Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

March 2022

Nutrition Myths

The establishment media doesn't just feed us misinformation in the political realm. One of the most difficult subjects on which to get straight answers from our purported bastions of truth is nutrition. There are so many conflicting viewpoints out there that it is no wonder many Americans don't know where to turn for the real facts on healthy eating habits. Proper nutrition is a subject I have worked hard to learn more about, so that I can pass that knowledge along to my clients and help them to capitalize on the hard work they put in during their workouts. It's interesting to see just how wrong many of our supposedly "trusted sources" (mainly connected to government and establishment medicine) are about the inner workings of food and the human body, and it underscores the need to verify your sources of information and due your own due diligence when making choices about what to put in your body. Here are some nutrition myths that I have dealt with over the years.

Myth #1 - It's about calories in versus calories out. Not all calories are created equal, and some foods have a greater nutritional component than others. While it is true that one gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories, one gram of protein has 4 calories, and one gram of fat equals 9 calories, the effect they have on your body depends wildly on the source. Refined carbohydrates (and sugars) will have a more inflammatory consequence for your body, as well as create a higher glycemic effect (meaning that they cause your blood sugar to rise). Organic sources of meat and produce are far less likely to be tainted with antibiotics or pesticides that can put you at greater risk for developing the diseases of modern civilization (autoimmune disorders, certain types of cancer, heart disease, etc). Fat calories that contain high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids (found in many vegetable oils and fried foods) can also have a harmful inflammatory effect on your body. I will talk more about fats a little later on. If fat loss is a goal, there is no question that you want to create a slight caloric deficit, but it's far more than simple addition and subtraction. My advice is to focus more attention on what you consume than to stress yourself out by simply counting calories. Remember, the human body is a wonderfully adaptive organism and will adjust accordingly to what you put into it.

Myth #2 - Cholesterol is a dangerous substance. This is incorrect. Cholesterol is not inherently dangerous; it is a necessary substance that is naturally found in your body, especially in your brain. So how can it possibly be a danger to you? This is a myth that has been perpetuated by the medical establishment (often due to ignorance) as well as the pharmaceutical companies (in order to sell you statin drugs that increase their bottom line). According to a study published at the National Institutes of Health, the main function of cholesterol is to, "Maintain the integrity and fluidity of cell membranes and to serve as a precursor for the synthesis of substances that are vital for the organism, including steroid hormones, bile acids, and Vitamin D." Sounds pretty important, right? Don't get too worked up over your total cholesterol level; frankly, the medical/pharmaceutical cabal has been moving the goal posts for years about what is considered borderline or high. Do pay attention to your HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good"cholesterol), as high levels of HDL can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Strive to keep that number above 60 mg/dL. Read the book "The Great Cholesterol Con" by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick to get the real facts about cholesterol.

Myth #3 - Salt is bad for you and should be avoided. False. Salt has been given a bad rap over the years, and misinformation has led many wives to severely restrict or altogether forbid their husbands from eating salt for fear of creating or exacerbating high blood pressure or heart disease. In reality, a far bigger culprit contributing to those two conditions is the consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrates, but I digress. Salt, or sodium chloride, is a substance your body likes and needs, which is why most of us enjoy it in our food. Salt helps you to stay hydrated, promotes vascular health, improves sleep, and supports a healthy nervous system. Low levels of sodium in the body can lead to cramping, dizziness, and nausea. Salt your food to taste; your body will tell you when you have had enough.

Myth #4 - Red meat is unhealthy. I don't have proof, but this myth might have been propagated by the poultry industry. It would seem to make sense; in most cases ask yourself, "who benefits?" This myth, of course, is false, and I think people are smarter about this now than they used to be. Who doesn't love a burger or a perfectly seasoned steak? I couldn't imagine not eating those two things, which is probably why I could never be a vegetarian. In addition to tasting great, red meat is incredibly nutritious and is a fantastic source of iron. According to WebMD, "Red meat supplies Vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly." Red meat also provides cholesterol (see Myth #2) and supplies muscles with protein, which it needs for repair (particularly if you strength train). Just be careful not to overcook it, as that can diminish some of the nutritional content.

