Michael McLoughlin, Springbok bodybuilder and owner of Active Attitude in East London shares his personal views and philosophies on health supplements both in everyday life and sport. Feel free to ask Michael any questions you may have by commenting on his article.
The way we view health and wellness in everyday life or competitive sport is a direct spin off from our life philosophy or lack thereof.
Without a life philosophy it would be sheer hit and miss as to what values, morals and beliefs would help guide and propel us forward in any positive and meaningful way. A health philosophy would be directly dependent on our life philosophy as a supporting structure in order to have any hope of long term success.
What on earth does philosophy have to do with health supplements?
Philosophy is the study of factors relating to reality, existence, values, beliefs, knowledge and psychology.
Taking a closer look we can say ‘it is the pursuit of wisdom using intellectual and moral applications’ and the ‘set of beliefs relating to a field of activity’. It is a critical study of a particular field of knowledge.
Now apply that view to health and supplementation.
In order to get a better understanding of why and when to supplement I would suggest you apply the four following keys to your health philosophy.
Develop a healthy lifestyle. Understand how your body operates. What it requires to function at optimal level and its specific needs to reach your health or sporting goals. Your body is your soul’s vehicle, without it you are going nowhere! Better put, the journey will be very limited without proper servicing.
Sound nutrition and food preparation are vital. This is where you can determine what supplementation you could use and when to apply it.
One shoe does not fit all, but one thing is certain, exercise is vital. Find the exercise program that is specific to your needs, that is practical in terms of time, effort, design and measurable results.
Health and wellness:
Collate all the information you deem essential.
If it seems like a lot of hassle then just take a moment and reflect on what is at stake here?
A poor health philosophy would result in a corrosive lifestyle that will almost certainly cause a mechanical breakdown in one or more of your bodily systems affecting your quality of life at best and end it at worst.
I offer my personal training clients and general public at large a lifestyle analysis that that has proved to be very effective. It is a simple test that just requires the client to be as honest as possible on their current lifestyle and then after close scrutiny suggestions are made that include supplementation if need be.
That said let’s get back to you and your needs.
There are really basic questions that you need to answer namely:
What is my health/performance goal?
Is my current lifestyle conducive to my goal?
Is my nutritional intake sufficient or do I need to supplement?
If so, what supplements, why and when do I take them?
Is the supplement use a bid to boost performance (eg. Creatine monohydrate) or to ensure an adequate supply of say protein/carbohydrates to make up any shortfall?
Are my expectations realistic?
Is there any rational or scientific data to back the claims of the supplements?
Could these supplements be harmful to me and what scientific or rational data allows this conclusion?
Can I afford the supplements or am I just creating a financial burden?
Is the brand and supply of product reliable?
In all honesty, I believe that supplementation really helps competitive athletes if used for specific purposes that are valid and with sound reasoning. Even your ‘regular Joe’ or house wife have applications that are absolutely valuable in nature when used for specific reasons. A once a day vitamin and mineral would also be a good idea unless there was a medical condition present. In fact it would always be a good idea to bounce the concept off your G.P. as he generally knows more about your health status than you do. It is just unrealistic for me to say that I did not need the supplementation used, when competing as I could feel and see the difference in the long run. Before the naysayers shoot me down in flames I will also say that there is no silver bullet.
It was about lifestyle, lifestyle and lifestyle.
Now that my competing is over guess what? It’s is still about lifestyle, but just not as rigid.
I still train 6 days a week at a fairly high intensity, high enough to keep the 2013 NABBA junior S.A Bodybuilding champion, Jason Wood on his toes. Nutrition is one of the pillars of my health philosophy and yes supplementation is part of it.
As I said supplementation is very specific in its purpose so I take them to limit any short comings in my daily requirements.
Once again let me emphasize the need to get a basic understanding of how your body works, educating yourself so as to put the myth and legend of what is right or wrong for you aside.
Food choice is critical as is its preparation. The type of exercise you do and the frequency, intensity and time spent doing it must be sustainable.
Remember super doses of micro nutrients like vitamins and minerals is really not what it is about. That’s just downright silly. Balance is the key.
Read, watch documentaries or better still do a personal trainer course even if you have no intention of that particular career line. The knowledge you will gain from it is invaluable, giving you an informed ability to make your own decisions.
Supplementation if done with wisdom is an asset in your health/sporting armoury.
I hope this article will assist you the reader and where I have not discussed particular supplements my intention has been to give you an alternative view on the merits and benefits of the concept of supplementation.
Michael McLoughlin owns Active Attitude Health & Fitness Centre in East London. He achieved Springbok colours for bodybuilding in 1993 and competed at International level representing his Country. He won the IFBB SA Overall Bodybuilding title in 1999.Michael specializes in purpose specific training working with athletes over a variety of sports codes, from beginners to competitive level, incorporating mental skills training and body conditioning.