Saturday, November 12, 2011

Supply & Demand

An essay on the paradox
between Purchasing and Sales

This probably won’t go over well with anyone and everyone who works, or has worked in, the field of sales, for whatever industry they’re involved. They’ll even take exception to the term salesperson, simply because, over time, it has evolved into a negative connotation for that person’s chosen job description. The Hollywood stereotype did nothing to improve on it either, but at least they cover both sides. Example: Glen Garry Glenross and Jerry Maguire. GGG showed how ruthless the sales field is, via four different sales strategies, while JM showed the same ruthlessness in the beginning, it proceeded to show the personal side, and the fact it is possible to maintain integrity in the process. Of course, this was Hollywood, and would tend to believe in reality, JM would represent the minority. A very small minority.

Personally, it wasn’t the scene with Jerry returning home to his wife that was most appreciated; it was the scene outside the locker room, between Maguire and Tidwell (Cruise and Gooding, Jr.). and the subsequent take between his former boss and the player who turned Jerry down, and even more so, the introduction of Troy Aikman to Maguire.

As an aside, this paper could almost be construed as identical to the “memo” Jerry Maguire “penned” in the beginning of the film, delving on the true relationship that should exist between the agent and the player, with what I see as a perfect analogy of the same relationship between the buyer and the seller. Unfortunately, as much as I wished to see that “memo”, it was merely a token item in the script, by name only, to emphasize a point, a philosophy, and/or an observation, as a plot item splitting the perception of the perceived relationship between the player and the agent. deep, huh?

Replacement terms are now incorporated to disassociate themselves from that stereotype: the general versions, “account executive” and “account representative”, since they maintain a roster of customer accounts, or Sales Manager”, one who is on salary, but is responsible for supervising the Sales staff, providing incentives, leads, and bonuses; and the more specific “investment executive”, relative to the financial/investment community. You see my point. Ultimately, they’re in Sales. And they know it. We all do. Suffice it to say, I’m not a fan of Sales, in any way, shape or form. But to be fair, in an unbiased forum, here are some basic views on how the mind of Sales works. and while I’ve deliberately chosen to not work in Sales, it, in now way is indicative I have no experience in Sales. all evidence to the contrary. Below are two examples of that experience. One need not take part or experience Sales directly, to learn and adapt to what Sales is all about.

Junior Achievement

Back in high school, I used to think Sales and Marketing were identical. After all, both involved selling the company product. Thanks to a national educational non-profit, known as Junior Achievement, my eyes were opened. If you’ve ever heard of JA, you know what I’m talking about. If not, allow me to briefly open your eyes, as to what they’re about, and how they excel at what they do, along with my own personal experience.

JA is an after-school program offered to both public AND private institutions. Executives from major corporations in America, donate their time for a couple hours on one night per week. Students are gathered to learn how the corporate structure of business works, from the top down.

Fake stock is sold to family and friends, to generate funds, to pay for raw materials, that will be developed into a product, and sold in the marketplace. That’s your basic, generic business model, in its rawest of forms. This, of course, does not include expenses that would normally be incurred in an actual business model, such as office space (rent), utilities, supplies, payroll, and a multitude of overhead expenses.

Executive positions are then voted on, to establish a level of management to govern each department that will delegate, maintain, and manage the various operations of the pseudo-company – President, and Vice Presidents of Accounting, Marketing and Production. The remaining students were divided between the sales force and production staff. In this case, all participated in both divisions.

The corporate sponsors participated in a hands-on capacity, arranging for the necessary raw materials to construct or build the company’s product, to be sold in the marketplace (it was usually pre-determined, in advance). The student President oversaw the management of each department, but also participated in the production and sales of the product. The VP of Accounting spent most of the time keeping the books (accounts receiveables/payables). The VP of Marketing spent most of the time mapping out a sales strategy while working with the sponsors on upcoming conventions, as well as other techniques, such as mail order pieces, and door-to-door sales. The VP of Production coordinated the construction and building of the product itself. It is here where I learned the difference between Marketing and Sales.

Basically, marketing involved the presentation of the product, whether by flyer, advertisement, or some other avenue to bring it to the attention of the buying public. Sales involved the actual strategy and selling of the product to the buying public. I was my company’s VP of Marketing, which, in this case, also included Sales, but, for the most part, the majority of companies had separate VP’s for both marketing and sales. I created and distributed flyers and advertisements, exposing our product to the public. At the same time, I had to establish, coordinate and facilitate, a sales strategy, to sell our product.

The marketing aspect was creative, challenging, and fun. The sales aspect sucked. I had to take a product and create a need for that product. Then, I had to convince those selling it, on its productive and positive points, that would inevitably be passed on to the public, in order to sell the product.

In a nutshell, our company had the second-highest sales in the nine-county Bay Area. And I was sent to JAMCO (Junior Achievement Management Conference), the regional management conference for high-performing students. That year, I was also up for VP/Marketing of the year, on a national level, but was not including in the competition. nonetheless, because of the company sales, and my own on a personal level (I had the highest in the company), I was awarded a trip to NAJAC (National Junior Achievement Conference) for my efforts. Junior Achievement was my only direct, hands-on experience in the field of Sales. As a salesman. for lack of a better term.


If you’ve never had the benefit or opportunity during your educational years, to experience the awesomeness of Junior Achievement, there is another field in the corporate structure, under the administrative banner, which companies classify as overhead. It’s referred to as Purchasing. Every business structure, whether they sell a product or service, has someone within the company responsible for the purchasing for that company.

Purchasing covers a broad field of responsibilities. It depends on what business the company is involved. Wholesale and retail companies require the purchase of goods, in either its raw form, to be constructed or built, for sale to retail; or by retail, to be sold at markup, as the middleman between the manufacturer and the general public, since most manufacturers produce in bulk.

The art of purchasing requires knowledge of the marketplace, as it relates to the buying habits of the general public, knowledge of the costs of the materials, when choosing between a number of vendors offering such goods, and knowing how the art of sales works, being the buyer on the opposite side of the spectrum.


If I had to share one anecdote to all the salespeople out there, trying to gain my trust, and become my primary supplier for whatever it is I need, I would have to say: offer, don’t sell. There’s a difference. Offer information about your product or service. But don’t sell me. And don’t expect me to switch to you, on a dime, based solely on price. This is the #1 mistake of all salespeople.

My area of expertise lies in office supplies and toner, with over 30 years experience, alongside mail. Both mail & supply, for the most part, went hand-in-hand for most corporate business, with the larger ones separating the two. All of my positions, with the exception of one, were a combination of the two. These two areas represent a billion-dollar business, both sold separately (how many times have you heard that before?). Not a day goes by I don’t get a call from either a supply company or toner vendor, selling their products and services, as if I was actually in the market to change from my current primary vendor. Large and small. Known and unknown.

Allow me to share some insights and observations on these calls, in the hope that you, as a current or future purchaser, won’t fall into the same trap; and if the price is right, negotiate a better deal for your company. Then, you can counter your company sales staff’s mantra that they pay your salary, when they actually don’t; they merely make the company money, and the company allocates it accordingly. what do you do? You save the company money by negotiating the best deal possible, and possibly replacing a previous vendor that charged more for their product. (That usually humbles them, and if you’re lucky, earning respect in the process.)

Or if, by chance, you’re in sales, you might be enlightened from a different point of view, and see where we’re coming from, as the buyer, or the customer, and not be so aggressive and insensitive, when you don’t make the sale on the spot. Next up, two billion-dollar industries (office supplies and toner), and the multi-billion-dollar financial industry.


First up, the investment community. I’m covering this first, since this is the area I have some experience, but to the effect of the other two. The finance industry, for the most part, is way over my head. But working in this industry in an administrative capacity, I have benefited from seeing the goings-on, from within.

For the most part, investment houses, often referred to as “stock brokerages”, are in the business of “selling” stocks and bonds. Again, the term is used loosely, where a large part of the business is referred to as “asset management”, “wealth management”, and “private equity” clients. In these situations, “managed accounts” are not so much “traded within” to generate income, via commissions, but simply monitored, with income generated via fees, as a service of managing the account. Basically, nothing is sold, per se. But smaller accounts may involve trading within the account, based on recommendations of the “account executive”, for the benefit of the client. If the “broker” (salesperson) is knowledgeable, he makes money for the client. But the client inevitably ends up paying out extra, to cover the commissions (income) generated by the account executive (broker/salesperson). The only other industry that makes money in either direction, is the field of law.

The “broker”, for better or worse, with motives, either genuine, or not, are unbeknownst to the client/customer. The scenario precipitating the pending sale, is prepared in a way to convince the client/customer the purchase or sale is the best course to go. More often the not, the client/customer enjoys a gain on the purchase or sale, but minus the commission for the salesperson. Was it really in the client’s/customer’s best interest? Could they have still benefited in the long-term, had they refused the offer to purchase/sell in the short-term? There’s a reason the term “churn’em and burn’em” exists.

But not all investment executives practice this strategy. Nonetheless, they still are in the business of sales, no matter how they spin it. Although I must say, the sales aspect is only predominant in the retail sector, dealing specifically with equity/stocks. The other area involves bonds, which are strictly long-term investments, which are sold in the same capacity that is Sales, but not sold in the same capacity as stocks; as in, turned over for the purpose of profit.

This is the stuff of finance, generally-speaking. I’m sure there are plenty of specifics that are out there, and most certainly would be pointed out by financial experts, to vindicate any ulterior motives alleged by my observations, but I stand by my views, as observed first hand, of the brokers themselves. Of course, I should remind you this is #3 of the three examples of sales in an industry other than what I’m an expert in, with this one being one I have extensive indirect experience. First-hand observation, even if there is no direct involvement, is enough to establish experience.
Office Supplies

To understand how aggressive this industry is, one only needs to see the consolidation of the industry, over the years. I watched it first hand, as one company after another, was purchased or acquired, hostile or otherwise, back in the 80’s. In every instance, it had a direct effect on my position as the office purchaser of supplies. And the sales side never changed, no matter which company was represented. for the record, the current supply market is dominated by the big 3: Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max. Here is an overview of their histories, and how they came to be, numbers’ 1, 2 & 3.

Back in the 80’s, in San Francisco’s financial district, there was once a retail supply store, called Kielty & Dayton. It’s only competitor at the time, at least on a retail level, was the high-end retail outlet, Patrick & Co. K&D were eventually bought by BT Office Products. The store location remained, but the sign above read “BTK&D Office Products”. Some time later, they merged with Redwood Office Products. Same location, new sign. BTK&D Redwood Office Supply. Eventually, they were acquired by Corporate Express. The location remained, but with a new sign – Corporate Express. Years later, Corporate Express would be acquired by Staples.

Office Depot grew in size, similar to Staples, but only acquired Office Club in the process, whereas Staples’ acquisitions enabled them to secure the #1 spot, over Office Depot.

OfficeMax sits at #3, through their own business, combined with being acquired by Boise Cascade, but maintaining the OfficeMax name.

There are a number of regional supply franchises that are holding their own, such as WB Mason on the East Coast, and Sierra Office Supply on the West Coast. One local vendor, by the name of Give Something Back, stands out, simply because they contribute 10% of their profits to charitable organizations.

