

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Myths and Facts Surrounding Penis Enlargement

If you're a regular here at The Men's Health Blog, you might have noticed that I've added a link to Dr. Sheldon Marks' Men's Health Office under my blog roll.

I dig WebMD.

And I really dig this post on the myths and facts surrounding penis enlargement.

I don't know about you but I am fast growing tired of the dozens of spam e-mails I get every day about the magic new penis enlargement pill, cream or device. But it is not limited to these anonymous e-mails. Now I have to watch or listen to these same scams on major prime time TV shows and radio. What amazes me most is that these advertisements must be making money, or they wouldn't still be on the air week after week, month after month.

Here's the kicker - there is no truth or science behind any one of them. They are all pure and simple scams, designed to separate out the foolish from their money. Nothing more than snake oil salesmen, and sadly as educated as we are, we still remain gullible. Hey, if I could find a way to feel comfortable stealing money from people I might too jump in and offer "Sheldon's secret penile enlargement formula- but don't' wait, because organized medicine wants to shut me down, so order before midnight tonight and we'll throw in a free spray-on window tinter". And here is how they promote an age-old gimmick - now they call it male enhancement - kind of like a used car is now called pre-owned so they can charge more. If I sell my own secret formula, then I can lie but it is a new lie so it will take a few years for it to catch up to me and maybe by then I will have my millions hidden away in an off-shore Caribbean island. But my ethics gets in the way.

So many times people ask "why doesn't the government step in an stop these quacks from making outright lies and false claims?" The reason is simple - the supplement industry has worked very hard to keep the FDA out of the supplement market. This way, they can sell anything to anyone and they don't have to prove that it is effective, that it is even helpful or that it is even safe. So anyone with some money can create a fake treatment and sell it, making wild and extreme claims.

And what better way to trick people than playing to the secret wish of many men - to have a bigger penis? Because, after all, we know that men with bigger penises must be happier, more successful and have happier wives. And who will complain that his penis enlargement pill didn't work? I would guess very few men.

I like the good doctor's take on the subject, and will probably be linking to his work more often in the future.

If you've got a health blog and want me to add it to my blog roll, drop me a comment... unless you're trying to sell the sort of bogus supplements to which Dr. Marks was referring.

In that case, piss off.

Excuse my French.

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Is Organic Food Better?

A co-worker and I were discussing organic food and the pros and cons -- yes, there are cons -- of buying organic. After our discussion, I hopped on Google and found a terrific article on the subject from WebMD: Is Organic Food Better for You?

You're trying to eat healthy, and you know that means choosing plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. But as you wander the aisles of your local market, checking out the fresh produce, meats, and dairy products, you realize there's another choice to make: Should you buy organic?

Advocates say organic food is safer, possibly more nutritious, and often better tasting than non-organic food. They also say organic production is better for the environment and kinder to animals.

And more and more shoppers seem convinced. Even though organic food typically costs more --sometimes a lot more -- sales are steadily increasing.

"We've had a strong 20%-a-year growth rate since 1990," says Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). She also says more land is going into organic production all the time -- up to 2.35 million acres in 48 states as of 2001.

But many experts say there's not enough evidence to prove any real advantage to eating organic foods.

"There's really very limited information in people on actual health outcomes with consumption of these products," says David Klurfeld, PhD, chairman of the department of Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University in Detroit. "We don't know enough to say that one is better than the other."

So before you decide whether organic food is worth the price of admission, let's take a look at the issues.

Continue reading...

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ABS DIET POWER Tip: Add Almonds to Yogurt

A few weeks ago a Marine buddy of mine (who also abides by ABS DIET POWER) showed me a little trick to stomaching a serving of almonds -- something of which I'm not all too fond in the first place.

Simply adding a handful of almonds to yogurt kills two food groups in one does, and makes for a more filling snack.

I dig it.

Try it out. Let me know what you think.

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Contrary to what the title of my blog may lead you to believe, my intention is not to mirror the information presented in Men's Health Magazine. I don't work for Men's Health Magazine, and I don't have any vested interest in the magazine's success.

However, I do read the magazine and value highly its content.

That said, I have become a huge believer in the magazine's powerfood acronym: ABS DIET POWER.

If you have yet to hear about this, it's quite brilliant. The system encourages you to focus on a generous market basket of food types -- known as the Abs Diet Power 12 -- to fulfill your core nutritional needs.

A - almonds and other nuts
B - beans and other legumes
S - spinach and other greens (broccoli, cucumbers, celery)

D - dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
I - instant oatmeal
E - eggs
T - turkey and other lean meats (chicken, fish, lean steak)

P - peanut butter
O - olive oil
W - whole wheat/grain products
E - extra protein (whey)
R - raspberries and other berries

For maximum health benefits, it is recommended that you include two or three of these foods in each of your three major meals and at least one of them in each of your three snacks. If you're like me and graze all day long, these foods are quite easy to incorporate into your 6-8 meals each day.

