The Ultimate 2016 Cleanse

As featured on Huffington Post Now that we are two weeks into 2016, past the juice cleanse cayenne pepper detox coffee enema phase, it’s time to get real about making some lasting lifestyle changes. Sure, maybe your karma was through the roof and your toxins were at an all time low when you were subsisting solely on tinctures of carrot mango dandelion essence, but can you really commit to living next door to a cold press juice joint for the rest of your life? And let’s be honest, after a week on a liquid-only purge, do you truly feel like you’re “basking in a post-cleanse glow” or are you now binging on crunchy chips and salty cheese and frantically airing out your bathroom?

Right. Now you’re left trying to figure out how to transition back into real life, with all the daily challenges that come with it. And here’s the real buzz kill. All the overpriced low glycemic gluten free organic elixirs that you just tortured yourself with for the past 3-7 days were only temporary – the karma, the toxins, the glow, gone. The second you popped that first nacho in your mouth, it was over. Back to pre-cleanse internal disaster area.

But, rejoice, all is not lost! You have grown! Despite the migraines, cramping, and five packages of toilet paper, you have started on a really important journey to wellbeing. Don’t give up on all the healthy habits you have jumpstarted this past week, even if you never want to down another green smoothie again. Lasting change can truly happen. A three day cleanse isn’t going to heal you forever. But, there are long-term strategies that will.

So, as a guide back to sanity (…and solid food…) here are four ideas for true lifetime cleansing.

Warning – these tips are crazy simple and yet super hard to implement. They take your whole life to get right. But, with dedication and determination, they will work.

  1. Stop dieting: Diets don’t work. Actually, they work for a few months, and then you gain the weight back, no matter what diet you go on. In fact, recent studies show that if you are normal weight and diet anyway, your body has a tendency to regain more fat than had been lost in a “fat overshoot” correction by your metabolism. Instead, start crowding out the crap in your diet with real food, not diet food - fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish. These foods have not only been shown to result in weight loss, but also have incredible health benefits that will truly bring out your lasting inner glow!
  1. Drink Responsibly (or not at all): After the amount of pickling you did to your liver over the holidays, maybe your go-to detox was a dry-January. If so, vow to make the long term change in your drinking habits from weekend booze-hound to either a committed one to two drinks per day or forever-teetotaler. While zero to moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to reduce rates of some diseases, hitting it hard only on the weekends has the complete opposite effect. So lay off the Friday-Saturday benders, and instead, start buying and savoring a couple gentle pours of a good red (…or stick to tea).
  1. Move your body: While what you put in your mouth certainly is critical, physical activity has an equally important effect on overall health, no matter what weight you are. And it doesn’t make any difference what you do, as long as you do something! Go to yoga. Do cartwheels. Take the dog for a walk. Hit the gym. Run intervals up mountains. Just do whatever makes you happy and keeps you coming back for more.
  1. Let all that other –ish go: If you truly want to wring yourself out from the inside, stop dwelling on all the negative crap in your life. Instead, sit quietly with yourself a few minutes every day and practice mindfully focusing on the positive moments. This mindfulness meditation has been shown to slow cellular aging by lengthening protective DNA factors called telomeres. That’s a much more impactful and scientific approach to successful aging than a questionable and overpriced online kit for a colon cleanse.

As it turns out, health doesn’t come in 3-day spurts of righteousness. Wellness takes practice and commitment, every single day. It doesn’t come in a bottle or a pill or test tube. True health requires a realization that moderation actually is the shiny and sexy alternative -- that the latest purification regimen is fleeting, a distraction that draws your attention away from the true elements of healthfulness. Wellness comes with the understanding that oatmeal, bananas, and taking the stairs indeed are the path to the promised land, not simply a boring sermon. So, rather than wasting money and precious time on temporary fixes guaranteed to bring about bliss and immortality, take the inimitable long view. Walk to the grocery store for some good old-fashioned apples and oranges, taking note of one or two things that make you smile in the world around you.

As featured on Huffington Post

We found the Silver Bullet...

We know. We know what is killing us. We know how to prevent 80% of all chronic disease. Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity. We know where 84% of all health care dollars are spent. And we know how to stop it. But. We. Don't.

