In high school, I lifted weights all the time. My best friend’s father was a former Olympic athlete in weight lifting and taught us to train and eat like monsters. My friend and I would call each other up and yell at the other person if he was not chewing on a mouth full of food at the moment he picked up the phone. We told each other stories about how the only breaks we took from eating were to go to the bathroom and lift weights. My exercise and nutrition philosophy was very simple: More is better.
A few years later, in the US Navy, my doctor on the aircraft carrier told me that I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, was class three obese and that I needed to be on medication. I didn’t like the idea of going on medication if I could fix the problem myself, so I started including cardiovascular exercise in my training and drastically improved my nutrition. Instead of brown sugar, I put fruit on my oatmeal. Instead of syrup, I put peanut butter on my pancakes. Instead of greasy eggs, I ate hard-boiled eggs and removed the yolks. Within four weeks, my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were still high, but in the normal range and I did not need to go on medication. I could not believe how quickly my health improved but what was even more amazing to me, was how much stronger I became. I had been struggling to squat 300 lbs for half of a decade and now I was squatting 400 lbs within a few months and simultaneously unintentionally lost over 10 lbs of body fat. I realized that what we put into our bodies has a profound impact on how our body functions.
This experience is the driving force behind everything that I do. I studied cell biology and chemistry at Stanford and now do research at UCSF in order to understand health at the deepest level possible. My conclusion is that anyone can understand how the body works and how to keep it healthy if they receive that information in an effective, clear and concise way. My courses, seminars and personal consults are all based on this belief, and the feedback has been amazing. I was at first worried that mentioning molecules and biological processes would scare everyone off. But quite the opposite is true. When I started giving talks on how the body regulates carbohydrate fueling of muscle, how eating to minimize diabetes simultaneously minimizes body fat stores, or why muscle growth requires proper hydration, people felt empowered to take this information and make decisions on their own to improve their health.
I have now teamed up with the Sports Medicine Institute (SMI) to develop a new Center for Human Nutrition and Exercise Science. It is my goal to make this Center the most effective and useful resource possible for everyone in the community, linking the rapidly-expanding wealth of scientific information to the publics’ increasing need to understand what generates improved health and why. My personal interest in lifting weights like a monster has not left me either, and much of my work focuses on the link between optimum health and performance. While health is a goal in and of itself, I also use health as a tool to facilitate my weight lifting habit. But instead of training and eating like a crazed monster in high school, I now use total health to squat, deadlift and bench a 1250 lb total while working way more than full time with as much energy at midnight as when I get up before 6 AM. I believe everyone can achieve more of their personal goals using health as their personal tool.
We can all become our own health monster!