Tuesday, August 29, 2006

High Performance Sports Supplements: Value versus Low Cost

I consider myself very lucky. My good fortune is that I’ve been able to take my love of bodybuilding, health and performance nutrition, from “hobby” to career. This has allowed me to work for, and consult with, the most prominent performance nutrition companies in the world. Many of these companies have enjoyed a period in time as one of the industry Top Dogs, and most are still around today.

This experience has opened the door for me to interact with a significant number of enlightened individuals who want to talk shop. It is like an advanced marketing course just hearing the diverse points of view that come from a wide range of consumers — from beginners to enthusiasts — and the owners of almost every major company in the industry.

I started to write this blog to bring both unbiased and personal views on the bodybuilding and performance nutrition industry to those who want to see the business from both perspectives. Sometimes I may make comments that are not “popular” or seem to go against the grain, but I try to look at both sides of any subject. It is almost impossible to balance every topic, but I feel the main reason you read a particular writer is to get their particular point of view. That said; I hope the following rant, because some the issues discussed here may hit too close to home, offends no one.

About a year ago, I was part of an interview for the magazine Real Solutions with the Editor in Chief and owner, Steve Adele (he is also the CEO of iSatori supplements). When we got to the topic regarding the direction of the performance supplement market, invariably we began discussing, price vs. value. I won’t bore you with all the details, but my thesis then and now is that knockoffs, price wars, and cutthroat cost cutting techniques are BAD for consumers.

The reality is that competition is good, but chasing price has a much more devastating affect on the products and the companies that make them than consumers realize. Suffice to say I got many emails from consumers that said I was “a shill for the price gougers” and that competition is good because it keeps the manufacturers honest. Some of the low-cost brands in our industry also berated me for my statements (don’t know why they’d even admit being the low price brand?).

Now, as a consumer of, and consultant to, companies that make high-end performance nutrition products I want to give you a few examples of why playing a constant game of cost cutting is ultimately a flawed concept. As you read, keep in mind that each time you buy the “cheapest” product of the bunch you are actually making it less likely for you to achieve your health and fitness goals and stunting the progress of the entire industry.

Here’s why.

Let’s start with the common argument that says: “if prices go down, the market should increase because more people can now afford the products.” Okay, sure this works in many markets for a while, and even then this practice eventually hurts the entire core of the business. To illustrate, while working at arguably the biggest sports nutrition company on the planet, I had a discussion with the president about pricing strategy. This guy had formerly run a very large bicycle manufacturing business and wanted to use that industry as an analogy to performance supplements. What he did at his last company was market high-end bikes for independent bike dealers and then proceeded to create a line of bikes for discounters, like Wal-Mart, based on cost. To do this he had to use the brand equity he had built on the specialty bike side of his business and sell that “good” name to the discounters, but with a cheaper (and inferior) product.

The high-low price strategy in that industry worked for a while. For example, he made high-end bicycles that retail for around $4000 that were available only through independent bike shops, while simultaneously making low-end bikes that were sold at the local discount retailer for about 125 bucks. In the beginning, the numbers looked great, he stuffed the independents with a ton of inventory for the new “models” and got huge orders from the discounters for the low-end line. What eventually happened was that the independents were stuck with a brand that lost its cache with the core biking community, so sales fell off a cliff. The company was then forced to play the price war game with the discounters. This lead to zero product innovation on the high-end side and more inferior parts and construction on the low-end side, and in the end, the brand was sold off at a huge loss — 73% less than what the parent company originally bought it for. So, the core consumers who liked the original brand lost out, and likely some consumers who thought they may want to use biking as a form of exercise probably got pissed off and lost interest in the activity when they bought one of the cheaper, poor-performing bicycles.

In this scenario, FEWER consumers actually stay in the market, which is exactly the opposite of what any industry wants.

When you’re talking performance supplements the death comes even sooner.

You see, if we were speaking of high-end bicycles that cost 4 thousand dollars, you could argue that making a decent bike that is sold at the local discount retailer for $125, makes “bikes in general” available to more people. That’s because a bike that is even 35 times less costly than another bike, could still “pass” for a bike. On the most basic level, both bikes can be ridden. We’ll forget that the bikes are for totally different markets, but for arguments sake let’s just say, a bike is a bike.

However, the same cannot be said of high performance sports supplements, which is why NONE of the great bodybuilding products are sold in high quantities at Wal-Mart or similar mass merchants.

