Over the years I guess I have said some useful things because people tend to quote me. I wish I had started a list of the things that people found most helpful long ago but better late than never. I will try to add one fitness quote each month and give you the back story on it as well.
- “A true sign of an idiot is someone who thinks they know everything. A true sign of a genius is someone who realizes they don’t know anything.” Its seems really fashionable lately for people to pretend to know things that they really don’t. They don’t understand the scientific method and the high bar necessary to “know” something. Look on any fitness or bodybuilding board and will find keyboard warriors who seem to KNOW everything, we all know now what that means :)
- “We have become a nation of whiners who think that we deserve to have every single bite to taste like bacon, nachos, or rich chocolate.” This quote came from my page on eating disorders. The time when people were grateful just to get enough food to eat is long gone. Not only does the average American expect to have a full belly all day long but they expect every single bite of food to be mouthwateringly, amazingly delicious. “Picky eaters” are more common than ever and fewer and fewer people like vegetables because they “make them gag”. Smother the vegetable in cheese-whiz sauce and they might eat their broccoli, otherwise not. Pizza isnt unhealthy enough so we wrap the pizza crust in bacon to keep it from being dry and tasteless. I am unapologetic when it comes to nutrition because SOMEBODY has to be. You can’t eat whatever you want and have an amazing physique too, it just doesn’t work like that. If you want to be ripped, muscular, and healthy, it requires sacrifices and that means unprocessed, natural foods instead of cheesy, salty, bacon-y, chocolatey deliciousness that parades across the TV screen in a never ending stream of brain-numbing commercials.
- “A “bad workout” you do is infinitely better than the “best workout” that you skip.” A lot of time people get all wound up about doing the “right” workout. Its so intense that many times they skip going to the gym because they are tired, or not mentally up to their challenging workout. Worse yet, a lot of times they do this “best” workout and get injured which leaves them confined to the sofa. Success in fitness and bodybuilding is about consistency – 3-5 resistance training sessions a week, 52 weeks a year. Remember that what is “best” for your friend on the wrestling team is different than what is best for you. Don’t worry about what is “best” for the rest of the world – figure out what is best for you!
- “If you want to eat like an average American then you will look like an average American.” This quote came out of exasperation with some of the commenters on some YouTube video, I think it may have been “Spit it out”. The “its just one donut” mentality. People telling me to lighten up, that just eating one donut is fine and that I shouldn’t be such a nutritional Nazi. Well, by the time you have” just one” donut, “just one” big mac, “just one” piece of cake, “just one” order of curly fries, “just one” six pack of beer – guess what, thats not moderation and thats not good nutrition. That is how the average person eats and if you want to eat like the average person eats then you will be just as fat and weak as the average person is! Some people think that they can have it all and that they don’t need to make sacrifices for what they want. They think they can eat whatever they want, do half-hearted workouts, and still look like Jeff Seid – guess what, the world doesn’t work that way.
- “You can always out-eat your exercise!” So many people fall into this trap, I did myself. I was trying to get lean for a photo shoot so I did insane amounts of cardio. I did 2-3 hours of intense cardio a day for several months at really high intensity levels and yet I couldn’t get any leaner. I had sixpack abs but I still had that annoying fat over my lower abs which would not go away – I was stuck. I was eating really clean, tons of vegetables, whole grains, and protein with virtually no simple carbs or junk. The problem? Even though I was eating very healthy food, I was simply eating too many calories! It does not matter how much you exercise, its very easy to eat more than you burn off unless you are very careful – the jaw is a mighty muscle! People fall into this trap all the time, they have worked out hard so they feel they “deserve” that pizza dinner or piece of cake. The problem is that even a two hour intense bike ride will only burn off about 1400 calories. You can easily blow that with one cheat meal you “deserve” and end up gaining fat for the day. To lower your bodyfat you have got to watch your nutrition, exercise alone will not do it!
