"Beat the flu to a bloody pulp."

“Beat the flu to a bloody pulp.”
by Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of: “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums,Apollo Fitness Barbados, & NarkSide Apparel.

October 12th 2009

Hi all. As you guys may have heard, I’d recently been rendered infantile by some killer bug. I really thought this was it for me this time around.

“Drama queen”?

Far from.

I’ve had dengue fever four times thus far, two episodes being within weeks of each other last year. This episode of God-knows-what was far worse than any bout of Dengue fever that I’d ever had. So, I was mentally preparing myself to kick the bucket.

I don’t normally rush to the doctor when I’m feeling infirmed, but this time around… I did.

I was loaded up on antibiotics, and a bunch of other crap… that left me feeling worse and worse as the ailment progressed.

Over a week passed, and I was still feeling like absolute crap. Each day, my friends and peers would be asking me “How do you feel?” “Are you any better?” My answer each day? No.

I mean hell, aren’t medications supposed to make you feel better?

A friend told me “well maybe the medication isn’t working… Maybe you need to go to the doc again for more medication, or a different prescription”. My dad echoed the same sentiment.

It was on one of these really bad days, while waiting to meet St. Peter at the pearly gates, that I experienced a should’ve-would’ve-could’ve moment of absolute clarity.

“Maybe the medication ISN’T working”.

Maybe, it never really works.

Maybe we over-medicate, and under-estimate the negative effects of doing so.

Maybe we over-apply drugs, while under-applying supplements, sound dieting knowledge, and basic common sense.

Don’t get me wrong… The point of this article isn’t to bash the medical field, or to suggest that you stop taking your medications.

The point of this article is to provide an alternate view… as well as a supplementary approach towards the maintenance of optimal health. Yes… even during flu season.

Disclaimer: I’m a chronic asthmatic… and I have been for 26 years. Yes, I’ve used diet, exercise, supplements, and common sense to beat my asthma. However, please note once more: I am NOT suggesting that you stop taking medications.

Intro to the flu

Influenza (typically called “the flu”), is a viral infection. Viruses are small infectious organisms which need to enter a living cell to replicate. Viruses hijack the host cell, altering the cell’s normal functions.

Sometimes this hijacking results in cell death. Sometimes, viruses simply leave some of their DNA behind. When the cell is agitated/activated, by whatever standard metabolic process, the virus may begin replicating again… causing disease.

Our body has a number of defenses against, and responses to, viral attacks.

For one, when viruses enter the body, they trigger an immune response. Should we survive a viral infection, some our white blood cells (the cells which attack and destroy the virus, and infected cells) ‘remember’ the virus… thus they’re able to to quickly identify and rectify subsequent infections by the same virus. This process is called immunity.

In this article we’ll discuss how one can fortify and support these defensive and response-mediated mechanisms.

I won’t be separating this suggestions into sections… as some of these measures are both preventative and reactive.

Strike 1: Load up on Phytochemicals/Phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients are biologically active protective chemicals found naturally in plants. The nutrients are contained in the chemicals responsible for the colour of the fruits and vegetables we

eat. As colours are easily recognizable, dieticians often suggest that dieters eat a range of colours. This allows for a a range of phytochemicals… and, subsequently, a range of benefits.

Some phytochemicals are immune-boosting.
Some are metabolism-boosting. Some are antibacterial, while others are antiviral. Still others prevent against oxidative damage… while supporting cellular repair.

All of these benefits are of particular interest during the flu season.

Examples of foods high in flu-busting phytonutrients:

Foods containing the chemicals sulforaphane, isothiocyanate and idoles:
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage, kale
  • cauliflower
  • bok choy
  • watercress
Foods containing the chemical Allium:
  • onions (all kinds)
  • garlic
  • leeks
  • shallots
  • chives
Foods containing chemicals called anthocyanins:
  • berries
  • plums (and prunes)
  • red grapes (including derivatives: raisins, grape juice, and red wine) cranberries
  • pomegranates

Foods containing the chemical lycopene:
  • Tomatoes (and tomato products)
  • watermelon
  • pink grapefruit
  • Apricots
  • pink guavas

Food containing chemicals called carotenes:

  • Carrots
  • pumpkins
  • mangos
  • apricots
  • cantaloupe
  • sweet potatoes
Foods rich in Vitamin C and related flavanoids:
  • citrus fruits
  • peaches
  • nectarines
  • pineapple
  • papaya

Foods rich in lutein and related phytochemicals:

  • green beans
  • avocados
  • kiwi fruit
  • green peppers
  • honeydew melon

Foods which are rich in various (other) types of phytonutrients:

  • Seeds (e.g. flax seeds)
  • Tea
  • Cocao/Cocoa/Chocolate

NB: We’ll discuss more of these foods in the “anti-inflammatory section of this article”.

Strike 2: Avoid pro-inflammatory foods!!!