There are many reasons mass merchants can’t sell high performance sports supplements, the most obvious is that the products inherently are not for the masses. More importantly, what I want you to know is that products that actually work (and are worth your money) must contain specific levels of active ingredients to make them work. This means you can only reduce costs so much, without sacrificing efficacy. Remember in our bicycle example, an expensive bike and a stripped down inexpensive bike are still both bikes. On the other hand, a supplement designed for specific benefits, when stripped down is not even remotely the same. The benefits of a miniscule 500mgs of glutamine are not even close to that of 5grams. The last example was actually suggested to me by the company president I just mentioned!

Oh, and that same guy DID eventually use the same strategy with supplements, and that brand (which seemed almost bulletproof at the time) is in a steep decline. You probably know the brand because the founder created a body transformation contest that changed millions of lives for the better. The company also produced a NY Times Best-Selling book, the industry supplement bible, tapes, videos and a magazine to get more people to make a body transformation, excel in sport, and get off the couch. Of course, this positive aspect of the company is a mere memory, and in my opinion, was killed by the same guys who came in and hacked the costs out of the company initially.

Ironically, one of the founders of that once powerful brand, Shawn Phillips, has a new company, that in my opinion represents super quality in every way. I really like their high quality meal supplement, and Shawn's blog site has tons of great info too.



It is easy to see that if product quality and education are reduced in our business in an effort to cut costs, the industry will never really grow.

Here’s another example.

I’d argue that the biggest problem associated with cost cutting in an effort to sell on price is that the tactic eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What I mean is, the companies that fall into this trap must change their focus to cut costs on everything from quality control, ingredient sourcing, and eventually product efficacy. Some of the bigger companies even get on the “product treadmill” in attempt to keep revenues artificially inflated while they reduce costs. This is why you see companies launching a bunch of products when they attempt to go mainstream. This happened to great brands in the past like Twinlab, MET-Rx, and EAS. I am sure these companies did not skimp on quality (I worked with most of them), but they needed to keep cash flowing while they reduced prices to their retailers on existing items, so they launched a bunch products that were either not needed by consumers or not supported (through advertising) enough to be successful.


You can see this year-after-year, companies try growing their customer base and essentially “sell-out” the very soul of their brand in attempt to appeal to everyone. This is how many companies justify the cost-cutting behaviors. This is the tipping point in which most brands fail. Sure consumers benefit from lower prices for a while. In the end however, most companies simply incur a cost structure that cannot support the original intent to introduce worthwhile products to core consumers. I can say firsthand that this happens all the time. Many of the best products are developed from newly discovered ingredients and higher quality extracts, but inherently cost more because they are, 1) rarer, so volumes are low and 2) they must test out to a higher standard, usually based on the science. Moreover, since higher product costs do not play well into cost cutting brand strategy, all originality becomes dependent on smaller brands that must innovate to be noticed.

It is too bad that many of the smaller companies don’t have the marketing power to introduce their innovations to you. Like it or not, marketing is essential to any business. You simply can’t buy what you’ve never heard of.

One more virus that price wars carry is that they cause retailers to ask for bigger discounts from all brands, big or small, to satisfy their consumer’s obsession with price. (Ever wonder why some of the smaller, more innovative brands are not in GNC?) These retailers should be educating their staff on the product efficacy, improving customer service and promoting the brands that bring innovation and quality to the market. A business will never survive on one-time sales. Repeat business and satisfied customers drive profit and develop industries, not the “one and done.”

I believe each time retailers take value out of the consumer experience it causes demand to go down, not up. This is rampant in our business these days and has caused many good companies to stall, because their great products seem too expensive in the land of “cheaper is better”.

Remember, to get any benefit from performance supplements you need the knowledge and motivation to go to the gym. When this is reduced, so are the results people get from the entire experience and, in the end, the lifestyle never takes hold. It can never germinate into something that people take with them – something that becomes a part of them.

As a consumer, you need to evaluate your purchases on the performance benefits vs. price — this is where the real value lies. Some items you may go for a bit of a bargain, while on others you’d be better off paying a bit more for the innovation, quality control and brand reputation.

In many instances if you pay a bit more for a product you’ll be more likely to use it religiously, and comply with you entire program on a higher level. You want a higher quality of life, so why not start with a higher quality supplement program. It can only make you more serious, and you’ll probably be getting a product designed for an end benefit, not something designed around a price strategy.

By now, the above should make some sense, but let’s recap ways in which the entire cycle of cost cutting really affects you as a consumer.

