The Dichotomy of Health and Fitness
Savage / Zen Newsletter | No. 072
There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
~ Carl Jung
Recently several prominent BJJ world champions were stripped of their titles and given suspensions for using PEDs (r). It's no surprise, grappling is almost as dirty of a sport as cycling – which is saying something! At the same time I have a YouTube video littered with comments asserting that if the greatest no-gi grappler of all time were not using PEDs he would suck.
The strangeness of the "health and fitness industry" being unanimously wed together has drawn my attention again. The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, but they are more convergent at the low end and inevitably diverge at the high end.
There are a lot of sexy sculpted bodies in carnivore-land (!). However, the metrics for "fitness" seem to have not yet caught up to the logic of "health" standards. For example, a great deal of medical and nutritional recommendations are normalized based on a generally sick and unfit population. By the same token a casual lifter's athleticism is relative to who they are comparing themselves too; the same sick population?
There are, of course, exceptional athletes like Shawn Baker; who I'd suspect would be equally exceptional whether he ate a few blueberries or not. There is also the legendary rock climber and base jumper, Steph Davis, who has always been a loudly outspoken vegan. I can promise her next feat won't be any less awe-inspiring if she drinks a glass of milk beforehand.
I'm not trying to dote on anyone's progress or minimize the changes they've made. Truly, kudos to you for doing anything at all – "normal" people don't. Since I haven't competed in two years, I suppose I fall into the "normie" category as well. In short time I will be tasked with helping athletes who perform at a level I can't. In fact, I can't come close to it.
Nevertheless, we can distill "health" down to biochemical metrics that have correlates to longevity (life). Obviously, living longer gives you more time to practice, to become more "fit" for a given task.
Ronnie Coleman (the headline photo), was "fit" enough for the task of bodybuilding that he won Mr. Olympia 10 times. A simple Google search will tell you how healthy that level of "fitness" was (r).
We have a limited amount of cognitive bandwidth and time to use it. Some amount of academic investment is useful (i.e. podcasts and books). However, keep in mind that you can get a PhD. faster than a black belt in BJJ. I could bio-hack my life away to "ideal god-like-equilibrium" levels of micro-nutrients and peptides ("health"); and the effort to learn that would take away time from motor skill development ("fitness") that I personally value more.
At a base level there are trade offs; getting healthier and more fit often accompany each other. The same is true of losing fat and gaining muscle – very hard to do unless you're particularly undermuscled and overfat. Additionally, you probably won't set a deadlift PR the same day or week or month you run a marathon (unless you're a complete novice or exceptionally competent at one of those).
If you are healthy (enough) and fit (enough) to fulfill your desires, I applaud you and am even envious of you; because my thirst is endless.
H&S was the first brand deal I ever made; talking to a real person rather than filling out a form before they were a household name. Then the Liver King "scandal" broke. Then came the canned responses from H&S promising to "distance themselves from (Brain)."
Except, he and his wife own the company. It's going to be hard to distance yourself from not only your supply chain, but your owner. At any rate, this wreaks of a Belcampo-like deceit (r).
As I've said before, there are reasons and use cases for supplementation:
Convenience (work travel, vacation, camping, etc.)
Access (shipping, logistics, and legality)
There's nothing wrong with trying to turn a profit on something when it's presented with transparent information. I have nothing against Paul Saladino. In fact, he's been a huge influence and I think he's extremely intelligent, and I've stopped listening to his podcast for over a year now because the tone has dramatically changed.
The actual reasons listed in the H&S newsletter referenced above weren't totally off base, but my problem is with the aforementioned tone and messaging:
"You don't need whole foods, take supplements instead!"
News & Updates:
Along with the move to Substack, I did some re-branding. Logos and thumbnails are now congruent with my YouTube channel. Similarly, “The Cultured Warrior” title has been dropped since the symbolism and duality is just as easily captured by the handle I already use everywhere else; Savage/Zen.
I’m almost done with the re-write of my Tier 1 general training program; which will be the first release in the paid content category. Some of these things used to be free, now they’re less free — I set the payment tiers to the literal lowest Substack will allow, since, as DMX said:
“It ain’t even about the dough,
it’s about gettin’ down with what you stand for yo!”
The re-writes will focus more on training than nutrition. Reflections on and publication of my personal training and programming will remain free; the lessons that coalesce into a generic training template will not.
However, included in the Substack subscription will be support threads to discuss and personalize said generic programs — my goal is to foster education and exploration, not withhold a holy grail to exploit people for.
Fly free and die hard,