History aside, here is the #1 problem with office supply salespersons, as it pertains to their strategy, approach, and primary selling point, to curry favor, and switch from your current vendor, to them. That being...PRICING.

What it comes down to is, the size of your company. Small businesses tend to deal only with local vendors. To the national vendors, there was no profit in local and small businesses. Mid-size to large companies dealt primarily with one of the big three, because of the volume and frequency of the orders. Gone were the days of switching vendors on an annual basis, based on orders only being placed for the local office, called “going, or putting, out to bid”. Salespersons who’ve been in the business for decades, still use the “bid” term today, when calling.

For the last decade and beyond, companies became more concerned with streamlining the ordering process, and began combining all the offices throughout the US, into one contract; thereby benefiting from ordering in bulk, even if it was spread out over multiple offices; hence, the introduction of “contract pricing”. This new pricing structure, based on bulk and/or continuous ordering of common items, resulted in a 20% discount over catalog/retail pricing.

Accounts today are highly complex, unlike the way they were decades ago. Today, for a mid-size-to-large company, one supply company is used, and usually it’s one of the big 3. Why? Contract pricing. But wait, there’s more. Everything today is done electronically. So while pricing is top priority, other aspects are sold as a way of promoting the service aspect. Unfortunately, it is the service aspect that fails, in the day-to-day process. And the salesperson/account rep has no control over it.

The other unfortunate aspect of this new, complete and complex account arrangement, is that, more often than not, it is set up on a national level. All offices are instructed to purchase all supplies online, through this one vendor. Billing is on a national scale, since all the accounts are linked together, which is a benefit, but only for accounting and budgetary purposes. In some cases, all satellite offices submit their orders individually, but those orders go through the company’s home office, for approval, to monitor orders and keep excessive purchase at bay. It is this structure that makes it difficult for the customer to even consider switching to a new vendor.

What does all of this have to do with sales? The daily and weekly calls from competitive and smaller vendors, attempting to gain new business. Which brings us back to their primary selling point – Pricing.

We tell them we’re happy with our current vendor. Response: but aren’t you interested in saving money? There’s nothing a buyer hates more than that one line. What that tells me is, they’re amateurs. Why? Because that’s one of the first lines a salesperson uses, in their attempt to sell me on their company.

I’ll tell you what I tell every salesperson that calls, trying to gain my business. I’m happy with my supplier. As for saving money, whatever pricing you offer, that either matches, or undercuts my current price structure, my vendor will match, if he has to. If he can’t, it means you’re offering pricing “at cost”, which means you’re waiving your commission/profit, in an effort to get my business, after which time later on, prices go up, without informing me of the fact. At the same time, “house” products begin to be substituted for the name brands originally quoted on, to increase the profit margin, and the salesperson’s commission.

But pricing touches only the surface. The biggest discrepancy between purchasing and sales is not pricing at all. Pricing is negotiable. And the difference between vendors as it pertains to pricing, is inconsequential. The problem is that Sales is only concerned with pricing, while Purchasing is more concerned with service. Purchasers convey this point time and time again, but Sales always fails to understand that importance, all the while continuing to push pricing. You’d think Sales would eventually understand this, after continually being hung up on.

Service. Let me repeat that. SERVICE. The accounting department only cares about pricing. But the accounting department deals with the pricing once a month, when the invoice arrives. The rest of the deal is all about SERVICE. Next day delivery. Returns. Credits. Online capabilities. Inter-office-linked ordering and billing. If you think you can get me to switch from my current vendor, who’s set up billing-wise, with all office accounts linked together, and filtered through me for approval, based simply on your pricing being slightly lower than mine, click.

And another thing: if I tell you who my vendor is, and you’re smaller than them, do me the courtesy of thanking me for my time, and say good-bye. Just because you service another company in my building, doesn’t mean you are able to do the same with my company.

Two cases in point: Give Something Back. This is a company that donates 10% of its profits to charitable institutions. The problem with this is that they use this practice as part of its marketing strategy; and not just its marketing, but as part of its company name; so, it is, in essence, hypocritical in nature. Another company, who’s name escapes me, but is based in the Bay Area, continually calls and drops by, leaving flyers and catalogs.

Catalogs. Let me tell you about supply catalogs. All sales reps for all supply companies are aware of what I’m about to divulge, but most purchasing reps are not. I was early on, and was able to respond in kind, much to the surprise of the sales rep I was meeting with, at the time.

All major supply companies have their own catalogs. These catalogs are smaller versions of a larger, universal catalog, often referred to as a “supplemental” catalog. The supplemental catalog contains everything in existence, with the item number being the manufacturer’s number. The smaller catalogs specific to the major suppliers, contain approximately 2/3 of the items in the larger supplemental catalog. Furthermore, all of the items in the smaller catalog, has an item number specific to that major supplier. The corporate and contract pricing discounts are more prevalent in the smaller, vendor catalog; whereas, the pricing in the supplemental catalog, are as indicated.

Also, this supplemental catalog has its own name. It’s called United. It is regional in nature, so United is the company for the Western US region. It’s primary, and only, warehouse is located in Sacramento. While the major suppliers produce their own catalogs, with their own item numbers, alongside the manufacturer’s numbers, smaller supply companies don’t have that luxury. All of their supplies are filled out of the United warehouse, as opposed to the major suppliers filling orders out of their own warehouses.

Furthermore, these small suppliers that use United exclusively, have a working agreement to use the United (supplemental) catalog as their own. This agreement includes changing the cover to reflect the company using it.

Case in point: when a sales rep visited my office, his obvious goal was to sell me on his company’s product. I asked him what differentiates you from all the others. He pointed out the four supply catalogs I had on my shelf. He asked me to pull them down and turn them all to the same page. Lo and behold, all four catalogs were the same (United), but with four different covers. He picked up all four and dropped them in the trash can.

At first, I was shocked. Then it dawned on me. His catalog was most likely the same, since he wasn’t a major supplier. He laid his catalog in front of me, and said his was the only one I needed. Not to be outmaneuvered, I turned his catalog to the same page, showing him it was the same as the others, and said, if that’s so, and yours is the same as the others, what do I need you for, if my current vendor uses the same catalog? As I was saying that, I ripped his cover off the catalog, and threw it in the trash. For the first time, a salesman was speechless. I thanked him for his time, and showed him the door. I think it’s safe to say, he’ll never use that strategy again.

Smoke Screen


In the beginning, drug-testing was non-existent, when it came to securing employment. This lasted through the ‘80’s, in spite of drug use expanding on an exponential scale during the late 60’s, with marijuana, cocaine in the 70’s, and crack and heroine in the 80’s. Work on the job was performed, nonetheless, but at a lower level of productivity, with employers attempting to deal with the situation, while unaware of the real reasons behind it. Over time, workers continued to arrive late, on a consistent basis; or not showing up altogether.

Tardiness and absenteeism became par for the course in the 80’s, within both the public and private sector, with employers instituting a drug-testing program as a matter-of-fact, when either patterns of behavior or unprofessionalism warranted it (constant tardiness or excessive absence), or an accident occurring, in areas of public safety. Later on, it was discovered airline pilots were regularly drinking prior to their flights. Drug and alcohol testing became the standard, immediately after accidents occurred.

Government Oversight

Eventually, state and local agencies began testing as part of the pre-employment process. It was presumed that the salaries of public employees on both the local and state level, were considered the result of the tax-paying citizens, and thus, accountable to those tax-paying citizens. How one begets the other, is still a matter of justification, especially when one has nothing to do with the other, as it pertains to, the a matter of employment.

Private Sector

Somewhere down the line, the private sector jumped on board, to show they were in support of the “War On Drugs”, implementing the same “drug-free workplace” stance, and subsequent testing, prior to employment. This is where the program became a smokescreen, and more of a matter of public relations promotion. At the time, it was mostly law firms taking up the issue, since they were beholden to the letter of the law, as it pertained to their business practices. It wasn’t so much law firms in general, that were taking up the practice of testing as part of a drug-free workplace, but more about covering their ass, considering they were now the predominant industry utilizing the services of outsource agencies.

Outsource agencies are one step above that of temporary/for-hire agencies. They negotiate with corporate firms to handle administrative responsibilities, freeing up the firm from having to cover the employees’ benefits, healthcare and 401k. The firm saves on those costs, and the outsource agencies pay their staff at a lower rate. The agencies also cover their own absenteeism with a pool of available staff; another benefit to the firm, since previous absenteeism within the firm resulted in lost productivity and additional manpower costs.

Because the pay scale is lower within the outsource industry, it attracted younger, less-than-qualified, applicants, that are primarily right out of high school. While some are continuing their education on the side, others are simply working to subsidize their extra-curricular activities, with no intention of continuing employment with the agency. These outsource agencies saw the same patterns as that of the fast-food and retail industries, with the hiring of youth, and while generally-speaking, the turnover was expected, the tardiness and absenteeism posed a problem.

While considered unfair, on the whole, it was viewed and seen first-hand, much of the tardiness and absenteeism, along with low productivity and lack of enthusiasm, was either a direct or indirect result of drug and/or alcohol consumption.

To combat this, theoretically- and hypothetically-speaking, they instituted the same program of pre-screening as that of local and state government positions.

Objective vs. Subjective

For the most part, pre-employment screening creates an aura of mistrust, when employment has yet to even begin. Technically, a drug test is only warranted when an incident has occurred, that would justify it in the first place, to support the possibility the incident was, in fact, a result of drug- or alcohol-related intoxication.

While those circumstances are understandable, the public sector is another story. Public employees are responsible to the taxpayer. So, in the best interest of public employment, testing may or may not be required as a condition of employment. In the field of law enforcement, it is pretty much a given, that it is done.

A Matter Of Science

It is a proven scientific fact that consumption of any substance, legal or illegal, dissipates over time (within a few hours). The flaw in drug-testing is that the residuals of all drugs, including alcohol, show up as positive, but there is no proof that the effects themselves are still present. Any effects of whatever was consumed the night before, will wear off over the course of the night. After-effects, more commonly known as a “hangover”, may linger, and the residuals of whatever was consumed, will also remain, and subsequently be present in any such testing, but the actual effects that were present the night before, are no longer present the next day.


Unfortunately, the pre-employment screening doesn’t take into account the responsibility of the individual in particular. Case in point: myself.

I have witnessed first-hand, on many occasions, at several employers, over the years, to know when other employees are either under the influence of drugs/alcohol, on the job, or arriving late, and/or calling in sick as a result of excessive drug/alcohol use. As a former user, I know; not by exhibiting the same habits of tardiness and absenteeism, but by recognizing the same habits of others. On many occasions, I was with said individuals. And while I managed to make it to work on time, or not call in sick altogether, my associates/counterparts were not so enthusiastic.

I have also witnessed first-hand, the efforts of those who would attempt to circumvent the process. I purchase all of my health supplements at the same location. The owner/manager has become a close personal friend. One day, while shopping in his store, a driver for the city’s transit system (MUNI), came in, and asked for a specific supplement. I asked my friend what he purchased. I was told it was a drink consisting of a multitude of vitamins; heavy on B-Complex, and Goldenseal, an herb whose sole purpose was detoxification. I asked my friend what it was for, and I was told it was primarily marketed as a pre-drug-screening elixir to immediately eliminate illegal toxins that would normally appear in a drug test. It was intended to be consumed the same day as a test. Evidently, this was an item regularly purchased by drivers, to clear their systems, since drug screening was performed at random, and not just as a result of an accident.