1. An effective product has only so much cost that can be cut out of it before the whole product concept needs to be revisited.
2. When you demand lower prices, resellers must demand more discounts from the brands they sell. If the brands don’t make adjustments they’ll be gone.
3. In an attempt to remain profitable brands then lean on raw material suppliers and manufacturers to cut their costs. The result is ultimately lower quality goods.
4. When the market is saturated on the low-end, innovation is not needed and in fact avoided to stay within preconceived price parameters.
5. When quality and innovation ceases, the market shrinks, causing it to deteriorate even further.


It’s time that we let innovation prevail and buy from companies that create products for consumers that exceed their expectations; not disappoint. Let’s move towards building the industry on products and information that inspire people to stay in the market, which will ultimately bring costs down, due to higher demand.

My money is on the mid-size companies that actually want to stay true to the first law of success in our business, which is, being an enthusiastic consumer of their own products.

This approach worked well for Bill Gates and Steve Jobs right?


VAU

Sunday, August 27, 2006

How to Eat Like a Bodybuilder

To maintain a feeding pattern consistent with building a rock solid body many successful bodybuilders have learned the art of assembly line cooking one day per week. Although you can pick any day that best suits your schedule, most bodybuilders who use this method often designate Sunday as the day when they plan, purchase and prepare all of their road meals for the week. The best way to do this is to break up your food preparations into three categories, which are proteins, starchy carbs and fibrous carbs. This way all you need to do is mix and match these three components to create awesome meals on the go.

The Proteins

Making sure each of your meals contains adequate protein is key to successful bodybuilding. Protein foods arguably require the most planning due to the fact that if not prepared and stored correctly you not only will be wasting hard earned money, you may even get yourself some type of food poisoning along the way. On top of the bodybuilders portable protein pyramid we have chicken breasts, lean ground turkey or hamburger, lean cuts of read meat and water packed tuna. The first thing you'll need to know is how much protein per meal you need and how many portable meals you will be cooking during your assembly line project. So lets say your diet calls for 35 grams of protein per meal and you want to prepare 3 meals per day for 5 days. This means you'll need 15 meals and since your 35-gram protein portions can be met with one large chicken breast (ribs attached) your goal could be attained simply by cooking and storing 15 large chicken breasts. Now if you want variety you may want to cook only 5 chicken breasts and split the other 10 meals with ground turkey and water packed tuna. Cooking off five-7.5 ounce turkey patties and stockpiling the necessary canned tuna in your pantry can easily achieve this. No matter which way you choose to divide up your protein portions keep in mind that they only make up part of each meal. So plan according to the total meal. For example chicken breast, brown rice, broccoli, corn and salsa make a nice meal but could get monotonous. At any rate make sure you immediately store the cooked proteins in Tupperware (standard equipment for the bodybuilding road warrior) and refrigerate. Another good investment is a small Igloo style beach cooler which will serve as a traveling carrying case for your supplies.

The Starches

Depending on your diet goal each meal should contain at least some carbohydrate. Starches are easy to prepare and also build your muscle glycogen stores effectively. The best starchy carbs are yams, baked potatoes, brown rice and steel cut rolled oats. Later we’ll discuss adding fibrous carbs or using a fiber supplement so don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make each meal glycemically “perfect”. Once again you’ll need to calculate how many grams of carbohydrates you want to consume each meal. You will basically be prepping 15 carbohydrate portions so just get a handle on how much per serving and start steaming, baking, or micro waving those glycogen filled treats. For example one medium sized baked potato (a large fist) yields about 30 grams of carbs. A good resource for carb content in basic foods is the Nutrition Almanac, which can be found in your local health or bookstore. Remember to prep with the total meal in mind so that you don’t wind up with oats at every meal. You should store your carbs the same way as proteins, using Tupperware then refrigerate.

The Fibrous Carbs

To ensure good health and to alleviate any wild blood sugar swings ample amounts of fibrous carbs should be eaten at each meal. The only exception is that if the starchy carb (like steel cut oats) contains ample fiber or if you are in a pinch use a fiber supplement such as Metamucil. The best bet here is to purchase blends of frozen vegetables from your local supermarket and microwave several 1-2 pound bags and store them just as you would your proteins. There are several good varieties that can found virtually in any good grocery store. Many of them have ethnic styles such as fiesta blend (Mexican) as well as Italian, Japanese and Oriental. It sure beats the heck out of shopping, dicing and slicing produce.

Putting it All Together

Now the hard work is done. All that’s left is to throw each set of meals together in the evenings to prepare for the next day. This is also the time you can choose any condiments, special fats or spices that provide the finishing touches to each meal. Don’t worry you can still enjoy eating fresh food for dinner and the smell of oats in the morning but now you’ll never worry about what you’ll have for those three meals you always need on the road.

