Monthly Archives: August 2010

619 Muscle Report: Jay Cutler Day – World Gym San Diego

This past weekend me and my girlfriend attended the 4th annual Parking Lot Bash & Supplement Expo outside the World Gym in San Diego. The premiere special guest was 3x Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler. He is going for his 4th title this year. If you have never met Jay in person, he is a mass monster of an athlete with razor cuts and Herculean proportions. His build is what I would best describe as “muscularly obese”.

To the layperson, bodybuilding events are easy to find. Just follow the giant freaks of muscular nature. The crowd was what you would expect from any muscle event: high-testosterone men and women, young and old gym rats, and physique competitors with their tupperware containers of food. I was kind of disappointed that some of the pro bodybuilders that were scheduled to appear weren’t there, but it’s hard to complain about a free event.

By far the big draw of the supplement expo was the ALR Industries booth grilling up and giving out free hamburgers. While I don’t consider the combination of white bread and charred ground domesticated animal muscle the most physique-friendly foods, it certainly was a nice gesture. I hope the guy behind the grill is getting paid well – he was above the hot smoke for 4-5 hours on a hot day in San Diego! They were also giving out cool t-shirts and tanktops.

We also got to meet and chat with the founder of the company, Author L. Rea. I’ve read his articles and books, as his knowledge of the chemistry of bodybuilding is unparalleled. He also has quite the party persona. One thing I notice about meeting my bodybuilding idols is how much taller I am than them (lol). It’s all good though; what they lack in height they make up for in width. I swear some of these cats have wingspans greater than anything I’ve seen at the Wild Animal Park!

Among the other booths were the typical array of protein drinks, “nutritional bar” samples (if it looks like candy and tastes like candy…), magazines (read: supplement ads), DVD’s, and apparel. There was an arm-wrestling booth, but the guy only had XL, 2XL, and 3XL t-shirts (I’m a medium). He was expecting more “big” guys to participate and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that most bodybuilders only want big arms, they care less about winning at arm wrestling.

On the main stage, they had a guest poser, and the “Super Fit Challenge”: burpees, pushups and biceps curls. There were also a few ammonia-sniffing powerlifters/strongmen competing in super feats of human strength: getting the crowd going by lifting a 130-pound dumbbell over the head for reps and carrying 700 pounds on their shoulders for several yards forward and back!

They finished with the Bikini competition – there was a full judging panel but the competition was casual at best – some of the competitors seemed like they were just talked into doing it that day; which is okay because it created a bigger lineup. Usually at amateur bodybuilding shows, I’m able to predict the placings correctly, and this time Dianne called the shots with 100% accuracy. It bugged her that the runner up didn’t bother to take off her sunglasses or her hair out of a ponytail – details that could have cost her 1st place!

Body Fat is a Fuel Storage Unit

Fat balance is a much simpler equation than you think. You can think of fat cells on your body as tiny storage tanks for fuel (from food). When you eat and digest food, you store more fuel, and when you’re not eating, you’re using that fuel to the extent of your activity level. The more you push in the direction of usage, the more stored fuel you will use and your fat cells will naturally shrink (this is what most people are looking for when trying to improve their shape and add “cuts” – muscle already has shape, it’s just covered under fat reserves).

Thinking in terms of how many calories you’re burning during a workout or how many you’re eating in a day is too acute. You need to think of the longer term balance of fuel stored vs. fuel used. You get more “mileage” from higher calorie foods and that’s why it’s difficult (but not impossible) to lose fat on mostly high-calorie “junk” treats. So it’s okay and it actually makes sense to go very low-calorie (if you can tolerate it) for a few days in anticipation of a day or meal when you will be taking in more calories.

And while exercise uses up additional fuel, you still need to think of the other 23 hours in a day.

A Trick For Dealing With Hunger Pangs

One of the biggest deterrents to reaching your ideal weight is dealing with hunger pangs on an almost consistent basis. You know those moments: when life will not continue until you grab a bite, and all thoughts become possible menu items. In fact, the sensation of hunger is the #1 reason that even most dedicated dieters never reach their ideal body composition.