We know the five things that will save people:

  • moving
  • eating well
  • dealing with stress
  • sleeping
  • not smoking

They are the silver bullets. THE SILVER BULLETS. Yet, half of Americans don't exercise, one third of Americans don't eat fruit or vegetables, and 1 out of five Americans smoke. Our doctors aren't educated on exercise or nutrition, the USDA is mocked and ridiculed, the blog-o-sphere is ripe with "experts" and anecdotal recommendations.

Those of us that care, argue the merits of paleo vs vegan vs Mediterranean. We huff and puff over intervals vs long distance vs strength training. We push mindfulness and meditation, on the highways of facebook and twitter and instagram. We post pictures of harder, better, faster, stronger. Meanwhile, cardiovascular disease is costing us $315 billion, cancer $157 billion, diabetes $245 billion, obesity $147 billion and smoking $289 billion. BILLIONS.

We are sick, and getting sicker. Yet, rather than treat the root cause, we spend BILLIONS on treating the symptoms. Metformin, statins, anti-depressants, beta-blockers. Just to fight the inevitable. Bandaids.

Mozaffarian et al, Circulation, 2008

People, there is a better way. And, it's free. And it's going to take some grit and determination. And it is our only hope. But in order to make it happen, we have to stop fighting and come together. Doctors, scientists, personal trainers, nutritionists, health coaches, policy makers. We know how to keep people healthy. And we need to start working together.

In a recent lecture at a class I'm teaching at the Harvard Extension school Dr. David Katz said it best, "We need to stop looking at the differences in all these diets that work, and rather look at what they have in common. Habitual intake of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains...has the power to decrease 80% of chronic disease. Let us unite and tell the world that WE KNOW ENOUGH to keep people healthy". WE KNOW ENOUGH.

We know that lifestyle changes work BETTER THAN DRUGS for preventing diabetes.


We know that healthy lifestyle behaviors (not smoking, healthy BMI, exercising, and a diet rich in fruits/veggie/whole grains) prevent 80% of chronic disease. EIGHTY PERCENT.

Lifestyle Factors

We know that the key ingredients to a healthful diet include foods that are not processed, lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and some high quality meat and fish. Who cares if the cave men ate it or someone in Italy is drowning in olive oil?! If it's not in a package, is mostly plants, and you cooked it at home. EAT IT.


We know that sitting is terrible for you and that we need to move around! Just walk! WALK.


We know everyone's lives are stressful. If we could all give it up, move to a beautiful mountain-side retreat and leave it all behind we would. But we can't. So, we need to learn how to unplug and cope. STRESS RESILIENCE.


Instead, we scare people. We make them think nutrients are killing them and that exercise is too hard or unattainable. We use flashy labels to get people to eat our "healthy take on an organic processed block of crap" or guzzle down our "highly processed all natural life sustaining drinks". We embrace more, more, more, now, now, now. All in a quest to find the silver bullet. Enough already! We already have the silver bullet! And it's not sexy or flashy or in a shiny package.

It is beautifully simple.

We know. We know movement is essential. We know food in its natural form is healthiest. We know sleep and stress management are crucial. We know. So let's do it. Let's unite and spread that simple message.

Because, we know.


It's never too late...

My grandparents are snowbirds...they split their year between sunny Florida and sunny Massachusetts, avoiding the cold and snow at all costs. So, in the summer when they are back North, I try to see them as much as possible. Besides just truly enjoying their company (sprinkled with a liberal dose of my Mem's sweets) I am compelled by a need to absorb all of the wisdom, insight and advice they are so generously full of. While we don't always agree on musical taste, political ideology, or the merits of a mini-van, we often pass many hours simply chatting about thus-and-such, with an abundance of laughter and, sometimes, tears. They are both turning 79 years old this year, and I feel so lucky to have them both in my life. My Mémère and Pépère have been in amazing health throughout their lives. Besides the usual aches and pains of aging, they have stayed very active - walking, golfing, traveling - with very little medication or particular notice to how vivacious they really were. This isn't particularly shocking given that they were both elite water skiers when they were younger!Pep WaterSkiing

So, when we were chatting one afternoon, I was somewhat surprised when my Pep said, "So, this working out stuff. That's not really gonna do anything for me except make me sore at this point, right? I'm too old to make new muscle..."

I was sort of taken aback. Not only do I know that to not be true (because up until that point, demonstrating the benefits of exercising into old age was pretty much my job), but I was really shocked that they didn't know how great exercise was for aging muscles! Why wasn't their doctor telling them that staying as active as possible is truly the serum for healthy aging?!