I realize I may be part of a minority, who choose to do whatever, as a matter of choice, on their own time, but also, at the same time, recognize there is a level of responsibility that must be maintained, and, at that same time, perform at a level of productivity that doesn’t suffer as a result of activities outside of work. But if that level of productivity while you’re present, is sub-standard, due to previous activities outside of work, then you’re no different than the individual who chose to not even show up.

So basically, it really has nothing to do with consumption, as a whole, but more about the individual, and their habits on the job, whether they be lack of productivity, tardiness, and/or absenteeism. Testing as part of pre-employment, does nothing to deter the use and consumption. Depending on the item, it only takes a matter of a week, at the least, up to a month, at most, to clear the system, if one knows a test is part of the pre-screening process. How does one know if it is part of the process? Most employment postings will give it away by simply listing at the bottom: “ a drug-free workplace.” Also, most law firms, and all outsource agencies do so.

Terms Of Endearment

In the world of paper, regarding the direction of the text, there are two sets of names. The names given by the manufacturer, and the names used by the printer. The printer is the closest to the end user, so it would seem appropriate the end user uses the printer’s terms. Unfortunately, sales reps, who buy from the manufacturer, and sell to the end user, tend to use both sets of terms interchangeably, confusing the end user in the process. They use the printer’s terms when it involves paper, tabs, etc, but use the manufacturer’s terms when envelopes are involved.

The manufacturers name the two directions, catalog and booklet. Why? Because catalogs are vertical, and booklets are horizontal. Neither one would work in the other scenario. The one to name them looked at his company catalog, and thought, there it it is. As for the other direction, he looked around the office, so the calendar on the wall, and thought, there it is. (On copiers, when deciding for printing purposes, booklet is also called calendar.)

The next line are the wholesalers who didn't give a crap what it's called. They're middlemen selling in bulk. Who gives a crap about that.

Next up, the retailers, as in, Sales; on the retail front, as well as in the corporate account setting (in bulk). It should also be noted that the retailer with the highest usage and bulk user, are the print shops, in retail and the corporate setting. Unfortunately, this is where the problem begins. As the end user, we are used to what the printers use as terms. After all, we as the end user, are using it for printing purposes. So it would only seem logical to use the printers' terms, rather then the manufacturer's terms, which mean nothing to us. Somewhere between the manufacturer and the wholesaler, print shops, who make up the biggest buyers, in bulk no less, decided the terms created by the manufacturer, only worked for the manufacturer, and didn't properly describe the directions in question, and created their own.

Some printer, way back when, looked at photos, and thought, most are vertical, let's call it portrait, based on photographs being portraits. But what about the other direction? One would think pictures of skylines, mountain ranges, grass ranges, would be better received it were turned sideways, getting in more of the landscape. Wait. That's it. Landscape. Portrait and landscape.

So we, as the end users, embraced the printer's terms as more appropriate. Portrait and landscape. The problem here is, sales reps sell to us end users. Sales reps contribute to the problem. Why? Because when they sell to end users, if it involves printing (paper, tabs, etc), they use printer's terms (portrait/landscape), but when the product being sold is envelopes, they use the manufacturer's terms (catalog/booklet). We, as the end users, only know the printer's terms. We have no clue what the manufacturers use as terms. But at the same time, I think at this point, it should be expected that the sales reps, who use both printer's and manufacturer's terms, interchangeably, it would be in the best interest of the sales reps to pick one, preferable the printer's terms, which is what the end users are most familiar with. Attention sales reps: when speaking size directions, convert it in your head before speaking with the end users. We don't give a crap what the manufacturers call it. They are alone in that respect, and the only terms that matter, are the terms used by printers, that we, as the end users, USE.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Water: falling, flowing, resting

Water. Agua. H2O. The stuff of life. The planet is 70% water. We humans are 70% water. Liquid mania. But in all its forms, there lie names for them. But as chaotic as water is, in motion, and at rest, there IS an order to their well-being. Just like there are different terms for rain, also made up of water, as to how soft, how hard and how frequent it falls. I like water. Have lived on the coast my entire life. Fortunately, the West Coast where there is no danger water-related, except the occasional tsunami warning when an earthquake occurs in Japan. But that’s a long way to travel, and to this day, has never occurred. The East and Gulf Coasts are not so lucky. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We begin with water in motion, since water falls first, then flows, ending in a resting destination. Rain. Although technically, it’s a circle in progress, since water evaporates from the larger bodies at rest, saturating the clouds until it comes down. But for the sake of a starting point, we’ll begin in the clouds, since that’s where it solidifies from a gas into liquid form before finally falling.

We begin with “mist”. Very soft, and tolerable, when outside. Barely wets the sidewalk, but will elicit a specific odor on pavement if it hasn’t done so for a long period. We all know that smell. Next is the “drizzle”. Some consider this stronger than the “shower”. Maybe so. The “shower” is a “drizzle”, or the stronger “rain”, but only scattered, and for a short duration. You know – like the difference between the short “shower”, and the longer “bath” we take. Of course, if you thizzle with the drizzle, you may find a mizzle of fizzle, you hizzle?

“Rain” is pretty much the generic for its continuous nature of a larger geographical area. Heavy rains are commonly referred to as “downpours”. Notice the level of strength here? Enter the storm. “Downpours” combined with heavy winds. It’s getting worse, people. Which brings us to the next level, where major damage to structures and roadways occur. Including injuries, and deaths in extreme situations.

Monsoons, typhoons and hurricanes. All are basically the same, but were given different names based on geographical locations. Monsoons originated in the Arabian Sea and primarily strike between Africa and India. Typhoons strike primarily from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, doing most of it’s damage in SouthEast Asia. And the most famous of them all, the hurricane, is a regular seasonal occurrence off the Atlantic Ocean, moving between Florida and the Caribbean Islands, and doing it’s most damage through the US Gulf Coast (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Eastern Texas).

It does get worse, but not as often, when referring to strength. And that would be the tsunami/tidal wave. This one is much more damaging, and the threat is real and verifiable, but I can’t remember one actually happening in the 50 years. There IS a difference between the two. Tsunami is a Japanese term for a wall of water entering a harbor, due to a sudden drop or increase in pressure underground, mostly by way of earthquake. It’s a half-misnomer because it isn’t relegated just to harbors. A tidal wave refers to a higher-than-normal tide. But the tsunami does not occur based on tidal changes. So the tidal wave as it is referred to in the tsunami sense, is a complete misnomer.

Earthquakes result when continental plates shift, on land or at sea. When it occurs at sea, the threat of a tsunami develops. They occur in Japan more often than not, as they tend to have more earthquakes along their continental shelves than we do here on the US West Coast. Nonetheless, every time THEY have an earthquake, we get the warning. I have no idea if they get a warning when we sustain a major one. Does anyone know how you can tell it’s raining cats and dogs? When you step in a poodle, of course.

The next step in the natural ecosystem process are the bodies in motion. The water falling from the heavens to the earth, create a myriad of flowing streams. “Streams” have its place in between other forms, when referencing strength of flow and volume displacement, but also doubles as a generic reference.

We start with the small and natural wonder, the “brook”. The “creek” comes next, but both elicit a wonderful backwoods, country-feeling peace and solitude. And wonder towns and cities with “creek” in their name are often preferred?! I find them so close, they could be interchangeable, but some creeks are wider than most brooks, so we’re dealing not so much with flow, but with volume displacement. You can walk across any brook, but if the depth falls at any point, up to your waist, you’d have to accept it as a creek. Maybe not so much as a stream, where it is wider and deeper. BTW, that’s where stream would fall, in between a creek and a river.

Although some rivers, those not so wide, or deep, as it were, are considered streams, but definitely more so than a creek. Other so-called streams, when several are flowing, converging into one river, are called gullies and tributaries. Think of them as blood capillaries, multiple in nature, converging into the larger vein or artery. See? All it takes is one visual analogy.

Like we all do as we grow older and slow down in life, water eventually finds a resting place where it can relax in peace and solitude, only to be occasionally interrupted and interfered with for a time. The perfect start to this transition is called the “delta”. It’s a point of convergence when the end of a river meets a larger body of water, which also varies in size, resulting in a variety of names. First up – the “lagoon”. That would be a small inlet off a larger body of water, usually a “sea” or “ocean”. Next up, bodies of water within land – the smaller “pond”, and the larger “lake”. Then again, you have the “cove”, which is larger than a “lagoon”, but essentially the same, falling in between the “pond” and the “lake”. All “coves” are pretty much larger than your average pond, but lakes vary greatly in size, from the small lake in your local park, which would be smaller than a traditional “cove”, to the larger lakes such as the US’s Erie, Michigan, etc, which could almost be considered small seas, if they were salt-based, and definitely larger than a “cove”.

After the cove, and subsequent lake, comes the smaller “bay”, as in SF Bay, which is a misnomer. Even though it is connected to an ocean which is salt-water-based, the SF Bay is fed by two rivers from up North, which are fresh-water-based, making the SF Bay not a bay, but an estuary. And the larger “gulf”, as in Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Tonkin (bordering India, Burma and Indonesia) or the Persian Gulf, where two rivers converge (Tigris and Euphrates). Both are considered inlets, but on a grander scale than the lagoon or cove. Sorta like the land mass counterpart, “cul-de-sac”, “court” and “circle”. The cul-de-sac would be the smaller lagoon or cove, the court would be the mid-sized bay, and the circle would be the larger gulf.

The two larger bodies are the “sea”, and the “ocean”. Obviously, the difference here is not just the size, but how one connects to another. “Seas” are usually very large lakes, but connect to the larger “ocean”, and are salt-water-based, as their ocean connection is. Here’s another way to look at it: land surrounds seas while oceans surround land.

But what I want to know is, historically speaking, if the world contains 7 official Oceans, like the 7 official continents, why did they call it “sailing the Seven Seas” when referring to the old days of sea adventure? I found the answer. Originally, “sailing the seven seas” was geographically limited to Europe and the Middle East – the Aegean, Arabian, Black, Caspian, Mediterranean, Persian and Red Seas. As you can see, all were centrally located.

It wasn’t until later oceans were included, listing the seven seas as the seven largest bodies of water – the Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas, and the Gulf of Mexico. But there are discrepancies there. Isn’t the Caribbean Sea in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, making it more of a channel between the two, like the channel between England and France? And how is the Gulf of Mexico, a gulf, larger than other seas elsewhere in the world? Then again, how is the Indian Ocean considered an ocean when it is actually a gulf off the Pacific Ocean, as the Gulf of Mexico is off the Atlantic Ocean? This article should be linked to my other essay, The Continental Divide, due to it’s geographical inconsistencies.

Hey, if there can be three sets of the Seven Wonders Of The World (ancient, medieval, and modern), why not alternate sets of the Seven Seas.