As stated in my earlier article “You are what you assimilate”, gastric and intestinal irritation can negatively affect health. Thus it would make sense if one cut out all sources of gastric irritation if disease is to be treated and/or prevented.

Examples of Pro-inflammatory foods:

  • Food high in sugars
  • Heavily processed carbohydrates
  • Grains (in people who are allergic to grains)
  • Dairy (in people who are allergic to Dairy)
  • Fatty Red meats (and foods high in arachidonic acid and omega-6 fatty acids)


Strike 3: Add anti-inflammatory foods!!!

If inflammatory foods are correlated to an increased risk of illness, then it can be said that anti-inflammatory foods may reduce your risk of illness. Furthermore, should illness manifest, they may speed recovery… or, at the very least, reduce the subsequent discomfort felt during the period of convalescence.

Examples of Anti-inflammatory foods:

  • Bananas (Bananas can correct ‘leaky gut’, thus preventing nutrient malabsorption).
  • Berries (Berries add quertin, an immune-supporting anti-oxidant, as well as other phytochemicals and fiber)
  • Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids (Flaxseed oil, fish oil, fatty fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds etc.)
  • Soy protein/Tofu/Soy Milk (Research shows that foods high in soy isoflavones may reduce systemic inflammation).


Strike 4: Stock up on supplements!!!

B-complex vitamins: Stress mediation.

The b-complex vitamins:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin or niacinamide)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine/pyridoxal/pyridoxamine/pyridoxine hydrochloride)
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin)
  • Vitamin B8 (inositol)**
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamins/cyanocobalamin)

Viruses enter the body via a number pathways. Some viruses are stopped in their tracks almost immediately upon entry. Generally the factor which influences the severity of the manifestation of a viral invasion is immune health. Stress is a factor which can negatively impact immune health.

Enter the b-complex vitamins! During times of stress, b-complex vitamins are heavily utilized by the cells of the body. This can make the body more susceptible to sickness. Logically their supplementation should reduce the risk of illness. Even where illness manifests, b-complex vitamins can help mitigate feelings of lethargy and fatigue… they may also positively affect headaches which manifest.

Suggested dose: 800 mg per day

**NB: Inositol, has been de-classified as a ‘vitamin’. However, for the purpose of this article, it’s been included.

Dietary Fiber: Does more than “keep you regular”

As shown in my earlier earlier “You are what you assimilate”, intestine health heavily affects immune health and function.

Keeping everything regular and free-flowing is necessary where both preventing illness, and dealing with illness is concerned.

With reference to illness which have already manifested, maintaining digestive health may prevent the overgrowth of bacterial agents… which, if allowed to proliferate unimpeded, may make an already crappy bout of the flu even more so.

Suggesed dose: 30 grams per day
Echinacea: Wonder herb?

Wonder herb indeed!

This herb has been shown to reduce the virus-induced secretion of pro-inflammatory chemicals. Its effects don’t appear to be limited to specific viruses either! To the contrary actually, as a study showed that inflammation-inhibitory effects were prevalent even in the presence of viruses such as rhinoviruses 1A and 14, the influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus types 3 and 11, as well as the herpes simplex virus type 1. Echinacea has also showed potent virucidal activity against viruses with membranes, thus indicating its potential as a multi-functional flu-fighter.

Suggesed dose: 1000 mg, thrice daily (during periods of illness).

NB: I only suggest using echinachae during times of stress and illness. It’s very effective on the short-term… but less so on the long term.


That’s right!

Research shows that the herb ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc) might have potential clinical applications as a preventive agent against (and therapeutic application for) influenza infection. We aren’t however discussing the small amounts one would consume in herbal infusions. Effective dosages for this herb are in gram amounts… so the application of a powdered form of this herb is necessary.

The plus side?

It’s really cheap.

Suggested dose: 3gr per day
Horehound: Egyptian expectorant.

The herb White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) is very effective against coughs. It acts as an expectorant as well as a soothing tonic to the throat. The herb’s use has been documented as far back as ancient egypt. It’s natural, versatile, and importantly, DOESN’T TASTE LIKE MEDICINE!

To me, that latter point is the most important.


No thanks!

Suggesed dose: 10 to 40 drops of the extract in water, 2 lozenges, or 1-2 grams of dried herb or infusion, three times daily (as needed).
Vitamin C: The go-to guy?

Vitamin C… the first thing most people reach for during cold and flu season. However, the jury is out as to whether vitamin C is actually useful in flu prevention. That being said, studies have shown that mega-dosing can reduce the severity and duration of influenza episodes. Anything that can reduce my downtime is gold in my book! My suggestion? Stock up on it!

Suggesed dose: 8000mg-10,000 immediately at the onset of illness; 3000-5000 mg per day during the flu season.

Vitamin D: The go-to guy’s bosom-buddy

Vitamin D doesn’t come to mind when most people think about preventing/treating colds and flu. However, some schools of thought actually attribute the development of influenza to Vitamin D deficiencies. Whether is actually the case is yet to be established. However, studies do show that people with low serum levels of vitamin D report more cases of cold or flu. So it would appear that fortifying one’s vitamin D levels may significantly reduce the risk of influenza infections.

