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General Questions

  • Should skinny or underweight models be banned in Australia, due to the recent deaths of 2 models as reported by the media?

    It has been suggested that some minor details have been left out by the news - that these two girls died from genetic disorders rather than a result of them being underweight. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case though...personally I never take anything that the news says as gospel. Regardless of this, as a fitness professional, I still don't think that skinny models should be banned. 

    Whether these two models died as a direct result of their body weight, or not; should their death's therefore be a (misguided) justification to ban underweight models universally?

    I think not. Assuming that the media implications were misguided - just because two people died, who happened to be skinny, who also happened to be models - this could purely be coincidental. I cannot therefore justify discriminating against underweight models because of a coincidence.

    People who are underweight and suffer from a related disease, be it bulimia, anorexia nervosa and so on is a different story altogether. I am sure that there are a handful of models who sit in this category. Conversely, I am also sure that there are many models who are underweight (based on their BMI or Body Mass Index), yet have achieved a low fat level through a healthy approach to diet and exercise. Unfortunately these healthy models do not get nearly the same amount of media attention...simply because it doesn't make an interesting story. Why should these healthy models lose the right (not the privilege) to participate in an industry that they work particularly hard in, when they do not put their own health at risk?

    Frankly, I am not fond of banning models based purely on something as superficial as their BMI. A blanketed suggestion like this is totally inappropriate in today's day and age. Since the real problem (with SOME people, not only models) is psychological, a professionally administered psychological approach should be employed. A much more responsible approach to this issue would include some form of encouragement to seek counselling for those who may suffer from an eating disorder. Although this is a personal decision in itself, so the boundaries between work and personal life are a little fuzzy here. However, if a model is in a particularly risky situation with regards to his/her health, then I believe that the employer should have some responsibility to terminate the modelling work and have the model seek professional assistance.  This would be a case-by-case scenario though.

    Here's another general pecerption portrayed by the media which I feel is completely unfair.  That "underweight models" are "not real people" and that "plus size models" are "real people".  Give me a break!  Just look at the general population and you will see that people are all shapes and sizes.  There are people with smaller builds out there that can fit into smaller dress sizes.  There are also people out there who are of a larger build and therefore can relate to the plus size models.  They cater for different people, it's as simple as that.

    Whilst on the topic of "plus size models", why should "skinny models" necessarily get a bad wrap and "larger build models" necessarily get a good wrap?  Many plus size models are overweight, which can increase the risk of various diseases.  So should we therefore ban plus size models because they are at a higher risk of heart disease relative to a "normal BMI" person?  Of course not - this is pure discrimination!  Using this same line of thinking, it is completely unjustified to "ban" underweight models!

    Finally, banning models based on their BMI in the modelling industry may not seem so ludicrous considering the events that have taken place recently (at least the way that they have been portrayed by the media). But what about a slippery slope effect into other fields? Here's an example. Many athletes require a very low body fat in order to gain the greatest competitive advantage in their sport. Many athletes also suffer from psychological eating disorders in order to shed the fat. Should underweight athletes therefore also be banned? Now that sounds pretty crazy to me.

  • I suffer from chronic fatigue where I feel tired all the time. From your experiences Jay, what advice can you offer to get over this disease?

    I'm so sorry to hear about the chronic fatigue. It's something that plagued my life a while ago now and I can completely relate to what you have explained.

    My bout of chronic fatigue lasted about 8 months. It was 8 months of lying down watching television feeling sorry for myself. I didn't go outdoors, didn't interact with others outside of my own house...it was some serious isolation. I didn't realise it at the time, but looking back I invested so much time feeling sorry for my situation rather than investing that mind-power into getting better. Ultimately for me it was a mental battle.

    I went and saw a doctor (after seeing a countless number of them) and he had me on a rehabilitation program. I began by riding an exercise bike for a few minutes several times per day. Slowly I increased the duration of each workout and slowly my fitness levels increased (slllooowwwwly...this didn't happen overnight!). I was extremely underweight having a very low intake of food. But the more that I exercised, the more I was able to consume.

    Eventually I got the point where I realised that there was hope for me to revert back to a normal life. That's when the major change happened. It was all about setting goals and believing in myself. I actually believed that I could get my life back on track...and from then on in there was no stopping me. The first thing I remember saying to my parents was "I want to go and play tennis for an hour"...they nearly fainted...but I was that determined that I was going to play for an hour. Sure I struggled...but I managed.

    So the best advice I can give you is that anything is possible when you believe in yourself. No matter how bad your situation may seem there is ALWAYS a way out. Don't let yourself be your own worst enemy. It's not an easy road...but it's an easier road than suffering the consequences of not doing anything at all.

    Also, set goals. Every single day work toward those goals and take baby steps. Your first goal may be to ride a bike for 2 minutes, 5 times a day. Next day, increase it to 3 minutes. Taking one step each day will eventually lead to you climbing a mountain.

  • If I calculate my Body Mass Index (BMI), is this necessarily accurate?

    The Body Mass Index (BMI) assumes that you have an average amount of muscle mass. Any additional muscle mass that you carry relative to the average person will be treated as fat. The BMI therefore holds relevance if your body composition is situated within the norm. Often a much better indicator is your body fat reading...however the methods in determining this number yield a result with a bit of an error (+/- 2% for body fat scales).

    The BMI scale has absolutely no accuracy when it comes to bodybuilders in particular. If you have been weight training for muscle mass over an extended period of time (years), then the BMI scale really should be ignored. I for example am now overweight according to the BMI reading, even though my body fat level is below 10% (which is well below average for males), due to my resistance work over the last 3 years.

    To calculate your BMI, use our online calculator at:

  • For shredding, will going 0 carbs and 0 sugar increase your fat loss? Or just make you tired and fatigued all day?In addition, I have a knee injury from 3 years ago. Now and then it hurts a bit but I want to start squatting. I am afraid it will stuff up my knee; any suggestions? Should I even train legs? How Should I train my legs instead?

    0 Carbs will both make you fatigued and increase fat loss. However, it is not recommended that you cut out all carbs because certain functions (ie; the brain and eyes) require glucose, which only comes from carbs (sugar).

    If you are not engaging in extremely intense or long duration exercise (HIIT or long endurance), you may cut your carb intake to 2g/KG bodyweight. All your carbs can come from fruit, and low GI fruit would be even better, like berries. After 1 week of adjustment, you should feel less fatigued and moody!

    Regarding your knee- this is a whole different discussion; I can't give you an answer since I have no idea what is wrong with your knee. There are a hundred things which could be going wrong, and nearly all can be fixed up with a good athletic therapist, osteopath or physical therapist. Fix your knee and then engage in the most effective leg exercises: heavy squats (front and back) and deadlifts. Those two exercises cover every single lower limb muscle!

     Good luck to you!

  • I want to lose fat and lean up, without losing muscle or strength, is it wise to take a caisien protein before bed or should I just have a whey protein or nothing at all?

    Casein is best before bed, yes. It is slow releasing, and will help with recovery. Note that protein does not make lose fat, per say. You might use this protein as a replacement for your nightly cravings, which would be a wise choice.

    Whey protein isolate or concentrate is typically used during the day, after a bout of exercise. Again, it is a wise option because a good whey will have no added sugar, and is a healthier way of getting a recovery snack into your diet, and boost daily proteins to encourage recovery for muscle tissue.

    Both are good options to help maintain muscle. For real success pair up one or both, using 1 scoop of whey after training, plus one scoop of casein right before bed. Combine this with a lower carb diet- cut out all processed foods, and use a solid strength training program 3 to 4 days per week.

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