by Neil Anderson
One of the worst things about having a conversation with me (phone, email, text, eyeball 2 eyeball) is, oftentimes the contents of those conversations end up here - on the site.
If this has ever happened to you and you've taken offense, please forgive me. I totally GET that my one-sided presentation of our conversation is not fair. Not remotely. And if it seems like I've belittled your POV by being sarcastic or overly simplistic in my review of our conversation - it's NOT my intention.
Truth is, our conversation fascinated and intrigued me. To the point that I sat down for, what takes me, hours and hours to peck out some thoughts on it. Sometimes I'll stew on a subject for days/weeks/months and yes, even years before writing some thoughts on our chat. Though my comments may seem terse, they are usually only theatrically so. I've come to learn that pinning emotions to a point helps the medicine go down (now you'll be singing that all day - HA!).
Please understand I hold you in the highest regard. So do the folks who read about our conversation. We all know this one-sided POV reeks of chicanery. But, sometimes the points we discuss are helpful to someone when painted in a new light, albeit sarcastic and simplistic. I've even heard (not super often) articles here have helped folks to change their lives. That's not because of me. It's all of us. Thank you for contributing.
Now let's get down to biz.
Over the last couple of days there has been some fascinating and intriguing discussion on nutritional supplementation. Some of the fascinating and intriguing points:
Supplements are cheating! They can be dangerous! They don't work! They are total waste of money and a lie!
You make a good point. They really are cheating. Then again, so is deadlifting, right? If you are being honest, deadlifting is just a supplement for picking heavy stuff up off the ground. For that matter, so is cardio. I mean, 200 yrs ago you trudged your life-hardened backside everywhere it needed to go. Technically, everything you and I currently know about exercise is "cheating." To do it right, we'd need to be putting in 18 hours of running, jumping, walking, lifting, and ect. daily. That's the only natural way to do it. The only way of not "cheating."
Is there a difference?
It's totally different. These chemicals can be dangerous, even deadly.
What's NOT dangerous, even deadly? Think about it. 600,000 people in just the USA died of heart disease last year. That's 1 out of every 4 people who died perished from a condition mainly realated to poor lifestyle choices. How many died of thermogenic pills again? Of protein powders? Of multi-vitamins?
Besides, why would you use a truly dangerous supplement? How would that help you? Isn't the goal here to become Optimally Healthy? How can you imagine that taking steroids, or meth, or something similar could be healthy? Are these really our issues? Are people are taking steroids to become Optimally Healthy??? Common sense dictates that this is impossible. These obviously aren't the substances we are talking about here.
I'm not saying that some supplements aren't dangerous - for some people. But you are painting with pretty broad strokes when you suggest NO ONE should use what might distress another. (Not talking about substances which are proven to hurt most people. I'm on board with not using them.)
Along the same vein, under contemptuous scrutiny, you could make a case against performing KB swings. It is no doubt that a mis-used KB swing can be injurious. So could a box jump ... so could squat ... so could a run ... so could a pullup ... so could a ... I could go on, no?
It comes down to risk v. reward. If the potential reward far outweighs the risk, you should partake. NOTHING is more risky than sitting on your backside day after day, stuffing your pie hole with Twinkies. Yes, a misused KB could potentially (likely temporarily) mess up your life. But is more likely to add to it in innumerably positive ways. So, we confidently assume this risk while being smart and actively mitigating our exposure to it. The same as we would do with any supplements we choose to employ.
Fine, but supplements don't work!
Are you claiming that supplements never helped anyone ever? I guess I have a hard time seeing the difference between that claim and the claims of hucksters.
Maybe you are saying that only certain supplements work? Cool, but you forgot the two most important words in that sentence - FOR YOU.
To say supplements don't help (broad strokes or narrow) is to say those who've taken them and claim success are either lazy (couldn't do it on their own), an imbecile (too dumb to know the difference) and/or a liar (completely underhanded). Sorry, I have too much faith in humankind to believe this.
Still, supplements are a total waste of money and a lie!
Those who have used them to restore their health might disagree with that statement. In fact, they are likely to do so emphatically. Just as emphatically as you.
What is your health worth? If a friend of yours found health through supplementing with a placebo (sugar pill) would you condemn them for it? If they become healthy, is the money they spent wasted?
But long term effects and all that ...
I don't disagree. The long term effects are unknown. This fact is unsettling. However, not as unsettling as the long term effects of NOT BECOMING HEALTHY. On this, we have the facts. The outlook is indisputably bleak.
But shouldn't we try to do it naturally?
I'm a pureist. I simply LOVE the thought of hardening up and doing it the old fashioned way (proper nutrition and exercise). In the old days I used to be more strict in my approach. Back then, I viewed the use of supplementation as weak, feeble and inadequate. I judged folks who were using sups as those who were looking for the "easy" way. I thought,
"Someone looking for the easy way will always find it - on the couch!"
I've come to realize, that this mentality (mine about sups and the people who use them) was more deeply rooted in dogma than in practicality.
Here is the thing - it doesn't matter what supports (aids, crutches) you use to speed you along the path to obtaining Optimal Health. We all get there the same way. Anyone who as attained Optimal Health did it by painstakingly learning and employing the fundamentals of proper nutrition and exercise. There are no short cuts. That you might use a supplement to help you (and supplements CAN help you) won't negate the mandatory faithful daily execution of these healthy principles.
I still firmly believe there is no substitute for proper nutrition and faithfully executed multi-functional exercise. In a perfect world we'd all use only that. But, in my opinion, the only thing that would make a world more "perfect" would be the obliteration of every iteration of that word.
Take sups if you need them. For some of you, they'll work wonders.