VAU

Big Business & Fitness Magazines....Too Little Too Late

I've been on the road quite a bit and so frequent visits to the airport knick knack shops are the norm. Since I am in THE business, I always take a look at the current issues of popular fitness magazines. Now, unless I am imagining it, nearly every big budget magazine takes a crack at a fitness theme every 3-months or so. Rags for women like Vogue (the Shape Issue), Allure (Look Younger Now), Fitness (De-Jelly Your Belly) sure exploit the idea of getting a better body yet deliver everything you want to know about fitness that won't help you one bit. No doubt the programs are easy, so you feel good, and of course the magazine looks great on your coffee tableif you need that kind of validation from your friends? If so you might want to rethink you reasons for getting a better body, and if you're still serious read on....

Much like the popular women's magazines, for Men we have such fashionable staples like GQ, Esquire, Men's Vogue, and even Maxim who feature UFC fighters and athletes in an attempt to grab a slice of the wanna bee male exercise consumer set. Nice ploy to grab more readers, although the mens fashion rags dont try this as often as their female counterparts, they stiill can't resist trying to make a guy who is looking for a new watch do broomstick twists?

some of the magazine in question are on the bubble (as in not soooo bad). In this category we have high gloss magazines like Men's Health, Best Life, Self and Shape vying for the ever so fickle fringe exercisers. Dont get me wrong, the not so bad magazines have some decent information, but compared to the big promises they make on their covers (like Lose Your Gut in Two Weeks), they fall extremely short. Once again the fitness promise (and selling the never gonna stick to it guys like the Uncle Rico's of the world) is a front for big budget magazines to get the big ad dollars from multi-page layouts for clothing and cologne. in my experience these magazines are only for people who want to amuse themselves with the idea of following a real exercise program that gets results.

So whats my point? Well if you're looking to get into better shape, let me give you a few clues as to which magazines might be good for you. First you need to do a little test. That is for each magazine youre thumbing through count the amount of ad pages for NON-FITNESS related products. These items include cosmetics, clothes, shoes, booze, beer, cigars, cologne and watches to name a few. Then go over to an enthusiast magazine, like Surfer for duh, Surfers or Hot Rod Magazine for Gear Heads and count the ads for NON-Surfers or NON-Gear Heads? Get the point? Sure you do. The point is, if youre serious about a particular interest the best place to get information is the same place the most fanatical consumers do, and they dont read magazines about their favorite subject that is clouded by products they can read about in a dozen other titles.

For getting in shape the fanatics still go for Muscle and Fitness, FLEX, Oxygen, Fitness Rx, Ironman, REPS and Muscular Development. Now if youre more advanced youre out here on the web getting your advice from real people who have the SAME goals as you do. The moral of the story is; big advertisers (NON-Fitness related) will never spend much money in the real serious fitness magazines. On the other hand you can bet the serious fitness information will never be found in a magazine that cares more about living the good life than working to get a better body. One more reason, you should subscribe to my blog! You can bet on it, the information that can help you understand how to finally get healthy and fit will be found right here...

Peace  

How to Unleash Your Body Transformation Genius



So youre ready to take your physique to an entirely new level and make believers of your family, friends and even some enemies. To make this happen you know you cant keep doing the same old things over and over and expect a different result, that would be insanity. You need to be creative, insightful and diligent. You need to unleash what I call your body transformation genius. Now, dont misunderstand, what I'm telling you is that even if you're not a certified genius, you can use the same strategies as Beethoven and Einstein to harness the power of your creative mind to better develop your health and fitness future and build your dream body.

The following eight strategies push you to think productively, rather than reproductively, in order to arrive at solutions to your health and fitness goals. These strategies are common to the thinking styles of creative geniuses in science, art, and industry throughout history. Now, lets get started.

1. Look at problems in many different ways
In other words, find new perspectives that no one else has taken (or no one else has publicized!)

Note This: Leonardo da Vinci believed that, to gain knowledge about the form of a problem, you begin by learning how to restructure it in many different ways. He realized that the first way he looked at a problem was too biased. By reconstructing the problem, you will find new solutions and break down personal barriers.

Try This: Not enough time to train, then take a new perspective that says it will be most beneficial for you to ONLY workout 30 minutes per session. Make your workouts a race against the clock to improve intensity and new gains will be yours in no time.

2. Visualize!

Note This: When Einstein thought through a problem, he always found it necessary to formulate his subject in as many different ways as possible, including using diagrams. He visualized solutions, and believed that words and numbers as such did not play a significant role in his thinking process.

