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Date: March 25th 2009

The Macfadden Monthly
April 2009


An Interview with Mark Adams, author of "Mr. America," the new, best-selling biography of Bernarr Macfadden
Blood and Vitality (Part 1) by Bernarr Macfadden
Helpful Hints for Walkers by Bernarr macfadden
Comparing Food Pyramids by Jim Bennett
Parsley Smoothy - Recipe of the Month

A Macfadden Monthly Interview: Mark Adams
Author of "Mr. America," the new, best-selling biography of Bernarr Macfadden

MM: I think most people would like to know what triggered your interest in Macfadden. How and when did you first get the idea that you would write a book about him?

MA: I was fascinated by Macfadden�s story from the first time I picked up a copy of �Physical Culture� around 1997, but I didn�t start thinking seriously about a book until around 2002. I read Robert Ernst�s fine Macfadden biography, of course, so the idea that a fresh look at Macfadden was needed didn�t occur to me. Then coincidentally I was wasting time surfing the internet at work one day and found a copy of Mary Macfadden�s �Dumbbells and Carrot Strips� for sale. I started reading it while flying to Indianapolis to write a story for the New 
York Times Magazine, and somewhere over, let�s say Cincinnati, I realized that Macfadden�s life might make a good book for a modern audience.

MM: You've mentioned that you wrote the book in your spare time and it took much longer to complete than you had anticipated. How long did it actually take?

MA: Wow, did I underestimate how long it would take. I�d originally guessed that I could get it done in two years. I have a day job as a magazine editor, so I was basically limited to writing in the wee morning hours, at lunch, on weekends and over vacations. There are coffee shops all over midtown Manhattan where the staff probably remembers me as the weirdo with a laptop and a stack of old magazines filled with pictures of half-naked men. I signed to do t he book in the spring of 2003 and finished it in January 2008. Harper Collins was 
extremely patient.

MM: Since you work in New York yourself, were you able to visit any of the places where Macfadden lived and worked? Any discoveries?

MA: It was a huge geographic advantage. I think it was the great historian Barbara Tuchman who said you need to walk the battlefields to understand a war, so to be able to stroll past the places where Macfadden once walked barefoot was a huge help in wrapping my head around him as a character. New York City is a small town in a lot of ways�the guy who designed my website just told me he�s working with a high-end chocolatier whose street address sounded fami liar. It turned out to be located in the old New York Evening Graphic building. I don�t think BM would have approved. I was also able to drive up to Dansville, New York, where the shell of the old Physical Culture Hotel still overlooks the town. Getting inside the �Castle on the Hillside�  was like stepping into a time machine.

MM:You wrote that talking with Brewster Macfadden caused a change in the mental image of Macfadden that you had previously formed while you were researching information for the book. I'm guessing that what changed was your understanding of the human side of Macfadden. Would that be correct? Care to try to describe his human side?

MA: Absolutely. Macfadden is such a huge and cartoonish character, and he left so few personal papers behind, that I found it hard to imagine him as a father or husband. I�d imagined him as the Shiva the Destroyer of natural health, laying waste to evil doctors and white- bread purveyors. But when Bruce and his wife Peg described having Thanksgiving dinner with him in New Jersey, I suddenly had insight into the man as a mortal, too. I think he was essential ly a very well-intentioned individual who let his crusades blind him to some of the 
needs of his family. That said, Bruce had almost nothing but nice things to say about his �Pop,� as he called him.

MM: When Macfadden started out early in his career giving lecture tours and forming Physical Culture clubs, it is my understanding that the public response to his message and to him personally was phenomenal.  Can you comment on this?

MA: That was one of the more intriguing aspects of his story. Remember, he started �Physical Culture� from scratch in 1899, working alone. Within a few years he was selling 100,000 copies per month. He was also selling out lecture tours and writing books by the armload. His first bodybuilding show at Madison Square Garden in 1903 was a sellout, and the fire marshals had to turn away would-be spectators at the second one in 1905. He obviously tapped into a d eep vein of interest in health and fitness.

MM: Since very few if any of his ideas about health were original, what do you think were his major contributions?

