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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Comments

Alan

Thanks for this! A lot of those look really great. "The Theory of Fun for Game Design" is one that I'm ordering soon. I'm really interested in it. I didn't even know about that one about Half Life 2, I'll have to check it out.

Thanks again, this is a good list with a few titles that I wasn't even aware of.

Martin

Rather off topic, are there any speed reading books you would recommend?

Mike

Also off topic: I'm also curious to know how you managed to read all those books. How much of it was skimming versus skipping versus reading?

I noticed Big Beyond Belief on your book list. How long have you been doing it? What do you think?

Scott Miller

When I say I "speed read," it means I skim past the stuff I already know, and thoroughly read material I do not know. With health/fitness books, for example, there's a lot of the same material that's repeated in most of the books, especially in the early chapters.

And as I've said before, I will knock out 40+ books a year as audio books that I listen to just driving to work, and running errands. If you haven't gotten into audio books then you have an easy way to increase your learning quotient just by making your drive time useful. Almost all of the fiction books I read, which isn't many per year, maybe 20, is via audio books.

I did Big Beyond Belief for two months, but it's too much of a high volume workout, while I prefer maximum intensity workouts. I'm currently using an "X-rep" workout, from the book, Ultimate Mass Workout. Another book on my list, The New High Intensity Training, will be the workout I start for next year. As you know, switching workouts is a way to prevent your body from adapting to routine. To stimulate muscle growth, you need to keep changing things up and shocking your muscles with new challenges. And while I'm no bodybuilder, muscle growth and maintenance is one of the best preventative measures a person can take for extending a non-feeble lifetime. Just look a Jack LaLanne. ;-)

Michael Labbe

Scott, thanks for the book recommendations last year. Specifically, Positioning and Patton on Leadership were both great titles. I mostly read technical books, but I was able to put both of these to great use and it has helped structure and find purpose for my small company.

In addition to those two, here are books I've read this year that I enjoyed (technical books to the end):

- On Writing Well
- Persuasive Business Proposals
- Emotional Design: Why We Love or Hate Everyday Things
- Data Structures and Algorithms with OO Design Patterns in C++
- Windows Sockets Network Programming
- TCP/IP Illustrated vol 1
- HTTP: The Definitive Guide

As far as fitness goes, I found The Body Sculpting Bible for Men to be a good reference check on my form for free weight exercises. (Yeah, I make games and I'm a health nut, glad I found your blog!).

Anders Højsted

I think the main reason why stories in games finally are getting some attention in gamelitterature, is because so many games look alike. Linear FPSs (or Multiplayer FPS in WW2) are in abundance and they can't really make graphics a distinguishing factor anymore. You have to be really into graphics to see the difference between Halflife 2, Doom 3, Farcry or any of the rest of the bunch. The levels also look the same (sewer, ventilation-shafts, caved-in with monsters, a level where you start without weapons etc.), so they have to look elsewhere. Alongside this someone has finally realized that storytelling is an artform and that a good story takes a helluva lot more then just an idea for a setting, a protagonist, an antagonist and a lot of baddies to kill. Most writers know this, but way too many developers lets everybody pitch in on the story. But why should the head of marketing be allowed to write parts of the story, when he's not allowed to code part of the game?

Anon

There aren't many books I can read in two days, which is your average. Were the fitness books all pictures and the remainder all aimed at people younger than fifteen?

PaG

[rant]

If games are all starting to feel the same (and they are), then designers shouldn't start to look elsewhere to correct this, they should try to make their games not feel the same. Adding a story to the same old game won't change the fact that's it's full of gameplay clichés. Trying to improve a game with bad gameplay by adding a story is like trying to improve a bad movie by adding bigger special effects -- in the end that's not where the problem is and nothing is solved.

Screenwriting has been battling clichés forever, it's time we do the same with our gameplay. A FPS set in WW2 with a sniper riffle, a machine gun and a rocket launcher in which you kill countless German soldiers in linear levels is a cliché. It's as much a cliché as a chinese movie about a martial artist avenging his master murdered by ninjas. Gameplay clichés are as bad as story clichés -- avoid them both.