Of course, no one wants to change historical data on a monster magnitude, for fear of having to reprint millions of new school textbook copies for the next generation. But still…change is inevitable, except from a vending machine, I always say.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

BioNutriPhysics 101

The newest addition to the LaFever Dictionary Of Contemporary Terms. A dissertation on health, fitness and nutrition, twenty years in the making. This probably would border on thesis material if I had completed my collegiate studies in the nutrition and physiology sectors. But as always, curriculums always moved at a pace slower than that of my learning curve, and not what I was willing to accept. I learned more on the outside than in the classroom. Hence the quote I came across one day: “More students today are often graduated rather than educated”. Probably due to more of a desire for credentials than a love for the work itself. All that time and money for a piece of paper. Then more money for the frame, only to hang it on a wall. The ultimate ego stroke. I felt differently, and began my own research. Traditional literature and internet access. Past meets present. Created my own piece of paper for the wall. Used Olde English text on blank diploma parchment. “Internet University”. There’s a first time for everything. LaFever: on the cutting edge. Same ego stroke, though, I’ll admit.

Even though I was a child in the sixties, Mom & Dad were from the fifties, which meant three full-course meals a day – meat, potatoes and vegetables, the standard staple on the kitchen table back then. All full-fat. Back then, no one knew the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates or saturated and unsaturated fats, let alone the various processes involved with protein synthesis. You ate what was put in front of you. I’m still ashamed of myself for my actions when it came to vegetables. Hated them from the beginning. I was always the last to leave the table. On purpose. So I could throw the veggies behind the cabinet. Imagine the parents’ shock when the cabinet was moved for the first time, discovering all the food behind it, covered with maggots. Not a pretty sight. I didn’t mind the grounding as punishment. They got the point on what I wasn’t going to eat, so don’t put it on the damn plate. I think they realized I was prepared to sit there all night. Denying dessert had no effect. Enough childhood history.

My health and nutrition education started on its own after high school. Out of a desire to maintain a level of health that would keep me strong and prevent your average illnesses from occurring, and shortening the duration if they happened to drop in for a stay. Twenty-five years later of maintaining this regimen, I’m happy to say, I haven’t been to a hospital in fifteen years, and illnesses (flu, common cold) have been few and far between. Sick days from work are taken between one and two years, and never two in a row. And last but certainly not least, at 45 years of age, I rarely get a guess over 35. I’m here to say, the shit works; even if it isn’t maintained daily. In fact, you don’t want to do it daily because it results in either overload or excess. Of course, I’m referring to supplements and training. The nutrition aspect, as it refers to whole food, should be maintained daily. Twice on Saturday and Sunday.

Enough about experience. This is about information. I don’t know how many people exercise compared to the whole population in general, but I would fathom out of those who do exercise, only a small percentage actually take supplements. Then there’s the group that supplement, and don’t exercise at all. Which means they’re making up for the fact they don’t eat right. And that’s for all the wrong reasons. The first thing to remember about supplements is, they’re supplements. They’re meant to supplement. Get it? Along with your whole food intake. That is Rule Number One. Take with meals. Of course, there are exceptions, but only as it relates to strength training and conditioning, where certain supplements are more effective, and thus specifically designed for, intake prior to meals. That’s for an advanced class at a later date. This is Class 101.

Before we get into specifics, such as necessities and luxuries, let’s lay the foundation. It all starts with these three: macronutrients, micronutrients and exercise. The first two are similar terms but different in structure, while intertwined in use and purpose. Macros are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Micros are vitamins and minerals. All foods are a combination of macros and micros. The ratios are infinite in number. And thirdly, exercise. Split between aerobic and anaerobic. More on that later.


In the beginning, carbohydrates, fats and protein were all we knew when it came to whole foods. Over time, thanks to research, we learned there were many facets of each that were divided between good and bad. We learned what helped us grow, and what made us really grow, if you know what I mean, and that wasn’t a good thing. So let’s break down the sub-components within each category.


Carbs. Split into two types. Simple. And complex. The purpose is fuel for the body. Both do it, but one is fast-digesting while the other is slow-digesting. Simple carbs are fast and complex carbs are slow. Simple carbs are sugar-based, while complex carbs are fiber-based. The sugar-based simple carbs increase the amount of sugar circulating in the bloodstream, causing the pancreas to release insulin to bring that level down, back into balance. The imbalance caused by continuous simple-carb intake, along with certain hereditary factors, is what results in diabetes. Not a good thing. Fortunately, there is a mineral that combats this process (see micros section). The fiber-based complex carbs are what regulate your movements of food excess not utilized by the body and assist in the exit of toxins not eliminated by the liver (you know, shit).

Even sugar is not without its own subdivisions. Knowing a little more about the various types of sugar could very well change how you consume it. It all begins and ends with the single-molecule sugar, glucose. The first and foremost form of energy, converted into glucogen, the form burned as energy by the muscles. Two of the more common sugars are sucrose, known as table sugar, a double-molecule sugar made up of two glucose molecules, and fructose, another single-molecule sugar found in fruits, a complex carb, which is a paradox in itself. While the fruit in and of itself, is complex in nature, and good for you, fruit juice is not, as it consists mostly fructose, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, an additive that is simple in nature, for preservative reasons, and directly responsible for an ultra-high increase in blood sugar. Not so good for you. So when it comes to fruit, remember this anecdote: eat rather than drink. Of course, there is the ever-present ‘exception-to-the-rule’. But only when strength training is involved. When consuming protein after a workout, it is better to mix your protein with a fruit juice – since the spike in blood sugar levels speeds the uptake of protein to the muscles exponentially. This is a good thing. But only within a couple hours after the workout, while metabolism is high.

Other sugars are dextrose, galactose, lactose and maltos. Most are unfamiliar with the first two, but the third (lactose, the milk sugar) is all too familiar to the millions whose bodies cannot process, or have difficulty processing , dairy products. The African and Latin cultures, in general, are plagued with this dilemma. It is this very reason today you’ll find next to the whole, 2%, 1% and Fat-Free milk, it’s own version, lactose-free milk. This is a good thing. What better way to get your Calcium, other than as a supplement. For the record, it’s the fortification of Vitamin D in milk that converts to calcium in the body. I’ll bet you didn’t know that. Walking outside in daylight for 30 minutes also results in an increase in Vitamin D (from the sun), which, of course, converts to Calcium in the body. I’ll bet you didn’t know that either. Maltose is the sugar found in alcoholic beverages. Another reason for the onset of diabetes – excessive alcohol intake. Not a good thing. Especially for LaFever. Cuz he likes his ‘malt’ liquor.

But worse even, are the sugar substitutes. Aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Nutrasweet), and Splenda, made up of a sugar substitute LaFever doesn’t even know. Not a good thing. Stick to the tried and true – table sugar. Converts better. Or Sugar-In-The-Raw. Niiice.

Fruits and vegetables. These are the complex carbohydrates. And good for you. To a certain degree. Yes, they are fiber. But unfortunately, are broken down even further; into high-glycemic and low-glycemic. Without going into great detail, which you can via the internet, the difference is relative to that of simple sugars. While complex is better for you than simple, high-glycemic complex carbs illicit the same response as simple sugars: an increase in blood sugars and the accompanying insulin to counteract it. Geez, all I want to do is eat my meal. It’s not as bad as you think. Eating other items that are low on the glycemic index brings the overall number down when combined together as a whole meal. Half the fruits are high-GI and half are low-GI. No space here to list. Do your own research. I’m just laying the foundation. Vegetables, on the other hand, are mostly low-GI. This is why they are the most healthy, and the least tasteful. The ultimate paradox. If all else fails, force down a V-8. Don’t forget to watch the sodium levels. It’s a canned beverage. And the sodium is high, for shelf-life purposes. But it sure tastes better than the low-sodium version. LaFever prefers his V-8 in the form of a Bloody Mary. Mmmm.


The devil incarnate. Or so we thought. Now we know so much more. Such as the two, no, make that three, types. Saturated, unsaturated, and trans-fats. Actually, technically, it’s only two. Trans-fats are the bastard, black sheep offspring of saturated fats. (I say three because trans-fats are so bad, they’ve taken on a life of their own.) Unsaturated fats gave birth to those two lovely twins, mono- and poly-unsaturated. Saturated fat is solid at room temperature, while unsaturated is liquid. In the old days, lard (solid at room temperature) was the primary oil used for cooking. As was butter. Even up to as recent as the 1980’s, saturated fats were the primary choice due to longevity on the shelf, not to mention the reason for why food tastes better. I use cheese as an example. While the flavor between regular cheese and low-fat cheese is virtually undistinguishable, not so during the melting process. Regular cheese melts perfectly, with the oil separating and rising to the surface, the center maintaining a soft texture, and the outer rim a crunchy delight. As you can tell, LaFever likes melted cheese, by itself, as a delicacy. The low-fat/fat-free version just sits there, bubbling, until it burns, resembling melting plastic, and never really reaching melted status. An ugly site, it is. And tasteless.

Unsaturated, on the other hand, is liquid at room temperature, and the better oil, obviously. Today, unsaturated fats enjoy a new moniker in the world of health and nutrition: that of ‘dietary fat’. Marketing perfection at its finest. A perfect term to describe a fat that is healthy for you, in that it is directly responsible for the body’s metabolism, and body-fat loss, if consumed in moderation; but most importantly, the uptake and assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins (more on this later under micros). It is the property make-up of these dietary fats that are beneficial. And you’ve heard the terms. Omega-3’s. Most abundant in seafood. Fish-consuming cultures swear by it, and their health and longevity show it. Unfortunately, due to the ever-prevalent toxic presence in our streams, rivers and lakes, the negatives are catching up to the positives.

Just a quick note on seafood: the predominant toxin in our seafood today is mercury. All you have to do is remember the food chain. Everything settles on the bottom. So the most at risk are the bottom feeders – shellfish (crab, lobster, prawns, shrimp). Next is simple: size. The larger the fish, the higher the level of toxins. Obviously. The larger ones eat the smaller ones. The only mystery to LaFever is tuna. Why ‘albacore’ tuna (the more expensive of the two) is higher in possible mercury content than regular tuna is still unknown. Research time. Still, you can’t beat tuna for its protein content. Bodybuilders and weightlifters swear by it. I know I f’n do. (LOL)

Back to fats. Here’s a perfect example of then versus now. I worked in various movie theaters in the 1980’s. The oil used to pop the popcorn was coconut oil, a saturated fat. Chosen for its long storage potential. A metal heating rod had to be inserted into this solid oil in order to melt it into liquid form before the popping process could begin. Adding insult to injury, the butter sprayed on the popcorn had to be heated into liquid form, as well. Initially, it was real butter, but it had been discovered it was cheaper to use palm kernel oil, another saturated fat, and a solid, too. It also had to be heated until liquefied. We certainly ate it by the tub, didn’t we? Without any knowledge whatsoever. Or concern. And for good reason – it tasted just like butter.

