Over the last few years I’ve had the great pleasure in helping many reach their fitness goals whether it be via email, message boards, training with them or through my various articles here and elsewhere. I wish I kept tabs on everyone but there are just too many; I’ve lost count.
I might also add that I’ve learned a lot during my fitness journey. If you’ve read my free ebook, you know I am completely transparent about the mistakes I’ve made and I sincerely hope to help those of you reading my articles sidestep the potholes I previously fell into.
As most of you know, I keep my phone number on the contact page and at the bottom of the site. This is because I want you to know I am a real person. That picture at the top of this site is me; the pictures on my about page are really me. I don’t purchase or steal stock images of models; I don’t fabricate my opinions nor do I pretend to know everything. Hell, I encourage any and all of you to do just as I have and question the authorities. I questioned all of the so-called experts we see on the internet today touting a bunch of false hopes and promises.
I stand on the shoulders of those like Lyle McDonald, Alan Aragon, Martin Berkhan, Tom Venuto and many others who are older and have far more experience than I. When I have questions about research, I send Alan an email or post a question on Lyle’s forums. If I need a kick in the ass, I email or call my former coaches.
Today, I want to highlight an experience I’ve had multiple times to demonstrate just how naïve we can sometimes be and just how little value we place on the things in life which are free.
The Phone Call
The particular experience I’m discussing happened over my Christmas break. It was about 9PM and I’d been answering some questions on a few of the forums I frequent. I was also chatting with Ryan Zielonka about some fitness goals for the New Year. This is when I got the call.
On the other line was a young guy who’d just found my recent gem about T-Nation’s latest piece of awesomeness called Anaconda. I answered the phone to a surprised, young(er) guy on the other end. He couldn’t believe I answered. So, as a young, southern gentleman, I greeted him nicely, asked his name, thanked him for calling me and then proceeded to find out what I could possibly help him with.
He was the typical, lost 19 year old searching for the Holy Grail (oh yea, there isn’t one by the way). He’d been jumping from program to program lost in all of the hype and bullshit many newbies succumb to on a daily basis. After about twenty minutes of chatting with him about Anaconda, goals, training, etc., I told him it would be best for our conversation to continue in email format. I assured that I would get him started on the right foot and email is just the best way for me to keep up with the folks I am helping out.
Of course I wasn’t going to do a full blown consultation but said I would definitely spur him along and answer his questions for a nominal fee of $FREE.99.
Let The Emailing Begin
So I got his vitals; you know, his age, weight, training experience and what he was currently doing. From his report, he was still in newbie land which is awesome. In this scenario, just about any sensible training program will work as long as he is eating plenty of sammiches, focusing on strength gains and moderate body weight gains.
So I figure cool, these are the easiest emails in the world. Umm, yea right.
He told me his goals were to be as big and lean as possible. He wanted to gain muscle and get ripped at the same time. I then explained about how this stuff actually takes TIME and how there are NO SHORTCUTS whatsoever.
I advised him to focus on getting strong on the main compounds, eating very well and taking his sweet ass time. He has his whole life to reach his genetic potential, not six months!
The problem is that he was so focused on the short term. The main reasons behind his unrealistic expectations were a direct result of all the crap that’s flooded his mind. Bodybuilding magazines and many fitness websites are so chock full of dogma and blatant lies. This was literally all he’d seen, therefore he believed it.
This is why he couldn’t comprehend how someone like me was pushing the fact that eating 6 times per day for fat loss is pure dogma and that most supplement companies and magazines have an agenda to take your money and that’s it. They, for the most part, don’t really care about an individual’s success or that you really can’t add 1000 lbs to your bench press in 5.89 days. They just want you to buy their awesome 2 liter liquid cocktail that will make you crap like a banshee (real t-mag forum talk, folks). Check the forums – there are many accounts.
I did my best to bring him down to earth and explain that achieving the big, chiseled physique takes years of hard work and focus, not a few months from a shady product and its false claims.
The Train Stops Here Because We Are DONE
I then received one more email. Keep in mind this was after I took the time on the phone with him, spent a few days in email giving suggestions on training, eating and progressive overload.
Here’s how it went.
His last email after I explained that Anaconda had nothing in it that was special or super secret or better than plain, wholesome food. I advised that he could even source the supplements and make his own cocktail for much cheaper:
I guess. I definitely believe you. I’m still willing to try it. I’ll try the supply they offer, and give you the results. If they actually work, I’ll give you the results, what I ate while on it and how I trained, and me and you will probably be confused how it got to work. If it doesn’t, you got one more good thing to prove anaconda is bullshit. Btw, the placebo effect has nothing on me, I want everything I do to work, and I make myself think it as hard as I can, it doesn’t work.
And this is why many guys like yourself will continue to spin their wheels into oblivion – there are no shortcuts – no magic pills. You ask for advice, seek help, and then only shit on those in the field (Alan, Lyle, Martin, Skyler, RogLaw, Ryan, Leigh et al) who know way more than those who are only getting started. Hell, if you don’t believe me, just look at Alan Aragon’s recent blog post where he linked to my review. http://www.alanaragonblog.com/2009/11/29/conversations-with-a-bro-animated-edition/ —> at the very bottom of the post. He even wrote extensively about it in his research review – why would he link to me if he didn’t approve of my synopsis?
Now, I may have been a little harsh on this guy. I admit, I was pretty pissed off after spending all this time with him, hoping to steer him in the right direction and save him from the depths of wasted time and disappointment, only for him to take a giant, anaconda dump on me.
However, the moral of this story is very clear and simple.
WE PLACE NO VALUE ON WHAT IS FREELY GIVEN.
We have this false notion that if something is free, it’s not worth shit. There, I said it. I said what everyone thinks but won’t admit.
This is why there is only a small group of folks on every large fitness forum who actually get results and make stuff happen. The information on these forums is free and plentiful. Everything anyone would ever need to know about training and nutrition is all buried within the many threads. All a person must do is search and bookmark their info.
However, many won’t do this. They will continue searching for magic pills and super-secret-ninja dieting strategies from the 2nd century. Their pursuit for the Black Ops Bodybuilding Program is never-ending.
Eventually, they buy some crappy product and guess what; it doesn’t work like they hoped. So now, they are out of some cash and just wasted a bunch of time spinning their wheels when all the free, valuable information was under their nose all along.
As for the dude I exchanged emails with, I sincerely hope you get your head out of the sand and come over to the good side of science, practicality and objectivity. At least you won’t get any bullshit (none from me anyway).
As for all of those whom I chat with in email on a weekly (some of you daily) basis, I love you and enjoy our conversation. To my past clients who let me make ALL of the rules, I really love you. And to everyone else, please keep the emails coming. But please, don’t take a giant panda bear dump on me.