With regard to optimal dosing, studies find the current RDA to be ineffective for flu prevention. Dr. John Cannell, in his paper “Epidemic Influenza And Vitamin D“, hypothesized that a dosage of 5000 IUs per day may prevent influenza.

NB: The current RDA for Vitamin D is 400IUs.

In 2008, the Public Health Agency of Canada started study investigating the role of vitamin D in severe seasonal influenza. In 2009 this organization publicly stated that it would be adapting said study to the H1N1 virus.

My suggestions? Do some ‘practical investigations’ of your own! This is another supplement I’d stock up on during the flu season.

Suggesed dose: 35 IUs per pound of bodyweight.

NB2: For a 140 lb female that’d be 4900 IUs. For the 180 lb male, that’d be 6300 IUs.

Whey Protein: Not just for muscle-building.

Cold-processed whey protein isolate sits near the top of the muscle-building supplement pyramid. However, we’re not looking at this supplement as a muscle-builder today. No, today we look at whey in a different light… that of an immune-booster, as well as an easy-to-digest food substrate. The latter property is of special consideration, as the nutrient malabsorption is a common occurrence during times of illness.

Whey’s immune-boosting properties are highly documented. The ingestion of whey protein has been shown to drastically increase levels of the antioxidant gluthatione in tissue… particularly that of the heart, liver, and spleen. Dröge and Breitkreutz (2000) stated:

“The immune system works best if the lymphoid cells have a delicately balanced intermediate level of glutathione. Even moderate changes in the intracellular glutathione level have profound effects on lymphocyte functions. Certain functions, such as the DNA synthetic response, are exquisitely sensitive to reactive oxygen intermediates and, therefore, are favoured by high levels of the antioxidant glutathione.”

NB: “Lympocytes” are a type of white blood cell which has two primary forms/functions: the production of antibodies in the humoral immune response; participation in cell-mediated immune response.

Suggested dose: 20% of allotted calorie intake. [Bounous & Gold (1991)]

Zinc: the “Terminator” of trace minerals.

“What are you talking about Nark?”

I’ll tell you what I’m talking about!!!

If Arnold Schwarzenegger was a mineral, he’d be zinc-coloured. Seriously!

Zinc is involved in numerous metabolic processes. You think of it, and zinc’s involved. The mineral plays a crucial role in literally hundreds of enzymes and biological functions. Where it isn’t the primary character, it’s the co-factor to the primary character… playing the supporting role in numerous biological processes.

Here’s a short-list of this mineral’s call to fame:

  • Necessary for growth and cell division
  • Necessary for fertility (via regulating the activity of the reproduction system)
  • Improves perception of taste, smell and appetite
  • Essential for skin, hair and nail health (Zinc participates in skin regeneration)
  • Active in the maintenance of healthy vision
  • Necessary for the synthesis of insulin
  • Active in the process of blood formation
  • Contributes to the timely healing of the wounds
  • Maintains the proper functioning of immune system (particularly where the T-cells are concerned)

To say that this mineral is a power-house would be an EPIC UNDERSTATEMENT! Added to its obvious immune benefit is its ability to stop diarrhea in its tracks! Diarrhea is often one of the most uncomfortable and inconvenient parts of influenza infection. With zinc, you avoid having to add more medicines to your arsenal. Kiss Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol good-bye!

Suggested dose: 50 mg per day
Other Supplements worth investigating:

  • Allium sativa
  • Panax quinquefolium
  • Eleutherococcus senticosus
  • Andrographis paniculata
  • olive leaf extract
  • Isatis tinctoria
  • Sambucus nigra
  • larch arabinogalactan
  • Astragalus membranaceous
  • Baptisia tinctoria
  • vitamin A
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • DHEA

Referee’s notes!

You are NOT a victim… so you’ve no reason to throw up your hands and act like one. There are many measures which one can implement to prevent illness, as well as to speed recovery from illness. My suggestions?

Take advantage of the above suggestions from the very first sign of illness. Hit it hard, and you just may succeed in knocking those little germ bastards out!


Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of:
NarkSide” Fitness Forums
Apollo Fitness Barbados
NarkSide Apparel


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Feeding Your Feelings: Overcoming Emotional Eating

Feeding Your Feelings: Overcoming Emotional Eating
By M. Sunset Sealy
[edited by Narkissos]

NarkSideSept 14th, 2009

I had a pretty rough week last week. In between family emergencies, personal trials and business difficulties, I felt just about ready to kill someone.


My gym routine failed all week, and my eating habits were a complete mess.

If I ate three good, solid meals all week, I ate a lot.

When my appetite did choose to rear its head, I realized that I was craving things like ice cream, chocolate, or lasagna.

You know what I mean: the comforting, fattening, feel-good crap.

Luckily for me, time, money or situations did not allow me to indulge… but the entire experience really got me thinking about how easy it is to “feel hungry”.