Try This: When looking for ways to improve a specific body part draw your physique and then make notes about how you train each muscle area. Is your focus and concentration the same for your weak bodyparts as it is for your strong ones? One sure fire way to re-focus your efforts on your weaknesses is this; if a bodypart is too small train it with weights 3 times per week. If a bodypart is too large, (or fat) train it only every two weeks. This method allows your body to build your weak body parts up, while systematically causing your larger body parts to shrink. Of course, diet and overall metabolic rate is necessary to burn off the extra fat, but in combination, this method allows you to put maximum energy against the most difficult areas to build.

3. Produce!

Not surprising, but one of the most distinguishing characteristics of genius is productivity.

Note This: Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He guaranteed productivity by giving himself and his assistants idea quotas. In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis found that the most respected scientists produced not only great works, but also many "bad" ones. They weren't afraid to fail, or to produce mediocre in order to arrive at excellence.

Try This: Dont expect a perfect workout every single time. On days, you feel less energetic; you can allow yourself a somewhat mediocre workout. This will serve as an active rest and the lack of pressure to perform may actually help you find new ways to connect to your muscles like never before.

4. Make novel combinations
Combine, and recombine, ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or unusual.

Note This: The laws of heredity on which the basis for the modern science of genetics came from the Austrian monk Grego Mendel, who combined mathematics and biology to create a new science.

Try This: Start each training session with a different bodypart. This means you dont always have to do compound movements before single joint exercises and vice versa. You can also do high reps for multi-muscle teamwork exercises like the bench press or squat and low reps for machine lifts like leg extensions. Other variations are foot and hand positions and rest between sets. Mix it up, you may just find your perfect recipe for a great workout almost any time.

5. Form relationships; make connections between dissimilar subjects.

Note This: Da Vinci forced a relationship between the sound of a bell and a stone hitting water. This enabled him to make the connection that sound travels in waves. Samuel Morse invented relay stations for telegraphic signals when observing relay stations for horses.

Try This: When doing individual exercises focus on the area of the muscle where most of the tension or burn is being developed. This way you can make better exercise choices when targeting specific areas of each muscle. In addition, like in strategy ..4 make mental notes of small changes in hand, feet and height positions when doing specific movements. You are a sculptor and you must understand how each tool (the weights) are best used to alter your physique.

6. Think in opposites.

Note This: Physicist Niels Bohr believed that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought, and your mind moves to a new level. His ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Suspending thought (logic) may allow your mind to create a new form.

Try This: if youve been eating a high protein low carb diet, then switch to the exact opposite for 1-2 days and see dramatic changes. Also, if youre used to dieting and feeling hungry, try to eat one meal every
48- hours that completely fills your stomach and you cant eat another bite. The trick here is to eat water rich steamed veggies, small amounts of brown rice, loads of greens and fiber. Top this off with ample amounts of fresh water and your body will be tricked into thinking it gets to eat until it pops, thus breaking the chains of deprivation that wreak havoc on your ability to mentally handle dieting.

7. Prepare yourself for chance.

Note This: Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else. That is the first principle of creative accident. Failure can be productive only if we do not focus on it as an unproductive result. Instead: analyze the process, its components, and how you can change them, to arrive at other results. Do not ask the question "Why have I failed?", but rather "What have I done?"

Try This: Keep an exercise, nutrition and supplement journal, and use it to note how your body feels when eating certain foods, the time of day you eat and train and how much rest you get between workouts. Be sure to note even slight changes in your workout system and how your body responds mentally and physically. This journal is your personal roadmap to success.

8. Think metaphorically.

Note This: Aristotle considered metaphor a sign of genius, and believed that the individual who had the capacity to perceive resemblances between two separate areas of existence and link them together was a person of special gifts.


Try This: Go through the strategies above and make new links to fitness related issues in each of the sections. This way youll be taking proven concepts and metaphorically linking them to your fitness goals. 

The Feeble State:Survival in the Land of the Weak, Poor and Dying




Last night I was browsing the Internet gathering information on anti-aging supplements, and research that supports the concept. Suddenly, I started to see some very interesting patterns that caused me to encounter a flashback of sorts. The thoughts that ran through my head seemed to have an obvious link, and the implications, if true, will have a significant impact on the lives of you and me. That is if you want to use modern science to build your body and stave off the effects of aging by using high-end supplementation, or with a legitimate prescription! I know I DO, and I am sure most everyone on this site feels the same way. Without a doubt, as I sit here today I know that the decision to participate in building the strength of my body and preserving my mind is the best decision I’ve ever made––period. On the other hand, you may just be a “passenger” in this ride we call life, and if so, what this blog will have you ponder will be of no consequence at all. I will say, if you believe it is your right to have access to the best science has to offer, and live stronger–smarter–longer, you’ll see that we are the minority in a twisted plot full of mind games geared to homogenize the population into a feeble state.



