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I Fell Down a Nutritional Rabbit Hole 

Two days ago I returned from a four day trip with my in-laws. Our destination was a ten hour drive away, visiting family. That's all good.

The food, workout and nutrition portion of the time was a horror, though, and firmly reminded me of how difficult my expectations are for many of my clients. I took a few protein bars (last resort), plenty of whey protein powder, some Fiberlyze (critical when on the road), and my workout gear. In a little cooler was some turkey breast, a bit of cheese, some decent bread, and fruit (basically cleaning out the fridge).

Circumstances change the best plans, don't they? I ended up with a meal at Wendys (triple with no cheese).  No fries, no Frosty. Panera Bread turned out to be the best option one time. I ate a shit-ton of Lime chips while driving the first night. Completely lost control. Horrible eggs and some Greek yogurt were my best breakfast options in the hotel.

Visiting relative's homes featured chips and guacamole and hummus. And wine at night. And a beer one day.

The highest quality restaurant meal was a splendid Sunday buffet in a health food store/restaurant. I had oatmeal (laced with syrup), four salmon fillets (in a suace with sliced almonds), an omelet, a bunch of chicken sausage, more oatmeal, some potatoes.... it goes on and on. All good, healthy, logical food, but I went to the buffet three times! It's like I lost my mind.

Local gyms weren't open at times that fit my schedule. My one workout in four days, two of which were sitting and driving or riding, was in the hotel "workout" room. Dumbells to 40#, a weird two-station Nautilus thing, one flat bench and treadmills. I goofed around for 40 minutes but it was unsatisfying in most respects.

To summarize, I mostly ate relatively healthy food. I exercised very little. One more than one occasion I ate much more than was logical, way too much. I didn't eat often enough, didn't have my usual five or six small meals each day. Few vegetables appeared in front of me at any time. 

I gained four pounds those four days (three days later, it's gone). I felt bloated and tired. 

Here's my take-home:  this is how most people live all the time! I was reminded how easy it is to go along with a family group, to spend hours visiting with no food. There were a few occasions I was so happy I had a shaker and protein with me. That was so superior to the somehow fake eggs at the hotel. 

I consider myself to be way above-average in food quality consumption, in will-power, in planning ahead. But I experienced first-hand how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole of no food prepared ahead of time, long periods without food due to the situation, and what happens to the smartest and most experienced taste-buds when crap is put in front of them.

Lesson:  take even more of my own supplements or food with me on trips involving others (this isn't a problem when traveling alone or with Anne). Try not to drink. Have a shake every three hours no matter what food or restaurant promises are on the horizon; nothing happens quickly with a family group. And don't start on the chips!


A Few of My (Recent) Favorite Training and Nutrition Podcasts 

Robb Wolf, godfather of the Paleo movement, has a new book out (Wired To Eat) so he's making the rounds. Catch him on the Joe Rogan podcast; he's relaxed and quickly disarmed by Rogan.  I found this one of the most entertaining and informative Robb Wolf interviews - and I've read and listened to a hell of a lot of them. There is so much more to Robb Wolf than Paleo - dive in with Rogan and find out for yourself. Nutrition as applied to exercise and humans is an always fascinating area to me, and I always learn from Robb Wolf. His voice is refreshing, in a world populated with so many "experts" and "gurus."




Sure, Armstrong is a lightning rod for argument and controversy. No question he deceived millions of us. At the same time, his athletic feats and inspiration hold strong for me. I consider this lengthy interview with Rogan to be his most "real" and relaxed and extensive recorded conversation. Armstrong is compelling and fascinating and seems to be relieved to have told the truth, is working to make personal amends, and has a good perspective on his career. Love him or hate him, this is gripping and interesting.