[/rant]

AdamW

There's other ways to make your drive time (or public transport time, in my case) useful, of course...I fear your intake of music must be slight, Scott :). You'll find me on the train most mornings listening to something either painfully hip or hideously embarrassing (I'm sort of an *either* the Delgadoes *or* Patsy Cline person), while attempting to learn Japanese.

PaG - no, but writing a damn good story into the game from day 1 and making it really part of the game itself is an excellent way to make the gameplay better. The storyline being useless and tacked on three days before the master is pressed is part of the *reason* half the games on the market seem exactly the same.

anon - people read at different speeds. The more you read the faster you'll read, but there'll probably always be people who read faster than you. I can read an average-sized novel (350 hardback pages) in five or six hours, if I like it enough. If I hate it, it'll take a few days.

Gabby Dizon

I've gone through the 2nd edition if Game Design: Theory and Practice, and I recommend the book. Richard Rouse has a good grasp of the theories and enough development experience to put meat into the practice part. Plus, there are some really interesting interviews with designers such as Will Wright, Sid Meier, Doug Church and Jordan Mechner.

I'm interested in buying the Difficult Questions About Videogames. Has anyone else here read it?

Torgo

I'd recommend "Secrets of the Game Business" and from the year before, "Game Design Perspectives". Especially read the Quality Assurance chapters.

/plug /plug /plug

Scott Miller

Those are good books, Targo. There were a lot of good gaming books released in 2003, such as Rules of Play and Chris Crawford on Game Design. Rules of Play is the best yet I've read. It's quite academic in style, but digs deeper into the nature of fun and play than any other book. Possibly Raph's book will bump it from my top spot.

Anon, a lot of the fitness and martial arts books I read DO have a lot of pictures and can be very quickly consumed. Feel better now? But the real key, again, is the audio books, which adds 45-50 to my yearly total. I'm never frustrated by slow traffic anymore. I also loan these audio books out to co-workers and family members, who also love them. My wife is totally hooked on them now, and always has one going in her car.

Justin

Pag beat me to it. I was going to say the same. There's a strong focus on game story telling. IMHO story telling is not a weak point in games. There are games with good stories, and people may disagree with my examples: shenmue I and II, Metal Gear Solid 2, San Andreas to an extent. But take away the story from these games, at least the latter, and you are left with good games that were already fun.

IMHO where games should be going is not better stories (although they won't hurt), but more characters on screen, better AI (I don't mean complex AI, I mean believable simple behaviour), and emergent gameplay.

By emergent gameplay I mean giving the player, and the AI, interesting toys that they can play with, and then let the player and the AI between them generate gameplay. This requires a solid game world, where the players expectations of what will happen, will match what they try and do.

I was somewhat dissapointed with HL2, which was a game that in demo form looked like it was going to do that at some level.

Eric

"I also loan these audio books out to co-workers and family members, who also love them."

Yes, Scott keeps me hooked up with audio books from time to time. Right now I'm reading Testosterone Inc: Tales of CEOs Gone Wild, something pretty different--The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse, and of course Genome War on CD which Scott passed off to me.

Like Scott, I consume quite a few books per year. Here's a growing list, which I need to update soon. :-)

There's quite a few popular science titles. I actually find these to be more stimulating towards game development than game development books themselves. Many other industries have struggled throughout history with the problems currently facing the game industry. It is my hope that in our research we can stand on the shoulders of giants.

Julien

Scott, (or anyone else interested)

In you booklist I saw some books like "Guns, germs & steel", "don't know much about geography" and other books about evolution & history.

since I read these books also, i can say that anyone who is in to this should absolutely read

" A short history of nearly everything" from my favourite writer, Bill Bryson.

In this, he gives a extremely comic, though accurate eplanations on how earth and it's continents was formed, how dinosaurs were extincted, how atoms are built, where humans come from, how yellowstonepark was formed and how it can destroy the earth as we know it, how big the universe actually is, how we calculated how old the earth is, what trilobites are etc. etc.

The most comic AND interesting book I ever read.
Anyone who doesn't find it its money worth, will get his money from me :).

