QUESTION: At what point did you take an interest in health & fitness?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: When I was in 9th grade, my mother surprised me with a workout bench and some plastic concrete weights -- maybe she was trying to tell me something. I was thin for my age. For about 2 years, I surprised her right back by using my bench as a bookshelf! My friends, though, all had moderate success with weightlifting by then. I was more into martial arts. It wasn't until one day, at lunch in 10th grade, that I caught the fever. That fateful day, a girl I had a crush on grabbed my arm, commented how puny it was, then it was all over -- this single incident motivated me. I was determined not to have THAT happen again (thanks, Zorica). In 11th grade I became aware of supplements and in 12th grade
QUESTION: Were you really that skinny in high school?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: Certainly. It was May of my 10th grade year -- I was 5'8" and 105 pounds. THAT is extremely skinny. I gave lifting a shot and when 11th grade came around, I was still thin, but at 145 pounds. I worked out everyday for the first month, then every other day the second month, and 3 days a week the month after that, and gained 40 pounds over summer. I stuck with a simple 36 minute workout 3 days a week for the next year and was 165 for my senior year. By Christmas, I was 175 pounds. While 175 pounds isn't a pro athlete's average weight, it sure felt better than 105! And, granted, I took my fair share of amino acid tablets, vitamins, and food that I grossly lacked previously to get there.
QUESTION: Who taught you how to weight-lift and eat better?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: At the time I unwrapped my first home gym, I had two buddies who trained all the time and two karate instructors that owned a gym. All were kind and patient enough to lend me advice and books. Their names: Joe Janus; Chris Panagarakis; Gerald Piatt; and Gordan Estlack. Wow, I haven't said those names in a while. Anyhow, I first read Arnold Schwarzenegger's Bodybuilding Encyclopedia, but realized from day one that I didn't have the time to go through two 3 hour training sessions a day, nor did I have all that equipment he talked about. I also wasn't too keen on training 2 hours a day after school with those other guys -- I was rail thin and extremely self-conscious. I chose to commit only to do what I felt made sense. Sure, eating certain foods made sense and was easy enough, but I trained with 3 sets of 6 exercises and that was all I had time for. I picked what I did from the manual that came with my bench and trained from precisely 9:00 to 9:36 each night, right before bed, alone in my room. I usually listened to a KISS album while lifting to keep motivated. It's so much fun thinking about all of that. Those were the days! Thanks for asking!
QUESTION: Is this what you recommend for beginners?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: Listening to KISS for motivation? Beginners tend to have no coordination and they weeble or wobble a lot trying to lift their weights when they first get going. It's kind of like their muscles aren't awake or oriented enough with the mental instructions to control what you're asking for. Whether a beginner should or shouldn't use heavier or lighter weights is not the issue here. Whoever you are, I suggest you use whatever weight you feel comfortable with, which is always lighter than you want it to be, but only use whatever exercises are easiest for you and a weight that's safe as well. Just learn the movements -- practice them and then when you can do your exercise without lifting one side faster than the other (tip: slow your stronger side down to keep up), you can add more weight. If you can do 20 reps slow and steady and not break a sweat or feel the need to cheat during a movement, it's time to add weight. In fact, keep adding weight each session until 10 reps are all you can perform each set. I wouldn't bother trying to see what your one rep max is on bench or anything else (that's to see how strong you really are lifting something once) until you're able to do 10 reps with AT LEAST your own bodyweight in bench, pull-downs, rows, squats, etc. This could take some time, so be patient. At least you'll know you'll be ready at that point because all your pieces and parts will have become durable. However, without putting proper fuel in the body, like a car, the engine can only go so far, so fast, for so long without petering out.
QUESTION: What is your opinion of Mike Mentzer, the bodybuilder who claimed to eat badly but was a Mr. Olympia competitor?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: I am glad that he got people taking the initiative to rethink their training methods. However, his attempt to try and mix philosophy in with bodybuilding to convince younger kids he was a forerunner in the methods he promoted was quite humorous. I mean, come on, his first book was almost a total plagiarism of Ellington Darden's Nautilus books. In some sections, complete paragraphs were stolen. See, Ellington was the mouth piece of Arthur Jones. Mike wasn't, and he was jealous. Mike worked with Arthur for a spell but he also wasn't completely honest about his relationship with Jones on many accounts. That's beside the point. Good for Mike, he was just trying to scrape by impersonating Arthur Jones. As far as his eating habits, only drug users look that good and eat badly at his age. Speaking of literary thieves, I feel the same way about Dan Duchaine. He rewrote The Zone Diet calling it Isocaloric or something, and then rewrote The Anabolic Diet, which was taken from The Atkins Diet and manifested it all together as the Body Opus Book. It's too bad they have both passed away -- we had fun disagreeing with one another via email and in public. My opinion is that if you are going to do something, do it as yourself, not as a reincarnation of someone else's work.
QUESTION: What about creatine? Beginners love it!
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: Creatine is made in the body by protein foods and minerals. Eat right and you won't need to supplement with it. Forty dollars in groceries goes much further than $40 in store bought creatine.
QUESTION: What other supplements do you feel are fruitless?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: I won't cross the street for a meal replacement, synthetic hormone, CLA and HMB (both CLA and HMB are found for pennies in real butter and raw cream), or a protein candy bar. If someone promotes these items, they are simply jumping on a bandwagon.
QUESTION: What about aerobics or cardio training for fat loss?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: I might suggest doing extra aerobics six and a half weeks before a body building competition, but aerobics are not as beneficial as many people assume they are in achieving a washboard stomach. If you eliminate foods that stick to the stomach, then the fat goes away. Aerobics are best for burning those last 10 pounds, not the first 10. So, that means aerobics do little for the obese. The more body fat you have, the less the body will burn for energy. If you do aerobics and fat isn't the source of energy your body is used to burning, muscle will be lost instead. This, in turn, will make you appear even fatter. Aerobics are definitely good for the heart, but weight training is heart healthy too, and I have a number of clients doing no aerobics at all but they make far more progress than people who dedicate hours to running and riding stationary bikes (LifeCycles). Eat right and you won't need to exercise so much, unless you are completely inactive; otherwise, I'd put aerobics aside.
QUESTION: Does sport specific training really make a difference? And does one sport require more detail than another?
Nutritionist Don Lemmon: Rarely. A boxer should build their shoulders, calves, and forearms up more than a baseball player would. I often have athletes learn to field, bat, punch, kick, and throw from their weaker side to enhance the coordination of their stronger sides (football, tennis, et al. apply). But all sports still require short, brief, intense, and specific training sessions to develop strength, not skill. Skill is enhanced by participating in the sport of choice. Someone who's into endurance might want to train less often rather than reduce the time of their training. Of course, diet is what gets everyone through those exceptional activities. Every single athlete I have worked with performed much better because they reduced their amount of regular training and changed the way they looked at food.
For Don Lemmon's Interview Regarding Nutrition: CLICK HERE