GMOMG! – Educate Yourself.

In our modern, advanced, intelligent society, I’m shocked to see that we’re still so susceptible to fear-mongering and mass ignorance. I’m sure we all know…

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

We have been wrong before. We believed the Earth was flat. We believed cigarettes were healthy. We believed diet soda was actually a healthy alternative to regular soda. Today, we seem to believe “GMO’s” are creating un-killable man-eating weeds, turning our soil toxic, and poisoning our children turning them into mutants.

My question is: Do you know why you hate “GMO’s”? Do you even know what they are? Really? If you use your noggin for a minute and try to see through the mob-mentality hysterics…I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

Let me clear something up right now: I’m not Pro-GMO. I’m not Anti-GMO. I’m Anti-Ignorance.

Get Educated. Let me teach you a few things…

I really can’t stand all the nonsense I see on Facebook. I see people blindly re-posting all kinds of anti-GMO propaganda (yeah, I used that word) and I can’t help but think… do you even KNOW what you’re saying by sharing/re-posting that?

Fear-mongering, scare tactics, and a gross misunderstanding/lack of actual facts has skewed things to the point where there’s a veritable war on GMO’s…and we may very well look back on it with immense regret. I’m going to do my best not to ramble. Let’s take this step by step.

First…What IS a “GMO”, anyway?

Farmers face a lot of challenges. Pests, drought, weather, and much more can lead to low crop yields. Farmers have to overcome it all – after all, we’re counting on them to feed us. Well, people realized that many organisms possessed qualities that would be IMMENSELY helpful in our crops to combat these very problems – hence, GM seeds. GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism”. Basically, scientists take a gene from an organism with the desired trait and put it into the DNA of the seeds of a crop farmers grow, like corn or potatoes. 
Example: BT Corn. BT stands for Bacillus Thuringiensis. Corn has MAJOR pest issues – pests that are killed by a toxin BT produces. Essentially, introducing specific BT genes into corn made the corn produce that toxinThat’s right, toxic to specific pests (mostly), not ALL insects, not animals, not humans.

There’s also GM crops that are drought-tolerant and, more famously, resistant to pesticide. They’re even working on being able to fortify foods with additional vitamins they don’t normally have! If executed properly, something like that could solve a lot of problems around the world.

Ok…but…they’re bad!…right? 
science AND research
Says who? When I surf the internet and read all of the top results on GMO, Monsanto, and why everything to do with this topic is “Bad”…I see a lot of misinformation, scare tactics, and enough fear-inspiring trust-destroying buzzword combinations to make your head spin. There is a troubling lack of facts and peer-reviewed research associated with every claim I see that GMO’s are bad/evil/destroying the world. See this, this, and this as examples.

What claims are “they” making?

-GMO Corn caused tumors in rats

There were so many issues with this “study”, and it is completely debunked, yet anti-GMO groups are still harping on it as fact (yes, that was published well after retraction). Another anti-GMO site claimed GMO’s caused liver/kidney damage…but the “review” cited said itself that the tests were not sufficient to prove anything conclusive.

Farmers are being sued when GMO pollen blows into their crops

This is a big twisting of the truth. There are famous cases this is based on (see this, this and this). There are far less cases being brought up and going to court than many anti-GMO activist groups would lead you to believe. They’re going after people violating patent law by saving/replanting seeds, not wind-blown pollen.

-GMO Seed-sellers are “controlling and manipulating farmers”

Not quite. These Genetically Modified seeds are, essentially, akin to a software developer creating a new program, or an artist painting a new picture – they retain the rights to profit from their new creation. The scientist may not have created “seeds”, but they DID create seeds that have extra genes built-in. Copyright, trademark, and patent apply, even if it seems strange. The farmer agreed to these terms when they bought the seed. Nobody held a gun to their head – it was a choice.

-Monsanto et al are selling sterile “Terminator seeds”

While it’s true “Terminator seeds” (which do not grow back the next year) do exist, GM Companies have never actually put them to market. (that I know of)

-GMO crops are creating unstoppable pesticide-resistant super-weeds and super-pests

Pests and weeds are going to evolve and become resistant to our efforts just like the flu virus morphs and changes every year to resist the flu vaccine…but you don’t see pitchforks and torches outside your local clinic or pharmacy, do you?