Scott Miller

Julien, I got the audio version of Bryson's book about a year ago. In fact, Eric above, a co-worker, recommended that one to me and it's absolutely one of the best history/science books I've encountered, and as you said, highly entertaining thanks to Bryson's unique style. I loved his book so much that I went on to listen to ALL of his other books, too, which mostly relate to his travels around the world. Having lived in Australia for five years (my high school years, in the 70's), I loved his tour down under in his book, A Sunburned Country. I also loved his book in which he tackled the Appalachian trail, A Walk Through the Woods. He narrates all of his audio books, and I think it's the best way to get the real flavor and interpretation of his thoughts.

Just finished another superb audio book, Ghost Divers. Totally riveting account of the discovery and exploration of a unknown German U-boat in dangerous deep waters, at the very limit of human dive depths. This is a must read for anyone into German WW2 history and/or scuba diving. This represents the kind of book I love most, in that it is all real life events, but packed with more drama and twists than most fictional stories.

Anon

Scott wrote: "I also loved his book in which he tackled the Appalachian trail, A Walk Through the Woods"

I know exactly what you mean. In particular his travelbooks are incredibly funny.
Perhaps some more titles to add to the list on the list over there? ->

no, I don't get a euro/dollar for each book he sells :)

Gabby Dizon

Wow, Scott. I just saw a Google ad for your blog. If I may ask, why are you advertising it?

Scott Miller

Gabby, I've tried to cancel that ad for six months, but Google won't let me. So I've been having to deny charges on my credit card each month!

I started the ad a week or so after starting the blog, just to build up awareness -- back when I started I was getting maybe 25 hits a day. Those ads are fairly cheap, something like $20 a month. But I'd love to cancel it but Google will not let me log on with my user name and password, and that's the only way to contact them. There appears to be no way to contact them if you cannot log onto your account. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. So, I keep getting free ads, and it just takes a phone call to my credit card month to deny the charge.

Gabby Dizon

Interesting!

Robert Howarth

Scott,

What are your personal fitness goals?

Scott Miller

Robert, that's not quite the right question. The truth is I've already achieved my "fitness" goals, which includes 8% bodyfat, relative high cardio endurance, and substantial muscle for my age (I can squat 340 x 8 reps).

More important to me are my life long health goals. Since the late 90's I've researched all I can regarding supplements and longevity oriented health matters. I take over 150 pills a day, from vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, essential fatty acids, phyto-nutrients, amino acids, and many others that are nearly impossible to get through daily foods.

Of course, this will sound wacky insane to anyone who's not into health and who doesn't understand the importance of supplements. Years ago, too, I thought all you needed was a good multi-vitamin.

But the proof is in the results, and I have a check-up twice a year with a longevity specialist, who measures over 140 vital stats, from hormone production, to inflammatory markers, metal toxicities, cholesterol, vitamin levels, liver function, blood pH level, cellular hydration, diabetes, several cancer markers, and a whole lot more. It's called the Kronos test (http://www.kronoscompany.com), and any doctor can get your blood sample and send it off to this lab if you want. My levels are all at an optimum level, of that of a 32 year old (I'm 43 years old). Another test you can do for yourself is www.RealAge.com. (I scored 33 years old on this.)

People wonder if all of this effort will all pay off. Well, I feel as healthy as I did in my 20's, and I'm as fit as I've ever been in my life. I never get colds, and I'm always complimented for looking younger than I am. Jack Lalanne is something of a role model, as he began exercise and supplements in the 1930's, and at 90 years old he's still very active and as fit as most people in their 50's.

The primary goal is to live a healthy, non-feeble life. Longevity is entirely secondary, though I expect to reach 100 without any problem if I keep this up. My primary concern to to stay active and independent for as long as possible.

I've gotten several of my friends and family members on a similar program, and my father, for example, who used to be on statin drugs for cholesterol after having a mild heart attack a few years ago (he's 68), is off those drugs and his doctor is shocked at my dad's improved heart condition, with a reversal of plaque and a cholesterol level well below 200. His heart doctor doesn't understand the value of the supplements I put my dad on, but he says it worked a miracle and to keep on doing whatever it is he's doing. Nowadays, my dad hikes and climbs the tallest mountains in the USA.