It REALLY made me realize how moods and emotions, influence (and/or control) how and what we eat.

Heck, by the time you calculate how much time you’re going to have to spend on the treadmill to get rid of that stupid indulgence, you’ve already had 1000 depression, heartache, anger, or boredom-lace calories.

AND, top it off, you feel guilty to boot.

Good going.

“Yay me!”


Many of us (and I’ll be honest here, I’m mainly addressing women even though men are at fault as well) fail to realise that food not only fills our stomachs… it satisfies our feelings.

And, if we don’t pay close attention to this, we are liable to eat the wrong things whenever we feel like.

Major life events — such as unemployment, health problems, the death of a loved one, relationship issues and divorce — and daily life hassles — such as a stressful work commute, bad weather and changes in your normal routine — can trigger emotions that lead to overeating.

But why do negative emotions lead to overeating?

Some foods may have seemingly addictive qualities. For example, when you eat enticing foods, such as chocolate, your body releases trace amounts of mood- and satisfaction-elevating hormones. That “reward” may reinforce a preference for foods that are most closely associated with specific feelings.

Related to this is the simple fact that the pleasure of eating offsets negative emotions.

One thing we must always realize however, is that these good feelings are only going to last a short while… and then the negative feelings return. Along with them comes a real and pressing hunger… because you have eaten nothing substantial.

Food can also be a distraction.

If you’re worried about an upcoming event or rethinking an earlier conflict, eating comfort foods may distract you. But again, this distraction is only temporary. While you’re eating, your thoughts focus on the pleasant taste of your comfort food, and then, when you’re done overeating, your attention returns to your worries. You now bear the additional feeling of guilt as I mentioned before.

“Yay me!” part 2!!!

*double sigh*

It’s something that we become introduced to at a very early age. Jane Jakubczak, a registered dietitian at the University of Maryland states: “Oftentimes when a child is sad, we cheer them up with a sweet treat. This behavior gets reinforced year after year until we are practicing the same behavior as adults. We never learned how to deal with the sad feeling because we always pushed it away with a sweet treat. Learning how to deal with feelings without food is a new skill many of us need to learn.”

So how do we combat this? First of all, it is important to recognize the differences between emotional hunger and physical hunger.

1. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually.
Physical hunger doesn’t just jump out and attack you like a stealthy ninja. Physical hunger is something that builds as time goes by. If at any point you are ‘suddenly’ hungry or ‘suddenly’ need to have a certain thing, this is a craving, driven by emotions.

Shut. It. Up!

2. Emotional hunger tends to be specific.
“I’m so hungry. The only thing that can fill me now is a double chocolate chip ice cream sandwich!”

Well if that’s the only thing that can fill you now that you’re ever so hungry, you’re just eating to quiet down whatever it is that’s really nagging you.

When you are eating to fill a void that isn’t related to an empty stomach, you crave a specific food, such as pizza or ice cream… and only that food will seem to meet your need.

I’m sure you’ve experienced it.

You may even have tried eating something else, but only when you eat that one particular thing, are you honestly ‘satisfied’.

When you eat because you are actually hungry, you tend to be more open to options.

3. Emotional hunger is impatient.
You want it, and you want it now. Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly with the food you crave; physical hunger can wait.

4. Physical hunger has a limit.
Even when you are full, if you’re eating to satisfy an emotional need, you’re more likely to keep eating. Your brain almost ‘disconnects’ from your stomach and emotions, and only when your feelings have settled will you stop.

When you’re eating because you’re hungry, you’re more likely to stop when you’re full.

5. The guilt. Oh God, the guilt.
Emotional eating can leave behind feelings of guilt: Immense, intense guilt.

Eating when you are physically hungry does not.

Now that we know how to identify the sneaky bastard, how are we going to manage the emotional eating?
One of the most important things is to try to recognize what triggers this kind of eating in is.

Try to pay attention to what you’re going through at the time you decide to drown yourself in a tub of rocky road.

Keep a food journal: Write down what you eat, when you eat and why you eat it.

As time goes by, you may begin to see a pattern emerging that will tell you where the emotions kick in and therefore where you start losing your head for the sake of your stomach.

Try to find other things to do to occupy your mind. Instead of unwrapping that kit kat, take a walk, go see a movie, listen to music, read a book, play a video game or call a friend.

If you think that stress relating to a particular event is nudging you toward the refrigerator, try talking to someone about it to distract yourself. Make a list of things that you can do instead of eating and try to stick to this list.

Call in the troops if you have to: Make your friends aware of your goals and stick together. Sometimes a little help can go a long way.

As hard as this next tip may be, you’re just going to have to suck it up and do it:

Yes, I said it. Stop picking up that tub of ice cream “just in case company comes over”.

Stop buying bags of candy “for the kids”.

Who are you trying to fool? The fact of the matter is that if it’s not there, you won’t eat it.