MA: Macfadden was the Elvis Presley of American fitness and alternative health. He didn�t invent most of his ideas, but through his charisma and presentation he was able to make them palatable for a mass audience. I think he�s absolutely the father of weight training in the USA. His ideas on avoiding refined and processed foods are more popular than ever; he was the godfather of what came to be known as �health food.� He made exercise an American obsession. And he did more than anyone else, including other major figures such as John Harvey Kellogg and Charles Atlas, to popularize the idea of �wellness,� or maintaining your health through diet and exercise rather than visiting the doctor when something goes wrong.

MM: How historically significant do you do you think were Macfadden's battles against obscenity charges?

MA: That�s a hard one to answer. A lot of people were fighting that battle in different ways, such as Margaret Sanger, the birth control activist (whom BM was secretly sending money to). But because he had a platform in �Physical Culture� he was able to help bring sex out of the bedroom and into the mainstream culture. I do think Americans in general have a sort of myopic view that sex began with �Playboy� and the Kinsey Report, but that�s simply untrue.

MM:  There were a lot of pictures of nude and semi-nude men on the covers and inside Physical Culture Magazine. One reviewer of your book said he wished you had explored in more depth the "homoeroticism that inflects so many issues of Physical Culture." My view is Macfadden simply idealized nudity and the perfection of the human physique in much the same way that the Ancient Greeks did. Would you care to comment on the subject?

MA: It would have mortified Macfadden to think that his favorite magazine had homoerotic appeal, but looked at today it�s a little hard to miss. (You may have noticed that if you search on Ebay for old issues, sellers often tag copies of �Physical Culture� for their �Gay Appeal.�) But you�re right, he simply worshipped the sculpted human form. I laughed out loud when I read the �Physical Culture� story in which the writer describes Macfadden caressing Rudol ph Valentino�s beautiful thighs like an art historian might run his hands over Michelangelo�s David. One of the most enduring sections in �Physical Culture� was �The Body Beautiful,� comprised of photos that readers� male and female�sent in of themselves flaunting their impressive physiques.

MM:  The AMA really campaigned hard against Macfadden. It appears that for a time at least they won the battle, but now people seem to be "rediscovering" Macafadden and responding very positively to what they are learning about his message. I know you can't speak for the medical profession, but in the process of writing the book did you see 
evidence of the AMA's attitude toward Macfadden today?

MA: I don�t think the AMA has any opinion of Macfadden today, but over time the group has definitely accepted a lot of the ideas he championed against their strident opposition. For example, in the 1920s, the AMA mobilized forces to crush chiropractors and osteopaths, whom they lumped together with snake-oil quacks of all stripes. Nowadays your doctor is likely to refer you to a chiropractor or osteopath.

MM: In what areas do you think Macfadden's ideas about health were correct and in which areas do you feel that he went too far? In other words, what of value can we learn from him and is there anything we need to be cautious about?

MA: It�s easy to boil Macfadden�s core message down to its essence: if you eat less and exercise more, and let nature guide your health, you will feel better and live longer. I think that�s pretty unassailable advice, and has been proven time and again over the last 2500 years.  At the same time, that complete faith in the healing powers of nature led him to refuse to believe in vaccination, surgery and pharmaceutical intervention of any kind. It may h ave cost the life of one of his children. So I think the lesson to take away is to think of   Macfadden�s system of Physcultopathy as preventive medicine. And if an organic apple a day can�t keep the doctor away, make an appointment with your physician.

Click Here for the lowest prices for Mark's book

By Bernarr Macafadden
"The blood has been called the life of the body from the fact that upon it depends our bodily existence."- Albert F. Blaisdell, M.D.

Just as life is impossible without vitalized blood, so is health impossible without blood that possesses a fair degree of health. And it follows just as logically that one's vitality will be in exact ratio to the vitality of his blood.

All of the tissues of our flesh and bones are made up of infinitely small cells-so small, in fact, that hundreds of them, if massed, would be invisible across the table. Each cell is born, lives and dies by itself. As fast as a cell dies-and some of them live but a few minutes, or a. few hours-a new cell is supplied to take its place.

Exercise, even of the slightest, such as opening or closing the hand, destroys a multitude of cells. Even thinking causes the death of cells, and Nature imme¬diately supplies new cells to take the place of those that are defunct. One of the important benefits of bodily exercise is that it causes the destruction ¬ï¿½ death - of many all but exhausted cells, which, in turn, are replaced by cells that are full of life vitality.

But the cells die, too, in a body that is actually without motion, in a body whose brain is in a state of complete lethargy. The only difference is that in the inactive body the cells do not die as soon as they should, nor are the new cells by which they are re¬placed as healthy as they should be.