It's just more fun being fit and healthy.

:)

150 books a year :O, I kan only read about 1,5 a year. :( I'm never getting in the games industry :(

Robert Howarth

Scott,

I didn't know you were that_into it. :)

I was a amateur body builder for around twelve years; now I just hit the gym a few times a week to do cardio, stretch and casually lift. I gave up on the whole extreme diet/lifestyle part of it, but I still eat 'relatively' well and take suppliments. I'm not 8% bodyfat anymore (grin), but after a couple years break I might get back into it again.

The Joe Wieder books are really good if you're into the whole getting pumped up lifestyle.

As far as longevity goes, a lot of that has to do with genetics. Although living well seems to work well for you. :)

AdamW

"But the proof is in the results, and I have a check-up twice a year with a longevity specialist, who measures over 140 vital stats, from hormone production, to inflammatory markers, metal toxicities, cholesterol, vitamin levels, liver function, blood pH level, cellular hydration, diabetes, several cancer markers, and a whole lot more. It's called the Kronos test (http://www.kronoscompany.com), and any doctor can get your blood sample and send it off to this lab if you want. My levels are all at an optimum level, of that of a 32 year old (I'm 43 years old). Another test you can do for yourself is www.RealAge.com. (I scored 33 years old on this.)"

Scott, I hate to sound like a cynic, but do your longevity specialist and the Kronos company by any chance sell any of these wonderful pills whose results they measure and validate? :)

Julien

I thought my 45 books on the past year was a lot.
150 books!

Now we know why DNF isn't here with us yet :)

Scott Miller

Adam, the answer is no. I buy supplements from a variety of unconnected third-party makers, such as Garden of Life, New Chapter, Bluebonnet, and many specialist companies, like Longevinex. But you're right in that there's a lot of so-called supplement experts that sell their own line of below-par supplements. These tend to sucker in those who are poorly educated on the subject.

Robert, I'm something of an anti-Joe Wieder fan. IMO, the guy has done far too much harm to the bodybuilding industry (not that I consider myself a real bodybuilder, though I go to the gym four times a week -- only weights, never cardio). His mags are mostly bad advice, and you'll notice they never take a hard look at any of the supplements sold in them. In fact, his mags often own the supplements being sold! Plus, the high volume systems he promotes has long ago been proven incorrect by true researchers such as Arthur Jones (the inventor of Nautilus). I use Jones' high-intensity workout, later refined and taught by Mike Mentzer and and others. I highly recommend Jones' famous article from the early 70's, Nautilus Bulletin #1. This perfectly describes my method of workout.

BTW, genetics has very, very little to do with reaching 100 years old -- that's a common myth. It IS true, though, that some people have a genetic predisposition for certain illnesses, such as MS. BUT, these can be most avoided through proper nutrition. When the body is mal-nourished -- as most peoples' bodies are -- then these potential problems are FAR more likely to manifest themselves, and of course people blame genetics.

Our bodies are merely a complex chemistry set, and if a few chemicals are in short supply, over time the entire system degrades. This is what causes MOST people to die prematurely. For the most part, we are ALL born with the capacity to live beyond 100 -- it is mal-nutrition (poor chemistry maintenance), negative habits (smoking, drinking), and lack of exercise that leads to early deaths.

Justin

Bill Bryson's books are great. I used to read his newspaper articles when I live in England, and I've read all his books except his new science one.

The book Walk in the Woods I found to be the funniest, as he picks probably the worst person in the world to go on a long wilderness hike with. The guy is stupid and lazy, and in that environment pretty dangerous to be with.

I also like his European travel book, can't recall the title. Mostly because in every country he just goes into a pub or restaurant and gets drunk!

Eric Lulie

Scott, what one health/fitness/nutrition book would you recommend to someone looking to re-build their fitness after a very long hiatus from being even remotely healthy? :-) I know someone who might be interested...;-)

Anders Højsted

As a scientist I'd like to know whether you've isolated the the nutrition as the cause of your good health or the exercise?

150 pills/day sound like a lot to me; are you positive that you couldn't achieve the same goals just by exercise and healthy eating?