Growing Old is Not for Sissies

Interestingly, this is exactly the new line of research I am investigating at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA. As it turns out, doctors are pretty crappy at having conversations with their patients (of any age) about exercise. In fact, a recent survey found that only one in three patients receive advice from their physician about staying physically active (although, in MD's defense, that number is 43% higher than it was in a previous survey...eep!).

But given the evidence, it is imperative that physicians talk to their patients about moving their bodies - particularly older adults. In a collaborative study recently released by my previous lab - the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Lab at Tufts University - simply walking could decrease risk of disability by almost 20%!! And these weren't healthy-ish older people...the participants were 70-89 years old and pretty frail to start with.

“These were people who began the study with health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and previous heart attacks and strokes,” said coauthor Roger Fielding, a senior scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, “far from the healthier populations typically enrolled in clinical trials.”

So, there is no reason that any older person shouldn't be encouraged to at least start walking at some point during the day. This is really huge because a recent study by the CDC says that

"...nearly three-quarters of older men and about two-thirds of women over age 64 are overweight or obese, making them more likely to have to deal with diabetes, arthritis and impaired mobility."

And, in sort of an amazing testament to the vitality of the human body, it seems like it's never to late to start. Even people in their mid-life may feel like they're too far down the road to start exercising. But, a recent study found that even small increases in healthy life habits as you age (like exercising) can have a huge impact on chronic disease development (specifically heart disease) later in life. And the great thing is, many Medicare supplement plans will actually pay for older people to join a gym or take exercise classes in the community - which, definitely beats the average $80,000/year a nursing home costs.

Mem and Pep

So, my answer to my Pep's incredulity about exercise was, "...absolutely not! Every step counts! If you do the work, you will get stronger, just like everyone else!"

...hmmmm...sounds like something he may have said to me at some point...


CrossFit Chaos

So, I haven't posted anything about Crossfit here at Strong Process before because I figured we were over it. It's really hard, people get fit, people get hurt, people love it, people hate it, muscles, socks, WODs, Ergs...we got it. But apparently, nobody can can over the drama of this workout. They cannot let it go. A few weeks ago, a pretty damning article came out about the dangers of CrossFit and rhabdomyolysis...and it made the ROUNDS on social media (not to mention was republished on HuffingtonPost with about 9 million comments).  Most recently, the American Council on Exercise commissioned (i.e. paid for) a study examining the intensity of two CrossFit workouts (conclusion: CrossFit is really freaking hard). So, with the most recent hype, we find ourselves deep in another round of CrossFit-mania. After seeing these two articles, a bunch of people have been asking me what I, here you go: With more than 7,000 affiliates worldwide, CrossFit is a big deal. Blasting music, loaded weight bars, and primal screams from resident Paleo-eating jocks are the backdrop in CrossFit gyms, or “boxes.” The CrossFit mission is to “fuel a revolution in fitness based on the pursuit of function, not form -- on measurements of performance, not anatomy.” This is unlike any gym you have ever known.

CrossFit founder Greg Glassman is a non-traditional and foul-mouthed spokesman, an irreverent coach, and—based on the explosion of his enterprise—a brilliant marketer. By capitalizing on the appeal of a counterculture grunge aesthetic, Glassman has enlisted hundreds of thousands of followers who aspire to his definition of fitness: “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” (...whatever that actually means, I have no idea...). Add to that words like “scalable,” “AMRAP,” “Fran,” and “rhabdo,” and he’s created a whole new language.

Upon listening to several speeches Glassman delivers at his $1,000 weekend training certifications—attended by muscled Millennials with square jaws and nodding heads—one can easily get lost in his verbose explanations of his company and the training techniques he espouses. It is this collusion of education and marketing-as-fact that makes CrossFit such a powerful brand of athletic sub-culture. But that’s the cunning of Glassman. By attending one of his certification seminars and receiving the stamp of approval from CrossFit HQ, you too can open a “box,” making involvement in this fitness craze widely accessible to entrepreneur-lifters everywhere, regardless of prior experience or training.

The CrossFit model states that workouts are intended to be constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity. A manifestation of Glassman’s own rhetorical style: switch it up before they catch on. When you show up for your WOD - or Workout of the Day - expect Olympic lifting, rope climbing, box jumps, burpees, overhead squatting, pull-ups - as many reps as possible (AMRAP) and as fast as you can. You’ll never do the same thing two days in a row. The workouts are specially designed not to specialize. Another bonus is that you can bang out these WODs in about 20 minutes. You’ll leave exhausted and wake up sore.

