"You see, Ollie," I said, "humus is the key to organic gardening. After all, vegetables can only be as nutritious as the soil they're grown in."
Marvin wheeled into the driveway and gunned his motor. Pigeons flew off roofs a block away.
"Chemical fertilizers," I said, "destroy the necessary fungi-root relationship, and prevent the mineral content . . ."
Ollie leaned forward.
I raised my voice. "The minerals," I said. "The minerals in the soil. They've got to . . ."
Marvin gunned his bike again.
"They've got to be present in the soil," I yelled. "Cause if they're . . ."
"Speak up!" Ollie shouted.
I spun around. "Shut that darn thing off," Marvin flipped the switch and the motor died, "and leave it off!" I screamed.
Marvin blinked and stepped back.
"Like don't shout, man," he said. "I ain't deaf, you know."
"Beat it, Marvin," I said. "Mo isn't here and she won't be back all afternoon."
Marvin got off his bike and walked over. He's going broke trying to look like Peter Fonda. He had leather flares on, with cowboy boots, spurs, and wraparound shades.
"Man," he said, "I'm here to see you, not your daughter."
"Well, that's real nice," I said. "What do you want?"
"A little help," he said. "With my training."
"What's the matter with your training?" I asked him.
"Like, I ain't gaining," he said. "That's what's the matter."
"Marvin," I said, "You're too impatient. You can't add muscle every day. Can't you just train for the fun of it?"
He cocked an eyebrow at me. "Fun?" he said. "Man, that's unreal. Lifting those big ugly weights and getting all sweaty and sticky ain't really my idea of a fun thing, you know."
"Don't you like lifting weights?" I asked him.
"No," he said. "As a matter of fact, I don't. And if I don't make some progress real soon I'm gonna find something else to do."
"Well," I said. "I wouldn't want to see you quit training. It's the only sensible thing you do. Are you still on the same program?"
"Right," he said.
"And you're working hard at it?"
"Like a slave."
"And handling all the weight you can?"
"Dad," he said. "You've seen me. O come on like a roomful of Russian heavies."
"Not really," I said. "But there's nothing wrong with your program. It's the best one you could use at your stage. It's gotta be something else."
"Man," he said. "That's like real thinking. If it ain't one thing, it's something else. I mean, how can I lose?"
"Don't be smart," I said. "It's the logical process of elimination. You aren't training wrong, because the program is a good one. You aren't wasting energy, because you're the laziest son of a gun I know. It's gotta be your diet."
"My diet's okay," he said.
"Are you taking all the supplements?"
"All of them," he said. "Man, I've got so many tablets in me I rattle when I walk."
"What about your regular meals?" I asked him.
"What about them?"
"Do you still eat packaged cereals?"
"Just at breakfast," he said.
"Just at dessert."
"And hot dogs?" I said. "And French fries, and soft drinks, and ice cream and white bread and jam?"
Marvin grinned. "I'm a growing boy."
"No, you're not," I said. "That's the trouble. You're not growing, and you won't as long as you eat that kind of garbage."
"It ain't really garbage," Marvin said.
"It sure as heck is," I said. "It's garbage pure and simple. You're stupid to eat like that when you're training. You'll never gain properly."
"Not even with supplements?" Marvin asked.
"No," I said. "Not even with supplements. Supplements are supposed to be used in addition to good, wholesome food, not in place of it. Nothing can replace natural, health-building food. You won't gain properly without it, and you might as well accept the fact. "You see," I said, "it takes a lot of groceries to build muscle, but you can only stuff so much into your stomach. Unless you've got a gut like an elephant, your food intake has limit. If you load up with a lot of junk, you're just wasting stomach space that could be used to further your muscle building progress. Every time you step up to a plateful of white flour biscuits and greasy fries you're stepping away from your bodybuilding goal."
"Like one giant step for mankind," Marvin murmured.
"In the final analysis," I said, "the real secret to bodybuilding success is to become very, very health conscious. You've got to understand and consider the nutritional value of everything you eat. You've got to think about the results you're going to from everything you put in your mouth."
Marvin screwed up his face. "I dunno," he said. "Like, I don't want to be a health fanatic."
"Fanatic, schmanatic," I said. "Is understanding and applying the principles of contemporary nutritional concepts in a determined effort to achieve a predetermined goal being fanatic?"
Marvin cleared his throat. "Pardon?"
"Never mind," I said. "Look. The plan to follow is easy. Just eat to build health. It's as simple as that. Select and prepare all your food so that every mouthful produces perfect, brimming, radiant health."
"What about the muscles?" Marvin asked.
"That's what the supplements are for," I said. "They supply the extra oomph that builds muscles and strength, but even the best supplements can't do it if the foundation is crummy. You've got to have a base of perfect health for the supplements to work on. Don't forget that principle. Take all the supplements. Take loads of them. But don't waste them. Eat for perfect health so the supplements can be used to build muscle. If the nourishment in the supplements has to be used to correct a deficiency that you've brought on by improper eating habits, then you're not getting the value from the supplements that you planned on. Build your health, and then the supplements can build muscle."
"Okay," Marvin said. "What magic goody do I eat to build all that health?"
"You don't eat any magic goody," I told him. "There isn't any one item that will build health by itself. Perfect health comes from a generous supply of all the nutritional requirements. If you miss any one of them you'll decrease your health and your bodybuilding progress accordingly. You've got to plan every day so that you eat a sufficient amount of all the essentials. Also, you've got to cut out all the junk food. There's no place for that crap in a health program.Wipe it out completely. You don't need it and you'll gain that much better without it."
"Okay," Marvin said. "I'm like convinced. Tell me all."
"The first thing you should do," I said, "is to cut sugar right out of your diet. I don't mean cut down on it, I mean cut it out completely. It's about the worst garbage you could put into your gut. Everybody gets uptight about cyclamates, and there's plenty of reason for it, but sugar has probably done more damage to the public health than everything else put together, including cyclamates. "Sugar," I said, "and I'm referring to refined sugar, is an absolute nothing food. It's got no protein, no vitamins, no minerals, no anyway. It can't contribute to your health in any way, shape, or form. Furthermore, refined sugar is deadly to your teeth. Sugar breaks down into lactic and pyruvic acid in your mouth. The acid combines with the calcium in your teeth and they'll fade away quicker than a politician's promises. Teeth shouldn't really decay. If you get any cavities at all it's a sign that something's wrong and the trouble is almost certain to be refined sugar. The public today is absolutely swamped with sugar. Even if you don't use it directly you get it in a hundred hidden ways. Jam, cake, cookies, ice cream, soft drinks, breakfast foods, canned fruit, canned juice, condiments, salad dressing and on and on -- they're almost pure sugar. If you want to build muscle you've got to avoid that junk like it was poison. Come to think of it, it is."
"So, like no more refined sugar? Marvin said.
"Right," I said. "None at all. You're out to build health, and sugar's got no place in the program. You don't need it and in not time you won't even miss it."
"True," Marvin said. "I'm actually pretty sweet, anyway."
We're running out of space again. Start your health program by eliminating sugar from your diet. Scrub it out completely. It'll be the first step on your way to a degree of health and you wouldn't think it possible.
In next month's article, The Essential Ingredients, we'll discuss what you should be eating for a Mr. America body.