/Anders

Scott Miller

Here's the best nutrition plan I've found on the web.

I recommend high-intensity strength training, which builds cardio endurance as a side benefit, and does so better than most cardio focused workouts. For example, I NEVER do cardio, yet I can easily run 5 miles at 6.5mph pace. An hour of strength training provides a cardio benefit that completely blows away the hour I spend in martial arts class. Cardio is also damaging to joints, especially running. You can build all of the endurance you need from proper high intensity strength training.

I recommend the book, The New High Intensity Training, which is linked under my Recent Reads.

Scott Miller

Anders,

When it comes to health, I'd say nutrition is 80 percent of the equation, but it's hard to separate nutrition from exercise since they're intertwined in many ways. For example, exercise benefits a person's immunity by helping to circulate the lymphatic fluid, which, as you know, is double the volume of a person's blood supply, yet relies on body movement for circulation (especially muscular contractions) since this system doesn't have a heart-like pump. The immunity system is also greatly boosted by nutrition, such as certain mushrooms which are proven to boost human natural killer cells by 300 percent.

BTW, I eat extremely healthily--probably better than 99.999% of the population. However, it's not possible to obtain the broad spectrum of beneficial nutrients through diet alone, without greatly exceeding caloric limits, and thus getting fat. Also, certain supplements can only be obtained in a healthy manner via pills, such as resveratrol, which is the most beneficial molecule within red wine that has given rise to the well publicized French Paradox. The problem is that alcohol, despite claims of being a stress reliever in moderation, is toxic to the body, as numerous reports have confirmed. Most of my supplements are basically from foods, btw.

Robert Howarth

>>For example, I NEVER do cardio, yet I can easily run 5 miles at 6.5mph pace.

How do you know if you never do cardio? ;)

Seriously though, the no cardio concept confuses me if your intention is to live a longer and more mobile life. Don't you want a healthier, stronger heart?

Scott Miller

Robert, high intensity strength workouts have proven to be *more* beneficial for the heart that typical cardio workouts. The extreme heart rate raising intensity of strength training cannot be matched by most cardio workouts I've seen. Plus, as I noted, cardio tends to burn away muscle if done for over 20 minute stretches, at the rate of one gram per five minutes. That's a tragic loss that should be avoided at all costs, as muscle mass carries with it dozens of positive health benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, stronger bones and tendons, higher metabolism, disease resistance, improved flexibility, and increased motor skills.

And occasionally I do have the chance to test my cardio, and so I have a very good feel for my cardio endurance. For example, during my martial arts testing last Friday, after a 15 minute intensive cardio-style class warm-out for all of the black belts, I was the only person in the room not huffing for air. In fact, I was breathing normally, mouth closed. And during sparring sessions I always easily outlast my partners. And the reason is that no one else in my class does strength training, and the cardio workout they get during martial arts classes is feeble compared to what I go through lifting weights (which DOES cause me to huff and puff, and make my heart feel like it's going to explode).

BTW, in the 70's, the military did a cardio vs. high intensity strength training test. After the 12-week program, the people who did the strength training (and no cardio), not only gained more strength than the cardio group, but that also outperformed the cardio group in the endurance tests. I'm sure you can find a link to this with a little looking. I've read it in several books, such as Mentzer's High Intensity Training, published a few years ago.

Robert Howarth


Ah you're a Mentzer fan, no wonder. :)

Personally I dont think of cardio and weight training as an either/or. I'm really not concerned about retaining muscle mass, I do cardio more for a general sense of well being and a way to warm up.

Scott Miller

I'm much more of an Arthur Jones fan than a Mentzer fan -- practically everything Mentzer writes about came from Jones, and can be found in Jones' Nautilus Bulletin #1, which I linked to above. Mike Mentzer was a Jones "student" for a while, and in fact Mike's brother, Ray, was the better practitioner of Jones' high intensity training.

Building muscle is by far the better way to lose bodyfat, versus cardio. That's my key takeaway point from this discussion. When you build muscle, you raise your metabolism and your body merrily burns more fat all day long, everyday, whether you've worked out or not. When you rely on cardio workouts only, then you only burn fat during the workout.

