a body is a patchwork of compromises. -Richard Dawkins

in relation to evolution, Dawkins uses rats and their teeth as an example in regards to “artificial selection.” evolution is known as natural selection so obviously, artificial selection is forced. in his example, scientists wanted to see if they could breed rats to have stronger teeth over the course of generations. lucky for them, rats reproduce almost exponentially so it is possible in a person’s lifetime to see this evolution as opposed to natural selection which takes forever and most people won’t live long enough to see. in any event, the scientists were successful in breeding rats with stronger teeth. in a normal rat, tooth decay was evident within 100 days. in the artificially selected, or forcefully evolved rats, they managed to delay tooth decay by 400 days, four times the time of naturally selected rats. he goes on to explain that despite this being a victory in the lab, in real life, things would be different. the strength of teeth and bones is strongly dependent on calcium ingested. where would a wild rat find calcium to feed it’s body’s need? it’s not like they could buy it in a store like we can! how would they get it? well, calcium already exists inside of the rat, in it’s bones, so it could take calcium from it’s bones for it’s teeth but then that would weaken the bones. since rats are dependent on their teeth to survive, stronger teeth could lead to longer lives and the ability to reproduce more, in turn lengthening it’s lineage however, if the gain in tooth strength is at the loss of bone strength, this loss could actually shorten it’s life should damage come to it’s bones and it not be able to repair itself. he goes on to say that the body has an “economy” of calcium (and of all vitamins and minerals) and where it shifts to aid one area, another area loses. hence his phrase quoted above.

in application to us, this relationship between our body’s and nutrient economy holds true. for many years I never took vitamins. I assumed that I could get all of the vitamins and minerals I needed from the foods I ate and that taking supplements in pill form was a waste of time and money because the body doesn’t absorb the vitamins and minerals well that way. calcium, needs to be absorbed properly and our bodies don’t do well with that when the calcium comes by way of a pill. hence so many pill makers who claim their form of calcium is easier to absorb than others on the market. through learning more about the body and how to fine tune it via diet and exercise, I learned that no, our bodies do not get everything they need via the foods we eat, even with a healthy diet, and we would be well advised to incorporate supplements into our systems, should we desire good health.

in regards to those of us who are embarking on a fitness journey with the aim of becoming stronger, healthier, more physically appealing people-or whatever your motivation may be- I am going to take the liberty of suggesting incorporating vitamins into your daily health regime. moreover, if you are working out as well as dieting, I must state that while that is all good in theory, the “economy” of our body’s nutrients will come into play vigorously which makes it even more important to incorporate supplements to counteract the effects of depletion due to the exercise and diet plan you’re on. when you exercise, your body is pulling the energy it needs from the nutrients in it, so despite keeping a healthy diet, the losses of these vital building blocks of life need to be replenished or else your body will go into a deficit. this is partly why a lot of people who start working out for the first time in a while will get sick at the start of their journey. the body, unaccustomed to over exertion, started pulling what it needed from itself to fulfill the requirements for a successful workout. it depleted itself and the effect is usually a cold with flulike symptoms. when this happens at the start of a fitness journey, it has the ability of derailing a person’s plans! don’t let this happen!! taking vitamins along with a healthy diet will prevent that from happening. food for thought!

there is more though! anyone who begins a workout routine will concur that when you start working out, you’re going to feel pain. that pain comes from a build up of lactic acid in your muscles during contraction and release. while feeling that pain or burn in your muscles may be a sign that you’re doing your exercises correctly, it can take days for that pain to go away. it’s not good to work out while still in pain from a previous workout which is why avid fitness buffs will work out specific areas on one day, and another the next, giving ample time to recover their legs while working their arms, etc. this pain could keep the average person from the gym however, it’s even worse to go too many days between workouts. they say never go more than three days between workouts. longer breaks undue the progress you’ve made which defeats the purpose.

so how can you eliminate the pain and shorten the recovery time between workouts so that you can workout more consistently and see results fast? easy! take MSM.

