Lifting for Life
Bodybuilder’s deserve mainstream publicity; however today’s masses are not willing to accept the athletic giants. Even so, they brutally and repeatedly train themselves over years of torture, reaching for greater physical refinement. They stay motivated in the midst of controversy. They make sacrifices to remain mentally and physically consistent. They don’t train within a month or season – they maintain a bodybuilding lifestyle.
Baseball, basketball, and football are all routinely televised and promoted; on the other hand, bodybuilders lack the same widespread support. With little exposure, they earn far less monetary compensation for their efforts.
The International Federation of Bodybuilders awards the coveted Mr. and Mrs. Olympia titles each year. This is considered the pinnacle of bodybuilding – if you earn first place at an Olympia, you’re a champion. Nevertheless, the winners take home a bag of peanuts compared to what a successful baseball pitcher earns in one season. Greatly anticipated boxing matches present huge purses to participants.
Professional bodybuilders display hard-earned muscularity with an ability to properly exhibit themselves on stage – years of training down to a single day’s event. They present massive muscles, hanging from a skeletal structure in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. Some people try to compensate for genetic short comings by using various ergogenics – mechanical, nutritional and pharmaceutical – but their years of dedication may never earn them an elite professional title.
Unlike sports requiring agility and intricate skills, bodybuilding is more of a motor-learning and motivational process that is displayed every single day. Success rests on accumulating and applying fitness knowledge, overcoming personal limitations and ignoring destructive influences. Nearly anyone can get into great physical shape – it’s a human birth right. Most folks won’t make the required effort or willingly adhere to any nutritional restrictions. According to worldwide estimates, around 1.1 billion adults are overweight and 320 million are obese – the general population would prefer to display their erroneous “fat is beautiful” bullshit.
Successful bodybuilders – recreational and professional – stand upright and proud of their body composition, something extraordinary in today’s society. People can talk about being a great football player; when it comes to bodybuilding, talk is deeply discounted since quality efforts are quite noticeable.
This extreme fitness subculture is emerging during a lazy and flabby epoch of human existence. Obtaining a fit physique is not mainstream agenda – being a spectator is exceedingly more popular than becoming an athlete. People in poor physical condition painfully lug themselves around, trying to avoid the need to perform any physical activity. Bodybuilders do not make them feel better about themselves – quite the opposite; they only enforce how unfit they have become. People will not watch daytime television if it makes their own existence feel inferior; they want to see people with worse situations than their own. Jerry Springer anyone?
We live in a world engulfed in an obesity epidemic, deeply rooted and complicated by severe behavioral and environmental problems. Bodybuilders are only motivating to other bodybuilders. Displaying extreme and shredded levels of muscularity is contradictory to the lifestyle of mainstream populations.
It’s amazing when you think about it. A culture that once perished in the face of famine, is now ailing amidst overindulgence. Thousands of years ago, humans endured through a strong connection between food procurement and physical exertion. Today, physical activity is often an optional part of daily living. Modern medicine and technology has helped prolong mortality despite growing health concerns and metabolic disorders – but at what cost? Two basic variables have been neglected: balanced energy consumption and frequent physical exertion. We have become too lazy, too over-fed and frequently malnourished.
Obesity and public health
Evaluations of populations continue to establish a major concern about our civilization’s current weight management protocols. Magical diets with empty promises try to survive the consumer’s ultimate request: to over eat and remain inactive – yet still lose weight. Regardless of the fad diets and hyped-up hopes, humans all over the planet are becoming overweight and eventually obese. A global network was established by the International Association for the Study of Obesity, called the International Obesity Task Force, to work closely with the World Health Organization. According to the IOTF worldwide estimates, around 1.1 billion adults are overweight and 320 million are obese. These numbers continue to climb, placing increasing pressure on public health.
Human obesity’s complexity makes it hard to advise mass populations about proper weight management. According to archeologists, thousands years ago we were in good physical shape. Over 10,000 years ago, clans during the Paleolithic Age of man were hunting and gathering to survive. Since then, epidemics have been routinely counter-attacked with medicine and public health care guidance. Our successes in controlling disease led to an increase in world mortality rates. But even with new-found technology and modern medicine, a present epidemic continues to elude us and continues to spread like wildfire: we are getting too fat. Our history as a species can help explain why this is. To learn more about our genetic origins, researchers have performed painstaking evaluations of human skeletal remains. As well as methodical studies to examine current civilizations still leading lives similar to universal habits thousands of years ago.
The thrifty-gene hypothesis, proposed in 1962 by geneticist James Neel, explains how mass populations evolved to maximize metabolic efficiency, fat storage and food searching behaviors. These genes protected us from an unpredictable lifestyle. Natural selection weeded out the genetically weak and molded our present human genome. Today, these same genes are interacting with heavily processed foods and excessive nutritional intake.