Additionally, when you do a strength workout, your body maintains an extra elevated metabolism for 24-36 hours, while a cardio workout only elevates the metabolism for 2-4 hours after the workout is complete.

As anecdotal evidence next time you go to a gym, notice that the lean people (on average) are lifting weights, and the not-so-lean people (on average) are on the cardio side of the gym. Cardio is simply an inferior way to get fit and lose bodyfat.

As someone who only did cardio my entire life (and continually gained bodyfat as I grew older, despite my cardio efforts), I personally had the fat melt away once I shifted to lifting weights and stopped doing cardio. And since making this shift (about 20 months ago) I've read many books and articles that explains very clearly why this should have been expected all along.

Justin

Wow, that's a real eye opener to me. My 'fitness goal' (to quote the over priced gym terminology) was always to lose weight and have that 'sense of well being' that was mentioned above. I used to do mostly cardio with maybe a 15-20 minute session with weights. I've never really considered strength training since I always thought it was more of a vanity thing, to look like popeye. Seems there's more benefit to it that I thought.

Robert Howarth

Scott,

Are you sure it isn't the suppliments giving you the energy? I remember how stuff like Ephedrine used to give me an edge on my workouts and energy level in general (well, while it was legal at least).


Justin,

Gyms are pretty cheap once you pay off the initial membership. I work out at Bally's for $6 a month. :)

Scott Miller

Robert, my supplements don't provide any significant energy. And I do not take supplements that in any way have a danger factor, like ephedrine. None of my supplements are weight loss related -- all of that stuff is BS for the uneducated masses.

I take natural stuff like fish oil (EPA & DHA essential fatty acids), milk thistle, grape seed extract, proanthocyandins (dark chocolate, pine bark extract, and other sources), bioflavonoids (from citrus fruit), lignans (flax and sesame seeds), catechins (green and white tea), indoles (comes from kale, brussels sprouts, etc.), sulfur compounds (such as garlic and MSM), bee pollen, cinnamon (keeps blood sugar levels low), blueberry extract, cherry extract, many spices like tumeric, ginger and oregano, fiber (several types), probiotics (healthy gut bacteria), and many dozens more. Everything is natural and comes from healthy foods.

The caloric total of all of these supplements might add up to 100 cals per day -- hardly a significant source of energy.

John Reese

I would rather live to be 65 years old without taking 150 pills a day than live to be 100 by taking the pills. If you lived to be 100 you'll be cramming 3,120,750 pills down your gullet from now till that day. I'd be willing to bet several of those pills havn't been proven to do any of the things they say they do on their lables. I cannot imagine your freaking medicine cabinet. I bet you have pills all over your house, in your office ect.

I've personally never met you, and I don't mean this as an insult or slur in any way, but this all seems very narcissistic to me. It also seems like your terrified of your own mortality. To each his own and I'm certainly not in a position to judge you, but I eat pork, fried foods, smoked for 20 years (recently quit), never take a multi-vitamin and I feel fine. I'm 47 and enjoy my life. I may drop dead tommorow, but I'll continue to enjoy my life as long as I have it.

I think the "Quality of life" factor is much higher without cramming pills down your throat all day long. There's a fine line between being healthy and being a health nut.

Once again, not judging you, I love you site and respect your opinion on everything but this. :)

Scott Miller

John, as I said before, longevity is not the issue, it's being as healthy and as active as possible while alive. Longevity is merely a side benefit, because healthy people tend to live longer. I usually take my pills while driving to work (only takes five minutes to take them), and while driving home from work. Once a month I spend about an hour preparing the packets for the coming month, so that's really my only time investment. So it really doesn't eat up much of my time at all, as I consider driving dead time anyway.

As for the effectiveness of what I take, it's all been very well researched, and new research appears weekly in respected medical journals.