Myth #5 - Eating dietary fat makes you fat. Nonsense! I mentioned above that not all calories are created equal, and while there are more calories in a gram of fat than in either of the other two macronutrients, this does not automatically cause you to gain fat. It is actually the consumption of refined sugars and processed carbohydrates that stimulates a higher glycemic response and causes the pancreas to release more insulin in order to get energy into the cells. This, in turn, decreases your insulin sensitivity and triggers the body to store fat. Good sources of saturated fat (such as eggs, meat, fish, and olive oil) actually have a very neutral effect on your blood sugar levels. In fact, ketogenic diets (in which a majority of your total calories come from fat) have been shown to be effective in terms of fat loss and in treating traumatic brain injuries. If you consume a significant portion of your calories (50 percent) through saturated fat, you will be satiated more quickly and tend to eat fewer calories overall. Simply adding butter to a starchy food like a baked potato diminishes its glycemic effect. Combining intermittent fasting with an increased consumption of fat calories is a great way to stimulate fat loss, regulate hormone and blood sugar levels, and transition your body into ketosis (where fat is the preferred fuel source).

Big Food, Big Pharma, the medical establishment, and the legacy media have worked in concert to perpetuate many of the above myths. These entities have promoted the insidious Western diet that has been responsible for a staggering spike of modern disease and rising insurance costs over the past 50 years. Don't buy into the propaganda. Consume a diet that largely consists of single-ingredient whole foods and choose organic sources whenever possible. Eat until you are no longer hungry, and don't feel compelled to eat small meals or snacks every two hours. Most importantly, do your own research and be your own advocate. The information is easily accessible from a limitless number of non-establishment sources. Education is power.

Posted March 16, 2022 by Matthew Romans

My 35 Year Exercise Journey

How did I become an exercise instructor?

This is a question I have been asked numerous times. To be sure, many people take different routes in order to reach their desired destination, and each person has unique experiences along the way. Some people decide very early in life what career path they want to take, while others go from one occupation to the next and try to find their niche. Neither of those situations would accurately describe my story, and I certainly did not see myself at a young age eventually owning a private exercise studio. I was always active in playing sports as a kid and took an interest in physical culture (probably from watching the Rocky franchise entirely too many times), but instructing exercise was not something I envisioned as a career. In fact, exercise instruction as an entity was not something I knew existed until I was in college, and even then I had no illusions of considering it as an occupation. In order to put my exercise journey into proper perspective, we need to go back a little further.

My first exposure to weight training took place in seventh grade. We did a circuit training unit in physical education class that lasted a few weeks, and it was the first time I had ever seen selectorized Universal exercise equipment. These exercise pieces were gargantuan in size, and contained the capacity to do a multitude of different exercises without having to strip or add on free weight plates. I now know that these machines were very crudely (and incorrectly) designed, but it all looked pretty impressive to a twelve year old kid. This first foray into weight training was enough to pique my interest, and even though we did not do another weight training unit in eighth grade, I spent much of my thirteenth year doing a variety of push-ups, sit-ups, and some bench presses on a makeshift barbell and bench set my brother managed to find.

I started a more structured and rigorous exercise approach in the summer before I entered ninth grade. The weight room at Quince Orchard High School was open three evenings a week for football players, and I knew that I needed to get bigger and stronger in order to compete at the high school level. The coaches were present to supervise us, but there was very little guidance or instruction provided. When my family moved to Germantown, Maryland prior to tenth grade I transferred to Seneca Valley High School (the school of champions), and the football weight program had a stellar reputation throughout the Washington area. I steadily gained strength during the rest of my high school years, but my workouts were largely self-guided; I mostly copied what some of my teammates were doing or tried to do some of the things I saw in the muscle magazines. Naturally, it didn't dawn on me that the guys I saw in those publications were genetic abnormalities that used chemical enhancement.

