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More Qs and As
July 15, 2003

Questions and comments by bombers are gratefully received. They provide both fuel and incentive for the newsletters and present Laree and me with an approximate picture of our flying companions. They do not arrive, however, without some personal squirming when those requesting my help are not answered by me directly. I feel a combination of sadness and frustration because of the problem, anger for life’s unfairness, guilt and insufficiency for not answering more requests individually, disappointment that I am only one person and can’t reach all those in need, doubt because I really don’t have the answers, fear that some dark and horrible failure in my past inhibits my offering more freely of myself, self-loathing as I witness my personal miserliness, bitterness toward the instructor in high school who failed to teach me adequate typing skills and hopelessness as I struggle amid the catastrophes that burden the poor souls around me. Both my psychiatrist and caseworker repeatedly encourage me to eat, get a real job, find a diversion, make some friends, leave the house. But they don’t understand me. I’m meant to suffer.

There. I feel so much better now, don’t you?

A letter from a male bomber...

First off I am 21 years old and 6'4, 170lbs. I have a training regimen that consists of lifting six days a week for about 1.5 hours a session, alternating muscle groups to avoid overtraining. I also run about 35-40 minutes every other day. Two questions:

Q-1) About how many calories per day should I consume to maintain my current
weight? It seems like I am always dropping down to the 160s.

A) Can't estimate your caloric needs without knowing at least your BMI, body chemistry, daily activities and food intake (carbs, protein and fat and quantity). It comes down to this, to gain weight you need to eat more, cut your exercise and daily activity and work output, or modify in a wise fashion a combo of both. Here lifestyle and goals and commitment come to the foreground.

You can afford to gain some good weight and it doesn't have to be perfect weight to be real valuable in strength building, improved training output and ultimately muscle growth. You want to be a runner... stay lean and run, run, run. You want to build good muscle mass, pack in the protein from all meats and dairy products, some nuts and legumes. Add the carbs from dairy foods plus loads of salads, steamed vegetables, ample fresh fruit and some whole grains. Maintain a 25-30-percent good fat intake and -- the biggee -- avoid junk food and simple sugars at all cost. Supplement your diet with EFAs, maybe fiber and a top quality vitamin and mineral, and plan on a protein powder to keep your meal planning practical and consistent... works best for a pre- or post-workout meal, breakfast or a muscle-building pre-bedtime meal. Our Super Spectrim vitamin and mineral and our Bomber Blend can't be beat. Ask Laree.

I'd be cutting back on the running and would design a five-day-a-week iron schedule. You’re tall and young and can hold some 200-220 pounds and still be very trim.

The book “Brother Iron Sister Steel” answers tons of these questions. Your library may have it in stock. Routines and exercise descriptions and tons of tips and hints and motivation. Comes in Greek only.

Q-2) I must visit relatives this summer for two weeks and obviously will not be able to lift. During this period should I notice any loss in muscle tone, overall fitness, strength etc? How quickly does muscle deteriorate?

A) You'll be fine. Most of the loss you might endure will be imaginary. Muscle is coming and going all day long. Maintain your good eating practices and gain some pounds. You'll be refreshed and raring to go when you get back. To keep your sanity, stay in condition and appease your training desire take a cool 15-minute run followed by 10 minutes of crunches and leg raises every two or three days. Find a park and do some chins and dips. Let people observe your training discipline. It is most enviable.

A letter from a female bomber...

Q) Okay, big guy, please advise:

I am doing everything in my power but I am not losing more than two pounds in almost four weeks! I am a 42-year-old female in good health, not on any meds but a daily vitamin & mild deflamatory for a herniated disc. I am at 152 lbs and I am 5'8." I start by doing cardio on my recumbent bike every morning and I usually burn about 546 calories. I am absolutely soaking when I am finished. I lift on Mon-Wed-Fri.

Nutrition: A protein shake for breakfast with half a banana for flavor, small salad with balsamic or some tuna/chicken for lunch and a light dinner. I am low on carbs and IF I do grab a snack, it is two or three oat bran pretzels, cottage cheese or a rice cake. I am NOT eating after 7:30pm. I do NOT want to turn to ephedrine or caffeine.

I tried to be brief here. Look, Draper, I really want this. I am just looking to drop about 10 pounds and get lean. My clothes are loose and fit fine, but I am not seeing ANYTHING on the scale. Yes, I know muscle weighs more than fat, but I want to see the results on the scale as well. Help!