Today, after the facts have been uncovered, through extensive research and test trials, all theaters eventually switched to canola oil, an unsaturated fat, to cook the popcorn, as well as the use as a butter topping, or butter flavor (mostly out of shame due to the health discoveries). Add to that, after an uproar by health advocates for truth-in-advertising, theater staff were required to say ‘butter flavor’ rather than ‘butter’. After all, it wasn’t real butter anyway.) Of course, the smaller independent ‘art’ houses saw an opportunity to cater to a niche audience. That audience would be upscale in nature and embraced the idea of having the choice of real butter on their popcorn. For a price, of course. For an additional .25c, you got real butter. Whatever. The popcorn was still popped in canola oil.

Unsaturated fats are split into two. Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Not exactly someone thinks about, or takes into consideration, when deciding what to buy when strolling down the supermarket aisle. Besides, most of us are brand specific. When asked, we could tell you what brand we have on our shelf, but would be hard-pressed to name what type of oil it contains, let alone whether it is mono or poly. Helpful hint: it’s all simple really. The majority on the shelves are all unsaturated (vegetable oils). Canola and olive oil are mostly mono-unsaturated, while safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oil are mostly poly-unsaturated. Peanut and sesame seed oil are half & half. Mono is cheaper, hence the predominant use of it as a cooking oil. Olive oil, which is just as good, if not better, is used more as a topping, as in dressing mixtures. Most likely due to the higher cost, no doubt. Olive oil also has been documented as better at raising your good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol, but only when used long-term. Flaxseed has become popular lately due to its content of all three Omegas: 3, 6 & 9. Note: check the labels for dressings and toppings. Soybean is the most-often used oil because it is the easiest oil to add an additional hydrogen molecule, resulting in the ever-dreadful ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’. You know, ‘transfat’. More on that momentarily.

Cholesterol deserves a mention here, since it is connected to fat intake, but not a fat, mind you, and good food for thought, pun intended. There are two types: good cholesterol, known as HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and bad cholesterol, known as LDL (low-density lipoproteins). Bad fats (saturated) increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). Good fats (unsaturated) increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Good cholesterol is the stuff that circulates in the bloodstream that carries the bad stuff out (toxins), through the liver, the body’s primary toxin processing plant. Bad cholesterol is the stuff that prefers to just hang around, like art – on the walls of your arteries. If left unchecked, the pathway (artery) grows narrower from buildup, until blockage occurs, and flow slows to a halt. I don’t need to tell you what happens next. And that’s just from a dietary standpoint. A sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise) compounds the problem.

A quick note on eggs as it relates to cholesterol. The ever-omnipotent egg probably gets more press in a back-and-forth nature as it relates to being good for you one day and bad for you the next, second only to coffee. It’s an urban legend, folks. And proven so, thanks to the extensive time and energy on research. It had to happen. The egg has the highest biological value for protein, and is a primary source of protein, responsible for muscle mass building, alongside whey (the top dog), milk (casein), meat and poultry. The egg got flack for its yolk - filled with cholesterol. Egg-whites became the norm, to keep from raising LDL levels. It was assumed the cholesterol in eggs caused an increase in blood-serum cholesterol levels. Au contraire. The cholesterol in the egg, while a saturated fat, yes, and should be consumed in moderation, had no effect on blood serum cholesterol, the stuff circulating in your arteries. The cholesterol in eggs , in excess, contributed to fat storage, not clogging of the arteries. Now, 1-2 eggs per day is acceptable. Thank God. LaFever loves his eggs. (Still a taboo in the bodybuilding world, though. Takes forever for things to change in that industry.) It is not uncommon for the typical bodybuilder to consume a dozen egg-whites in one sitting. Ecchhh. It’s the yoke that gives the egg it’s flavor. As all fat does.

Then there’s the other dairy staple: milk. Calcium is the obvious mineral we are all concerned with, and deservedly so. It is what is most important for building strong bones and teeth. It is because of this association that calcium is used as the important ingredient in milk and other dairy products. Actually, calcium makes up only a small percentage. It is the fortification with vitamin D that adds to it. Look for yourself. All milk products are ‘fortified’’ with vitamin D. Why? Because the dairy industry knows the body converts vitamin D into calcium. Fortifying milk with vitamin D increases the level of the already-present, however minimal, calcium mineral. Which is not a bad thing. This has been done from the beginning. I’m not happy about the manipulative marketing tactics and practices employed, but if it’s good for you, and we all benefit in the process, who is LaFever to complain. Thank God. I love my milk.

By the way, in the interest of research and development, I would like to know what purpose whole milk serves in our diet. If all versions of milk (whole, 2%, 1%, fat-free, even lactose-free) contain the same amount of calcium and the added vitamin D, why the hell would we drink the fat-laden whole milk? I understand for many, fat-free tastes like water, so they consume 1% and 2%, but I’m at a loss as to why some still purchase whole milk. I don’t get it. And probably never will. Personally, LaFever has been ‘fat-free’ for decades. Only tastes like water if you compare it to others. But compared to water, there’s no comparison. More food for thought: fat-free means guilt-free, so you can drink as much as you want. And 1% and 2% tastes like milk. Whole milk tastes like half & half cream, and creamers taste like it’s straight from the cow. Udderly unpleasant.

And lastly, LaFever only cooks with olive oil. Costs a tad more, but for me, it’s worth it. It’s the highest in mono-unsaturated fats. And the best for you if you’re concerned with your cholesterol level. Besides, I need all the help I can get keeping the HDL/LDL balance in check, considering how much I also love cheese and mayonnaise. (In defense of mayo: it’s not as bad as you think; the oil used in processing mayo is soybean oil, an unsaturated fat, and not partially-hydrogenated. The drawback is the second and third items listed next under contents: whole eggs and egg yolks. A double serving of yolks. Yikes!)

The worst fat of all deserves its place in last. Trans-fats. The mere term itself gives the impression of a double-dose of bad news for the bad fat (trans-echh). Nothing good comes from it. In a nutshell, trans-fats are the result of the hydrogenation process, converting a liquid fat (unsaturated) into a solid fat (saturated) by adding a hydrogen molecule. The benefit is an increase in shelf life, something restaurants and manufacturers benefited the most, considering the volume produced and used by these two sectors. One was worse than the other, though. Restaurants had their reasons, buying in volume for storage, to make the food taste better. And it did. We couldn’t tell the difference. But it should have been obvious. There was a reason meals prepared in restaurants always tasted better than meals prepared at home. (Not to mention not having to prepare the meals ourselves – ouch.)

Manufacturers, on the hand, represent the higher proportion of the processing and usage of trans-fat. In everything from spreads, packaged foods, soups (along with abnormally-high amounts of sodium), fast food, frozen food, baked goods, chips & crackers, cookies & candy, and toppings & dips. (Sounds like the standard diet of the majority of us, and the reason for rising obesity rates on a global scale.) All of it, unhealthy. You could tell the difference, too, when cooked or baked with a liquid oil. Just wasn’t the same. But change was in order. In order to survive.
But beware, consumers. Labels are as deceptive as ever. With everyone jumping on the transfat-free band wagon, deception remains. But it’s quite simple: if you’re in the good habit of reading labels. And not just the ‘nutrient/percentage’ part. Most neglect the ‘content’ part. This is where all the additives are listed, as required. Proportions aren’t listed, but is easy to figure out. By law, ingredients are listed in order from most to least. This is why ‘water’ is almost always listed first. Not a bad thing, mind you. What you want to be on the lookout for is the technical term for ‘transfats’. And that term is ‘partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil’. Amazing. The definition of transfat right in front of you. ‘Partially-hydrogenated (added hydrogen molecule) vegetable oil (unsaturated fat). Now it’s saturated. Research has shown that this type of fat is worse than your untouched saturated fat. Translation: margarine is worse than butter. Nooooo. I lived on margarine for several years, thinking it was better than butter. Silly me for not realizing both were solid at room temperature. Old saying: “Nothing is obvious to the uninformed”. True, true. Why margarine is still on the shelf is another mystery. Just . . . say . . . no.


While carbs are the primary source of energy as fuel for the body’s metabolism, protein is just as vital for the formation, maintenance and increase of the body’s muscular structure. In fact, a protein deficiency has worse ramifications than a carb deficiency. But let’s not let that happen. It’s long been known proteins are the building blocks. Stats: a complete protein is made up of 22 unique and individual amino acids. These are further split into two groups: essential and non-essential. For the most part, knowing which is which is reserved mostly to scientists, bodybuilders and trainers, but you and me, too, if that is your wish. After all, knowledge is power. Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body itself. Essential amino acids (eight in number), on the other hand, are not, requiring intake from outside sources – whole foods and/or supplements.

More importantly, whole foods, which we consume on a daily basis, are made up of various profiles of the protein molecule. But, for reasons more appropriate today as a result of a more active society (sports, bodybuilding, and daily work of a physical nature), protein needs are higher. If whole food intake is inadequate, or more protein is required to keep a deficit from occurring, resulting in muscle being utilized for energy (catabolism), supplements fulfill their purpose. Three-meal days are a thing of the past. Today, it’s all about 5-6 smaller meals. Proportion, baby. To maintain your metabolism throughout the day on only 3 meals, you’d have to eat double the calories to get you to the next meal. Unfortunately, that never works. The body passes the meal from the stomach to the intestines, where it is broken down and used for fuel. The bad part is the body only needs a small percentage for fuel, with the rest being stored as fat. Even if all of it was fat-free. It isn’t just about fat anymore. Research has shown it is all about calories. Even excess protein will be stored as fat if too much of it is consumed. And not enough carbs for fuel while the protein goes to muscle repair results in protein being used for fuel (catabolism). Two hours later, six hours before your next meal, hunger sets in. Talk about a downward spiral. And a wasted effort.

Enter the new order. Six smaller meals spaced throughout the day. A little bit of this. A little bit of that. Naturally, you’ll discover you’re hungry all day. That’s your metabolism staying high because of the multiple feeding times. By the time you get home, your gut is in check, and not sticking out, as result of large meals, and feeling bloated at the same time. It’s difficult, I know. Daytime is occupied by work. Who has time to think about eating, let alone several times a day. And at specific times. It’s all about discipline. And choice. The rest is up to you.

Protein sources are important, but only when the specific goal is an increase in lean body mass (muscle, you dope). Sources include whey (a derivative of the milk/cheese process), dairy (eggs, milk & cheese), red meat, poultry, and seafood. Keep in mind, though, these are general in nature. They break down further into good, better, but also, not-so-good sources of protein.

Numero uno is whey, simply because it is primarily a supplement whose sole purpose is as the highest quality protein available; a result of a process removing the low- to no-fat protein portion from dairy products. What resulted was the highest form of protein, as it relates to the biological value of protein. Two steps back, the BV (biological value) began way back as a way of measuring the protein molecule as a complete unit, comprised of all essential and non-essential amino acids and required by the body for function and repair of the muscular structure. Initially, the egg was the top of the food chain, and given a BV of 100, as a measuring stick. Gotta start somewhere. Enter whey. It was discovered to contain a higher BV. 110 to be exact, when compared to the egg. The important thing to remember here is that whey is strictly a supplement, not a whole food. All other sources fall under whole foods. Whey is documented here simply because it is relevant, and important, if your desire is to be informed, beyond the basics and foundation process. Whey is advanced, and its own sub-categories (isolated, hydrolated, concentrated), are the stuff of future education.