Oliver Stone I Am NOT



Please understand that by nature I am very trusting person–bordering the na├»ve at times.This trait alone is manageable, but can launch me into an obsessive bit of investigative work when I “finally” see something that just doesn’t add up. Right now, that “something” bothers me quite a bit because it pertains to two of the few “material things” that concern me the most. These are 1) what I can put in my body, and 2) my livelihood in the sports nutrition business. So what started as seemingly harmless exercise to connect the dots, soon took on the life of a conspiracy theory and a peak into a future that seems all too possible.





The next topic has been beatean to death; nevertheless it needs to be re-stated to make my point.



Pardon me while I digress…



I don’t know about you, but when George Bush made his 2004 State of the Union Address and mentioned that a key initiative for America’s war on drugs included steroids and baseball/athletics, I almost forearmed my TV into a million pieces. For those that missed this riveting speech, it really happened, and I’ve put the highlights here for you to get the full impact. Yep, the Bush dynasty was putting their favorite son, George W. forth as our 43 President, yet little did we know that he would profoundly state one of his key concerns in the following.



“The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football, and other sports is dangerous, and it sends the wrong message -- that there are shortcuts to accomplishment, and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches, and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough, and to get rid of steroids now.”



Let’s put this in perspective. Either America has a real steroid problem that is on par with running multiple wars, poverty, national debt, obesity etc, or this was an effort to evade tougher issues and tell the popular vote what it wants to hear. What do you think? Maybe we just need more drug laws on the books so we can fill the pocketbooks of the people who control our nations growing number of privatized prisons and the racketeering that feeds it.


I can hear you laughing, but it’s no joke. Ask yourself if this is possible after you check out the link, and get informed.


In any event, certainly a war on obesity could upset the 65% of Americans who are either overweight or obese, and thus making it an unpopular initiative. Hell, if we’re talking sports here, in my book, the obesity issue is like getting pitched a “softball” in the sense that it’s surely worthy of a hefty swing. Politics are different, whereas it is better to get into a bad situation and have the crowd focus on you “getting the save”.



Nothing is better than an “insurmountable crisis” to get everyone to root for you!


Make no mistake; all of my personal loyalties are American, so I’ll give the president his props. Honestly, the notion that the leader of the last superpower on the planet would have the morals, ethics and “balls” to reach out to “the people” and state character is more important than winning a baseball game, should have been MONUMENTAL. Too bad the world isn’t perfect. So asking people, young or old, not to use any means possible, including drugs, to help them reach the American dream of million dollar contracts and endorsement deals, is borderline fantasy. Surely, some people with lofty goals resist temptation, but many others whose ambition has reached the point of no return, will unfortunately have nowhere to go except the “dark side”. Whether this is right or wrong depends on whom you ask. One thing is certain; humans rationalize their behavior when they want something, so even if they know something is wrong they tell themselves “the end justifies the means”.


Nevertheless, the President could have said, “the American Dream is a croc, I know it because everyday people who appear to have it all don’t. In fact, many sacrifice morals for fame and fortune”.


But he didn’t.



Maybe the President could have proffered a war on obesity and put the burden on giant food companies to use truth in advertising, much like supplement companies are governed to do. Then we might see ads with disclaimers like, “the foods in this ad have not been approved by the FDA, and therefore, may contribute to premature aging or death due to diseases, such as obesity and heart disease”.



IMO, there has been no real government initiative on the obesity epidemic because consumers and the fast food peddlers are already hooked on each other. In essence, that deal with the devil is on autopilot. The junk food “dealers” continue to “push play” and we keep listening.



Maybe I’m wrong. For sure, I’ve been way off before. It’s just hard for me to believe anyone, including our current President, can expect to teach kids about morals and ethics when the best jobs on earth appear to be held by men elevated to “heroes”, and are playing what appear to be “games” on TV, living the so-called dream. Let’s just say, he meant well…


Shortly after the “Bush Monologue” of 2004, I started to seriously think, WTF? I mean since I work in the nutrition business, I thought I’d heard it all. I had been through my share of arduous debates regarding the sale of pro-hormones as dietary supplements. I also saw first hand how the mainstream media confused real “juice” with pro-hormones and even simple creatine. I knew the media and conservative experts, none of which ever used or prescribed the drugs themselves, would ever get the scientific facts correct, and athletes who used real steroids would blame any failed drug test on their newly found scapegoat “andro”. Through all of this, my colleagues and I knew it was just a matter of time before pro-hormones were reclassified and on par with other already illegal substances.