-Pesticides are destroying good soil, rendering it forever useless without GMO seeds
-There’s collateral damage as a result of “Roundup-Ready” crops.
The list goes on. These are just some of the many allegations being made. I’m not here to refute them all, but I simply had to point out that some are, in fact, incredibly false.
This whole “gmo” labeling thing is such a huge deal right now…there are GMO labeling measures being fought for around the country…and food/drink/agriculture companies are pouring millions of dollars into the fight to squash it. Why?

Mandatory labeling accomplishes nothing.

Labels are great – they allow us to have more information and, thus, make informed decisions. Sorry to break it to you, but Mandatory GMO Labeling wouldn’t help us make any kind of decision we can’t already make. People say they want to know so they can know what they’re putting in their bodies. They want to know so they can avoid foods they don’t want. They want labeling because…they WANT it! And other countries have it, so why shouldn’t WE?!

Know what ELSE other countries have? Communism.

Seriously, though – every argument FOR mandatory labeling I see is a lot of demands, a lot of ignorance, a lot of “I THINK I know what’s up” and little or no fact / REAL good reason. Current U.S. Law requires labeling on new foods that have significant nutritional or allergenic characteristic, and the FDA has judged that, so far, there is no danger, health risk, or reduced nutritional value from GM foods. There are many “Certified Organic” and “non-GMO certified” foods labeled as such. So…all those “informed choices” you want to make? You already can.

On the flip side, all the arguments I see against mandatory labeling are based upon facts, research, and real reasons. There would be a lot of cost involved in such an endeavor. Mandatory labeling hasn’t exactly gone like a dream in other countries. Customers ALREADY have choices (as I said above). My favorite reason – mandatory labeling would imply some kind of health risk – you don’t need to be a genius to imagine how that would pan out…it’d be like slapping on a poison label.

There IS positive potential for GM foods

I’m no expert, but given the technology GM foods could solve a lot of problems. Better pest resistance and less reliance on pesticides could mean it’d be less expensive for farmers to…farm. Less crop loss due to pests means more people get fed. Genetic Engineering could lead to larger fruits and vegetables, feeding more people. Vitamin enrichment could solve critical vitamin deficiencies in other parts of the world. Drought-resistance could mean crops could be grown in far more places – more people get fed. All in all, GM foods could be a big part of the fight against world hunger and feeding an ever-increasing world population.

And if we freak out and squash GMO’s…we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

TRUTH IS – We’ve been doing this for centuries 

Maybe not the same way, but farmers have been “messing with” your food for a very long time. How do you think broccolini exists? Farmers have been doing their own (more crude and unpredictable) genetic modification for a very long time. Cross-breeding, selective breeding/planting, etc. This is not a new idea, just a new method. Why, all of a sudden, are we upset?
Again, let me be clear – I am not pro-GMO. I am not anti-GMO. I’m simply remaining open-minded. I’m forming my opinion and making my decisions based on fact, not fear. I’m certainly not blindly following what everyone else tells me about GMO’s. If YOU would like to be educated and sound a whole lot smarter when you talk about GMO’s, you can visit any of these sites/read any of these studies:

Please – be educated. Know what you’re talking about before you join a fight that could have major global impact later on. Be open, learn something, and contribute something meaningful to the discussion :).

Lose Your Limits

Now that I’ve undergone such big changes and my body has transformed so much, I’ve gotten a better understanding of both my pre-fitness mindset and my current boundaries and limitations. The funny thing is…they go hand in hand.

On this Motivational Monday morning, I want to have a (relatively) brief and (per usual) candid chat about knowing yourself, being in touch with your body, and learning your limits. I hope many of you will come to find what I did – it’s all in your head.

When I was 300 lbs part of what was holding me back was The Fear Monster. I was afraid to get up and go, I was afraid of failure. I wasn’t really sure what my physical limits were…where my boundaries lay…but I figured the bar was pretty low. I knew how easily I got winded and I wasn’t too keen on finding out just how little I could really do. So I just assumed I was pretty limited in terms of physical fitness. No running a mile, no heavy lifting, no endurance to speak of…nothing.

