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Diet Guru FAILS?

Found this on Yahoo while traversing the on-ramp to the information superhighway:
Diet Guru Failures

Of course my favorite punching bag, Atkins is there, but so are Jim Fixx and Nathan Pritikin. It makes sense that some of the real wacky fad diet folk didn’t have great health, what about those who really did show the benefits of a healthy lifestyle?

Jim Fixx:


Fixx played a huge role in getting Americans off the couch and exercising. It was not long ago that doctors recommended against exercise, which seems ridiculous these days. Then again, doctors used to advocate cigarettes. Fixx himself was a poster child for lifestyle transformation going from an obese smoker to a marathoner, and then showed others how to do it for themselves. Unfortunately, Fixx thought smoking was the real demon, and that if he lost weight and gained fitness he was healthy. He never really changed his diet away from the Standard American Diet.  As far as I know, he thought that if he had cardiovascular FITNESS he was HEALTHY. Unfortunately he found out the hard way that fit does not mean healthy. The converse is also true. You can also be quite healthy without being very fit. Unfortunately, the nay sayers went bananas with this and used it to justify their couch potato ways, unhealthy lifestyle, and leave it all to genetics, absconding all personal responsibility.

The Jim Fixx Lesson:


A healthy lifestyle requires some attention, and consists of more than one factor. You can’t out-exercise a poor diet.

Nathan Pritikin:


Here is another example that confounds people. Nathan Pritikin was ahead of his time, just as Fixx was. He hacked his own health when he was diagnosed with heart disease. With the mind of an engineer, he researched heart disease, determined what caused it, created a solution, and tried it on himself. He cured his own heart disease, then began teaching other people at his health centers. Throughout the 1970s he demonstrated amazing health improvement for thousands of people. With that success, was he lauded? Of course not. Like Fixx he was ridiculed. His death likewise is used as criticism. While his heart disease was gone, as shown by his autopsy, his suicide from terminable leukemia is used by the critics as evidence that he was wrong.

The Nathan Pritikin Lesson:


Pritikin combined healthy diet and exercise to eliminate heart disease, so he was way ahead of Fixx. Unfortunately, not everything can be cured with lifestyle, and there may be some new things to learn. A good reminder to those of us to realize that our healthy lifestyle may not be a panacea.

Robert Atkins:


Regardless of whatever the real cause of Atkins’ death was, the man was not healthy. He peddled weight loss books despite the fact that he was seriously overweight. It’s pretty clear he had heart disease, whether or not that killed him. Why people still revere him, or pursue any similar diet or lifestyle is beyond me.



It’s important to see what the people behind any advice look like. If they stand behind what they advocate, are the results good enough to copy? At the same time, we need to be realistic about what lifestyle can actually do. We have really good information, but the full story has yet to be told.

What do you think about diet and health gurus? Was somebody missing from the list? Do they walk their talk? Should they be judged?


Holiday Survival: Choose Your Battles

Now that you know not to panic, after all, even of you are an above average weight gainer, you still are only looking at a couple of pounds. With this peace of mind, you can try a few simple strategies to negate that one pound and maintain your sanity during the silly season.

Choose Your Battles

‘Tis he season to be merry, so don’t be a consistent spoil sport! After all, the is very little reason to be one. Choose your events where you will allow yourself to indulge and let it go. It won’t kill you. Especially if you keep your other meals of the day reasonable. But it will pay off to keep an eye on the calendar, making sure there are not too many events too close together. It may also mean making some priorities about which events are really important, and which ones do not matter so much. If you are going to make excuses and strain your will power, do so at the events that do not matter as much. For the really important events, enjoy them!

For the events that matter, and want to enjoy:

Plan ahead:
Make it a reward. Rack up a certain number of workouts and on plan eating days so that you feel “earned” the treat. Enjoy the party and dodge the guilt.

As for keeping the day’s calories under control, I have seen two strategies that might work based on your personality.

1. Don’t eat.
In other words, restrict calories throughout the hours leading up to and following the event. The danger is being so hungry that you really overdo it. Then you might feel guilty and then try to overcompensate by sending yourself on a five hour Belgian death march of a bike ride through rain, sleet and snow.
2. Eat ahead of time.
Fill up on low calorie, fiber rich vegetables beforehand. You can blunt your appetite, probably avoiding a lot of high calorie treats. This might not be much fun, since now your favorite treats don’t look as appealing. You might end up sad and bitter.

