Q: James, I know I email the crap out of you, but I wanted to say thank you. I have never looked as good as I do now. All the respect to you.

-Brad

 

My Answer: Thanks for the high praise, and kudos to you for sticking to my training principles.  A training program is only as good as the trainee’s commitment to the program.

I run into a lot of people who ask for advice all the time, but can never commit to acting on that advice.  It’s kind of frustrating when I tell people to quit drinking sugary drinks, and they’re sitting in front of me slurping a Monster energy drink saying, “I don’t know why I can’t lose fat.”

It’s not so much that people lack discipline that frustrates me.  I can understand when people don’t want to work out or don’t want to diet, because I myself lack discipline on things other than exercise.  Hell, plenty of people have seen me eat a pizza or a bag of chips and said, “Hey James, I thought you were Mr. Healthy?”

What is frustrating to me is that there are myths out there about training and about diet.  I have to constantly answer the same questions over and over again.  I have to help people unlearn what they have learned.  And sometimes people don’t want to unlearn what they believe to be true, even if what they believe is false.

Here are some myths about diet and exercise myths that I’ve come across on a regular basis:
  • “Too much protein stresses the kidneys.”  Not true.  I’ve talked about it here.
  • “Fat is bad.”  Not entirely true.  You need fats, and you need cholesterol to build hormones and the membranes of all cells in your body.  People think that eating fat and cholesterol will lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries.  When scientists did autopsies and analyzed the content of plaque, they didn’t find saturated fat in there.  Plaque buildup is caused from eating carbohydrates.
  • “Low carb means no fruits or vegetables.”  It’s true that fruit has fructose and that people whose ancestry are from northern climates (Europeans/Caucasians) should avoid them during the winter.  But anyone who says he’s avoiding fruits and veggies because of the carb content is really just using it as an excuse not to eat something he doesn’t like.  Bottom line is you should eat fruits and vegetables.
  • “Whole wheat is good for you.”  Wheat is BAD FOR YOU.  So are oats and other grains.  You’re essentially eating a weed that’s thorny and scraping and puncturing the inside of your gut.  That’s why people who have “leaky gut syndrome” should avoid grains.  It’s ripping your insides up.  Fiber should come from vegetables, not wheat.  People choose wheat products like bread for fiber, because they don’t want to eat their vegetables or they’re too lazy to cook their veggies.
  • “Stretch before you workout to prevent injuries.”  I can’t tell you how many times I seen people get injured from stretching before a workout.  Stretching does not prevent injuries.  You should stretch after a workout, because your muscles are warmed up and tight.
  • “Do crunches or planks for abs.”  Ab machines ain’t going to help you at all.  And yet people look for ab machines to do crunches.  Plus I see lots of people do planks, but they do the easiest version of it.

This is such a rudimentary exercise, that there is really no benefit to the average athlete.  Maybe to the average person.  But let’s face it: this is the start position for the pushup.  Why not just do pushups?

Your abs are just like any other muscle: they’re meant to work in concert with other muscles to move and lift weight.  You should tense your abs when you perform free weight exercises for other body parts.  You can’t isolate and spot reduce the fat on your abs.

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