Go do some knitting while the urge passes. Don’t go grocery shopping when this feeling hits you either. If you feel hungry or upset, postpone the shopping trip for a few hours so that these feelings don’t influence your decisions at the store.

Don’t skip meals!
When you miss your regular meals, you’ll find it much easier to binge, especially if something is bothering you. Eat at your regular hours as much as you possibly can.

After all this is said and done, it really does just boil down to being focused, staying in control of yourself and making a conscious decision not to fall off the wagon. It’s never worth it in the end.

Stay Strong!

Client of:
Apollo Fitness Barbados

Narkissos’s killer shape-up tips!!! Part 2

Narkissos’s killer shape-up tips!!! Part 2
by Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of: “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums,Apollo Fitness Barbados, & NarkSide Apparel.

September 2009

Summer’s just about over in my part of the world. As a result, the gyms are seeing less and less patronage. But I mean hell, just because summer’s over doesn’t mean that you don’t need to ditch “operation lean and sexy”. i.e. Opportunities to show off that hot body don’t dry up because the weather changes. Keep that in mind my friends!

“Lean & Tight” is sexy year-round!

With that in mind: Having followed part 1 of this series, I’d fathom that you guys should be primed and ready for ‘level 2’. So let’s get to it.

(NB: For Tips 1-3, see this link: http://www.getnarked.net/forum/showthread.php?t=9992)

Get competitive!

Research shows that adding an element of competition to an endeavor can increase an individual’s levels of commitment, motivation, and enjoyment, of said activity[1][2].

Personally, I’ve found that the addition of some competition tends to be the catalyst: turning a good work-out into an absolutely awesome one.

The great thing about competition in the gym, is that it can take on so very many forms.

On squat day, it can take on the form of “largest number of quality reps achieved at [insert weight]”.

On cardio day it take on the form of “fastest outdoor sprint” etc.

There’s just SO much that can be done.

Don’t have a training partner? Borrow one.

That’s right… Borrow one: Walk up to the person who you most want to look like, and (politely) ask if you could work in with them for the day… and, try to keep up.

Should that person not be interested, you’re left with the option of mimicking the person’s work-out from your corner of the gym… attempting to exceed everything that they’ve done.

Heck, there really isn’t even a need for another party… oftentimes I compete against myself.

“How the hell do you do that Nark?! Damn your guru dribble! Dammit. Dammit. Dammit!”


(Sorry… sometimes I honestly crack myself up. I can honestly hear some of you saying exactly that lol.)

*clear throat*

Continuing: Beating yourself.

This really isn’t as psychotic as it sounds. Well, maybe it is in a sense.

Basically, this requires that you constantly surpass every total you’ve logged in previous work outs.

e.g. If you Squatted 200 lbs for 5 sets of 10 reps (i.e. 50 reps total)… Then I expect you to try to achieve 60 reps in the follow-up workout.

If you’ve done weighted hill sprints up a 50meter incline in 20 seconds… I expect you to push to complete it in 15 seconds. etc.

Compete and WIN!!!

You’ll continue to win even after you’ve left the gym.

5. Be One-sided!

I’ve found that most people tend to have one side of the body which is bigger and stronger than the other. Additionally, a lot of people (namely sedentary individuals) have issues working/recruiting certain muscle groups.

The solution to each of the above problems?

Uni-lateral work.

i.e. Working one side of the body (via single-arm, or single-leg exercises) at a time.

Single-leg/Single-arm exercises can be GREAT plateau blasters as well.

I find unilateral training works so very well because it places heavy demands on the target musculature… as well as the core musculature used in maintaining torso stability.

“But Nark… Don’t ‘normal’ barbell movements place heavy demands on the target musculature?”

Sure… It does.

But oftentimes standard lifts, particularly where a muscular or postural balance already exists, tend to recruit secondary support musculature.

Basically, the body seeks the easiest route via which the exercise can be completed.

Unfortunately, ‘easiest’ isn’t necessarily optimal for our purposes. Oftentimes imbalances are simply exacerbated.

That’s where unilateral work comes in.

“Ok, ok… So what exercises can I incorporate?”

I’m glad you asked really.

Instead of Barbell Squats, work quadriceps with:

  • Dumbbell/Barbell Lunges (either static or walking lunges)
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • Dumbbell Step-ups

Instead of Dead-lifts/leg-curls/hyper-extensions, work hamstrings with:

  • Single-leg Dumbbell Dead-lifts
  • Single-leg Hyper-extensions
  • Single-leg Standing/Laying Leg-curls

Instead of Barbell Rows and Lat-Machine Pull-downs, work the muscles of the back with:

  • One-arm Dumbbell Rows
  • One-arm Pendlay Rows
  • One-arm T-bar rows
  • One-arm Dumbbell Pullover
  • One-arm Lat-machine pull-downs

Instead of Barbell shoulder presses, work the muscles of the deltoid complex with:

  • Single-arm Arnold presses
  • One-arm Lateral Raise
  • One-arm Dumbbell/Cable Front Raise
  • Single arm Dumbbell Overhead press

For biceps, ditch the barbell curl, and instead use:

  • One-arm Dumbbell Preacher curls

For triceps, opt for the:

  • One-arm overhead dumbbell extension

For calves, try a single-leg variant of any calf exercise you’re currently doing.