Then I started getting fit. I started pushing it, going until exhaustion…and then continuing. This was a big step for me…I had never tested my boundaries…never challenged my limits. But I had to get through the workout. I had to keep up with the people in the video. I had to look impressive for Megan or at least look like I was making progress. Slowly but surely the little victories came…I could do regular push-ups instead of on my knees…I could do the jump a little between lunges instead of having to step quickly through them…progress is progress, right? Slowly, I kept getting better. I even tried going for a run!

Then Something Happened Last Week – 
I finished Body Beast…and I started getting onto my endurance training calendar for the half-marathon I’m running. I went out for a run, and decided to do a fast 5K. Just go and see what I can do. I was cookin’. I got back home and crossed my little “finish line”…and Runkeeper’s audio cues came on when I “stopped” the run – my pace had drastically improved. I’m not talking like baby steps progress, good for you, rah rah rah…I’m talking WHOA…who kicked on the afterburners? I got 8:22 min/mile average – that’s about a minute and a half off my usual mile time. I had no idea how I went that fast or maintained that pace over 3.1 miles…but I did it.

The Next Day I went on a longer run – I had planned on 8 miles but only had time for 5, so I went. As I was running I heard my Runkeeper audio cues over the music of my playlist…telling me 9:15 min/mile, 8:56 min/mile, 8:57 min/mile…um…EXCUSE ME? I was doing it again! This time, I was going farther…could I maintain that past the 3 mile mark? Was it possible?

YES! I did 5.06 miles in 44:36. That’s an average pace of 8:49. You’ve got to be kidding me! The bottom line here is…my initial perceptions have gone out the window…totally shattered. My boundaries have been pushed off a cliff. I don’t actually know what my limits are now, but I’m convinced I can continue pushing them and improving. People like to say “no, that’s impossible” “no, there’s no way I can do that”. Nonsense. One of my favorite quotes out there…is about the word “impossible”.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration, it’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Muhammad Ali

We create our limits in our minds. I firmly believe that, given time and training, anything is possible. Our bodies are amazingly adaptable and will take as much as we are willing to throw at them. The human body can morph from 300 lbs and sedentary to 160 lbs and running ultramarathons. The body will learn to do what you tell it. If you just take the time and train, you can do anything. That’s how professional body builders get so huge. That’s how these people who run 100 mile races get that kind of endurance. That’s how I got where I am. I whole-heartedly believe that, and I hope others will come to figure it out as they too push their limits and learn their potential.

The mind is an incredibly powerful thing – if you believe you’re sick, and you believe it hard enough, your body will manifest that and you’ll get sick (it’s an actual medical thing). If you believe you can’t do something, you simply won’t be able to. If you believe that you can’t run, you will never make it past the first mile. But if you let go of the mental roadblocks you’ve created for yourself and just…well…try…you’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish. In the last week I have had so many personal milestone accomplishments…its like all of a sudden I broke through to a new place. My body is more flexible, I found  core strength I didn’t know I had, I can run faster…all because I just let go of all the mental roadblocks and limits that I thought I had.

Lose your limits.  

I challenge you not to focus on what you can’t do, or what you think you can’t do…but to work on being better than you were yesterday. Reach a little farther, go a little faster, experiment with  a little more weight…you’ll find that over time, as you try harder and harder, you will go farther and farther. You will shatter your own perceptions of your ability. No matter how out of reach something might seem, just remember –

It won’t come to you…you have to work for it.
So get out there and GET IT!


Let’s have a little talk about -Haters-.

We all know what haters are. We all probably know some haters too. Odds are, many of you out there might even have haters of your very own! I’ll go ahead and say that 90% or more of the haters out there are the people I’m talking about in this post. Up to 10% might have a legitimate reason for hating…maybe. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume we’re talking about the 90% that I’m about to describe.

Ultimately, I have to say...I don’t hate haters. If you think about it the way I do…you can’t help but love them just because of their very nature. Haters are important! Just not for the reason they wish they were. On this Motivational Monday morning, I think its time to talk about the haters.

What drives a hater? What do Haters…hate? Why?

So, before we go on…you might be wondering what exactly I mean by “hate”. What does it mean to be “hated on”? How does someone “hate on” you?

Think back to elementary school, middle school…yes even high school. The haters will make fun of you. The haters will belittle you and your achievements. The haters will try to recruit others to their side to make you feel like you’re all alone. The haters will bully you and badmouth you. Haters will spread rumors about you. They’ll try to make you feel like everything you’re doing doesn’t matter and no matter what you do, in the end you’re just a loser wasting their time.