MSM is a supplement you can get at GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe. I don’t think you’ll find it in your local pharmacy’s vitamin aisle but I could be wrong. what MSM does is it reduces the production of lactic acid so you feel that pain less. as a result, it hastens the recovery process (not really) so you can get back to your routine and see the results you’re working towards. there is a flip side to this. everything in our bodies has a purpose, or used to have a purpose (eg. the appendix and tonsils have no real purpose today but at some point in the evolution of human beings they must’ve had a purpose or else we wouldn’t have them). lactic acid has it’s purpose too. when we exercise, what we are doing is aggravating our muscles. we’re causing small tears in the fibers of our muscles as we work them out. the lactic acid serves as a reminder, the pain it causes tells us “hey, take it easy, your muscles aren’t used to this and need time to recover!” so the lingering pain caused by the build up of lactic acid in our muscles is actually good for us because it keeps us from over working muscles that need time to repair themselves. by dosing up on MSM before and after workouts, it’s reduces the production of lactic acid, thus reducing the pain associated with working out and giving us the false sense that our muscles have sufficiently repaired themselves and are ready to be worked again. over working your muscles can be worse at times than not working them at all. the key is to find a happy medium. someplace smack dab in the middle of sedentary and overworked.

I take MSM because I want to work out everyday so it’s better for me to not feel excruciating pain after working out. I’m conscious of what I am doing though. I make sure to workout my entire body, not target just one area, but I don’t overdo it. sure, I go hard but not too hard. just hard enough to feel the burn all over my body and to sweat profusely but not hard enough to hurt myself or strain anything. machines at the gym help too because they allow you to perform exercises that otherwise would require a lot of knowledge about proper form that most average people don’t have. for instance, there is a right way to do a bicep curl using free weights but on a machine, you just follow the diagram and you’re good. for someone who doesn’t know how to workout, the machines are the safest way to go about it if you can’t afford a trainer or a gym with classes.

note that muscle is heavier than fat. if you want to lose weight, focus on burning fat and not building muscle. your muscles will grow regardless but if your aim is to hop on a scale and see a smaller number every time you do, building muscle will do the opposite because muscles are heavier than fat. a lot of people lose hope because even though they’re losing fat, they’re also building muscle, and the scale doesn’t seem to be showing smaller numbers despite all the work being done. this is called a plateau, and it basically means you’ve hit a wall. my wall is 160lbs. can’t seem to get past it, even though I’m smaller and more firm in places that were jiggly before, but I’m not giving up! so I suggest focusing on cardio workouts. cardio brings up your heart rate, raises your core temperature and burns fat! you’ll lose fat predominantly when doing cardio workouts.

I was watching the Zumba class yesterday at the gym. it looks like silly fun! if you get bored on the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machines, try Zumba! I was giggling watching them do their thing. the classes are usually a mixed group of fit to unfit, young to older people but they’re all smiling and sweating together! working out in a group setting is motivating because you’ll look around and see people in worse shape than you going hard! it’ll keep you from giving up.

so yeah, as Dawkins says, our bodies ARE a patchwork of compromises. whatever we do on one side, depletes something somewhere else. so please, take your vitamins if you are working out. please eat healthily, avoiding excess salts, sugars, and fats. eat whatever you want but always choose the better options and smaller portions as opposed to junk food or fast food. avoid eating at restaurants and choose home cooked meals instead. not only will you save money but when you prepare your own food, you can feel confident that you are eating well because you know what you put into it. up your intake of greens! spinach, kale, collard greens, these things are sooooooo good for you in so many ways. the darker the leaf, the better. avoid red meat when possible. eat more fish! poultry is good too but you don’t need meat for protein. (my vegan friends will enjoy the last sentence from the ‘but’ on.) you can get it from vegetables and even protein shakes. stop drinking soda and juice. drink ONLY water!!! seriously, if you do nothing at all, don’t change your diet, don’t take vitamins, don’t workout, but you do cut out soda and juice, you will lose weight in a month just by doing that alone! my friend did that! she was a soda junkie and lost over thirty pounds just by stopping soda and juice and she did nothing else!

basically, our human bodies evolved into the wonderful machines they are today through natural selection. we are as strong as we need to be for survival! we can be better, we can continue to evolve ourselves! we need to take care of ourselves and each other. they say the best way to change the world is to start with yourself. by opting for a healthier lifestyle, you will unwittingly lead others by example. I know of a person who lost an entire person in body weight, dropping from 265 lbs to a svelte 140 lbs. she is happier and healthier and inspiring. I know of another person who suffered from anorexia/bulimia and turned it around and is now so fit, she looks like a super hero! these people motivate me because if they could lose over a hundred pounds in as little as a year, or could sculpt a muscular physique from a skeletal frame, me losing a mere 20-30 pounds should take no time at all.

be happy.
be healthy.
evolve!

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