The Abs Diet Power website has a pretty cool matrix that explaining the benefits of each of these foods.

For me, I dig the guidelines a system like this provides. Grocery shopping is a lot easier when you've got certain parameters. Not eating like crap at the office is a lot easier when you've got an acronym taped to your desk.

I like to think of my body as a machine, and the ABS DIET POWER system as the process by which I abide to turn on, rev up, and keep the engine running efficiently.

Worth it? I think so.

Your thoughts?

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Big-box vs Sweatbox Gyms

I'm off to Vegas this weekend for a cousin's wedding, but luckily my gym membership is good there too.

An honest man has to admit, one of the distinct benefits of "big-box" gyms is multi-location accessibility -- provided you have the "all-club" membership.

I've been a member of 24 Hour Fitness since returning from my 2005/2006 tour of duty in Iraq. While I certainly get annoyed with the social atmosphere members at chain gyms like 24 produce, I've come to accept that the pros generally outweigh the cons.

Do I miss the "sweatbox" gym atmosphere? Sure. But were I still training exclusively at my local sweat box, I wouldn't be training this weekend.

Some people love chains. Others swear by their local house of pain. I suppose one day I would ideally like to have memberships to both. Right now I can't justify the cost of an additional membership, but wouldn't it be nice to have the option?

My 24 Hour membership has been there for me through three different jobs and countless travel excursions. However, sometimes I just can't stand the sight and sounds of some dork attempting to pick up on a woman next to me during my workout.

But I guess that's where focus and a trusty iPod come into play.

One also can't deny that the perk of big-box amenities is hard to refuse. Depending on the gym type, chains like 24 Hour offer weights, cardio rooms, aerobics, basketball courts, pools, spas, free classes, etc.

But on the flip side, I rarely take advantage of these perks. So there you go.

Again, both big-box and sweatbox gyms have their pros and cons. I guess my membership at 24 Hour is an indication that I prefer big-box at this point in my life. However, I do think the ideal situation is to take advantage and have access to both.

Your thoughts?

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N.O. Xplode Pre-Workout Supplement

A few weeks ago I finally caved and purchased a 1.8 lb. tub of N.O. Xplode from my local Vitamin Shoppe. I've heard and read quite a bit about this pre-performance igniter, and decided to check it out for myself.

My first impression? They weren't kidding when they dubbed this supplement a pre-performance igniter.

If you don't already know, N.O. Xplode is a Nitric Oxide supplement (hence "N.O.") that utilizes N.O. Meta-Fusion to open the door to vaso-muscular enlargement. The product claims to do so by immediately ramping up and sustaining Nitric Oxide levels. N.O. widens the blood vessel, which in turn accelerates blood flow to the muscle.

While it's too early to track any physical improvements (I'll post results if/when they emerge), I've certainly enjoyed the significant increase in focus and endurance throughout my workouts. If you're looking for a more explosive workout, this could certainly be the way to achieve it. It has been for me.

I've also taken heed to advice recommending you start with 1/2 scoop, and only increase as your tolerance for the supplement increases. Too many reviews that I have come across describe beginning with two or three scoops, and subsequently finding themselves unable to sleep or, worse, experiencing anxiety attacks.

But don't let that deter you, this is a great product when used properly.

Do your own research, there is a ton of information to find out if it's right for you. Should you decide to begin a N.O. Xplode regimen, my single point of advice is to START SLOW. Begin, as I did, with 1.2 of a scoop 30-60 minutes before your workout.

On a side note, one of the critiques that I came across time and time again is that the only flavor that tastes good is Fruit Punch. Well, I haven't tried Fruit Punch (yet), but the Blue Raspberry tastes just fine -- like a Blue Razzberry Blow Pop, actually.

Tasty and effective. Now that's my kind of supplement.

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Guy Recipe: Beer-flavored Bratwurst

Last night on my way home from the office, I had an craving for bratwurst.

You know how it goes: You're tired from eating all those chicken breasts, and a hamburger or hot dog just won't do. Not tonight. No. Tonight, is a different kind of night. Tonight, is the perfect night for a brat. But not just any brat, beer-flavored brats.

Yeah, now we're cookin'.

What you need

- Brats
- Beer
- Buns
- Condiments

Complicated, I know.

How it's done

1. Place bratwurst and beer into a pot (you can also add onion that has been cut into chunks for extra flavor). Heat contents to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes, turning heat down as needed to keep the beer at a low simmer. Add more beer if necessary to keep brats covered.