I've met Louie Simmons a few times over the years, been around him at powerlifting events, and read and followed his teachings and writing for decades. He's undeniably smart, perhaps brilliant, and unquestionably as good as anyone, ever, at implimenting training methods to generate results. That being said, Simmons is a tough interview, and Rogan has to work hard in this episode to get in his questions and keep Simmons on track. Louie Simmons has given so many interviews in is life and is so practiced with much of his philosophy, it's difficult to tell when he's really answering a question or using the opportunity to keep hitting his message. The world of powerlifting owes a great deal to Simmons, and the opportunity to hear him with Joe Rogan is special.

Marcus Filly is a veteran Crossfit Games competitor, both on teams and as an individual. He's a great athlete with an interesting perspective. I enjoyed his refreshing attitude, learnng the truth about which top level CrossFit athletes eat Paleo (none!), and learnng more about the price paid by professional CrossFit athletes when each day contains four or five workouts. How to prepare and eat food around these sessions, the immense value of coaches (Filly hasn't gone through a workout in five plus years that wasn't written for him by his coach) - Filly covers many topics of interest to weight trainers and competitive athletes from many sports. Hosts Lachy Rowston and Raph Freedman live and podcast in Australia, and do an unusually good job of staying out of the way of their guests. Mind Muscle Project has quickly become one of my favorite sports podcasts.

Mark Bell's Powercast with Layne Norton - The Common Denominator is You - Powercast #194
Listen to Layne Norton, in my opinion one of the smarter coaches and trainers in the world of strength training, make a good case for why he thinks Gary Taubes is wrong about his views on the dangers of sugar. I'd enjoy listening to a debate between Taubes and Norton!

Charles Poliquin, acclaimed as one of the premier strength coaches of all time, is the guest of two consecutive episodes. #181 and #182 from January of this year are compelling and educational. Always be prepared to learn from others, and be open-minded about science and training protocol. Poliquin is one of the greats, and a legend for good reason.

Arnold Classic Bodybuilding Titles Up For Grabs

A couple of the biggest names (no pun intended) in professional bodybuilding are notably absent from the 2017 Arnold Classic competitor list. Kai Greene has apparently set his sights on movie stardom, and is concentrating his time and energy right now into shooting a movie in Asia, and kickstarting his new supplement line, Dynamik Muscle.

Branch Warren, a perennial Arnold competitor and crowd favorite, isn't on the list this year, either. Warren will be 42 by the Arnold event, placed sixth last year, and may have decided to hang up his posing trunks. I've not read anything to that effect, but the significant injuries Branch has worked through the past few years would have long ago put many another competitor onto the couch. Dallas McCarver

Looking at the list of 11 open competitors, it's easy to predict that either Dallas McCarver or Cedric McMillan will run. Cedric was second last year; McCarver could win any contest at any time. He's young, growing and still developing, clearly a rising star in the sport. McMillan was in superb shape in 2016, big and ripped, but ran up hard against Kai Greene.

This year's Arnold Classic 212 should be ultra-competitive. Guy Cisternino wants the title badly, as do David Henry and Jose Raymond. Not to take anything away from the other 8 competitors in the 212 (Charles Dixon and Hidetada Yamagshi are always ready to pounce), but there is something special about Cisternino, Henry and Raymond. I'm anticipating close competition and lots of energy on the stage. Guy Cisternino

There's a hell of a lot of money and prestige assocated with an Arnold Classic crown. I'll be there, watching closely, March 2-5.


Podcasting Their Way to the Arnold Classic

Podcasts have become an important medium for interviews, news and entertainment. In many ways they're beginning to replace traditional websites for information. People's lives seemingly are busier and busier, and clearly attention spans are shortening. I enjoy listening to podcasts while walking my dog Jack, every time I get into the Element to drive somewhere, and often in the kitchen during food prep. Bluetooth technology has made my iPhone the centerpiece of my audio and video feeds.

Bodybuilding podcasts abound; seemingly there are new productions every week or two. Some of the finest are under the Project Bodybuilding umbrella. A couple of weeks ago they began a new series titled Road to the Arnold. Each episode so far focuses on an individual competitive bodybuilder slated to be on the Arnold Classic stage, with the athlete a major part of the conversation. I find these rollicking interviews to be fun and entertaining, with plenty of personality and opinion being presented.