Towson University was my next stop, and I played football there for two years while majoring in Kinesiology (with a concentration on Teacher Education). Towson is a perennial FCS contender now, but that was not the case during my time there. Consequently, our strength and conditioning program was supervised by an assistant coach who knew very little about the classic sciences. There was no structure or any guiding philosophy, and even though I didn't know much back then, I knew there was a lot inherently wrong with what we were doing. Performing power cleans and other explosive lifts just seemed counterproductive and dangerous, so I chose not to do them. After I finished playing football I worked out on my own in the student weight room, and even joined a commercial gym for a time. Once I finished with school it was time to start my professional life, but all I knew was that I did not want to be a public school physical education teacher. My mother suggested that I look into working in the field of exercise. It sounded like it could be a good fit.

One of my best friends and former high school football teammates, Geoff Yammarino, hired me to work for him on the fitness staff at Washington Sports Club in Germantown, Maryland. The job was pretty easy; it entailed cleaning and maintaining the equipment, chatting with club members, answering questions, giving occasional assistance, and periodically training clients (even though I was extremely green). During my time at WSC I obtained two exercise instructor certifications: one through the American Council on Exercise and another from the National Strength Professionals Association. I look back on both of these certifications as being largely inadequate and full of much misinformation, but they at least got me started. The atmosphere at WSC was ridiculous: mirrors, crowds, loud music, group exercise classes, and bizarre personalities were all on display. I survived in this insane asylum for a little over a year, but I did get to meet my friend and future co-worker Al Coleman, who first introduced me to this strange exercise concept called Super Slow. This was when I first realized that I could possibly make a career out of something that I had previously considered a hobby.

I left WSC to take a job at The Fitness Company in Georgetown. Al had left WSC a couple of months earlier, and he let me know that a position would be opening up, so I jumped at the opportunity to work in the Nation's Capital. This was a chance to grow and learn how to become a full-time instructor, and it was in Georgetown that I started to implement the principles that Al had first explained to me the previous year. During this time, I bought a copy of "Super Slow - The Ultimate Exercise Protocol" by Ken Hutchins, and read it cover to cover. The proverbial light bulb went off over my head, and from there I used a lot of company paper and ink to print out copies of the writings of Arthur Jones, Dr. Doug McGuff, and several others. Unfortunately, management at The Fitness Company was not as enthusiastic about my philosophical growth as I was, and I frequently butted heads with them. They didn't appreciate that I was truthful with my clients by telling them that traditional steady-state activities like biking, jogging, and group exercise classes were an injury risk and a waste of time. The atmosphere eventually became contentious, and I decided to pursue some other options.

My next professional stop was at Sport and Health in Annandale, Virginia; now I could say that I had obtained gainful employment in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Yes, this was yet another commercial health club, but the atmosphere was better than at WSC or The Fitness Company. The equipment was substandard and there was still endorsement of steady-state activity, but both my fitness director and the club's general manager were much more hands-off. I was able to get out of working regular floor hours pretty quickly and exclusively instruct clients one on one, although the noisy atmosphere made it a challenge. It was at Sport and Health that I was able to stop dressing like a gym rat; I started wearing a dress shirt, tie, and slacks (in keeping with the Super Slow instructor standard), and even though I got a few quizzical looks from some club members and other employees, nobody gave me a hard time about it.

The time had come for me to obtain the gold standard in exercise certification: I wanted to become a Level One certified Super Slow Exercise instructor. In order to do that, I either needed to go to Florida and take the exam with Super Slow founder Ken Hutchins, or I needed to find a Master Instructor somewhere closer. As luck would have it, I found Victoria Medvedeva, a Master Instructor and former member of Cirque du Soleil, at a studio in Georgetown, and I participted in an internship there for about six months while I studied to take my exam. At Exercise Defined, I got the chance to work with medical grade equipment made by MedX and Super Slow Systems in an ideal exercise environment, and I could observe exercise instruction of the highest quality. Victoria, Al Coleman, and manager Dennis Beckman were extremely generous with their time and knowledge and I will be eternally grateful for their help in preparing me to pass my oral, written, and practical exams. I was now officially a member of the Super Slow Exercise Instructor Guild!