- “Believe nothing you hear, 10% of what you read, and only half of what you see with your own eyes.” So many otherwise intelligent people base their workout and supplement decisions on what they hear in the locker room or from the sales person down at the GNC. Just because something is printed in a book doesn’t make it right, remember that the practice of draining blood from people to “cure” them was in medical textbooks for a long time. With modern image processing software, you cant even believe your eyes any more either. In order to make good decisions, you need to always be asking yourself the following questions. 1) What is the sources motivation for telling me this, are they making money either directly or indirectly from their advice? Are they just showing off? Are they hiding something? 2) What relevant academic background do they have which gives them credibility? A PhD in economics doesn’t help you in fitness. 3) What relevant experience do they have? Are they themselves an athlete? Are they a coach? What non-academic experience qualifies them to give you advice?
- “Food is fuel, not some amusement park ride!” Why exactly is it that every food needs to taste like fireworks in our mouth? Why are seasoned curly fries and salt and vinegar potato chips so popular? More and more salt. Stronger and stronger artificial flavors. Its no wonder that people don’t like the taste of vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains. Its because their taste buds have been bludgeoned with a sledge hammer. We have all done this little experiment. Eat a really sweet orange after a chocolate bar – yick, the orange is almost inedible. Eat that same orange first thing in the morning after your taste buds have had a night to recover and it tastes sweet and delicious. It can take a few months for your taste buds to fully recover so if you want natural foods to be flavorful and delicious, you gotta cut all the artificial and heavily salted foods completely out.
- “There are shortcuts to *looking* fit but there are no shortcuts to *being* fit“. You can get cosmetic surgery and get your liposuction abs, your pec implants, and your bicep implants. You can do steroids to gain lots of muscle and cut to 3% bodyfat. These shortcuts will have you looking fit in 1/10 the time of doing it the old fashioned, hard work and sweat way. Trouble is, looking fit is not being fit. I have seen personally seen a bodybuilder with a jaw-dropping, muscular and ripped physique who literally was gasping for air after a single flight of steps .. and then he lit up a cigarette at the top. Think they are healthy? To be fit and healthy requires a lot more than big shredded muscles. It requires attention to what you fuel your body with. It requires that you treat your heart as the most important muscle in your workout plan. Being fit and healthy means you need to go to the doctor now and then for a checkup. Perfect example is Zyzz, he looked to be the epitome of fit but yet he died at age 22 – clearly not as fit as he looked. If you take shortcuts to looking fit, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you *are* fit.
- “It’s a lifestyle, not a diet!“. Although diets can help you lose fat short term, they always fail long term – why? Because you go “ON” a diet, when you go “OFF” – guess what happens? Yep, fat comes back. The only way to keep the bodyfat off long term is to change your lifestyle, its that simple. You change your eating habits, you can increase your activity level, or both. To be most successful really requires a bit of both. You need to make exercise part of everyday life, even if it is just biking to work every day and you need to learn to like foods that are less calorie dense – vegetables, legumes, and whole grains for example. When you make these changes, your bodyfat will drop without having to be on a diet. Atkins, Paleo, Zone, South Beach, Raw Food, and Mediterranean diets will ALL work. Anything with a caloric deficit will make you lose fat. Trouble is, look at anyone who has lost weight on any of these diets a year later and most of them have ballooned back up because they did not change their lifestyle. Its all about finding healthy foods that you can enjoy, remember the quote above – food is fuel, not an amusement park ride :)
- “Question everything, even what I say. Its even more important to question your own beliefs than those that oppose yours.” One of the most common problems in the fitness community is that people spend massive amounts of time reading research that supports their nutritional and workout ideas and they refuse to spend any time hearing opposing ideas. It is *far* more important to read ideas and research that oppose your view of the world than it is to spend you time reinforcing your current view of the world. World-wide, people with strong beliefs only surround themselves with similar minded folks. The Mormons surround themselves with Mormons, the NRA supporters surround themselves with NRA supporters, and Intermittent Fasting people surround themselves with IF people. If you cocoon yourself with like minded people you will never learn anything. Work hard to be open minded and to actually hear and understand other points of view. Always be a critical thinker. Just because all your workout buddies believe something does NOT make it true! Yes, even question me. I am the first to admit that I don’t know everything. I try to take a questioning, scientific eye to everything, incorporate my personal experience, and decide what is correct. I make mistakes, but when I do, at least they are honest ones rather than attempts at deception or as a sales tactic :)