One of the main reasons we felt prohormones were doomed, is that during this time period many of these products worked and worked well. Ironically, supplements that work the best are often the subject of PR smear campaigns, i.e., ephedra and even creatine…



Indeed, under the new Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, which applies across the country (as of January 20, 2005), steroids and steroid precursors (such as "andro") are in the same legal class -- Schedule III -- as barbiturates, LSD precursors, veterinary tranquilizers like ketamine and narcotic painkillers like Vicodin. Simple possession is a federal offense punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offense. Selling steroids, or possessing them with intent to sell, is a federal felony. An individual who sells steroids, or possesses them with intent to sell, is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine for a first offense.



Hey nice work Prez, you’re making a difference…or at least the perception is, you’re following through.


Hmm, maybe NOT


We now know, that to date no big name ‘’baller” has gone to grey bar motel for “cheating” with steroids. In fact, when asked by congress months later, most hi-profile athletes took the Fifth Amendment. Even the athletes who admitted using the drugs were immune from punishment. We now have stricter laws for supplements that build muscle, and a message from our president that performance-enhancing drugs are BAD for our nations youth. Sadly, since most of the athletes couldn’t let their secret out, and because they carry a huge influence over our youth, it seems they dropped the “ball”. Hell, who can blame them for giving us the silent treatment? You know if they told the truth it would be like telling our youth there is no “Athletic Santa Clause”, and ruin it for everyone (dubious fans as well).



What’s worse, is that it’s a good bet our government has other business endeavors they need to protect. Why else couldn’t they really drop the hammer on the athletes who profit the most? Here’s what I think. If the highest levels of athletic talent went away, the lawmakers would be at odds with network media moguls who make money by selling advertising for televised sporting events. That would spell disaster for politicians who need the same media outlets to spin their stories each day.



No wonder the team owners were asked to deal with it, but what’s their motivation? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that super athletes fill stadiums, and bring in the big TV deals.


As I said before, I believe the notion of no drugs in high-level sport is destined for failure simply due to economics. It’s a shame, but the only thing our youth got out of this exercise was, if you can make it to the athletic elite, you’re untouchable.



In laymen terms that means, “don’t get caught!”


The message has now become deluded into what is called, “classic doublethink”. Whereas, the public knows that the athletes do take drugs, but choose to believe they do not!



On the surface these issues don’t matter much to me, I’d already lived and competed in the “good ole days”, when the best bodybuilding “drugs” were not scheduled. Not to mention, being a decent bodybuilder back then did not preclude a one-way ticket to the dead pool. LOL.



No, I was more upset with the fact that the athletic performance side of the supplement industry was being attacked, again, and IMO used as a sacrificial lamb to suck-up to the popular vote, or the ill-informed, and protect the million dollar athletes who really have the financial motivation to use them.


Alright, enough of the back-story…



I wanted to bring these past issues up, because I know the sports supplement industry will continue to bring exotic and effective products to the market, and continue to face more scrutiny. If the trend continues, the only supplements hardcore consumers like us will have left to enhance our body and mind; will be Snickers with protein and Gatorade. SO YES, I AM PISSED AND YOU SHOULD BE TOO. This is starting to have the same two faced "pro-health" public image as the other prime enemy of innovative supplements does …


BIG PHARMA


Anyone who has worked in the business generally known as “Vitamins” has at one time or another, believed that big pharmaceutical firms want their products available ultimately by prescription only. That’s because drug companies, not supplement firms, court doctors and if you need scrip you can’t bypass your MD and run to your local health food store to get your “stuff”. This “run” at the supplement business has been tougher to accomplish in the last 15 years since science based nutritional discoveries has increased dramatically. Further hindering big pharma’s plans, are the growing numbers of consumers who give a shit about their health. These hardcore enthusiasts, like those found here on my blog, realize they know more about exercise, eating right and supplementation than most doctors (not all), ever will. This has caused the pharmaceutical firms to go through the side door and cut a deal with the enemy.



