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EXTREME SPORTS: have unusual diets, candy bars and sugary nuggets of bliss resulted in record-breaking success?

Herschel Junior Walker was a heck of a football player. He set a high school record by scoring 86 touchdowns and added another 5,259 rushing yards during three seasons at the University of Georgia. He was a set 10 NCAA records, was a three time All American, won the Heisman Trophy and was later named to the College Football Hall of Fame. Herschel also enjoyed a productive and successful professional football career, busting tackles and dodging defenders in both the United States Football League and the National Football League, where he played for the Dallas Cowboys, the the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.

The man has appeared on the cover of nine editions of Sports Illustrated. Nine! Enough said.

You’d think that Herschel would have adhered to a restrictive diet complimented by enough supplements to make the average person radiate a glowing hue of chartreuse. Not so. In fact, at one point while he was steamrolling through the collegiate ranks, he ate nothing but candy bars. Herschel recently described how Snickers, being packed with peanuts and other junk, really satisfies:

I remember when I was at the University of Georgia, I started eating Snickers bars. I actually loved candy bars and I ate Snickers bars. For almost a month and a half, that was my one meal of the day was Snickers bars. And I was fine. Nothing ever changed. I worked out. I had the energy… I went out and did what I was supposed to do and I don’t know whether you’re naive or stupid, that God just takes care of you because I wasn’t thinking about all the cholesterol, all the calories, all this. All I was thinking about was getting my job done… It was probably about ten Snickers bars. My one meal was probably about 10 of them. So it wasn’t just one, I had a bunch of ‘em.

Still, there’s more to the story. When he was a teenager, Herschel adopted a mostly vegetarian diet and began eating only one meal a day. The diet has remained consistent, and his single daily meal now mainly consists of bread and soup or a salad. That’s it.

Most folks would likely suffer increases in total cholesterol or problems with blood pressure or glucose. Surprisingly, though, eating only one meal each day has apparently worked for him. Herschel has since represented the United States in the 1992 Winter Olympic two-man bobsled team, now carriers fifth degree black belt in Taekwando, and has competed in professional mixed martial arts. He won his first match at the age of forty seven, defeating Greg Nagy. Forty Seven! Not a typo!

The world may, however, never see another athlete like Herschel Walker… and we can blame Snickers for the loss. Mars, Inc., the corporate manufacturer of Snickers, is slimming down the candy bar. The company has announced that it plans to restrict its sales to candy bars that do not exceed 250 calories by the end of the year, meaning that the king-sized and super-jumbo-turbo models will disappear from the shelves in the fairly near future.

Mars Spokeswoman Marlene Machut said the plan was part of the company’s’ “broad-based commitment to health and nutrition.” According to Mars’ website, this commitment is a component of a systematic plan to promote wellness while still peddling chocolate, caramel and that odd coarse nougat that conquered the three musketeers. Again, according to the website, the Mars is globally committing to:

  • Not to buy advertising time or space if more than a quarter of the audience is likely to be under 12 years of age; nor will we advertise on websites aimed at those under 12
  • To implement Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labeling on the majority of our chocolate and confectionery globally by year-end 2011 and will continue to roll out GDA across our entire food portfolio
  • Not to ship any Mars chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013
  • To reduce sodium levels in all Mars Food products globally by 25 percent by 2015, from a 2007 baseline. We are doing this by participating in government initiatives and agreeing to voluntary reduction commitments in different regions.

Hershel Walker is not happy, but the NBA’s Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard and the NFL’s Marshawn Lynch are breathing a collective sigh of relief. They’re obsessed with Skittles. Even though these candies are manufactured by The Wrigley Company, which is owned by Mars, the nutritional initiative will not affect them. Skittles aren’t chocolate products, and therefore Mars doesn’t plan to take any action that will affect the health, wellness or nutrition of consumers of the little drops of hydrogenated palm kernel oil, modified corn starch, titanium dioxide, carnuaba wax and yellow 5 coloring.

Whew.

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One response to “EXTREME SPORTS: have unusual diets, candy bars and sugary nuggets of bliss resulted in record-breaking success?

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