Remember this line from the the preceding article? “Make it random… make it hard, make it interesting.”

Step it up!

6. Stop counting reps


Don’t be.

Yes, I’ve said in previous sections and articles “beat [insert number] repetitions!”.

However, I’m really not one for numerical fixations… as my clients and training partners soon realize.

Why not?

While structure (via working through specific pre-set rep ranges) is great, it can set some people up for failure… and I’m not talking about the good kind either.

The mind is very powerful. Still, it’s heavily influenced by the commands and concepts we allow to filter through.

If you approach a challenging weight with a preconceived number of repetitions in mind, then you WILL shut down (mentally and physically) at that number… even if there’s a possibility that you could’ve gotten another 2 or 3 repetitions on your own.

These two or three missed repetitions are often the difference between success and stagnation where fitness is concerned.

So my tip? Think more, but think less.

i.e. Project free will into your set… and ditch numerical fixations.

Previously I used to imagine myself doing a set prior to actually executing the set. In so doing, I primed my body to follow my mind.

Now a days, I just leave my mind blank… ‘cept for the safety protocol running in the background which (via enforcing proper exercise form) prevents injury.

Other than that, it’s just me and weights, repping until absolute failure.

Try it.

You might just like it.

Turn your limitations off!


-Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of:
“The NarkSide” Fitness Forums

Apollo Fitness Barbados
NarkSide Apparel


  1. Tauer, John M.; Harackiewicz, Judith M. The Effects of Cooperation and Competition on Intrinsic Motivation and Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol 86(6), Jun 2004, 849-861.
  2. Reeve J., Olson B., Cole S. Motivation and Performance: Two consequences of winning and losing in competition. Motivation and Emotion, Vol 9, No. 3, 1985, 295.

Narkissos’s killer shape-up tips!!! Part 1

Narkissos’s killer shape-up tips!!! Part 1

by Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of: “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums,Apollo Fitness Barbados, & NarkSide Apparel.

September 2009

I’ve been told that I draw people to me when I step into a gym. Gym owners and gym-goers alike tend to gravitate towards whatever I’m doing, most of the times emulating what I do when I’m doing it. At first it was very, very odd. I mean hell, sometimes it seems like a dance scene from High School Musical 2. Having pondered over it quite a few times, I’ve come up with the reason.

I simply have a motherload of FUN when I’m at the gym.

No matter how gruelling the work-out, I have a blast. So, the purpose of this article is to share some of the tweaks and tricks I use to make it fun for me.

All Aboard!!!

1. Get in the groove.

A lot of the time I work out in silence… Namely because I find the experience to be a cleansing one. You know, because being in the office, commuting, and even being at home can be annoyingly loud.

However, there are times when I’m in the mood of music.

Music can be empowering (where a boost is needed), and it can be distracting (where distractions are warranted). Each of my music moods is different… So my playlist differs accordingly.

During hard cardio for example, I’m a hard rock fan.

During long-duration cardio, I like steady-state grooves.

There really isn’t a need to limit your music taste to your workout mood either, as many external factors tend to influence one’s work-out. Heck, many of us exercise to mediate the stress caused by these external factors. So, why not use music to support that process?

e.g. If you’re having an “unpretty” day, where you feel insignificant, make sure your playlist includes songs like:

  • “Beautiful” (Christina Aguilera)
  • “Legs” (ZZ Top)
  • “Portions for Foxes” (Rilo Kiley)
  • “Baby Got Back” (Sir Mix-a-Lot)
  • “From a distance” (Bette Midler)
  • “Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic” (The Police)
  • “Lovely Day” (Bill Withers)
  • “September” (Earth, Wind & Fire)
  • “Social Butterfly” (Kim Herold)
  • “Bonafied Lovin” (Chromeo)
  • “Calabria” (Enur)
  • “Disturbia” (Rihanna)
  • “Just Dance” (Lady GaGa)
  • “Summertime” (New Kids on the Block)
  • “Desperado” (Linda Ronstadt)

2. Be random as hell.



“What are you talking about Nark?”



From weights, reps, range of motion on exercises, exercises themselves, the order of exercises, type of cardio, straight sets, to drop sets.

It doesn’t matter what… just mix it all up!!!

Make it random… make it hard, make it interesting.

We’re incredibly adaptable creatures. Surviving in this constantly-evolving world requires exactly that.

So why would we approach fitness any differently?

Consider stagnation in the gym being akin to going extinct. Let’s not go the way of the dinosaurs!!!

Here are a couple examples of my mix & match approach to training.

