What I Learned From The Visit With My Friend Randy Roach

You may know that Randy Roach, the author of Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors, a great proponent of physical culture, an awesome human being is one of my dearest friends. You might also be aware that Randy is 95% blind. On REALLY good days, he can see silhouettes in the dark and that’s as good as it gets for him.

Randy and I have been sharing laughs and discussing everything under the sun since we first met back in 2004, while Ron Kosloff and Doug Schneider were filming The Vince Gironda Exercises: Vol. 1. Ron invited me to his friend Randy’s gym in Waterloo, Ontario for the shoot. That gym happened to be in Randy’s basement. Without knowing it was in a basement, one would have thought it was a commercial gym, as you can see in the videos. (Since then a The Vince Gironda Exercises (and More!): Vol. 2 had been shot in the same place.)

In between one of the takes, I walked upstairs and somehow or another began a conversation with Randy. We discussed Vince and his methods, training in general, bodybuilding history, nutrition, books, spirituality and a little bit of politics. Randy is extremely knowledgable on ALL of those subjects so I mostly listened, nodded my head and blurted out the occasional a-ha and m-hmm. Oh, I also had a ton of questions. Needless to say, I missed the rest of the film shoot as Randy and I gabbed away like young school boys talking about the latest comic book or action movie they read and saw. In a bit I will tell you what I learned the last time I visited.

I learned about this book he was writing which originally started off as an article for the Weston A Price Foundation. My eyes lit up as I had been a member of WAPF for the previous two years and loved each and every issue. At the time, Randy was the chapter leader for the Kitchener/Waterloo region. As we were talking, I could see all these weird machinery in his office on multiple desks. He had a massive magnifying glass attached to a monitor. At that point his eyesight was better than it is today, he could put a book under the magnifying glass, turn his baseball cap backwards, lean into the monitor and read the giant letters painstakingly slowly. It was a very ineffective way of reading. His computer would speak every so often as well, to announce there was a new e-mail from so and so along with the subject line. When I asked him about it, he said that’s mostly how he “reads” now. He listens to his computer reading to him.

Time just seemed to fly by, the film shoot ended and it was time to drive home. Randy and I ended up continuing our conversation over the phone and I’d go visit with him, train at his gym every week or at least every other week for years. He has a LOT to say which is likely why his article turned into a book and that book initially turned into two volumes, then when he realized he still had a ton of information to share, it turned into three volumes. I’m still waiting to get the call where tells me: “Tamas, there is no way I can fit all this information into the 3rd volume, I’ll need to leave it for volume 4.”

Speaking of the book. Randy, with the help of his editor George, decided to make copies of some of his first volume available with his autograph on his website. As the second volume came out, he realized it was taking him away from writing volume 3 so he asked me if I’d be interested in taking the orders and shipping them out to the readers. I obviously jumped on the chance and have been shipping books all over the world since.

My latest trip out to Waterloo to get Randy’s autographs on the last shipment of books had me glued to his couch yet again as I listened to his wisdom on the latest happenings with his diet and training. I’m now finally getting to the part for which I began this post, which is all the great insights I got from my last visit.

Randy has had 35 surgeries in his life due to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome which he got when he was around 2. His treatments are likely the cause of his lack of eyesight and loss of his right eye. With surgeries come drugs. Lots of drugs that still remain in the system after all this time. One of the best ways to detoxify toxic materials from your system is through infrared saunas. Well, Randy’s got one of them in his bedroom! He uses it regularly and told me the discoveries he has made recently.

He began by explaining how he used to get in the IR sauna right after his morning workouts, while his muscles were warm, then jump into the shower to wash off the toxins that were purged from him through his sweat.

In the past, after attending a Charles Poliquin lecture, one of the take-aways I shared with Randy was to stop eating anything after 6:00pm a couple of days a week. Charles mentioned this to be a great way to shed body fat. Randy, the immediate implementer that he is, got on it right away. He loves to experiment on himself.

At our last visit, he filled me in on the latest way he’s been detoxing and shedding body fat. Randy admittedly enjoys his summer where he stays up later than usual, eats more carbs than usual and enjoys some wine on occasions. This is the time he puts on a little extra insulation. Come the end of the summer, I wonder if his birthday has anything to do with it, he gets back to being strict. This would likely explain his enthusiasm about what I’m about to tell you.

As we’re talking about training, nutrition, life the conversation moved towards detoxing and shedding body fat. He brought up the fasting I mentioned to him and said, he figured out that when he stopped eating at 6:00pm at night, he had restless sleeps and woke up in the middle of the night feeling hungry to the point where he had to eat something. He put two and two together and realized fasting turns on your sympathetic nervous system, increases your stress hormones and puts you into somewhat of a fight or flight mode. Something that’s beneficial in the earlier part of the day like in the morning.

Talking to his friend, Pam Kileen, who is an expert on infrared saunas, and through his own research, he again realized that the IR sauna turns on your parasympathetic nervous system which is to heal, regenerate, repair and calm you down. Armed with this information, he made a couple of changes.

1) When he wakes up in the morning, he’ll break his night fast with something small, just to get some protein and fats into his system and stop catabolizing his muscles. He then structured his meals to be closer to the end of the day. Yes, the opposite of what conventional wisdom tells you. He’s been noticing a steady level of high energy throughout the day from doing this.

2) On top of switching his fasting from the evening to the morning, he shifted sitting in his infra red sauna time to the evening, which is when it’s the most beneficial to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps him digest his larger portions, calm his system down and repair the damage he’s done to his body with his insane workouts.

Randy said he now sleeps like a log with a full belly and a calm nervous system while he’s noticeably and consistently getting leaner. He no longer feels hungry and has tons of energy to boot.

My biggest take away is that always go with common sense, logic and keep an eye on the results over what conventional wisdom says, avoid blindly going with the flow just because that’s the way others do it.

The second biggest take away is to pick Randy’s brain more often! There is so much great knowledge in there that asking him to write a book on training and nutrition is almost a must. I will hold off until he completes the third (and hopefully) final volume of his decade long project, Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors.

If you’re stuck with either your nutrition or training, ask Randy any question, he more than likely has an answer! Either type them in here and I’ll put together an interview with him based on them or you can ask him through his website: http://musclesmokeandmirrors.com/

Tamas Acs

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