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There Are No Shortcuts

I follow a few “gym meme” accounts on social media because they are funny, and a few memes have cropped up about some guy calling himself “The Liver King“.

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His shtick was “primal” eating or something and he would eat raw meat and claim it has all sorts of health benefits (I am basing this on what others have said, I never heard of the guy until now). The guy is ripped and the message is clear: do what I do and you can look like I look.

Then to the surprise of literally no one, it turns out that he was using around $12,000 a month in steroids/HGH (I don’t know the difference).

Well, you could knock me over with a feather. Eating raw liver doesn’t make you ripped like that?

These sorts of scams appeal to people because we want something but don’t want to work for it. We want the shortcut and so we chase the latest fads, over and over. I remember as a kid when yogurt became popular and they advertised that people in Russia lived to be 100 while eating yogurt, implying that yogurt was the reason. Most yogurt now has so much sugar in it that it probably shortens your lifespan.

Over the course of the half century of my life I have seen countless “get slim quick” fads come and go. This diet or that diet, this new exercise machine or that one. The South Beach diet or Keto or the Paleo diet, a Bowflex or Crossfit or a NordicTrack. What I have learned is that there isn’t a silver bullet or a magic potion.

There is only the work.

You either put in the work or you don’t. You eat better or you don’t. While there is advice that is better than others, and it does matter what you eat and how you exercise, what really matters is doing the difficult stuff and doing it when it is difficult. It sucks getting up super early when it is cold as hell, driving to the gym in the dark and working out when you would rather be in bed. There isn’t a shortcut to doing it, you can’t stay in bed or eat like crap but still get the results you want. Every day is a struggle and every day requires a decision.

No one can do it for you and no one can make you. I need to set the alarm tomorrow for fairly early to get my workout in before I take care of work stuff. If I shut off the alarm and don’t go, that is on me and no one else. There isn’t a substitute for your feet hitting the floor, not for any amount of money.

Make your choice this weekend, do the work or don’t, get the rewards or deal with the consequences. Whatever you do, don’t blame anyone else.


  1. Jeffrey Zoar

    I overate in November using holidays as excuse and gained weight. So this week I decided to kickstart some weight loss by going fruitarian for a few days. Lost 11 lbs in 4 days. I was astonished. Didn’t think I could lose weight that fast. But that’s about all of it I can take.

    • Arthur Sido

      Ten pounds is relatively easy if you just stop eating poorly, I have been holding fairly steady weight wise most of the year while I concentrated on lifting and getting stronger but I am going to hit the diet hard after the first of the year.

  2. Jay L

    True words Arthur! I despise the 4:45am alarm that gets me to the gym before work, but I start to despise MYSELF when I slack off and there is nobody to blame for that slacking but MYSELF. Once you get to the “breakthrough” point though, you start to feel worse missing a workout than you do facing to dark, cold mornings. Your body generally tells you what it wants, it’s the brain that tries to talk you out of it!

  3. Moe Gibbs

    I’ve been in the gym life since my pre-teens, yet I never understood the whole set-the-alarm-and-work-out-at-dawn thing. Never having been a morning person, it seems like this just adds another element of suck to the at-times difficult choice to continue with an ambitious exercise regimen. Indeed, there are no shortcuts, but I see no benefit to making it needlessly tough. That, of course, is just me. You do you.

    Having said that, as important as exercise is to optimal health and physical appearance, it is still the case that diet trumps all. It is often said that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym, and that lifting is merely the icing on the [beef] cake. You can’t out-train a shitty diet, yada, yada. This I believe before anything else. To the morbidly obese I would caution, Don’t even think about going to the gym until you dial in your diet to get the ball rolling. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment and failure.

    And to the young and vulnerable I would say that it is far easier to prevent overweight than to recover from it. Obesity is the unheralded 8th ring of hell, as anyone who has been there knows.

    Having come of age at the height of the low-fat craze, I am still trying to get it through my head that the food pyramid is actually inverted. It is true that there is no one Diet To Rule Them All. But it is also true that refined sugar and wheat are particularly insidious devils in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Avoid these things and you will benefit in ways you never thought possible – my hair, teeth and nails, to name just a few, have improved dramatically since I dropped processed carbs over a decade ago.

    I try not to preach IRL, in contrast to the way that I hammer these issues online, because those who truly want to hear the message will seek it out. Everyone else buries their head in the sand and waits impatiently for that Magic Anti-Obesity Pill that science will surely one day create. “Success” stories like that of Liver Boy get him his 15 minutes of fame, but at the considerable cost of that $12k per month habit, and the serious health risks that prolonged HGH and steroid use entail.

  4. Mir

    “Their is only the work” indeed. I intermittently fast, especially during the holidays along with hitting the metal on the regular. At 64 I’m feeling pretty good and keeping the edge sharp.
    Thanks for the great content Arthur.

  5. TechieDude

    You don’t get ripped like that without steriods. Ever notice how the seriously strong dudes are more round than cut? And in general, the low amount of body fat it takes to look like that is really unhealthy.

    Diet is everything. I manage high glycemic carbs, and watch my diet and I dropped 45 lbs. I lost 12 in the first two weeks by limiting bread/rice/pasta and stopping alcohol. Beer is my weakness. Once I started back lifting, walking, and biking, I noticed my loss tapered off. I thought I was getting fatter, but it turns out my legs, butt, and waist shrunk, making my belly seem bigger that it was. It takes work and discipline.

    My squats and deadlifts, at a little over 100 lbs are a third of what I could do before cancer, when I was mighty. But here’s the deal, I lifted, and did aerobic – elliptical and treadmill. I was big, but not cut. Now that I’m older, I go easier, but I watch my diet and exercise every day.

    Every morning when walking the dogs I’d run into a dude walking at the park. He stood out for a few reasons – morbidly obese, skin color and consitency of bread dough, and wearing a newsboy type hat. Summertime, homey was a flopsweat mess. But he was there, every morning, walking. He passed by today, and I’m thinking he’s 150 lighter. My guess is he’s at or around 200 now, and looks way healthier. He’s been at it over a year, but it’s paying off.

    It takes a lifestyle change. Change how you eat, get exercise. That’s it. You starve yourself with one of those stupid diet plans, it’ll be back. BTW – When I’d porked up I asked a doc which plan would be best. He said they are all simply an iteration of watching what you eat. I know a dude that lost 60 lbs. All he did was have a small breakfast of some sort – usually a protein shake. Have a salad of some sort for lunch, and a normal dinner where he managed portion sizes. That’s it. He’s still chubby, but not anywhere near the size.

  6. Exile1981

    I lost 50 pounds in a week once, it was amaving how fast the pounds came of. All it took wassome undercooked turkey and a serious bought of samonella. Sitting on the toilet while cradling a bucket in your lap for 5 days really cleans you out.

    • Zorost

      Yah, I’ve had the “weight loss at both ends” diet a couple times in my life, and it certainly is miraculous how fast the pounds come out. I mean off.

      • anonymous

        Most of fast “weight loss” is dehydration.

        If you want to really lose the pounds, try cholera or dysentery. (in moderation..LOL)

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