A mixed and matched workout split:
(Weeks 1-2)

  • Monday: Legs
  • Tuesday: Abs & Cardio
  • Wednesday: Chest; Delts; triceps
  • Thursday: Calves & Cardio
  • Friday: Back; Biceps
  • Saturday: Cardio
  • Sunday: Rest

Weeks 3-4:

  • Monday: Chest & Triceps
  • Tuesday: Lower Back & Hamstrings
  • Wednesday: Cardio
  • Thursday: Quadriceps & Calves
  • Friday: Back & Delts
  • Saturday: Cardio
  • Sunday: Rest

Weeks 5-6:

  • Monday: Lower Body
  • Tuesday: Cardio
  • Wednesday: Upper Body
  • Thursday: Cardio
  • Friday: Lower Body
  • Saturday: Cardio
  • Sunday: Rest

A mixed & matched Chest workout example:

Chest work-out 1:

  • Decline dumbbell Presses: 10 sets (of 10 reps):

Chest work-out 2:

  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets (of 6-8 reps each set)
  • Decline Fly: 3 sets (of 8-12 reps each set)
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 3 sets (of 12-15 reps each set)

Chest work-out 3:

  • Flat Barbell Bench press: 5 sets (Set 1: 10 reps; Set 2: 10 reps; Sets 3-5: 1-6 reps)
  • Vertical Bench Press: 3 sets (of 10 reps each set)
  • Flat-bench Cable Flies: 3 sets (of 10 reps each set)

Mixed and Matched Cardio sample:

  • Monday: Interval training (e.g. intermittent sprinting and walking)
  • Tuesday: Continuous Low-to-moderate Intensity (e.g.
  • Wednesday: Interval training
  • Thursday: Continuous Low-to-moderate Intensity
  • Friday: Interval training
  • Saturday: Continuous Low-to-moderate Intensity
  • Sunday: Active Rest (i.e. Moderate out door activities like swimming and paddle ball)

Interested in discussion pertaining to mixing it up? Then check out these active threads on the NarkSide message board!!!

Got Videos?!

3. Get into a routine.

“What the hell Nark? Didn’t you JUST tell us to mix it up?”

That I did… Now hear me out.

Planning workouts ahead of time can cut down on your gym time, making each session more effective.

Personally, I customize templates for each of my clients which detail each workout for 12+ weeks.
Heck, I take it a step further… sometimes tweaking these templates each weekend, based on the previous week’s performance(s). It takes the guesswork out of the gym experience.

Anyway, back on topic: Having a pre-workout plan means that you know what you need to do.

All that’s left to be done, is to do it… and to do it as hard as humanly possible.

There’s no time wasted thinking “what should I do next?”

Structure allows individuals to focus… and focus translates into results.

So, if you want results… get some structure!

Not sure how to about structuring a routine? Well here are some active training log running on the NarkSide forums right now!!!

Need advice on tweaking your current routine? Then ask a question in our forums:

That’s it for this week guys and gals!

Stay tuned!!!


-Corey “Narkissos” Springer

Owner of:
“The NarkSide” Fitness Forums
Apollo Fitness Barbados
NarkSide Apparel

A newbie’s introduction to fitness.

“Fear Time Ends now”. Part 1

“A newbie’s introduction to fitness”
by Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of: “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums, Apollo Fitness Barbados, & NarkSide Apparel.

September 2009

Virginity… We’ve all been there.

Unsure of self.

Unsure of what’s right or wrong… what’s acceptable, and what’ll have us ostracized quicker than Oprah takes to fail at a fad diet.

Unsure of what the next step is.

Heck… most of are unsure of what the *first* step is.

And, this is what today’s article is about: Starting up a fitness journey from scratch.

I’m sure you’ve noticed, the chubby chick standing in the corner of the gym staring, wide-eyed (and, some may argue, wild-eyed) at the numerous exercise stations. She, afraid to touch

anything, touches nothing.

Are you her?

Well, this article is for you.

Fear time ends now!

I repeat: Fear. Time. Ends. Now.

Getting started: Your first course of action? Choose a gym.

Logical first step?

Well, many people don’t think so.

Many people are discouraged before they even venture to start… and, as such, fail prior to even starting.

“But can’t I just buy the newest exercise video?”

Sure you can.

And then you can buy the next… and the next… and the next.

What will you have learned, ‘cept maybe how to replicate exactly what the instructor on said video shows you?

What will you have learned about adaptation and change?

I’d fathom nothing.

“But Nark… can a gym really teach me more than a video?”


We’re creatures of habit… Creatures who are products of socialization.

Gyms provide platforms via which numerous concepts can be exposed, shared, assimilated and/or discarded.

I’ve been involved in fitness for well over a decade, and I *still* learn new things when I go to the gym.

  • Modifications to exercises to make them more effective.
  • Periodized work-out ideas.
  • Mobilization concepts.
  • Stretching concepts
  • Cardio concepts

Each of these represent dynamic, and ever-changing facets of fitness. Each of these are things which you can take away with you, and apply to your own personal fitness journey.

Join a gym.