Jose Raymond, one of the top 212 professional bodybuilders, holds nothing back while talking with hosts Matthew Samansky and Lorenzo Marincec. He goes into detail about his prep plans, everything he puts into his body, how his workouts and entire lifestyle tailor themselves to being a professional bodybuilder. Road to the Arnold is so much more than an interview with someone headed for the competitive stage in Columbus. Samansky and Marincec take plenty of time, create a relaxed atmosphere, and bring the human side of Raymond out strongly. Given the opportunity, this veteran pro delivers straight talk, and he's fun to boot.

Robert Lorimer, the President of Arnold Classic Productions, is featured in the second podcast in the series. Inisghts spill forth from Mr. Lorimer.

What a great idea, putting together a series of podcasts as we head into the final couple of months before the important Arnold Classic. I'm looking forward to new chapters between now and the Arnold Sports Festival weekend of March 2-5. See you there!

#projectbodybuilding, #joseraymond, @joseraymond, #roadtothearnold


Excitement Building for upcoming Arnold Classic!

Don’t take your mind off the upcoming Arnold Classic just because winter is closing in on many of us. Once the holidays have passed, anticipation for the 2017 Arnold Sports Festival will begin to seriously ramp up. Before you know it, the first weekend of March will be here (March 2-5 are the dates to firmly burn into your mind).

I’ve a friend (Chad Kurian), who’s qualified in the Strongman competition for the second time. Think he’s spending even one day training without aiming his goals towards the Arnold? Nope; he’s focused on the prize. For him, this is his Super Bowl, his World Series. Phil Heath, preparing to defend his Mr. Olympia crown

Hundreds of strength and physique athletes, more than 700, from 80 countries, will be competing over the Arnold Classic weekend. The massive weights being lifted by strongmen and women mean both stages had to be structurally reinforced! Professional bodybuilding (Arnold Classic) and strongman (Arnold Strongman) events will be taking place in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, where the Arnold Expo has it’s home. Also on the stages will be the Arnold Classic 212, Women’s Physique International, Amateur Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini.

In no way do I exaggerate when I tell you every big, strong, muscular athlete in the world will be in Columbus this weekend. If they’re not competing, they’re assisting at events, working company booths at the Expo, and singing autographs and posting for photos. Attendees can’t take five steps without seeing or bumping into a professional strength or physique athlete.

Professional bodybuilding is riding quite a wave. This year’s Mr. Olympia saw renewed interest from a larger audience, and I see this big audience moving right to the Arnold Classic. The Olympia generated huge attention, due to Phil Heath defending his crown with a vengeance, Kevin Levrone returning to the stage after more than a decade in retirement, a young and upcoming Dallas McCarver displaying his potential, and a deep, quality field of experienced bodybuilders like Shawn Rhoden, Dexter Jackson, Big Ramy, William Bonac, Roelly Winklaar and Cedric McMillan putting on a mass show that’s never been seen before. The series of pro bodybuilding contests around the world taking place in the weeks after the fall Olympia were highly competitive and exciting. Never before have there been so many good pro events. Victor Martinez, winner of the Baltimore Pro in 2016

I anticipate a deep and other-worldly line-up for the Arnold Classic this March. Speaking as someone who’s attended most of them over the course of the history of the show, my prediction is the biggest and best field ever will be onstage. Topping that, experience tells me past winners of both the Olympia and Arnold Classic, whether retired or still in the game, will be at the Arnold Expo if they’re not onstage. Everyone from the world of bodybuilding will be present!

I’ll be covering the bodybuilding, strongman, and Expo. Watch for hourly and daily updates, on this site, my Stuff I Like Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

Arnold Sports Festival Columbus Ohio, #arnoldclassic#arnoldsportsfestival