BTW, you're just now reaching the age where your hormones are in sharp decline (they provide a tremendous protective benefit that can cover up many bad habits) and chronic diseases begin to win their battles. Most people who get on longevity programs typically start in their 60's, after a major illness scare, such as getting diabetes or a heart attack. But there's a growing number of people -- 10's of 1000's -- who, like me, are taking steps to prevents these chronic aging conditions from taking root in the first place. Eighty percent of it comes down to nutrition (and trans fat filled fried foods are one of the poorest nutrition choices you can make -- trans fat is a man made mutation that hardens arteries, raises cholesterol, raises blood pressure, and a dozen other evils). Supplements, which are mostly from healthy foods, like green tea, blueberries, and broccoli, fill in the holes that you cannot possibly cover each day by eating healthy food alone.

Jack Lalanne, still extremely healthy in his 90's, started supplementing in the 1930's, and still takes over 200 a day. He's perhaps the pioneer of food supplementation, and so far providing a good showcase of its benefits. And the thing is, we now know 1000 times more than when he started about supplements, so anyone starting nowadays will likely see even more benefit than he's experienced.

The bottom-line is that it's all about personal choice: Do you want to live a long, healthy, active, non-feeble life? If so, nutrition MUST come into play, and supplementation is a subset of nutrition. And getting started early is by far the best choice you can make, as it's an investment not unlike a retirement savings account. An early start allows much more time for the benefits to accrue like compound interest. Too many people, as with their retirement investment, only begin to care about healthy nutrition and supplementation when 50+ years of avoidable damage has beaten down their body.

Robert Howarth

Not to get too gross, but are you able to even digest that many pills a day? When I used to take vitamin packs (sorry for the image in advance) you could tell a lot of it just went right through your digestive system unprocessed.

Justin

Hey Scott

I'm pretty interested in this health care stuff you've been talking about. My own background in health has been regular gym use, lots of sport etc. Regarding nutrition I was brought up eating a lot of fresh vegetables lightly cooked and I'm lucky that a lot of the food I like is actually considered good for you.

Two questions.

When did you start taking supplements and exercising? I'm wondering whether your current good health is contrast to your past or whether things have improved for you.

My other question is about the mercola.com website you referred to. One thing that worries me is how commercial that site appears. For example click here to get 7 entries to win a cruise, get 40% my other book etc etc. It looks so much like spam it's hard to take the guy seriously. Or am I over-reacting?

Scott Miller

Robert, I have zero problem digesting these pills. Keep in mind, most are merely highly concentrated components of food, and your body digests them as normal. However, many cheap supplements, such as the type you're likely to find in common grocery stores, are full of binders and cheaper versions of the nutrients, that do NOT digest easily. For example, the cheap version of calcium, calcium oxide, is poorly assimilated by the body, yet most multi-vitamin supplements found in grocery stores use this version of calcium rather than the more costly versions that are better absorbed, like calcium citrate.

Practically all vitamins and minerals have cheap/bad versions, and good versions. Most people taking vitamins and minerals unknowingly take the crap versions, because they're cheaper and most stores rely on consumer ignorance by providing these cheap versions.

Justin, I've been supplementing since 1998, starting back then with about 20 pills a day, and have modified/improved/expanded my supplements since that time as I've learned more, and as new research points to new supplements worth taking.

What *REALLY* kicked me in the butt, though, was a kidney stone that gave me quite a scare about two years ago. I was 196 pounds at that time, with a bodyfat level near 30%. I was not exercising and my eating was horrible: fried foods, tex-mex, diet sodas, coffee with sugar, french fries, limited selection of vegetables, lots of processed bread and grain foods, and snack foods.

So I decided to turn things around and I began to self-educated myself on nutrition, exercise, health, supplements, and eventually learned about the anti-aging movement, subscribed to several online groups, newsletters, and so on. I've read countless books and articles on health in the last two years. Plus, for the past year I've been working with an anti-aging specialist. (Keep in mind, "anti-aging" or "longevity" merely means staying healthy for as long as possible, and preventing diseases from taking root in the first place. There's no cosmetics applications, surgery, etc., it's 100% about nutrition, exercise, and supplementation to fill in the gaps that nutrition cannot.)