If you’ve seen people getting “hated on”, you’ve probably wondered what that person did to “deserve it”. If you’re getting “hated on” yourself, its probably bothering you that you don’t know why! I’m going to make this REALLY simple:

Haters Hate Your Success 

Yes. It really is that simple. Haters are bitter. Haters are jealous. Haters see in you a reflection of everything they wish they were. Haters want to be able to achieve what you have achieved. Have you lost weight recently? Your hater feels fat. Have you run a race? Your hater wishes they could run. Your hater DID run that race? You got a better time than them. I’m sure you get the point.

I know this seems really childish and like something that belongs in grade school…but it’s the unfortunate truth. Rather than celebrate your successes with you the haters try to wash it away and put you down. Rather than try to improve themselves and work on their shortcomings, they focus their energy on bringing. you. down.

But why?

Because the haters can’t be bothered to do the work.

Haters are often people who suffer from things like “The I Don’t Feel Like It Syndrome”. Maybe The Fear Monster has them in it’s grasp. Maybe they’ve got a Napoleon Complex or The Scale discouraged them so badly they just can’t bring themselves to try anymore. Maybe they’re lost in “America The Fat”. Or perhaps they just can’t drum up the motivation to get it done. Whatever the reason…SOMETHING is keeping the haters from getting what they want and being happy, and it’s everything that YOU have managed to work past to reach your successes and keep on going. That makes your haters very mad. It frustrates them. People often get angry or begin to hate what frustrates them or what they can’t understand. So since the hater can’t get past whatever it is stopping them…the mindset becomes toxic.

If the hater can’t have success, neither can you!

THAT, in a nutshell, is why haters hate. If the hater can’t be happy…if the hater can’t lose weight…if the hater can’t run a race, get an A+, get a girlfriend, get a promotion…neither should you. They hate seeing you get what they want. That’s why they hate on you and try to bring you down – they’re trying to make you quit But this is why I love haters.

Haters let you know you’re doing a good job

Honestly, the more hate I’m catching…the harder my haters are hating, the better I must be doing. If they’re hating on me that much harder then I must be making that much greater of an achievement. THAT is why I said haters are so important – haters are your success meter! Don’t let them drag you down or discourage you – rather, let your haters be encouragement to go harder. See how much you can make the haters hate you. I’d like to hope that eventually they’ll either give up hating or start backing you, but it could very well be the case that they just can’t get past whatever their own problem is…and they’ll just keep on hating. So what. Let them hate. Just remember what it means.

By continuing to do what you’re doing you’re sending a message to your haters:

Your Opinion Does Not Matter.

Your continued success and your positive attitude lets the haters know that they are powerless to stop you. In the end, you should probably take pity on your haters – they wish they could do what you’re doing but they can’t beat their own roadblocks. They can’t plow through like you have and get down the road to success. 

Sucks to suck. 

So next time someone starts hating on you or trying to bring you down…just smile at them, walk away, and know that you are what someone else wishes they could be. Don’t let the haters get you down or stop you – let them push you and encourage you to keep achieving new heights. Don’t be afraid to post those before & after pictures. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you got where you are.

Don’t be afraid to keep becoming a better you. “Haters gonna hate”.

Let ’em.

Defeating Demotivators #1 – The Fear Monster

In the spirit of “Motivational Monday” I want to take a moment to touch on something I was talking about with a fitness friend at work over the last couple of days. It’s actually a loose end I need to tie up from the last couple of articles I wrote. In The “I Don’t Feel Like It” Syndrome I talked about people who just won’t get off the couch, can’t/won’t get motivated to work out in the first place, and never take that all-important first step. In Why Workouts Fail #1 – The Napoleon Complex (my favorite article so far) I talk about people who take the leap, try going to the gym or working out and run into a big issue that drives them away.

Ok…what about the people in the middle?

The people who aren’t entirely opposed to working out, but haven’t taken that step yet? Who haven’t braved the gym, the home-gym, the pavement, trail, pool, whatever? Or tried and gave up? If these people aren’t against it…and they might have some motivation to do it…why haven’t they gotten to it yet?

