One of my buddies once asked me what kind of supplements I take and I (quite matter of factly) came to the realization that I didn’t deserve any supplements. Why? Because I am not working as hard as I could be in the gym right now. So what makes me think I need an edge? Could I get that protein through a natural source by meal planning properly? Is my own laziness justifying an “easy out” for taking a supplement? On the mental side of things came the question, what happened to the concept of internal motivation, doing the workout with some grit and strengthening the power of your own resolve? Ultimately, I decided that I don’t need a niacin flush, I needed to dig my heels in. Full disclosure, in the past I have taken creatine phosphate, protein powders, NO-Explode and caffeine pills to extract more out of my workouts.
After having this proofread by my wife she pointed out that it looks like I took myself behind the woodshed and gave my body a stern talking to, possibly using language that is too harsh. I agreed with her (because she is very smart!) but that didn’t change my opinion that anything less than brutal honesty would be disingenuous to myself. I’m not in the business of excuses and flowery language. I’m in the business of results.You have a capacity to work and that must be utilized for multiple reasons. Firstly, working out has neurogenic effects on the Hippocampus, which is linked to our memory processes. As we age, the hippocampus shrinks, however, long standing aerobic exercise has been shown to reverse the effects of age related decline by several years! Read the whole study here: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/7/3017.full. If we took a shortcut and lost weight through strictly diet supplements we would not experience the positive effects on our memory.
Secondly, and most importantly, we already have all the necessary neurotransmitters, hormones and chemicals in our body—we just need to release them! Our body is not begging us for a pill, it is begging us for a pathway. It doesn’t need a way out, it needs a way through. Ripped from a Dr Mercola article in 2012, he discusses the presence and release of our own anabolic steroid, HGH: Another important benefit of high-intensity interval training is its ability to naturally increase your body's production of human growth hormone (HGH), also known as "the fitness hormone." HGH is a synergistic, foundational biochemical underpinning that promotes muscle and effectively burns excessive fat. (http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/11/02/interval-training-and-intermittent-fasting.aspx)
Human growth hormone has been made famous by professional athletes who are looking for an edge over the competition. Yet, many people don’t know that HGH is a naturally occurring product. You secrete HGH from the pituitary gland at a young age and while it gradually decreases starting somewhere in our mid to late 20’s, you still have the potential to exploit the hormone to your benefit. Why is this better than a synthetic HGH or say, a testosterone supplement? I’m glad you asked! For starters, we know that since our body created it specifically for our consumption, we have a predisposition for reception. Kind of like how Mom’s lasagna is the basis for which all other lasagnas are judged. There is just no substitute for what we grew up on. Furthermore, the chemical cascade has far reaching effects beyond building more muscle and will benefit our insulin sensitivity.
Lastly, and this is really the crux of the piece for me, we quit too easily. We quit when it is hard. We quit when we fail. We quit because aren’t going to be on the cover of Shape. We quit because of an injury. We quit because we think there is an easier way. And of course, we quit because we don’t have the time. None of those excuses are valid because all of us possess a deep well of motivation that is innate to our body, mind and soul. You don’t ask a stranger for money if you have a $100 in your pocket, do you? We are incredible creatures, built for power, strength and precision. We are not born missing some parts, we have the hand that we are dealt and it is time to play that hand (full house or 7-2 off suit) to the best of our abilities. Don’t fold, don’t ask for more cards. Work it.
I sell exactly 2 supplements in my office. A vitamin D-3 and a Super Omega. Why? One, because we live in Michigan and sometimes we don’t see the sun for months. Two, Omega complex is essential to neurological health. I am responsible for your results so I’m not going to let something like lack of Omega 3 in your diet stand between us and correction of your spine.
I know guys in school that would spend more time trying to study old tests than actually prepare for the exam. We know people that set up elaborate ruses just to skip out of work 15 minutes early. Hell, I’ve spent hours poring over my taxes to see if I could get an extra exemption somewhere. All of this was a waste of time, effort and money that ultimately yielded less fruit than if we had just dug in and did the work. In a world of buzzfeed lifehacks, exercise remains a primal movement that punishes those who create shortcuts. There is no app that will hack your exercises for you, nor will there ever be. The benefits of physical exercise transcend the muscular and teach us something about ourselves that we always know but need constant reminders of. You are enough. You can be better.