My health has done a complete 180 since two years ago. My www.RealAge.com has gone from 48 to 33 (I'm actually 43.) All of my healthy bio-markers have gone from poor to excellent, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides, free testosterone, metabolism, bone density, cellular hydration, cellular oxidation, and dozens others. I truly *feel* as well as I have my entire life, and I'm more fit than I've ever been -- I feel like I'm in my mid-20's, always full of energy, never tired during the day, etc.

As for www.Mercola.com, yes he sells a lot of product, but none of it is his own. He simply makes it easy to buy many of the great products he's found and uses himself, and I've checked into many of them (and use many of them), and they are truly the best of their kind available. Also, what he says is in full agreement with many of the best doctors I trust, and so Mercola, IMO, is definitely one of the good guys. I link to him a lot merely because he's the best resource on the Net. There are dozens of books I can recommend, but that would require a lot more investment by the reader.

Justin

Thanks Scott

My wife and I have decided to make much more of an effort to improve our diets. I have a two year old son and often life tires both of us out to the extent that it is so easy to pick up a macdonalds or something instead of getting proper food.

By the sounds of things, if we were eating better and doing strength training we would have more energy to buy and prepare food. And it will be great for him to grow up on a good diet instead of discovering it for himself in 30 years!

Justin

Scott Miller

Justin, leading by example really works. My kids (two boys, 9 & 13) refuse to eat at fast food restaurants, and they eat very few unhealthy snacks, and do not drink sodas or fake healthy drinks, like Gatorade and Fruitopia. They never get french fries as their side "vegetable," and will always ask for a real vegetable, one not fried and battered beyond recognition. They also know not to eat too much bread, and to always ask for whole wheat if it's option.

I've not taught them any of these habits explicitly. They've learned from watching me, and asking questions. I never drink alcohol, and hopefully they're learning from that, too.

I also set limits on the amount of time the spend in front of the TV, and they both go to karate 3-4 times a week. Get your kid on the right track young, and most of the good habits/values will stick with them their whole life. McDonald's knows this as a fact, which is why they spend billions going after young kids -- more often than not winning the battle. Few parents fight back.

Justin

That's awesome.

Yeah McDonalds do target my little guy to the extent that McDonalds and Coke are probably the only two brands that he knows.

I gave up drinking alcohol once for five years but now I drink small amounts occasionally.

I've started strength training at the gym today and will check out the books you recommended on that and nutrition.

Dave Wood

I took my 6 year old nephew to McDonalds tonight and got him a happy meal. He smiled the whole time he was eating it. He never does that when I put asparagus on his plate.

Bottom line....

Tastes Great
Heathy

Pick one.

I'd rather chow down on a Ribeye steak and eat the fat, drown a couple of baked potatos in butter and enjoy it than live a life of eating bird seeds, popping pills, and missing out on all the great food the rest of the world is eating.

This is just my personal opinion and has no basis in fact at all. I just love good fattening food.

Blake Grant

As was mentioned before, don't forget that taste is (pardon the pun) a matter of taste. If your 6 year old nephew grew up eating asparagus and never touched anything like McDonalds, in all probablility, later in life it would taste better to him than a McBurger.

Scott Miller

Dave, it's a huge misconception that healthy food tastes bad. My daily diet includes about 25% fat, as much or more than most people get per day. The trick is that I do not eat heat processed fats (included practically all store bought salad dressings -- I always use olive oil and vinegar as a dressing), no trans fats (which you'll find in practically all junk foods because trans fats have the longest shelf life), and very little saturated fat (with the exception of extra virgin coconut oil -- I eat a tablespoon of this each day, usually in my oatmeal, instead of using butter). Heat processed (pasteurized) oils and fats are damaged and and no longer safe to consume as your body cannot use them properly to form new cells or hormones. There are only a handful of oils that you can use to cook with because they have a high "smoking point," meaning they are only damaged/mutated at high temps, above 400 degrees typically. Olive oil, coconut oil and macadamia nut oil are three good cooking oils.

I go out to eat everyday for dinner and always have a great, tasty meal. And there's no bird seed in sight.

As for your nephew, if he continues eating the way he is now, he'll almost certainly die 30-40 years earlier than he otherwise would, and have a much less active life. And don't expect to see Ronald at his funeral.

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