Julie on Rope

So far, I'm on board. You all know I love me a good hard workout. Yeah, the AMRAP thing can be dangerous if you let your form go to hell, but so can crossing railroad tracks if you don't first check for the train. Also, very few personal trainers have more than weekend certifications...if you want to pay them lots of money to mess with your body, who am I to judge. At the end of the day, you need to be your own advocate for your own body. You get the expertise and guidance of those you choose to hire.

Where I do start to have issues, is with CrossFit's approach. In an effort to justify the intensity of the WOD’s he has packaged, Glassman insists that his methods are soundly based in scientific principles. In 2011 he launched his “We Got the Science” campaign, determined to prove that CrossFit training is the most measurably advanced exercise protocol available. On his website (accessible only to paying CrossFit members) Glassman posted a video stating that he intends to “harvest from the affiliates...the inputs and outputs of their clients so that we can do an aggregate analysis with some very sophisticated find out what produces the highest quality and quantity of life.” However, contrary to typical scientific protocol, only Crossfitters will be examined (without controls) and data will be exclusively released on his pay-to-play website (without review). His free-market approach to science will be virtually unchallengeable by true experts in the field.  But, Glassman states in the video, “This will dwarf anything ever conceived of in Framingham or Harvard Nurses.”  The results of this fitness experiment have yet to be published. (For reference, The Framingham Heart Study has ~1200 published studies)

I'm not suggesting this style of exercise has not been examined. Physiological benefits of these High Intensity Interval Training methods have certainly been demonstrated in scientific studies. But, until Glassman releases his own “proof”, actual scientific consensus about CrossFit WODs is pretty lacking. In addition to the unrefereed ACE paper I mentioned at the beginning of this article, only two recent studies show positive effects of the CrossFit workouts. In 2010, the US Army conducted a small internal investigation into the benefits of CrossFit on 14 men and women of varying athletic ability. They found, in all cases, that the CrossFit workouts increased power output by approximately 20%, a sizable and significant increase. A more recent (and the only peer reviewed) study released by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in February of 2013 appears to corroborate these results. According to their article, 43 civilian men and women of varying fitness levels experienced increased maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and decreased body fat percentage after 10 weeks of CrossFit-based High Intensity Power Training. However, while these results certainly seem promising, they don’t necessarily prove CrossFit’s superiority. Both studies were lacking academic rigor, in that they each examined a very small sample set and did not compare CrossFit groups to some other kind of workout, or control. And despite CrossFit’s claims of supremacy, physiologic and metabolic adaptations are seen with a variety of exercise regimens, and have been observed in much more compelling experimental designs.

With regard to the ACE study, the take home message was that CrossFit is intense. REALLY intense. In both workouts chosen (FRAN and DONKEY KONG), participants were working at ~80% of their VO2 max. That's pretty much the equivalent of sprinting as hard as you can. The researchers noted that men were burning an average of 20kcal per minute and women about 12kcal/min. This is A LOT of calories in a short amount of time, no doubt. Here's the problem...the workouts lasted only ~15 minutes each. In the end, men burned about 170 or 112 kcals (per workout) and women 112 or 70 kcal...TOTAL.  For women, that's about the amount of calories in the cream you add to your coffee in the morning. Now, I'm not suggesting there aren't about 1 million other physiologically positive outcomes based on the intensity of this workout alone, but it's not the calorie burner it's been cracked up to be.

Perhaps based on the loose scientific validation, negative positions are being staked on the actual intensity of the CrossFit workouts. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, extreme conditioning programs, like CrossFit, result in a disproportionate risk for musculoskeletal injury, which lead to lost work time and require medical treatment and possible extensive rehabilitation. To this point, CrossFit has been in the hot seat as more pictures and videos surface on the internet, showing potentially harmful lifting form and dangerous equipment set up. Indeed, the incidence of CrossFit-induced rhabdomyolysis (as noted in the other article recently making the rounds)—a dangerous condition that affects kidney function as a result of excessive muscle breakdown—is prevalent enough in the CrossFit community that Glassman has addressed it publicly in his self-published CrossFit Journal.  He writes a warning to his affiliates, “With CrossFit, we are dealing with exertional rhabdomyolysis. It can disable, maim and even kill”.  Now, that doesn't mean that other sports don't induce rhabdo, they do...but the fact that people really only know about this disorder due to the sheer percentage from CrossFit is certainly worth noting.