Eggs. Second-highest in the complete protein profile. And first in the whole food sector. Like I mentioned earlier, eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years, and still do in the bodybuilding industry. Read any profile of IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders) superstars and you’ll see for yourself the consumption of a dozen egg-whites as a standard part of their diet. In one sitting, no less.

Milk. Also high in protein. Containing the slow-digesting protein known as casein. Perfect for pre-bedtime consumption, to ensure a steady assimilation throughout the night. Then there’s the protein sources from which others are derived. Poultry and red meat. But be warned. Here’s where we need to exercise caution in our choice of cuts.

Red meat. High in protein, and creatine (you’ll have to Google this one – it’s a paper in itself, and good for you, to boot), the greatest scientific discovery to come along in decades. It’s also produced within the body, so it can’t be banned as it is a naturally-occurring nutrient. Red meat is also high in saturated fat, depending on what area of the animal is consumed. It should also be noted, due to recent discoveries, that grass-fed beef is generally more beneficial for you than grain-fed beef. Stick with beef labeled as organic, since they are mostly grass-fed. Protein content is the same but the saturated fat levels are lower. For beef, leaner is better (duh). Basically, you want red, not white. If it’s white throughout (commonly known as marbled), skip it. If it’s red throughout, buy it. If it’s red throughout, with a solid white border, okay. But obviously trim the border. And you’d better.

Poultry. Also known as the white meat. Chicken is king. Turkey comes in second. Always remove the skin. I know it tastes better, but remove it anyway. If you know what’s good for you. If anything, lick the skin. The reason the skin tastes good is because all the seasoning is on the outside. Wings are like ribs. Everyone loves them at a party, but they’re useless. Very little meat, no nutritional value, and a mess to clean up when you’re done. I shouldn’t have to tell you the breasts are the best. And not for the reason you’re thinking (get your mind out of the gutter; there’s only room for one mind here). There are other sources of fowl, but they’re more a delicacy, and will cost you (ostrich, duck, even pigeon).

Seafood. An honorable mention in the big picture scheme of things. Seafood is more noted for it’s high Omega-3 content. Omega-3’s are dietary fats that increase your HDL (remember the good fats), while decreasing the LDL (the bad ones). The one seafood that stands out, especially among bodybuilders, is tuna. And swear by it, they do. I know. I do. Tuna contains the highest amount of protein, proportionately-speaking, than all the others. Your standard can off the shelf has 13 grams of protein. But that can is classified as 2½ servings. Small can. Who eats a half a can? In any case, that can, if eaten completely, provides roughly 32 grams of protein. An obvious staple in the bodybuilder’s diet. Unfortunately, the taste by itself leaves a lot to be desired, and is mostly consumed when mixed with mayo. Secondly, there are two versions: packed in water and packed in oil. Water is better, if you’re watching your fat intake. The oil version isn’t so bad, since it’s an unsaturated oil. All a matter of choice. Add in mayo for flavor, unless you’re watching calories. Salmon is high in protein and Omega-3 dietary fats, as is other shell fish (crab, lobster, prawns & shrimp), but don’t forget what we discussed earlier about toxins. (Is nothing safe anymore?)

Lastly, I know what you’re thinking. Did I mention 6 sources? Or only 5? Well, in all this confusion, I kind of lost track myself. But this source, being the highest in fat, and would stop your heart in a second, you have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya? Punk? That’s right. The one source left out also contains protein, but not enough to warrant a place in the diet, simply because the level of saturated fat is higher than all the others. The pig. Pork (the so-called other white meat, for no good reason but to sell more, but also the one containing the least amount of saturated fat), bacon and sausage. Nothing more than an indulgence for the palate, counteracting all efforts to maintain a good and beneficial balance of the proper nutrients necessary for the body to function at the optimal level it was designed to. Which is too bad. It’s been documented that pigs possess an intelligence higher than that of the dog. Go figure. Maybe that’s a sign they shouldn’t be eaten. After all, we don’t eat dogs and cats. At least not in this country. A delicacy elsewhere, unfortunately. Bacon’s cool, if cooked right. And I still love my sausage. Cheddar-infused, too. In moderation, of course.


Micronutrients are divided up into two groups, both vital to the body, and having a synergistic effect, as well. Vitamins and Minerals. All interact with each other. Some deplete others if taken alone. Ah, competition. Seems complicated. Not to worry. Whole foods take the worry out of it all. It’s when the diet is inadequate, imbalance occurs, and supplements are added to make up the difference.


Further divided into two groups. Fat-soluble and water-soluble. This means they are assimilated via fat and water pathways. This is why you can’t have a completely fat-free diet. That would result in a fat-soluble vitamin deficiency, no matter how much you take. They need the fat in order to be absorbed. Ironically, it is the water-soluble vitamins that are more likely to lead to deficiency, due to their high rate and ease of assimilation and subsequent excretion. You can thank the body for that. It’s 70% water. Everything is. The body. The muscles. The earth. Water is life. You can do without food for a week. But water, a couple days, at most.

So, what exactly do we need and which ones fall into each category? There’s a full list, but for sake of importance, we’ll cover the basics. The vitamins are A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Uh, scratch the F ‘n’ G. Don’t forget K. There’s a reason that cereal is called ‘Special K’. Minerals include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, chromium, selenium, sodium, magnesium, copper, zinc, etc, with several of these classified as ‘electrolytes’, those ever-important minerals lost in the sweating process. Let’s break it down. (For the record, the recommended doses listed are based on the accepted norm based on research and trials. The recommended daily allowance is a government (FDA) recommendation, and conservative in nature, taking into consideration the general public as a whole. Not to mention it hasn’t been updated since the 1950’s. Genetic and cultural differences will obviously have an effect on what is acceptable and necessary. Level of activity also plays a factor. The numbers listed here are more in line with today’s lifestyle.)

A – fat-soluble
The pre-curser to beta-carotene. Actually, it’s beta-carotene you want, in food or as a supplement. The body converts beta-carotene to A. A, in high doses, is toxic. Not possible in food, but as a supplement, don’t even think about it. Purchase beta-carotene. In whatever form. My favorite is marine carotene. It is fat-soluble. The body will use what it needs, convert it to A, and excrete the excess. Supplementation: 5000 to 10,000 IU (international units) should suffice. Once a day will last the day. Even every other day is fine. A very important anti-oxidant (more on that later).

B – water-soluble
B is more than just a vitamin. It is six vitamins in one: B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 and Biotin. The more famous of these is niacin, most notably as a flushing agent. I took it once, on an empty stomach. All the blood rushed to the surface of my skin. I was red all over. Didn’t matter. All I could feel was my skin on fire. Lasted a ½ hour. WTF?! Halfway through, someone came up to me and asked if I took niacin on an empty stomach. I’ll never do that again. Obviously, it processed immediately, since it was water-soluble. Supplementation: B-Complex, 25-50 mg (milligrams). B-Complex contains all of the above. No need for individual supplements. And no more than 50 mg, since it is water-soluble, and processed quickly by the body. Any more is a waste.

C – water-soluble
The other major water-soluble, vital vitamin. C is the end-all, be-all, of vitamins. And an anti-oxidant. If you take any other supplement in addition to the always-dependable multi-vitamin, which contains everything you need, take C. 500 mg is adequate, in spite of the RDA of 60 mg found in most multi’s. Talk about outdated. As for the urban legend of mega-doses to prevent sickness, that’s what it is. An urban legend. Listen up. C is just like Echinacea. You take it to recover, not to prevent. There’s a difference. Mega-doses of C are waste of money. Just like B, the body uses what it needs, and excretes the rest. Why do you think they call it rich piss? That bright yellow color you see streaming into the toilet is the excess B and C the body didn’t need. On the other hand, when you’re sick (cold or flu), B and C are the most effective soldiers out there and immediately go to work on the recovery process. 1000-2000 mg are not uncommon in combating your illness. All you have to do is watch the pee. I know. When sick, I up the dosage. Even at 1000 mg, it’s still a pale yellow. Why? The body’s using all of it for the attack on the front lines.

It also works at the onset of illness. More often than not, you wake up sick. If you’re paying attention, you can feel it coming on when you wake up in the middle of the night. Chills. Dry throat. Difficulty swallowing. I pop two 500 mg C capsules immediately. And wake up refreshed. Problem solved. Even though C hasn’t been proven in this realm, I am proof it does. Maybe not for everyone. But what have you got to lose. As for daily, no more than 500 mg. You’ll pee out the rest. Trust me.

Another good reason for at least supplementing with B and C is because of the very fact they are water-soluble. Acting in the same vein are the toxins in our everyday surroundings. Chemicals, exhaust, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, fluorescent lighting; all lead to depletion of B and C.

D – fat-soluble
Converts to calcium in the body. D in high doses is also toxic. But not calcium. Just like the A/beta-carotene paradox. But be warned. High doses of calcium will result in stones. Small solid, calcified, items of horror, formed in the gall bladder (gallstones), that work their way through the urethra (piss tube) and out the exit. One of the most painful experiences you’ll ever have. Or so I’ve heard. Haven’t experienced it. Yet. Thanks to beer keeping my tubes flowing. D also is absorbed via the sun. 1/2 hour a day is all you need. For all intent and purposes, just drink your milk. Supplementing is not necessary. Unless you’re a female, and pregnant. Osteoporosis is the issue here. And so are the baby’s needs. Definitely.

E – fat-soluble
Along with beta-carotene and C, E also shares the label of anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidants are so-called for their ability to reverse the aging and sickness process. Toxins and illness rob cells of an oxygen molecule, turning them into ‘free-radicals’; so-named for their unscrupulous and ravaging nature of ripping the body’s cellular structure apart. What the anti-oxidants do is replace that missing oxygen molecule to all the damaged cells, making the body a better place to live for all living cells. How divine. E has been in the headlines lately, with its benefits questioned. Not to worry. Just keep taking your multi’s. If you supplement, no more than 400 IU (int’l units). Even better: an E/selenium combo. It’s a vitamin/mineral combo that acts synergistically, and utilized better by the body. It might be confusing after noticing there are different configurations of E, most notably, the presence of DHA, EPA, etc. If so, find one with all of the above. Don’t ask.

K – fat-soluble
K is a luxury. The body produces half of what it needs on its own. K assists in the blood-clotting process. We get all we need from food. And the multi. Forget the supplement. Trust me.


Calcium, which we’ve covered already, is vital, as we all know. Magnesium, along with phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, which make up the ‘electrolites’, the minerals sweated out of the body during exercise and athletic endeavors. Or sitting in a sauna. Iron, which carries oxygen within the blood, and vital to life. Women need to supplement due to their monthly cycle of the release of blood. Men, on the other hand, should keep Iron in check. Unless you donate blood. Iron isn’t excreted the same way as women, and end up as a surplus in the system, affecting the prostate in the process. Not a good thing. And Zinc, which is responsible for growth and sexual development. Obviously, the reason why oysters are popular as a so-called aphrodisiac due to its high zinc content. Can you say ‘placebo’? Never proven. I hate oysters anyway.

