It is what women want – even though they will never admit it

Roberto Santiago Knight Ridder Newspapers MIAMI – My bodybuilding regime has gone extreme. My diet and exercise program are now strict enough that I will achieve the Men’s Fitness cover boy physique that some women

Roberto Santiago
Knight Ridder Newspapers

MIAMI – My bodybuilding regime has gone extreme. My diet and exercise program are now strict enough that I will achieve the Men’s Fitness cover boy physique that some women claim they hate.

Some of my female friends – after eyeballing the before and after pictures in my last article – said I should stop right now.

“You look great the way you are,” was the general comment. “Don’t let that Mark Cummings guy ruin your body and make you look like a freak.”

But looking “freaky” is the point. I hired Cummings, owner of the Hollywood, Fla., gym Bodies Under Construction, to make me look like a walking Gray’s anatomy chart, at least until contest time. In numerous studies in magazines, women claim that they will pick a man with a less muscular physique over someone with a body like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s. But my close friend “Meghan,” one of the most honest and beautiful women I know, says women in those studies are lying.

It’s like saying, um, size doesn’t matter, she said. “Of course it matters – a hard muscular body is a turn on.”

She confesses there is a direct correlation between the decrease in her libido and the increase of her boyfriend’s beer belly. A process that reverses itself when his stomach flattens and his flabby muscles harden.

A few years ago, I was at a private party where a professional bodybuilder was doing a pose dressed only in tiny blue trunks. There were two women standing behind me. As the bodybuilder flexed, showing off his development, one of the women whispered to her friend: “Eeeww! Ewww! That’s so disgusting!” A half-hour later on the dance floor I saw her making out with him.

There are also a number of books that warn that men are increasingly suffering from an “Adonis Complex.” Allegedly, it’s a bad thing when out-of-shape men want to get the kind of body Brad Pitt flaunted in Fight Club. Baloney, I say.

What’s bad is when men, instead of relying on nutrition, legal supplements and exercise, seek the hazardous shortcuts of anabolic steroids and plastic surgery.

What’s bad is when your personal trainer and your primary care physician are at odds. Simply said: As your body begins to look better, your medical history should improve.

That means lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stronger muscles, more stamina, increased immunity from sickness, increased sex drive, clearer skin, a drop in depression and a youthful appearance.

“If your complete medical physical does not show improvements after engaging in a new workout regime and diet over a period of three months, you are doing something wrong,” said Cummings, who is also a certified occupational therapist and nutritionist.

A recent physical found me in good health, and I haven’t looked or felt better in years. Bodybuilding has helped me handle the depression surrounding my mother’s death last Christmas, care for my autistic brothers in New York and juggle long work hours.

Cummings has stripped away 20 pounds of fat from my body since Dec. 9 and added nearly five pounds of muscle. This is the result of a high-protein diet with complex carbs along with at least a gallon of water a day, green tea and black coffee with no sugar. And plenty of safe, legal supplements such as glutamine and CLA.

Protein intake is essential as it is key to building lean muscle. I make sure to get at least 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of my body weight.

Exercise has been 30 minutes of cardio twice a day (morning and after work), with an hour and a half of weight training and one day of rest. The entire process has been maddening for my beautiful and patient wife, Darcy:

I’m always checking myself in the mirror, asking her how I look. Every night I empty small dirty plastic Ziploc bowls from my cooler bag into the sink. These are the bowls I use to store my six small meals a day. I stink up the house with my cooking spicy, oven-baked salmon and garlicky George Foreman grilled chicken breasts. And I’m always watching bodybuilding DVDs.

Darcy wonders if I’m turning gay. Every night, she sees me in front of the TV watching big, sweaty bodybuilders like Kevin Levrone and Ronnie Coleman – bare chested and grunting – lifting weights for three hours straight.

Other times I pore through photographs of men in Muscular Development and Flex magazines, making comments like: “Omigod! Check out this guy’s quad development!”

It hasn’t been easy on me either. I have horrible cravings for fried food, salty food, booze and pastries.

But I react to junk food the same way I to react to young, beautiful women: Look, fantasize, walk away.

Indulge in either and your health and marriage are ruined.

(c) 2005, The Miami Herald.
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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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