Bad CrossFit Form

Even practitioners within the field of traditional strength and conditioning practices are locked in controversy over the validity and dangers of CrossFit. A good friend of mine, Dr. Larry Bourdeau, DPT, of Off Season Physical Therapy in North Andover, MA, disagrees with the position of the ACSM.

“CrossFit is a sport,” he told me. “It has its own inherent risks like any other sport. Using CrossFit to start to get in shape is a bad idea, but good CrossFit trainers can certainly guide someone already in shape safely into the training. At the end of the day, it is a very difficult sport and is good for someone who is competitive, driven, and committed, as well as [someone who] knows how to maintain proper form when exhausted.”

But, Mike Boyle, my mentor and internationally recognized Strength and Conditioning Coach has been very vocal about his distaste for Crossfit. On his blog he states,

“...Crossfit is, at it’s heart, a competitive program [in which] it becomes necessary to train to failure. I must admit, I like training to failure...technical failure.  [But] technical failure occurs not when the athlete or client is no longer capable of doing the exercise but, when the athlete or client can no longer do the exercise with proper technique. In training beyond technical failure the stress shifts to tissues that were not, and probably should not, be the target of the exercise. How many bad reps is too many?”

Concerns regarding the safety and proper execution of lifting exercises are seemingly dismissed by Glassman, who writes in his CrossFit Journal, “If safety is your sole or even your primary concern, your athletes’ fitness potential will be soundly blunted.

Baby Squat

But (here's where the drama comes in), science or no, injury or hypertrophy, hype or hate, CrossFitters just freaking LOVE CrossFit. They live, breath, and sleep for their next WOD. They love the amped up community. They crave the breathless mindless moment removed from their hectic day. They want to experience the tangible and visible strength that comes with dedication and hard physical work. And, despite the controversy (and based on the sheer numbers of memberships) there really is no evidence to suggest that under the guidance of experienced and professional trainers the WOD’s aren't as physically beneficial as any other challenging workout. Without the dubious assertion that CrossFit is founded on “science,” WODs are just real-deal-extreme-exercise, no validation required. Personally, I think Glassman does a disservice to his brand and his CrossFit army by attempting to turn them into a pseudo-science experiment. Because, at the end of the day, he’s not a scientist, and a WOD is just a kickass workout.

Photo Credit: Julie Arthur

CrossFit is definitely not for everyone, especially if you’re not into Paleo Kool-Aid and extreme weight lifting throw-downs. But if you like six-packs and bulging calves, sports bras and high socks, and you’re looking for the utmost in intensity, it may be something to explore with knowledgeable trainers at a reputable box. But do your homework. Look for a location with trainers that have higher-level credentials than the weekend CrossFit certificate, make sure they have an on-ramp program to avoid debilitating muscle injury, and start slowly. Like all other diet or exercise crazes, the criticism of CrossFit is warranted. There is a reason power lifting and athletic training is taught with safety and technique in mind—because when you do the exercises wrong you can cause yourself serious and permanent harm. When quantity is valued over quality, injury is a real concern. The majority of people that go to CrossFit are NOT athletes, have most likely never had training on when "enough is enough" and may not be able to judge when their bodies are telling them to stop. So, buyer-beware...if you're paying the money to have someone tell you what to do with your body, you want to be able to trust them enough to know that they will keep you safe.  And keep in mind that despite the constant references to numbers and statistics, it’s not science, it’s a business.

Photo Credit: Julie Arthur

Gatorade -- The Gateway Drug

It's cycling season! I love this time of year. Paris-Roubaix, the Giro, the Tour of California, eventually the Tour de France. I don't compete in cycling...I just ride my little bike. But, I am infatuated with the sport. The athleticism, the grit and determination, the endurance. (Who cares that I can't ride with the elite ladies...can you play with Tiger?) But, alas, this year it's different. This year we know there are drugs. No more skirting around the issue, arguing ad naseam over the physical impossibility of the month long feats of fortitude (also known as stage races). They did it. They raced dirty.