“We are all heirs of inherited characteristics accrued over millions of years,” stated S. Boyd Eaton, a medical anthropologist and “evolutionary nutrition” expert from Emory University. “The vast majority of our biochemistry and physiology are tuned to life conditions that existed prior to the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. No adaptation to the introduction of new dietary pressures has been possible in such a short time span. Thus, an inevitable discordance exists between our dietary intake and that which our genes are suited to.”
DNA evidence has shown that humans have changed very little since the hunter-gatherer Paleolithic era 50,000 years ago. To be more specific, geneticists have demonstrated that the human genome has changed less than .02 percent in 40,000 years. This means we are modern-day Stone Agers. People become overweight through interactions between genetic, environmental and behavioral factors. Rapidly increasing rates of obesity, in spite of an unchanged gene pool, puts focus on responsible environmental and behavioral factors.
Proper nutrition based on genetics
Paleolithic manFor our Paleolithic ancestors, life was not always predictable. During their existence as hunters and gatherers, phases of famine were eventually contrasted and rebounded by periods of plenty. A cyclic energy rotation was a way of life. Recent years have replaced this balance with frequent feedings and minimal exercise. The brain-reward relationship may have benefited early man during heavy re-feeds, since they were preparing themselves for inevitable famines. But today, constant calorie consumption – especially loaded in sugar and fat with little fiber – combined with the lack of sufficient energy exertion causes widespread problems within today’s modern Paleolithic system.
The human body continues to seek food, even after it has been replenished, due to non-homeostatic systems. These same systems participate in drug-seeking behavior. Certain foods drive people to eat far beyond their body’s requirements. Sometimes over-eating is the result of social connections; such as eating with family and friends. Husband and wife relationships strongly influence each others food choices. The over consumption of highly-palatable foods compounds health risks. Processed foods – loaded with fat, sugar and salt – were never added to the Stone Ager’s diet. Naturally sweet foods were also highly nutritious and low in fat; such as fruits and honey – no donuts, ice cream or pastries. Starchy foods were not also salty; there were no potato chips. A diet full of natural and unprocessed foods makes it difficult to overeat while providing an abundance of nutrition and properly manages metabolic processes.
The Paleolithic family ate whole foods. They survived off meat, eggs, fish, fowl and the leaves, roots and fruits of many plants. Their diet was typically nutrient dense and low in naturally occurring sugars. They generally survived off undomesticated animals. Dietary fats were healthy monounsaturated, polyunsaturated – low in saturated fat. Dairy farming was still far out from existence. They hardly ate cereal-based items and nobody had alcohol. Nearly all carbohydrate consumption was from fibrous, non-starchy, organic fruits and vegetables. Most recently, advances in farming technology introduced rice, grains, beans and potatoes to generate mass produce to world populations. Packed full of calories, these items require cooking and were never cultivated by our ancestors.
Meeting inherited energy demands
Based on research by well-known geneticists, today’s human genome was molded based on a hunter-and-gatherer lifestyle. A man’s Paleolithic work rhythm required hunting two to four days per week. Women gathered every two or three days. Physical exertion was part of regular life; frequently becoming exhaustive. Anthropologists have found similarities in the bony remains of late-Paleolithic humans to those of contemporary elite athletes; such as Olympic competitors.
These days, food availability is constant but per capita caloric intake is declining. More than ever, the obesity problem is strongly connected to decreasing activity levels – further complicated by improper food selections. This phenomenon of increased body mass coinciding with lowered calorie intake clearly points to the growing avoidance of energy expenditure through physical exertion. The food industry markets low-fat, low-calorie options but consumers generally refuse to become more active. Hunting and gathering has been replaced by convenience stores and fast-food outlets. We don’t walk – we drive. Recreational free time is becoming exceedingly less active with the advent of the Internet and video games. There is greater promotion to become a sports’ spectator versus a participant. Through laziness, the occurrences of diabetes, obesity and other exercise-related conditions have sky rocketed.
An abundance of food acquisition and energy preservation would be seen as a major triumph by our ancestors. However, it’s likely that they would not recognize today’s common pastries as food, or able to comprehend running in place on a treadmill. They once fought for every meal; they hunted large and meaty game to maximize energy expenditure. Pursuing rabbits all day would be pointless. Food procurement was strongly linked to physical activity during the Paleolithic era, long before the domestication of animals and the development of farming technology. There was a direct correlation between caloric acquisition and expenditure.
In contrast, today’s routines require little energy for food acquisition. Financial means are usually the biggest limiter for food in most societies. Men and women once traveled long distances and labored over daily routines; today, technology has simplified life to the point where even stairs to the second floor do the moving for us. Mankind has engineered physical activity out of daily lives, and domesticated animals.
Exercise is required for a quality life. Human and other animal studies demonstrate that exercise targets many aspects of brain function with broad effects on overall brain health. Physical exertion reduces peripheral risk factors; such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, which converge to cause brain dysfunction and neurodegeneration. A trained muscle has a greater capacity for blood glucose extraction. Additionally, muscle tissue is a powerful oxidizer of stored body fat. A disproportionate amount of fat to muscle tissue reduces the blood-glucose-lowering effect of pancreatic insulin release; resulting in additional insulin secretion for normal blood glucose levels. The lifestyle and body composition of early humans acted to promote insulin sensitivity, while contemporary lives foster insulin resistance.