Fear. Fear can stop the most powerful locomotive in its tracks. Fear is, I think, one of the biggest demotivators out there. Fear of what, though? Fear of failing. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of embarassment. Fear of disappointing yourself or others. Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of the unknown.

Fear can be one of the toughest demotivators to beat. Especially if someone doesn’t have friends or family around them who are “into” fitness. Unfortunately, unless those people have a big life-altering event or a breaking point like I had (see My Story) that fear can be so paralyzing and show-stopping that they just never leave the safety of “not trying”. I would go so far as to say that over time, those people can start to suffer from The “I Don’t Feel Like It” Syndrome, forgetting the curiosity or motivation they had in the first place and losing it entirely to fear. It’s tough to get past the fear when you’re on your own little island and there’s noone around to help you ease into fitness. If you ARE a fitness type, be on the lookout for these people. How do you tell who these people are, though?

For one, they’re not already a fitness freak. They don’t work out, they probably don’t eat “right” (but might try to or make half-efforts), and for all intents and purposes they closely resemble the people suffering from The “I Don’t Feel Like It” Syndrome in all areas except their attitude towards fitness.
Though, I will say, that doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t, at some point, attempted to do it on their own. Remember that part where Joey Howyadoin shows up and offers a spot (IDFLI Syndrome)? Where I’d say “Yeah, that was just a warm-up set, let’s DO this!”, someone suffering from this demotivator would probably say “Actually, that was my last set, I’m all wrapped up. Thanks though!” while they’re thinking sweet Lord, get me OUT of here! 

Aaaand that was probably the last time they set foot in anything resembling a gym.

The biggest tell, though, is that they’re curious. They’ll poke their head in while you’re working out. They’ll ask you questions about your workout for the day or the program you’re doing. They’ll make little comments that could be a conversation starter. In some form or fashion, they come to you. This is very important – as mentioned before…you just can’t force someone to get fit…they have to want it…and if they’re curious, any traumatic workout attempt they might have had in the past is far enough out of their memory that now they’re open to it.

So how do I help this person defeat the demotivator?

GENTLY. First off, yes – they’re open to it, and that’s incredibly important, but don’t forget…the demotivator we’re trying to beat is FEAR. I feel silly saying it but please don’t forget that you can…well…scare them away if you’re too aggressive. I know, seems obvious, right? What you might think is easy beans might be momentously challenging for them, so keep that in mind as you try to help them, and think of super-easy ways to ease them in.

Considering that they either have never worked out before or tried something and got scared away you might need to help them figure out what exactly works best for them.  

PRO-TIP: Something is better than nothing.

You might be a little disappointed when they seem like they’re trying something that doesn’t, to you, seem like a “real” workout – but again…what YOU think is easy and a waste of time might be super-challenging for them. ***Go at their pace*** There is no faster way to lose them to the fear than to go beyond their comfort zone. Too fast too soon is a recipe for disaster. I did this exact process with my mom – I started by working out and setting the example. She saw my transformation as it was happening and was there as my story was unfolding, so she was proud of me and wanted to see how I was doing it. I eased her in with Tony Horton’s 10 Minute Trainer. Literally 10 minute workouts. Over time, she started working in Cardio X from P90X (a 40 minute relatively easy cardio routine), and not too long after that she took on P90X in its entirety and was talking about doing Les Mills COMBAT with me and my fiancee. For your fitness-fearing friend or family member it may be running that does it for them – start with walking. It may be biking – start with a couple miles. Whatever it is (and I can’t say it enough) ease them into it.

This may be a slow process. STICK WITH IT!

What’s going to be SUPER IMPORTANT with these people is to keep them surrounded by positive images, encouragement and support. If they’re fighting against fear, its not going to be easy for them, and they’re going to need continued support until they finally break past the wall and get confident. It could very well be the case that not only do they need a cheerleader on the sidelines, but they need a teammate right there next to them on gameday. If they need a workout partner…be that partner or maybe find one for them. My fiancee was side by side with me throughout four workout programs and 103 lbs – it DEFINITELY helps. Everyone has something that will help them break through the fear barrier – whatever it is, help them find it and make sure they understand that there’s nothing in their way.

At the end of the day it will all be worth it. Don’t worry – given time and support, they can and will get there.