Chromium, specifically chromium picolinate, which regulates the production of insulin in the pancreas. Definitely a good thing. Especially in today’s environment of high simple-carb consumption and out-of-control obesity and diabetes rates. Supplementation: 200 mcg. That’s micrograms. No more. And with meals. Selenium? A mineral that is synergistic with E. No need to supplement. Although it doesn’t hurt to get the E/selenium combo. But alone, nah.

As for supplementation of individual minerals, all are found in proper doses in you daily multi-vitamin. Chromium is probably the only one to take as an additional supplement. Oh, and iron. Women, take the multi ‘w/iron’. Me, the multi, ‘w/o iron’. It’s that simple.


While macro- and micro-nutrients represent what is necessary and required for body maintenance and development, exercise comes in second, simply because, while important for growth and metabolism purposes, is secondary. On a basic level, we can survive without exercise, as many do, if nutrient intake is satisfactory. You CAN have one without the other. That is, nutrients without exercise; not the other way around. Exercise without nutrients is a double-whammy. Exercise depletes nutrients several times faster than alone without exercise. Don’t even think about it. On a positive note, the benefits of both as part of a program, yields results many times more than each on their own.

Exercise. The practice of exerting physical energy via a variety of means, resulting in a higher rate of metabolism, thus burning a certain number of calories. The sole purpose is to burn more calories than what is taken in (consumption). Simple indeed. Most are familiar with aerobics. And some, with the specifics involved. Aerobics is the proverbial iceberg. Most are only familiar with certain aspects. The obvious parts. Let’s dive down below the surface and uncover the details that will enhance what you already know, and shed light on other aspects that will increase your knowledge on the additional benefits you only thought you knew.

First, the facts. Exercise is split into two forms: aerobic, and anerobic. Aerobic, the more popular of the two, is based on continuous movement for a certain period of time. It was determined early on, that this continuous movement raised the heart-rate, and subsequent metabolism, resulting in a higher rate of calories being burned, but only during the period of exertion. Lifting weights was simply a form of exercise to increase muscle mass. No doubt, this was the reason most of the aerobic classes were occupied by females and the weight areas were mostly male-occupied. My belief is that it was pre-determined. Had to do with testosterone and estrogen. Male vs female. Testosterone related to the male’s muscle mass while estrogen equated to the female’s muscle tone. Men wanted to put on muscle; women wanted to tone muscle. Both knew what could and could not be done, based on their testosterone/estrogen configuration. Men put on muscle easier than women, and women toned up easier than men. Which brings us to the opposite of aerobic, that is, anaerobic.

Here’s the difference. Aerobic, from the Greek translation, means ‘with air’. Conversely, anaerobic, means ‘without air’. It’s all biological. Continuous exercise requires air in the process, and is considered aerobic. Lifting weights, more commonly known as strength training, are movements that are explosive in nature, and not continuous in movement, thus only requiring oxygen in the lifting process. The difference between the two is in the calorie-burning process. Back in the day, if you wanted to lose weight, the only way was to exercise in a continuous fashion, aka aerobics. It worked. To a degree. The problem was, you only burned calories during the aerobics process. Enter weights. It was eventually discovered that, while calories were burned during the aerobic training period, more calories were burned after the strength training had finished. And for an additional 24 hours, to boot. We learned that aerobics burned calories during the session, but discontinued once movement stopped. The benefit was more cardiovascular, than weight-based. Weight training, on the other hand, involved the expansion and contraction of muscle fibers. The subsequent muscle repair process showed an increase in calorie burning, long after the training had ceased. All of a sudden, we realized more calories could be burned by strength training, resulting in fat loss without doing aerobics. Of course, nutrition played a factor. That being the consumption of protein, whole foods and supplementation.

Another factor was that, while aerobics resulted in weight loss overall, anaerobic strength training resulted only in fat loss. Aerobics utilized not only fat, but muscle, as well, to burn calories. Strength training, on the other hand, burned fat only, since the muscle, which had been broken down by the training process, used carbs for muscle fuel. What’s most important is the immediate protein intake required after the workout. If protein is not consumed immediately, the body will use the broken-down muscle as energy for fuel. And this, my friends, is the definition of ‘anabolic’ and ‘catabolic’. ‘Anabolic’ refers to the muscle-building process with a protein surplus, while ‘catabolic’ refers to the muscle-wasting process (breakdown of muscle due to lack of protein for building purposes). Here’s where we dispel all the myths society has embraced, and ignorant they are.

I don’t care what you’ve heard, or how much you’ve heard, or what people say, or what people believe: ‘anabolic’ is a state of being, ‘in process’, if you will, and unrelated to steroids, to a certain degree. Now that you’ve learned the meaning of the term ‘anabolic’, and it’s lesser-known counterpart, ‘catabolic’, steroids become a moot point. The only connection is this: ‘anabolic’ is an adjective, ‘steroid’ is a noun. One is added to accentuate the other. Doesn’t mean one is the same as the other. You don’t even have to look it up. I’ll lay it out for you right here. ‘Anabolic’, and its opposite, ‘catabolic’, are terms that represent the metabolic process of muscle maintenance.

Plain and simple: if the muscle is in the process of rebuilding, with a surplus amount of protein enabling it to do so, it is in an ‘anabolic’ state. If the muscle does not have a sufficient amount of protein to aid in its recovery, it robs other muscles to achieve its objectives. This is called being in a ‘catabolic’ state. If I’m in an ‘anabolic’ phase, it doesn’t mean I’m on steroids. Get it? The only connection to steroids is its desired effect. Bodybuilders take steroids to increase muscle mass. In order to increase muscle mass, the muscle must be in an ‘anabolic’ state. Thus, anabolic steroids. I dare anyone to show me a ‘catabolic steroid’ on the market. If this needs further explanation, you’ll never get it.

lafever’s arsenal

Practice what you preach. The opposite of my Dad’s motto, “do as I say, not as I do”. Hypocritical, as far as I’m concerned. But it works for parents, when dealing with youth. Another testament: “put your money where your mouth is”. LaFever believes when it comes to personal health, there is no room for shortcuts. And now, what you’ve been all waiting for; LaFever’s nutritional five-star menu. Necessities and luxuries. Ammo, for defense against all that would attempt to taint or poison the temple of the self. Armor, to protect that which defines the self. And knowledge, to update and improve the self.


multi-vitamin – contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals, but in small doses. A staple for everyone, even if you eat right. In society today, even if you do eat right, don’t smoke or drink, there will be some form of deficiency, due to high levels of processing, which, in itself, is responsible for the depletion of foods’ nutritional benefits, not to mention the ever-present external toxic elements. The biggest culprit is the microwave. The keyword here is ‘wave’. Electro-magnetic, to be specific. Nothing destroys the nutritional value of something more than the microwave. If you do anything, get yourself a toaster oven. I did. And rarely use the microwave these days. Note: the microwave should only be used to heat, not cook. Leave the cooking to the stove/oven, for the longer cooking times, and the toaster oven, for the shorter periods, or what the microwave was typically used for.

anti-oxidants – That would be beta-carotene (converting to vitamin A in the body), vitamin C (for defense against the elements and illness, but only in recovery, not in prevention) and E (supporting the body’s cells, numbering in the millions). Also aiding in eliminating the free-radicals in circulation. Cells robbed of an oxygen molecule, and responsible for ravaging other cells, like a vampire on a killing spree. The anti-oxidants are the garlic weapon against such destruction.

b-complex – A collection of vitamins (1, 2, 3, 6, 12 & Biotin) responsible for combating the negative effects of our surroundings, internal and external (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, chemicals, exhaust, toxins, etc) and keeping the body’s infrastructure intact and in balance, aside the anti-oxidants.

glucosamine/chondroitin – This is a combo that some would consider half-necessity, half-luxury. I disagree. This supplement duo is only used as a necessity. It would be a luxury if you didn’t need it, but if you have no use for it, using it would be a waste. The benefit of these two apply to the joints. Shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles. All the areas that turn and/or rotate, using tendons and ligaments in the process. These body parts are essential for proper movement and degrade naturally over time. And faster for those who engage in any physical activity, which increases the use, resulting in expanded and progressive wear & tear. Nine times out of ten, injuries result in some form of tear to a ligament or tendon, as opposed to a break (bone-related), but just as severe. Some never recover. But for all intent and purposes, the glucosamine/chondroitin combo becomes a necessity for those of us entering midlife, when the breakdown begins due to normal wear and tear. Perfect for minor, slight, aches and pains due to this breakdown. Glucosamine is an amino acid (protein) and chondroitin is a mineral, meaning they act synergistically. Glucoasamine, as a protein, obviously is responsible for the repair of damaged ligaments and tendons. Chondroitin works to build and stabilize existing ligament/tendon structures. One repairs, the other supports and maintains. You can’t beat that. Tag team champions, for sure.

I had an injury once, sustained during a soccer game. I was the goalie and bent my knees inward to block a shot at the net. Twisted the left knee. Stepped out of the game. This happened in the second quarter. By the end of the game, I couldn’t bend my knee. Lasted a week, with extension returning more and more each day. But the pain remained. For two years. It was a tolerated pain. Only happening after sitting for a certain period of time, leading to a painful limp for 5-10 minutes after. I dreaded a CAT Scan that might uncover an ACL or MCL tear (ligaments surrounding the kneecap and the most often injured during sports activity). I started supplementing with this combo. Daily. The research indicated benefits wouldn’t begin for at least two weeks. Shit. I’d put up with is for two years. Two weeks was a walk in the park. Better than the alternative. That would be a visit to the hospital. I figured it wasn’t that bad. Those injuries are nightmares, and usually require surgery immediately. A month later, the constant minor pain experienced by simple walking, and the increased pain after sitting for a period of time, began subsiding. Today, I’m here to say, no more pain. Even after long walking distances and lengthy sitting periods. Self-healed again. I now supplement weekly with this combo to boost and enhance my ligament properties. And hopefully eliminate or, at least, postpone the onset of osteoporosis and arthritis in my later years, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with bone. Could be like Echinacea where prevention doesn’t work, but I’ll take what I can get.

DHEA – (de-hydro-epia-androsterone) – a pro-hormone produced by the body, starting during puberty and declining in production until the age of 40, where it pretty-much stops. Needless to say, while unnecessary at an earlier age, it’s a necessity now. Basically, DHEA, as all pro-hormones do, increases the level of testosterone production in the body. This happens naturally within the body, until around age 40. The body then ceases DHEA, and subsequently, testosterone production. Men’s mid-life menopause. We need this testosterone to maintain, and/or build, lean body mass (muscle). The lack of testosterone production also contributes to a lower metabolism, resulting in an increase in fat storage. Geez, that’s all we need. The benefits of supplementation, in your later years, are numerous. They: increase the production of testosterone, resulting in increased lean body mass (yup, muscle), fat loss, and an increase in immune system function and support. Cool.