You’ll find people who know what they’re doing… as well as people who, like you, are just learning.

Knowledge is power… and support is empowering.

To find both knowledge and the support in one place is well worth stepping out of your comfort zone.

Getting started: Step two? Get a personal trainer.

“Gatdamn Nark… Do you know how much one of those costs?”

Yea… I do.

Do you know how much knee, shoulder, back, or hip surgery costs?

Incidentally, injuries to the first three of those areas are the ones most common in newbies.

Think about it.

How many of you have pals who joined the gym only to drop out shortly after, after having hurt their back?

How many of you know people who seem to ‘tweak their shoulder’ every couple of months?

I’d guess that percentage to be around 50%.

Correct me if I’m wrong.

Anyway…back on topic: I’d suggest that new trainees work with a personal trainer for at least the first month of working out.

And… I do mean ‘work’.

Work your ass off, assimilating all the information your trainer can provide.

This info will mean the difference between you progressing or regressing.

Two VERY common mistakes made by beginners are:

  • Performing exercises with horrible form.
  • Performing exercises with too much weight.

Not having a foundation of knowledge where proper exercise technique is concerned contributes to the former.

Having a personal trainer gives you that foundation… thus preventing injury and subsequent stagnation.

Not sure what to look for in a personal trainer?

Then check out “Certification Does Not Equate To Knowledge: How To Find A Qualified Personal Trainer” by Nicolle Sisia, research and development team member at GetNarked.net.

Getting started: Step three? Get stronger!

This section is dedicated to female readers in particular… as a common mistake most of them make, is in working out with little to no resistance.

We’ve debated the whole “weights will make me look like a man” rubbish in previous articles.

An especially good read, which I’d encourage you all to check out was: “I Lift Weights Like A Girl. Try to keep up” by Sunset Sealy, research and development consultant on getnarked.net.


The above article’s footnotes?

  • Lifting heavy things = good.
  • Lifting heavy things turns you into a man = ridiculous myth

Think on this: Women wear high heels… Why?

Cus it makes their butt and calves look STUPENDOUS!

Let me pause for a bit, as stupendous-looking butts really do bring a tear to my eye.


/end moment of respectful silence.


So… What are the butt and calves?

What makes ’em so damned full and curvy?

What makes ’em desirable?

I’ll answer that: Muscle.

They’re both shapely muscles.

Muscle gives ’em their shape… Fat does not. A little fat gives ’em that succulent coating… The issue is, a lot of people have a lot of fat, and very little muscle. Fat droops… Muscle does not.

Fat dimples.

Muscle does not.

Are you following the general thought here?

More on the bubble-butt equation:

High heels force both the muscles of the butt and those of the calves into a contracted position… a perpetual contraction that whole world happens to find sexy at that.

Nobody thinks “well that is a manly pair of buttocks” when you’re strutting in those heels.

And, well, if they do… then it’s time for you to hit the squat rack!

Back on topic: Get stronger.

And I mean this in both the literal and figurative sense.

Weight-training requires both physical and personal strength… and, as such, builds both physical and personal strength.

Committing to building weight-training, is akin to committing to being a stronger person.

So… get strong.

“But Nark… HOW?!”


“Yes. What exercises when? C’mon man… stop speaking in riddles already!”

Ok, I’ll break it down.

Muscles get stronger when they’re challenged and overloaded.

Overload can be accomplished via multiple forms of stimuli.

The most straight-forward?

  • Resistance: i.e. via adding more weight.
  • Volume: i.e. via adding more sets and repetitions of an exercise.

Now that we’ve examined the ‘how’, lets put things in perspective.

Which of the below lower-body exercises do you think works the most muscle?

  • The dumbbell Squat
  • The leg-extension
  • The glute blaster
  • The adductor machine
  • The abductor machine

I’ll answer that for you:

  • The squat works the muscles of the outer thigh, butt, frontal thigh, rear thigh, inner thigh, and hips.
  • The leg extension works the muscles of the front of the thighs.
  • The Glute blaster works the buttocks
  • The abductor works the muscle of the hips and outer thigh.
  • The adductor works the muscles of the inner thigh.

As the squat works more muscles, then logically, squatting results in a stronger butt and thighs than any of the other listed exercises.

If this is indeed the case, then why is it the norm to find female trainees opting to skip squats… instead, choosing to plow away at the other listed exercises endlessly?

We’ll investigate the ‘why’ further, in a follow-up article.

In the mean time, let me give you the short answers.

The short answers:

  • Fear (of becoming ‘manly’)
  • Ignorance

My challenge to you:
Step four? Get Smarter!!

There is a wealth of information out there. This isn’t just a NarkSide plug… but rather an actuality. You owe it to yourself to read, read, and read some more.

Don’t let fear and ignorance rob you of the body you desire.

Anyway, that’s it for this week.

Until next time.


by Corey “Narkissos” Springer
Owner of:
NarkSide” Fitness Forums
Apollo Fitness Barbados
NarkSide Apparel