Here’s the connection…



The goal is to fatten the wallets of the giant pharmaceutical companies by controlling multiple consumer markets. This well thought out crime syndicate works like this: 1) lobby to outlaw supplements that provide effective dosages of scientifically valid nutrients and 2) get legislation passed so the big vitamin companies can sell more worthless “basic” vitamins in a unified global marketplace (see guidelines here). The plan is clean and elegant, especially when you realize the biggest pharmaceutical houses in the world make money synthesizing the “basic” vitamins that go into the biggest supplement companies’ low-grade products.



The end-result for big pharma, is the ability to continue selling more drugs to stave off the effects of a poor diet, and also profit from the low-grade supplements they help manufacture, while simultaneously blocking access to powerful supplements that your victims (all of us) rely on. This power play is a sure fire way to limit the benefits WE get from exercising our body and nourishing our mind.



Sounds a bit too wild right? You’re probably saying “NO FRIGGIN WAY” this all seems so ridiculous it could never be true. Keep in mind that the best schemes are usually outlandish and right in front of your eyes. The “far-fetched” approach works well because the victims say to themselves “no one could dream that up” But if you need more proof, this topic is fully discussed in an article by Rima E Laibow MD, that details how dietary supplements are under stealth global attack, and what you must do to defend your access.



I can hear the media spin its propaganda; “Americans need to have wider access to safe supplements and better drugs to cure disease”…



My translation is a bit harsher: “Nothing is 100% safe. So by making supplements with inactive dosages, by definition they are as safe as possible. This tactic drives product costs down and essentially affordable to the masses. The inherent low cost allows Americans to have wider access to these worthless products, and be lulled into thinking they are warding off disease. This further causes the unsuspecting public to forget about changing their current diet of junk. This will mark the end to “good health”, as we know it, thus creating an increased market for drugs. In the end, it is the ultimate false security blanket.”



By now, if your’e not a conspiracy theorist, you must be a coincidence theorist.



So Where Are We Now?


Everything came full circle when I found a document called “911, The Road to Tyranny" written by political activist Alex Jones. In the written document (there is a video as well) Jones’ claims that the United Nations wants an 80% die-off of the World's population so that the remainder of the global elite can have the life extension drugs all to themselves. At first, I had to laugh, but only after I dismissed the notion of the “establishment” cleansing the population with germs that cause untimely deaths through diseases we’ve never seen. On the other hand, I was spooked by the images in my head of unhealthy and inactive world leaders finally pumping iron and actually making health a priority before their doctor says give up Krispy Kremes.





I tried my best to forget about it all, but by then the damage was done and I arrived at the answer to this question; why would the most powerful and richest people in the world want the life extension drugs all to themselves? Not such a tough one to answer when you simply realize that when you have all the power and money you could ever need, the most elusive thing on earth is being able to keep it until you’re 125 years YOUNG! The payoff is even more dramatic when you realize that if the general public CANNOT get the best life extending and physique preserving substances, but you can, the common man not only has less economic advantages, but gets sicker, less productive and dies off quicker than your elite fraternity.



It’s a simple case of more for them, less for you.



And, the plot thickens.



I hope that following the twist and turns in my rant you see that the people in this country who take care of themselves and want to pursue “super health” are the minority. That means you and me. The real problem is we can’t ask any of the players mentioned above to help us, because the minority doesn’t line their pockets enough or represent a huge base of voters. But, who says we can’t give em a run? We certainly have home field advantage in a sense because for all intensive purposes the athletic community paved the way for everything the elitists want to get their greedy little hands on. We opened the door to “off label” uses for bodybuilding drugs and life extension regimens and are the biggest consumer group in the world (that isn’t obese) driving innovations in the nutritional sciences that help prevent our body and mind from premature decay.





So how to we WIN? IMO, we need to be aware of how other consumer groups have insulated themselves from attack. Simply put, consumer-buying power and sheer participants is KING in a capitalist economy. Sure, didn’t hurt fast food, cigarettes and booze right? Question is how we increase our consumer power base. I suggest we use a tactic that the silver spoon frat boys use frequently, yet never do sincerely. We give to receive (they give to deceive). Here is how it works (really, no more hoarding your secrets, ok maybe your stash).



1. Give others your inspiration––this means the more people that you turn on to the benefits of weight training and super potent supplements that work, the stronger WE all get.

2. Give others your knowledge––this means turning more people on to performance nutrition websites like SNG, 619muscle, T-Nation and others like antiaging-systems or life-extension that specialize in credible information and cutting edge products, because we’ll never win if we don’t have a bigger voice.

3. Give others your awareness––this means tell more people to look around and see that the only alternative to our way of life is to become a Zombie in the



Land of the Weak, Poor and Dying…


VAU