Of course, the definition of DHEA as a pro-hormone who’s purpose is to increase testosterone, obviously, and without good reason, connects it somehow, someway, to steroids. For the record, hormones share a similar end result as steroids, but only in its effect on testosterone. HGH, or human growth hormone, is a supplement, and used for the same reason as steroids, but are not steroids, at least not in a scientific, technical sense. But still classified as such, unfortunately. Probably due to the excessive use of such for the same purpose the other is used. Another similarity: the “A” in DHEA (androsterone) is a pro-hormone and a common ingredient in most steroid profiles on the market today. Check any list of steroid configurations and you’ll discover the majority of them start with the prefix “andro”. As for ignorance, or lack of knowledge, for those of you in the dark on this, steroids do not increase muscle. At least, not directly. What they do is increase the muscle recovery process. Exponentially. Enabling you to work out longer, and more frequent. The destructive aspects are just as prevalent. Don’t go there. DHEA is in the clear. And I swear by it. Especially at my age. This, too, I’ll take what I can get.

chromium picolinate – Here’s another one on the fence. Unnecessary during the early years (unless you’re diabetic) but more likely useful in the later years. This mineral is mostly beneficial when blood sugar issues are present, hence the diabetes connection. Chromium is an insulin regulator. Anything that increases your blood sugar level (high-glycemic carbs (refined), sweets, fruit juices, alcohol), results in a release of insulin by the pancreas, to bring those levels back into balance. (We discussed this earlier.) LaFever is not diabetic, thank God. Nonetheless, LaFever does love his beer. In higher concentrations (not volume, mind you) than most others. I’m talking about alcoholic content. Steele Reserve. Malt liquor. 8.1 on the Richter Scale. Booyah, baby. But, at the same time, beer is alcohol, and responsible for an increase in blood sugar. Empty calories, too. To compensate for this, the beer is consumed with meals. Most important, as it lowers the overall Glycemic Index (standard indicator of carbohydrates as it relates to the effect on blood sugar levels). I take chromium picolinate as a defense, to ensure a stable level of blood sugar, and regulating the release of insulin. Other beneficial properties on a minor scale are its effects on metabolism, and the subsequent fat loss associated with it. Way cool.

Pro-biotics – aka super blue/green algae, aka spirulina, the stuff that makes up your intestinal flora (but not fauna, sorry), for the purpose of breaking down the foods we consume, to be absorbed. It’s the so-called good bacteria. That’s a good thing. Yogurt is a good whole food source, considering it’s live cultures contain within.

Water – the most important of all. Available everywhere. But don’t drink too much. It IS possible to over-hydrate. And death has occurred in extreme cases (remember the water drinking contest put on by some radio station where the winner went home nauseated, and died a few hours later?) Don’t forget, we’re 70% water. And that balance needs to be maintained.


protein – the building blocks of life. Especially if you lift weights. We all need protein anyway. Lack of protein results in muscle mass being used as energy. And that’s catabolic. Never a good thing. So LaFever always keeps a container of whey protein. Low in carbohydrates, of course. Excess stores as body fat. Easily done at my age. No thanks.

creatine – the greatest scientific discovery in the modern era.. And legal. Probably one of, if not the most, researched supplement in the industry today. Most likely as a result of the explosive benefits of its use. It is produced naturally in the body in small amounts and found in high content in red meat. Can’t ban a natural ingredient found in the body as well as in the foods we eat. Hence, the advent of creatine as a supplement. Basically, what creatine does is draw water into the muscle cell, thereby increasing it in size and strength. It also acts as a form of fuel, shortening the muscle recovery process, enabling the user to train in a shorter amount of time. Gee: isn’t that what steroids are for? Yup. Creatine: the Holy Grail of the bodybuilding industry. Steroids, as a whole, are a thing of the past. And illegal now, too. For good reason.

glutamine – This is one of the 22 amino acids that make up the protein molecule. Why is it supplemented on its own? Two reasons. One: glutamine makes up the highest percentage of the protein molecule. 50%. Glutamine is also responsible for keeping the muscle in an anabolic state, and saving the muscle from being used as fuel/energy for the body. Many use protein supplements and add in additional specific amino acids. Glutamine is the most-often purchased addition to the shelf. Sometimes it comes in second to BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids). The BCAA’s are leucine, isoleucine and valine, and possess abilities of a higher proportion in its effect on muscular development. (No room here for details. Do your own research. I’m laying a foundation here.) LaFever loves the benefits of glutamine, but forsakes the addition of BCAA’s, since the BCAA’s are represented in the protein powder, in good numbers.

milk thistle – a supplement from neither the vitamin or mineral category. Herbs. A category unto itself. Even more unregulated than the vitamin/mineral category. And controversial, for sure. LaFever’s jury is still out. Although, studies are ongoing. At this moment in time, I’m more inclined to subscribe to the herbs predominant in the Asian community. They live on this shit. The West is still in pre-school, if you ask me. The only other herb I would consume, if I could afford it on a regular basis, is ginseng. Of course, it should be noted there are three types of ginseng: Asian ginseng, American (Panax) ginseng, and Siberian ginseng. Asian and Siberian are better than American. Siberian is the most expensive. Needless to say, considering LaFever’s close proximity to SF’s Chinatown, it’s Asian ginseng, hands down. Other than that, right now, it’s milk thistle. Has nothing to do with milk. Just like a lot of other plants inappropriately named. Milk Thistle is a cleanser, a purifier. Specifically, for the liver. In the Asian community, the liver is classified as the most important organ in the body. LaFever agrees. The liver is responsible for the process and elimination of all toxins in the body. It doesn’t get any more important than that. Especially when you take into consideration, as mentioned earlier, LaFever’s favorite vice, beer. I shouldn’t have to tell you the effect alcohol has on the liver. Massive. Enter Milk Thistle. As a preventative maintenance to support the liver. Plus, there’s good news. The liver is self-generating. You can have half your liver removed, and the liver will grow back to normal size within six months. Kinda like a starfish. And that’s way cool. Where’s my 40…

melatonin – honorable mention. Perceived as a necessity, for the purpose of its use, but is ultimately a luxury, since you shouldn’t be relying on a supplement for something as simple as sleep. With exception, of course, given to the medical condition of insomnia. But then, if it comes to that, prescription medication is usually taken first. Melatonin is classified as a hormone. Produced naturally in the body. It’s what sets and controls the body’s internal clock. Produced by the pineal gland. It became the primary ‘sleep’ supplement after the amino acid ‘tryptophan’ was banned in the US. For no good reason. All due to a tainted batch produced and imported to the US by Japan. WTF?! Ephedra suffered the same fate a few years back. No matter. Melatonin turned out to be better. Resembled the effects of serotonin better than tryptophan. The only drawback, at least for LaFever, was the presence of more-vivid dreams. LaFever already dreams in Technicolor 3-D. This supplement is saved for special occasions. Like when there is a several-night period of less than 3-4 hours sleep per night. Happens on occasion. But I wouldn’t recommend it on a weeknight.

echinacea – an herb with strong medicinal properties. but limitations, too, mind you. Mostly used to combat colds and flu. Works perfectly. Boosts the immune system to attack and destroy the bacteria and viruses plaguing the body during times of illness. But that’s where the benefits end. This herb doesn’t work when used as a supplement on a daily basis, for preventative purposes. Like C, mentioned earlier. Go figure. But that’s what herbs are all about. And we’re still learning how it all works. The reason this and many others are still in the controversial category based on test studies and research, is because of its effect on the human body. Could also be why the Asian community is centuries ahead of the West. They’ve been at it for 4000 years! They’ve been living past 100 for centuries while we’ve been passing at around half that age. Of course, that was during the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Not so today. (Unless you live in the ‘hood. Sorry, but that’s a documented fact. And unfortunate, as well.)

Macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein) are a no-brainer in their necessary effects on our biological and physiological system. The micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) have long been established as necessary for the body to function in the same vein.

Herbs. Obviously, plant-based. And there are a million species of plants on this planet. So much research and information, so little time. The jury is still out on herbs, but we’re making headway. The difference is in how the body reacts to them. It is this reason we all should be cautious in our herbal supplementation. You wouldn’t want to be the first person to have an adverse reaction to something that has no effect at all on everyone else. There’s a first time for everything. Use caution and in moderation, folks. LaFever is happy with his milk thistle, echinacea, and occasional ginseng.

Other supplements have come and gone from the LaFever war chest. All based on research, and test trials. The costs outweighed the benefits, or at least, the alleged benefits. And subsequently discontinued. I’m a realist. I want to see results. Not rhetoric or hearsay. Or marketing. Co-Q enzyme. Pass. Nitric oxide. Pass. Creatine serum (liquid). Pass. Weight loss supplements. Pass. Shark cartilage. Big pass. Don’t believe the hype.

Oops. I almost forgot. Not exactly a supplement. Not even a whole food. Comes from a plant. In bean form. Yup, you guessed it. Coffee. And tea, but LaFever prefers coffee. I’ve heard the arguments. I’ve seen the research. As I mentioned earlier, coffee is probably the most studied substance in the world today. And the studies will continue, so long as the results keep contradicting those from previous studies. Like a goddamn seesaw. Give it a rest. Traditionalists claim tea is better. Because it’s herbal. Uh, the coffee bean comes from a plant. Tea comes from the leaves. That’s the only difference. Tea has enjoyed the classification of being higher in anti-oxidants. True. And for the record, green is reportedly higher than black. LaFever note: the only difference between the two is the production process. So basically, it doesn’t matter. Unless flavor matters. And it usually does. But…it was recently discovered coffee also contains anti-oxidant properties. Definitely good press.

Then there’s the weight-loss formulas on your local store shelves, and the often-accompanied E-C-A stack. That would be ephedra, caffeine and aspirin. The first two to increase heart-rate, thus upping the metabolism, and the third, for blood-thinning purposes, increasing the blood flow alongside the increased heart-rate. No wonder there were problems. Enter the herbal equivalent, as a perceived more-healthy alternative. Same effect. Ma Huang, Guarana and White Willowbark. The same stuff you find in all of your energy drinks today. With added Taurine, an amino acid that elicits the same effect. The herbal equivalent won the war on energy when ephedra was banned due to high-profile deaths that had nothing to with ephedra itself. Sure, ephedra increased the heart-rate and metabolism, but due to lack of information and improper use, the after-effects resulted in biological deficiencies; most notably, dehydration. And we all know how important water is. Ephedra got a bad rap. Moot point now.

One last note on energy drinks. There’s a new breed. 5-hour and 6-hour energy drinks. Not like the others (Red Bull, AMP, Rockstar, etc.). Unnecessary. Next time you’re at the store, look at the ingredients. It’s all vitamins and minerals. That’s what B’s are for. B-Complex. And a good night’s sleep. Which is what everyone is lacking, and the reason for hitting the wall at 3 in the afternoon. It doesn’t have to be this way. All you have to do is modify your behavior. And your attitude. After all, it’s your health.

bottom line

All of your macro- and micro-nutrients can be obtained through whole food consumption. If you are lacking in this area, or participate in athletic sports, or work out at a local gym, supplements may be in order. No, make that necessary. And definitely if you are athletic or work out, but don’t eat right. And you know if you don’t. The lack of energy will tell you so. Exercise. Aerobic and/or anaerobic. For the heart; and the muscle. You can’t lose. Except for the fat. We’ve only scratched the surface. But, like I said, these are the basics, establishing the foundation from which to begin, down the path to perfect health and longevity. There’s so much more. All you have to do is ask.