A) Your request summarizes the misery many of us share, it seems, from time to time or often or always; you’re training hard, eating right and living daily as only a good person does, but where are the changes, the results, the promises you were promised, you promised yourself? Why don't things work more quickly, why is the work so hard, is anything good going to happen and is it worth it?

Your nutrition is right on: high protein (go for a gram per pound), low carb (stick with the salads and cruciferous vegetables -- broccoli, cauliflower -- and some fruit) and be sure the sups you take are the best. There might be a better distribution of meal times, trying to feed the body more frequently with the same low-cal intake. Invest in some free amino acids (Nitro Max by Anabol Naturals -- BCAAs plus glutamine) to supplement your protein intake for tissue repair and energy without raising the calories.

The cardio is smart, only change might be a HIIT style of pace for maximum output with less precious time consumption... save it for the weight training where your greatest advantages and resources are achieved -- muscle building for function, appearance, improved general health, bone density and its fat burning role.

No problem with the absence of stimulants from your diet and your age is, well, young except to someone, well, younger.

Several things surface; I don't know how long you've been at this (four weeks, four months, four years) and I have no concept of your body make-up, that is, your muscle-to-fat ratio. 5"8" is a swell height and 152 pounds is not a jaw dropper by any viewpoint.

In any event, your exercise regimen and right eating should not be removed from your life, since you've wisely added it. It's essential and, beyond that, it offers rewards you've yet to experience. Don't exercise because you have to or ‘cuz it will help you drop weight. Do it because it’s smart, courageous, unconventional (cool), life-saving, mood-enhancing and stress-defeating.

The other folks out there walking around the narrow streets in a gloom don't know what you know about sacrifice and discipline. Sweating on a recumbent (a what?) and getting one more rep of dumbbell inclines is a mystery to them, poor fools, and they don’t know a gram of protein from a pizza box. The more you do the stuff we're talking about here the more you will grow in ways that schools or “get rich” or “get confident” or “win friends” seminars can teach in a hundred weekends. Training and eating right are the great secrets to life, not obligations, privileges you can and will come to appreciate, want and love, if you’re blessed or lucky. Excluding the investment of time and the interruption they can present when you are weak, they present you with nothing but plusses, the biggest often being the joy of their practice.

Exercise is a humbling undertaking only for the strong.

Tough judges are we. Improvement is taking place and you don't see it. Your body chemistry is healthier day by day, muscle is growing or being healthfully stimulated with every workout, fat is on the run -- believe it, your character is being pressed on every side and your patience and perseverance are being stretched uncommonly, but that's how these wonderful personal elements grow stronger and put an honest glow on a person's face -- the face of the person who stands out and whom we admire. Your back has a better chance of healing as your whole body gets stronger and more resistant. Exercise enhances the immune system and helps retention of cognitive abilities and you meet the neatest people at a real gym where real people work out.

Training needs to be spirited and intense and the attitude needs to be enthusiastic and authentically positive. Not every workout is a joy, but every one, even the shabby ones, work. That's positive.

Do you need to raise your training intensity, push harder and quicken the pace? Are you focused and involved when you exercise or do you train to get it out of the way and over with? Do you train at home where the interest and variety and environment are sagging or at a gym where the atmosphere is clubby and social and uninspiring and unexciting? Are you doing enough sets of each exercise to reach muscle overload; are you overdoing aerobics and finding it an intrusion on your exercising spirit (boring)? Just some questions to think about.

Try super setting. Zoom.

Also, I know it is not uncommon that hormones go haywire in gals anytime and especially as menopausal and perimenopausal changes occur. You might want to talk to your doctor or seek an endocrinologist to have blood tests taken and sort out any hormone imbalances you might be subject to (thyroid, testosterone, estrogen, etc.). This is one mysterious area and you might find some resolvable issues in your own backyard.

You're your own best teacher and coach once you get the basics down. Trainers serve a sound purpose to get you going and to occasionally tune you in and up, but stand strong and learn hard as you train with yourself among the like-minded. Partners can help and partners can be a drag.

Have you read “Brother Iron Sister Steel” or “Your Body Revival”? Check your local library. They will answer most of your important questions. I wrote them over the past three years and readers have told me that they are, well, good, very good for shimming an old sofa with a broken leg, wiping up spills (tear a page out and whoosh, the mess is gone) or starting everyday campfires for roasting marshmallows. Ever try s’mores? Yum.

10 pounds is like a drop in the bucket, unless you stare at it and wish it to evaporate. Then it becomes like the bucket itself, a large thing with the shape only another bucket can admire.

Hang in there. I pray a lot, also.


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