The commercial gym atmosphere became increasingly frustrating to deal with, and the more I studied and learned, the more I knew that I could not reach my full potential working in an environment with so many distractions. Worse yet, my clients would not be able to maximize their genetic blueprint if they could not solely focus on their workout, and I had to work diligently to keep their attention. After the experience I had at Exercise Defined, I knew I needed to work in a similar environment if I was going to progress at my craft. I got hired to work at Fairfax Racquet Club in 2004, and it was a place that endorsed and implemented proper principles of slow speed, high intensity weight training. I learned a lot working for Katy Nordenbrook, who had been Super Slow certified a few years earlier, and she had the chance to meet both Arthur Jones and Ken Hutchins. On top of that, the studio was self-contained, temperature-controlled, and had great equipment manufactured by MedX and Nautilus. The only difficulties arose during busy training times; the studio employed many instructors (most of whom worked part-time), but in certain parts of the day there were numerous sessions going on at the same time. It was frustrating to have to change the exercise sequence of a session because a machine that I needed was in use, so record-keeping was sometimes spotty. This was a minor inconvenience, and overall I really enjoyed my time at Fairfax Racquet Club.

A wonderful opportunity came my way in 2006 when I interviewed with Tim Rankin about a position at Total Results (then known as Super Slow Zone). This was a chance to take my instructional ability to the next level and learn about the entrepreneurial side of business from someone who had started his own company from scratch. I also had a chance to sharpen my skills by working side by side with Tim and his manager Chris Lutz, as well as reconnect with my old friend Al Coleman. Tim taught me that I could work as much or as little as I wanted, and that it was really all up to me; he encouraged me to think like an entrepreneur, even though I was an employee. Chris and Tim also exposed me to economic and philosophical viewpoints (outside of exercise) that I never knew existed. Our equipment, atmosphere, and professionalism far exceeded anything that I experienced before, and I worked to make the most of my opportunity. I pushed my capabilities beyond what I thought was possible, and in 2010 I obtained both Level Two and Level Three Super Slow Instructor certifications, which now meant that I had the capacity to certify aspiring instructors. Since 2010 I have taught continuing education courses for other instructors through the Super Slow Zone Institute. This gives me a chance to learn from other instructors across the country, and also to find another medium to instruct and pass along the knowledge I have gained over the years. As a result of coming to Total Results, I have also developed a friendship in the past few years with Raffi Anmahian, who worked for Nautilus during the 1980s and helped to proofread Ken Hutchins' initial manuscript for "Super Slow - The Ultimate Exercise Protocol." Through many long conversations with Raffi I have gained a deeper insight of the history of Nautilus and learned about his personal experiences with Arthur Jones. This would not have happened anywhere else.

In late 2020, Tim approached me with the chance to fulfill a dream that I had for many years: the opportunity to own my own exercise studio. My mentor explained to me that he and his wife Pam were planning to sell their house and move to Florida, and that they wanted to sell Total Results to me so that I could continue the legacy that Tim had started nearly twenty years earlier in his garage. This was a completely unexpected but exciting turn of events, and after taking a few days to think it over I accepted the challenge. My wife Rebecca and I officially became the owners of Total Results on June 1st, 2021, and it has been full speed ahead ever since. I have learned a great deal about business ownership and time management in the nine months that I've been an entrepreneur, and I believe that has also helped me to grow as an instructor. Experience is the best teacher. Challenges abound daily, but I can't wait to get to work every morning. There is an even greater feeling of pride and autonomy in knowing that I truly control my own destiny and can fully realize my vision and direction for the company. I am grateful that Total Results is stronger than ever, and I am extremely thankful that I get to work with such amazing clients day in and day out.

In many ways, my journey is just beginning. There is always more to learn and accomplish, and new avenues are explored all the time. It's fun to look back and see where I came from and how I got to where I am, and each step along the way was a vital learning experience. My ambition is to make sure that Total Results continues to grow and prosper for the remainder of my professional life, and that we carry on exceeding client expectations along the way. The sky's the limit, and the journey never stops.

Posted March 03, 2022 by Matthew Romans