So choose which events matter and pick a strategy. Maybe blend the two. Whatever your plan, just having a plan puts you way ahead of most people. Even if your execution is less than perfect, you will still likely come out ahead. Just the fact that you addressed the issue and thought about it means you have a much better chance of success.

For myself, my battles are the actual holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. So I relax the rules and enjoy whatever looks good. Every other day is just that, just another day to eat plant based, starch based and healthy. I stick to my usual eating habits. Feast days are fine, but two to six weeks of intermittent feasting is not.

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

10 Reasons The Kenyans Will Always Be Faster: Part 2

Last time I served up five reasons that the Kenyans will always be faster than you or me. But it takes more than those five reasons to dominate the world. So here are five more to learn from. The only question I have about these amazing runners is: Will the relentless push of the modern world will some day sink the Kenyans? Will they eat junk food? Will the kids quit running around for years? Will some other country get hungrier and work harder?

6. Group training- Kenyans don’t train alone like most endurance athletes. They always train in groups, and feed off each others’ energy. The power of a community devoted to the same project and supporting each other helps everyone.

7. Heroes- By now, Kenya has amassed so many great runners that it is easy for a young runner to look up at a clear path to success. Everything from how to train, to top notch competition is easy for a Kenyan to picture. Quick, name today’s greatest American marathoners? Drawing a blank? Most do. There are not many, and one of them is of Kenyan descent, naturalized, but grew up here. We have football and basketball stars, they have runners.

8. Competition- Can you imagine what it must be like to compete at the national level in Kenya? It must be like the World Championships every single time. Only the fastest survive. If it were not for the rules limiting a country’s entries, the World Championships and the Kenyan Nationals would be the same thing. Out of this crucible comes world class running.

9. Renato Canova- Well, coaching, in general, not just Canova. Seeing the immense potential in East Africa, a number of European coaches have taken to living in a third world, developing country just to train he world’s fastest runners. That is a beautiful thing. With a talent pool as deep as Kenya, new training and coaching techniques can be tested to the maximum level possible. It would be lIke working in Ferrari’s Formula 1 racing division. You do not hold anything back, you figure out the fastest way to get from point A to point B. Nothing else.


They are hungrier than anyone else. I mean that mostly figuratively, as in they want it more, and they do what it takes. They run more. A lot more. Running and racing is a chance to make a life that is very hard to come by in East Africa. They do not mess around, they chase it and wrestle it down or die trying. How many American runners have that simultaneous pressure and motivation? And in many cases, they are literally hungry. Poverty can be a great motivation, and if you have the stride that might win an international marathon or Olympic gold, you chase that with everything you’ve got.

Relax! The Holidays are Here!

The holidays are here, and with it comes all kinds of anxiety about all kinds of things. But one of the big ones for many people is holiday weight gain and loss of fitness. Athletes are often terrified about losing their hard won fitness as the season winds down, and the days get shorter, close and wetter. Everyone worries about the dreaded weight gain, whether casual exerciser or top age grouper. There are roughly six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year’s, which seems like a long time with which to do all kinds of damage. Fittingly, it seems every fitness or health oriented magazine or website has all kinds of complicated advice about how to avoid the pitfalls. I have got a simpler plan, don’t worry about it.

Research shows that the average holiday weight gain for adults is one pound.

That’s it. One pound.

The problem is that most people never lose that pound, so after ten years, you have ten extra pounds. Also, the more overweight you are, the more you tend to gain.

But, if you are reasonably active and motivated, you can deal with that pound. You can prevent it with a few counter measures strategically applied. Even if you gain some, you can implement some austerity and lose it after New Year’s. It really is not as bad as you think. All through human history there were periods of feasting, and gaining a few pounds was not a bad thing. Things have changed a bit now, so we must exercise more caution, but there is no reason to get paranoid. You can enjoy the holidays, indulge some, and still get right back on track for the coming season.

So, do not fret. It is not the end of the world, only the end of the year. Just flex that muscle between your ears a bit and you will be fine.