The U.S. Surgeon General’s report on physical activity and health estimates more than 60 percent of American adults are not regularly active; 25 percent are sedentary. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates, at least 70 percent of the U.S. population is undertaking less than 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise per day. Soldiers are performing poorly on the same physical fitness tests administered to their predecessors 50 years ago, according to the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School in Fort Benning, Ga. Affluent Westerners are not only over-fat but also under-muscled; when compared to their ancestors typical body compositions.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D., a world renowned scientist, published a book titled “The Paleo Diet,” with ground-breaking research into the original human diet. According to Cordain, becoming fit like your ancestors is your birth right. “By going backward in time with your diet, you will actually be moving forward. You’ll be combining the ancient dietary wisdom with all of the health advantages that modern medicine has to offer. You will reap the best of both worlds.”
Gaining control of food choices and training like a bodybuilder teaches important life lessons, many of which translate well into personal and professional affairs. People engaged in strenuous exercise achieve more than a stronger body and more positive self image – trainees quickly become more confident and positive while communicating with others; many improve work environments by raising employee standards and productivity. Walking upright and proud is respectable, but more importantly, valuable lessons are learned by achieving the top levels of physical conditioning.
Successful bodybuilders ascend above obstacles and prevail in maximizing their potential. People who buckle under pressure lose competitiveness. Becoming physically stronger is a psychological adventure of recognizing barriers, defeating limitations and rewarding progression. Strength athletes strive to meet development plateaus with innovative ways to get back on track for new found gains. A bodybuilder’s inner motivation to maximize personal potential demonstrates a problem-solving and winning attitude.
Training for peak performance requires proper time-management skills to maintain periods of physical activity in conjunction with a challenging and consuming career. The ability to meet deadlines readily shows the competency of an organization – especially when contractual agreements come with strict timelines. Daily schedules must be organized to keep “I don’t have the time” excuses curbed. Bodybuilders learn to do more, in less time.
Bodybuilders frequently broadcast discipline by ignoring destructive influences. Concerned with input-output energy balances, they readily take the stairs, or shrug off lures to sugary, high-fat foods. Much of today’s society lacks the mindset to stay active and make proper food selections. Laziness with minimal responsibility for personal health often leads to handicapped workloads and increased sick days. Healthy habits and responsible social settings are required for bodybuilders to obtain and maintain a competitive condition. When stepping outside a norm, it takes true intestinal fortitude to avoid peer pressure and stay focused on goals.
Statistically, active people tend to be optimistic and less tense. Life is full of stressful moments and emotional ventilation must keep social environments from boiling over in grudges and disputes. Routine exercise is known to release stress and replace it with a healthy cocktail of feel-good endorphins. In January 2007, Winston-Salem State University published a mental health study demonstrating that increased physical activity can be as productive as anti-depressant drugs. Bodybuilders tend to stay productive during increased pressure, and then let ill feelings slide sooner.
Even personal financial responsibility is a likely attribute among bodybuilders. People overloaded in bills at home are more likely to walk off with office supplies, or sell proprietary information. In August 2008, the University of Minnesota published a study examining stress and key health risk behaviors. The researchers found personal debt was associated with nearly every risk indicator tested, including unhealthy weight control, body dissatisfaction, infrequent breakfast consumption, fast food consumption, insufficient physical activity, excess television viewing, binge drinking and substance abuse.
Successful bodybuilders exhibit commitment through consistency, while facing adversity. They are goal-orientated people with must-win attitudes. Years spent packing on hard-earned muscle and maintaining proper body composition speaks loudly about an individual’s personal character. If the sound of sleeves stretching is heard as an applicant arrives for an interview, take notice, it might be the fresh addition needed to build your business.
Physical fitness is a human birth right that many fail to embrace; yet they frequently appreciate – sometimes demand – it from others. A wheezing overweight polices officer is unacceptable. A skinny construction crew member easily puts fellow workers at risk during physically demanding tasks. Watching a friend slip into harms way without having the physical competence to reach out in response can be disheartening. Parents are often expected to grow old enough to meet their grandchildren, or simply enjoy retirement with their spouse. The list is endless…
In today’s society, mainstream bodybuilding is a contradiction in terms, so remain weary of adversity and stay focused on obtaining peak levels of physical fitness. You may increase your quality of life, as well as positively impact those around you. In the words of Roman poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, born 43 BC): “Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim“, Latin for “Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you.”
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Chakravarthy MV, Booth FW., Eating, exercise, and “thrifty” genotypes: connecting the dots toward an evolutionary understanding of modern chronic diseases, J Appl Physiol. 2004 Jan;96(1):3-10.Click here to read
Clark Spencer Larsen, Animal Source Foods and Human Health during Evolution, The American Society for Nutritional Sciences J. Nutr. 133:3893S-3897S, November 2003