Yet (and maybe I'm clouded by my pure love of the sport) even in light of the EPO and testosterone and HGH, I am still amazed by the sheer ability of these athletes. I have trained elite-level athletes just will never doubt the amount of themselves -- both physically and mentally -- they pour into their sport. Drugs or no, the training and sweat and internal turmoil that take place to compete on the international stage is astounding.

But sadly, this year, this cycling season, the drugs always there. Is he really clean now? Does that amazing sprint or breakaway prove that he's not clean? Sigh...

As a nutrition scientist, I have been asking myself: Are the athletes the only ones to blame? At some level I feel like it's our own if we've set up our heroes to fail.

Green Cyclist

A few weekends ago, I saw a documentary called The Levi Effect. In the film, Levi Leipheimer, of American cycling teams Radioshack, Discovery, and Postal Service (among others), narrates his journey through the lens of a bike saddle. Toward the end of the movie, Levi opens up about his drug use while racing in the early he felt the only way to get and stay on top in cycling was with illicit performance-enhancing drugs. It just became so clear while listening to him, that the latest drudge-fest in cycling is simply the epitome of the pressure we put on ourselves to perform from a very young age. Of the experience, in an interview in the Press Democrat in October of 2012, Leipheimer said:

"At first you go from a 13-year old boy who falls in love with cycling and you have this idea, this vision of what the sport is like. Along the way, little by little, honestly, you get your heart broken, piece by piece. You come to realize what it was really like. You're so far down the road after a while it became easy to cross that line. It was a huge internal struggle, though. Do I not make this decision to dope and continue to see how far I can go? Or do I regret it for the rest of my life because I didn't find out how good I was? At the time, we thought if I don't do it but that other guy's doing it and he wins this race? I know I can be as good as him, so I want to try to find out if I can win that race, too. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don't. I didn't want to live the rest of my life bitter regretting finding out."

And yet this condoning of synthetic enhancement, of needing external supplements to be physically superior, is not only pervasive in cycling -- or football, or baseball, or sprinting. It's in our own homes. In our gym bags. It starts in the lunch boxes of our children. We have become completely obsessed with performance, probably to the detriment of much of our own health and often without the acknowledgement of the physical work required to achieve athletic success.


We spend $4.8 billion (with a b-) on Gatorade products every year...nevermind PowerAde, and Vitamin Water, and fill-in-the-blank miracle powder.  Even the all-natural (insert air-quotes) sports aids are flying off the shelf at record rates. Our society is fixated on the need for product-enhanced "recovery", "speed", and "size". Yet, over 35 percent of Americans are obese. OBESE. Not just overweight. OBESE. Another 33 percent are simply overweight.

(...but this isn't a lament about fatness, rather an admonishment of the prevalence of over-the-counter performance enhancing drugs...)

And, there is no doubt, we start our kids on drugs early. If a child is given a sports drink after pee-wee soccer and told it will help her recover from her game (sadly, during which it seems children are only getting ~20m of vigorous activity anyway), are we surprised that this child will grow up expecting to need flashy nutritional support for any activity? Coconut water after yoga. Smoothie after 45 minutes on the elliptical. Protein shake after a squatting session. Then vitamin pills with 3000% the daily value of B-Vitamins (cause they're important for muscle building, right?), and then performance enhancing powders containing chemicals such as DMAA (cause B-Vitamins aren't enough anymore...), and then, when she's good and primed to make that decision that solidifies her athletic career, then maybe it's not such a pole vault to EPO or HGH. It's simply the next step.

The good news is, even at the highest levels it appears as though the human spirit does not need chemicals to prevail. Levi himself has been able to win clean since dumping all banned substances from his medicine cabinet in 2007. Indeed, Leipheimer has snagged stages in several prestigious bike races as well as a medal at the 2008 Olympics. Further, he's on a crusade to help future athletes in his sport from having to turn to doping to win.

"It's important an environment is created where they don't have to make those decisions like we did."

But this responsibility to change a culture so accustomed to drugs, can't come just from the highest performers in athletics -- those that have already fallen into the hole. It has to start with us. As parents, as trainers, as nutrition and exercise professionals. Because when more than 80% of adults and adolescents are not meeting even the minimal Physical Activity requirements of 150mins per week, the last thing we need is a sugar and caffeine laden sports drink or 400+ kcal protein smoothie (nevermind a jacked up chemically boosted supplement powder).

We really just need some water and a pat on the back for a workout well done...and, maybe a cut-up orange for old times sake.


(*Cycling Photo Credits to the ever creative B.Graham)