*As a side note, I like to score -- as in cut -- the brats ever so slightly for a little extra beer absorption.

2. While the bratwurst are boiling, prepare grill to high heat.

3. Remove bratwurst from pot and place on grill. Discard the pot contents -- yes, the beer. The bratwurst should already be cooked at this point. Brown the bratwurst by cooking for a minute or two on each side and serve in a bun.

That's it, gents.


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Do Push-ups While Your Cohorts Smoke

A few weeks ago a coworker and I began doing a set of push-ups each and every time the office smokers go outside to puff on a cancer stick. Secluding ourselves in a back office, we do a quick stretch and drop simultaneously. We began with sets of 20 and, in a relatively short amount of time, are now currently up to sets of 50 with no end in sight.

If smokers are committed to their habit, why can't we be committed and make a habit out of push-ups?

Of course, the benefits of this routine are plentiful. Not only does this regimen get me out of my chair on a consistent basis, it's much easier to keep a schedule when the intervals are dictated by someone else. Not to mention, doing sets of push-ups throughout the day keeps me energized and more focused on the job.

Couple this with my standard 40-minute workout at the gym for lunch, and my day at the office is more beneficial than ever. Finding time for on-the-job fitness like this is what separates the men from the boys.

What about you? Do you have a similar workout routine at the office? For those of you with desk jobs, what do you do to stay active at work?

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What is Whey Protein?

In recent years, a substantial amount of buzz has been generated about whey protein -- and might I add, with good reason.

I know that I have personally fielded many questions in regard to my protein intake regimen at work. Almost every single one of my cohorts has at one time or another been in the office kitchen while I am making my protein shake (using Optimum's 100% Whey, by the way).

Here are the most pertinent questions being asked by the average Joe (or Jane):

1. What is whey protein?
2. Is whey a complete protein?
3. What are the advantages of whey protein?
4. What are the disadvantages of whey protein?

Without getting too deep, let's take a look at the boilerplate answers to each of these questions.

1. What is whey protein?
According to the almighty Wikipedia, whey protein is the collection of globular proteins that can be isolated from whey, a by-product of cheese manufactured from cow's milk. It is typically a mixture of beta-lactoglobulin (~65%), alpha-lactalbumin (~25%), and serum albumin (~8%), which are soluble in their native forms, independent of pH. Whey has the highest biological value (BV) of any known protein.

More simply, whey protein is a high quality protein powder from cow's milk. Milk has two proteins: Casein (approximately 80%) and Whey Protein (approximately 20%). Whey protein is more soluble than casein and also has a higher quality rating. It is often referred to as the "Gold Standard" of protein as considered by some to be the most nutritious protein available.

2. Is whey a complete protein
Yes. Whey protein is a natural, high-quality, and complete protein that contains all the amino acids the body requires for muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein has a higher biological value compared to other proteins meaning the protein is easily absorbed and utilized -- especially in isolate form.

3. What are the advantages of whey protein?
This is a tough one to answer in short, but most notably, emerging research suggests that higher daily intakes of high-quality protein and their amino acid components, especially the higher amounts of leucine found in whey protein, may help people on a reduced-calorie diet preserve lean muscle mass while burning fat more effectively than those who just cut calories while consuming lower amounts of protein.

Preliminary studies show whey protein may offer advantages in lowering blood pressure. There also are some suggestions of protection against infections and viruses.

In addition, whey protein is a high-quality protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids in the proportions that the body requires for good health. Whey protein has the highest biological value of any protein, meaning it is efficiently used by the human body (104 for whey protein vs. 100 for eggs, 74 for soy protein and 54 for wheat).

4. What are the disadvantages of whey protein?
Generally speaking, the best whey products are fairly expensive, essentially rendering them obsolete or inaccessible to most. There are certainly affordable whey products, but these are usually of a much lower quality, and are often full of sugar. These cheaper products are not digested as easily as a quality product.

Overall, however, most of us who are serious about gaining lean muscle mass will do what we need to find a whey protein product that is of high quality, and affordable at the same time. The plethora of advantages make the sacrifice worth it, while the disadvantages typically only involve the cost of the product. Simply put, you can't go wrong with a quality whey protein product when you are serious about protein intake. In light of how beneficial it is, it is ironic that it was once considered a waste product in the process of making milk and cheese.


To conclude, it should also be stated that while there isn’t a daily recommendation specific for whey protein, the average adult needs approximately 46-56g of total protein each day to maintain a healthy body. (That's according to the Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Protein and Amino Acids.)

Whey protein (and the products that contain it) can help people meet their protein requirements with a high-quality source. And I dig it.

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