All of this repair work in the body is done by the blood. That fluid carries to all of the tissues of the body the fresh matter that is to build up new, vital¬ized cells in the place of those that are dying. This repair material is secreted from the food that is di¬gested in the stomach and in the intestines. Hence the need of the most nourishing of foods. Improper food furnishes but poor repair material. That which goes into the stomach and is digested becomes the actual, living body. In this connection I cannot help but refer once more to the value of adopting, if not wholly, then partly, an uncooked or natural diet. Indeed, cooking de¬stroys to a great extent and sometimes entirely, the cell-life of the food intended to nourish the body.

It is reasonable then that this devitalized or dead cell matter will never furnish material of a suitable kind for building up or even repairing the body. WE ARE JUST WHAT WE MAKE OURSELVES THROUGH THE ACT OF EATING.

But the blood does more than this. From the air that is breathed into the lungs the blood takes oxygen, and carries it through all the parts of the body. Wherever the gas encounters. dead cell-matter it burns it up, and the results of the combustion are car¬ried by the blood to the lungs, there to be eliminated from the body.

Now, you will easily understand why the blood must be pure and rich. At the very foundation of increased vitality must come a radical improvement in the quality of the blood.

While food is the basis of the tissue-building power of the blood, a generous amount of water is needed to maintain the fluids of the body in a proper con¬dition so that they may flow freely. Deep, full breathing of pure air must be had in order that the dead cells may be burned up as fully as is possible.

Exercise plays an important part in the bodily pro-cesses just related, also increases the powers of digestion by giving greater muscular activity to the stomach and intestines, while the heavier, more frequent breathing caused by muscular effort forces the heart into more rapid action, and sends the blood coursing through the body on its repair and purify¬ing mission at an increased speed.
From this brief statement the reader will be able to understand fully that vitality depends upon the blood, and that the purity of the blood is contingent on the selection and digestion of the right foods, exer¬cise, breathing, and the drinking of sufficient quanti¬ties of water.  (Part 2, next month)
(Excerpts from �Building Vital Power� and �Vitality Supreme�)

Click here to see the top selling compact gym

by Bernarr Macfadden

The more I study the matter, the more thoroughly convinced I am that walk­ing affords the best of all possible exercises for the improvement of the health, and for overcoming all chronic diseases. Only re­cently, several cases of'. tuberculosis that were in a well-advanced stage of the disease have come to my notice, in which absolute cures have been recorded, after examination by physicians thoroughly qualified to pass judgment in these matters.

Therefore, I insist that for all those who are seeking health, or who may be suffer­ing from some grave chronic disease, there is no exercise quite so valuable as walking, especially when combined with deep breath­ing, though deep breathing should be avoided or taken with great care if suffering from consumption. More especially is walk­ing valuable because of the fact that it is almost impossible to overdo it. All you need to do is to stop when you are tired out, and nothing but benefit can come from it.

I do not mean by this that you should stop walking and take a street car or a train home again at the first sign of fatigue, for you should experience a little feeling of this nature; otherwise the cells of the body can­not be considered to have been sufficiently stimulated. You do not need to carry the exercise to the point of exhaustion in order to make it beneficial, but you should be able to go home and sleep the sleep of the just, because of the fact that you have earned your rest by a judicious employment of your walking muscles during the day.


One's walking style must, to a cer­tain extent, be individual. It must be nat­ural. The method natural to me is to incline my body somewhat forward in walking. For I hold that walking should be a con­tinual fall forward, exactly as in running. You take each step forward to save your­self from a fall, the body being always inclined sufficiently well forward to insure a continuance of this forward falling move­ment.

The body itself should be held straight with the shoulders thrown back and down, the head on a line with the body, and the chest placed so as to receive the "largest possible intake of air with the least expendi­ture of energy on your part.

I believe that if you will cultivate this particular style of walking you will be able to cover more ground and cover it with greater ease than you have ever before been able to succeed in doing. And you will be surprised how soon this attitude will become the natural and accustomed attitude for you.


One point I especially wish to impress upon you is that while walking for long distances with anyone much taller or shorter than yourself-one who takes longer or shorter steps than you do-you should make no attempt to conform to his stride.

