My passion for bodybuilding has shaped my interests and expanded them into many areas—from anatomy to diet and nutrition to the nature of motivation. I would like to revisit some of the books and people who have influenced my path.
First, of course, would be Peary and Mabel Rader and Iron Man, which was the first bodybuilding magazine I read and the one I personally identified with. I liked the way the Raders saw “bodybuilding” as part of a bigger picture, not an isolated end in itself. I felt that Peary and Mabel were pioneers on a mission, and because of them I became an evangelist.
I was always looking for sources of information that would enhance my training. In 1962 I read the seminal book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, now regarded as one of the top scientific books of the 20th century. I was studying environmental engineering at the time, and a professor mentioned it. I read it and for the first time realized how the food chain worked and the effect that pesticides—then principally DDT—have on all living things.
Next came Vince Gironda, who was a pure “physical culturist.” His pursuit of perfection was combined with innate intelligence and a remarkable intuition that led to creative “jumps” that were truly revolutionary. In 1966 Vince introduced me to a couple of books that, in fact, were the sources of his evolving concepts of optimum bodybuilding nutrition.
Not by Bread Alone was written by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, an explorer who lived with the Inuit and observed their perfect health from eating only whale meat and fat. He became a great proponent of low- and no-carbohydrate nutrition.
The other book was Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS, who was called the Charles Darwin of nutrition. The book was the result of his studying primitive peoples and their diets. His conclusion: Most of the ills of Western man were due at least in part to flour and sugar. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration was written in 1939. Thanks to the Price-Pottenger foundation, it is still in print.
The concepts of bodybuilding nutrition had their basis not in the lab but in the observations of anthropologists, who were able to observe cultures untouched by the Western diet. Unfortunately, we didn’t learn anything about the dangers of flour and sugar, the two most experimental foods in our evolutionary diet. There is a reason for the epidemic of obesity, diabetes and other diseases we are experiencing in the United States—the amazing amount of sugar in its many forms and flour that the average American eats. Add to that the unnatural feeding of corn to cattle and poultry, and you have the nutritional time bomb that we see exploding today. IM