I’ve found a trick to deal with these tough moments: exercise.

Why this works:

When you exercise, you are voluntarily using your muscles and putting pressure on your body to burn fat. Specifically, fatty acids get released from fat cells into the blood stream, “feeding” your hungry cells. So, instead of nourishing your body with food, you’re using stored fat. The beauty of all this is that your fat cells shrink, and you lose pounds and inches.

You don’t need to be in a gym or have exercise equipment to do this, either. Go for a fast walk, walk up and down the stairs, do pushups against a table, do squats in a bathroom stall, do something. The important thing is to be constantly moving so that you’re body “clicks into a gliding pace” and you know your bloodstream is flooded with fatty acids.

If more people did this, almost everyone would lose weight.

Why Do You Eat?

The physiological drive to eat is hard enough to deal with when trying to lose weight; it’s when social and emotional factors come in to play that you realize the world is working against your desire to be lean.

Some people actually eat less or not at all in response to stress or being with others; then there are countless others who really shovel in the calories in response to such situations (I happen to be one of these individuals).

It’s kind of  a sad commentary on society that unrelated factors drive us to eat, despite having above adequate calorie-containing fat stored on our body (and some even suffer health effects because of it). It’s not enough to keep others company; you’re not “part of the group” if you’re not pigging out.

I don’t have a solution to this problem; having an above-average physical build and health profile comes with major sacrifices and side-effects. And oftentimes jealous, envious or otherwise ignorant minds will try to sabotage your efforts; while doing nothing about theirs.

My only suggestion is to be a positive role model. Oftentimes the architecture precedes the wisdom it contains. In this case, the architecture is your physical appearance. When you look like someone who knows what you’re doing, others will want to know what they can do to be like you.

Is a High Metabolism a Good Thing?

Contrary to what fitness magazines have you believe, a “high metabolism” is not necessarily a good thing. Metabolism is the process by which chemical reactions take place and cells turn over (degrade and reproduce). An above normal metabolism is a fever.

What you’re looking to do is free up nervous energy. If food is the “gas in your tank”, then your nervous system is the car battery. Its potential needs to be regenerated for you to feel energetic.

One of the most energy-intensive processes we do is digest food. You might not feel this all the time, but if you’ve ever felt sleepy after a meal, then you know how much energy digestion takes. Certain foods/meals are harder/take longer to digest than others. Foods that are of animal origin, cooked, or otherwise heavily processed are much harder to digest than raw foods of plant origin.

Also, not thoroughly chewing, eating too much, too fast, in improper combinations, or in a negative emotional state can stress the digestive process even further.

So stop stressing your body with the foods that you eat.

The second true way to gain energy is not from caffeine, but through rest and sleep. You cannot sleep too much; if you are able to fall asleep, then sleep is what you needed. Notice animals in the wild or even your house pets: they are either very lazy or sleep most of the day, getting up only to explore the world (even if that world is a zoo).

Exercise makes you tired initially, but improving fitness increases your available energy.

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

I’m not quite sure of the causal link between [inadequate] sleep and obesity; but I do know that when I’m not as well rested from a night’s sleep, I have a lower resolve, similar to being under the influence of alcohol. This increases my appetite and leads to bigger food binges.

There’s a saying that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two past midnight. I’ve experienced this enough to know that it’s true. After all, why do you think it’s called “mid-night”? Notice that it gets dark around 8 PM. It should be “lights out” at this time, but we’re so used to turning the lights on. I also notice that if I’m watching TV or a movie, I’ll get naturally sleepy around 10 or 11 PM; but the stimulation is enough to keep me awake. And if I eat a snack late at night, it interferes with my sleep (due to the work of food being digested).

Notice your pets. They sleep most of the day and wake up only when you have food or they want to play. And they are very active.

One last tip: one of the best ways to encourage adequate sleep is to exercise hard on a regular basis. Your bed will never feel so good.