To take either shorter or longer steps than it is natural for you to take is quickly fa­tiguing, because of the very fact that it is an unnatural use of the muscles for you.
Also, you should avoid walking in a jerky, nervous, impulsive manner, because such walking steps are devoid of rhythm. The. same amount of energy put into a longer, more swinging step will make it possible for you to cover more ground, and with much greater ease and less expenditure of nervous force, hence less fatigue.

For ordinary walking a military stride of about thirty inches, with 120 paces per minute, is right for the average man. This is based upon long experience in estimating fatigue results with marching troops .


If you have not been accustomed to walk­ing, or if you have long been inactive in this particular exercise, you will note that the feet become tender and blister very read­ily as the result of any unusual amount of walking. Rubbing and slapping the skin will toughen the feet, yet leave them soft and pliable. This will not be necessary, however, if one starts with a short walk and gradually lengthens the distance. It would not be a bad idea, either, for you to visit a skillful chiropodist, so that any embryonic corn or bunion may be removed or properly attended to. Also, the nails should be so trimmed that the great toe will not wear a hole in the stocking, al­though care should be taken not to cut the nails too close at the sides of the toes, as this tends to cause ingrowing toe nails. If there should be any evidence of ingrowing toe nails developing, it might be well for you to lift the edge of the nail just a trifle, and gently force under the nail a very small pledget of cotton, which will take the weight off the flesh and prevent the nail from grow­mgm.

To overcome thirst there is nothing bet­ter than pure spring water, although an occasional glass of milk may be taken along the road. I have found that a little lemon or lime juice in the water is very bene­ficial, as it serves to cool the stomach and helps to alkalinize the blood.


by Jim Bennett
Several years ago the USDA began promoting its famous food pyramid with the four food groups: 1. fats, oils, and sweets.  2. Dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, and nuts. 3 Vegetables and fruit. 4. Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of  nutrition could see that this pyramid had some good points but also had some  serious problems. The main problems had to do with the foods listed at the top and at the bottom of the pyramid. There was no distinction made between good and bad oils or the good grains and the bad ones. You don't have to be a nutritionist to know there's a huge difference between whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta, and products made from refined, white flour.

Apparently the "experts" at the FDA could see the problems too, and in 2005 they revised their pyramid. In addition to the new USDA pyramid, we have a second pyramid worth considering. Each of these has its good and bad points. There are similarities as well as differences.
CLICK HERE for information on the new revised USDA pyramid.
CLICK HERE to learn about the Healing Foods Pyramid from the University of Michigan.

Having looked at the different food pyramids, I wonder what kind of pyramid Macfadden would have proposed? I think it might look something like this...
Macfadden Pyramid
The key to Macfadden's diet is that all foods should be as close to natural as possible. Processed or refined foods are never permitted, and raw is always better than cooked. Foods should be chewed thoroughly and never washed down with a liquid. Lots of fresh, pure water should be drunk during the day.

Recipe: Parsley Smoothie
All ingredients are organic and raw:
1/2 c filtered water
1/2 cucumber
1 banana
1 stalk celery
1 in piece of organic ginger (no need to peel if it's organic)
1 c (packed) flat-leaf parsley
1/2 apple
1 pear
1 T Nutiva Naturals hemp protein powder (optional)

Add all ingredients to Vitamix and start on slowest speed, increasing
variable speed dial to highest speed. Flip the speed lever up to high and
blend at highest speed for about 20 seconds. I keep one hand on the side of
the container and turn it off immediately if it starts to get warm. Be
careful - you can wind up cooking your ingredients if you let it run on high
for too long.

Finally, after turning Vitamix down to lowest speed again, I add about a cup
of ice cubes and increase speed as necessary to chop them up finely. Again,
don't blend too long on high or you'll melt the ice completely and your
mixture will turn warm again.

Pour out into glasses and enjoy immediately.

VARIATION: If you don't love ginger, consider substituting some fresh mint
leaves, or a pinch of cayenne.

CLICK HERE for more information about the Vita-Mix machine

Please e-mail me with questions and comments



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Jim's Bennett's FREE monthly newsletter brings you more historical photos and more detailed biographical information about the amazing life of Bernarr Macfadden. Together with thought-provoking reprints from his writings, there are also timely reports on recent discoveries and how they validate many of Macfadden's teachings. The contents include information about Macfadden's life and work, including the subjects of nutrition, exercise, weight control, aging, bodybuilding, and natural treatments. There are also interviews, humor, and recipes.
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