Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/530

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ing in relation to one particular. It is right and fitting that a certain amount of storage material, or balance, should exist as a reserve in the constitution of every healthy man. Every healthy individual, indeed, necessarily possesses a stored amount of force, which will stand him in good stead when a demand arises for prolonged unusual exertion, or when any period of enforced starvation occurs, as during a lingering fever or other exhausting disease. The existence of this natural and healthy amount of reserved force is of course presupposed throughout all my remarks, and its extreme value is taken for granted. That undue amount of stored nutriment, that balance which has been referred to as prejudicial to the individual, is a quantity over and above the natural reserve produced by high health; for, when augmented beyond that point, the material takes the form of diseased deposit, and ceases to be an available source of nutriment. Even the natural amount of store or reserve is prone to exceed the necessary limit in those who are healthy or nearly so. Hence it is that in all systems of training for athletic exploits—which is simply a process of acquiring the highest degree of health and strength attainable, in view of great or prolonged exertion—some loss of weight is almost invariably incurred in developing a perfect condition. In other words, almost any man who sets himself to acquire by every means in his power the best health possible for his system does in the process necessary thereto throw off redundant materials, the presence of which is not consistent with the high standard of function required. Thus what is sometimes called "overtraining" is a condition in which the storage is reduced too much, and some weakening is incurred thereby; while "undertraining" implies that the useless fatty and other matters have not been sufficiently got rid of, so that the athlete is encumbered by unnecessary weight, and is liable to needless embarrassments, telling against his chances in more ways than one. The exact and precise balance between the two conditions is the aim of the judicious trainer.

We are thus led to the next important consideration, namely, that although broad rules or principles of diet may be enunciated as applicable to different classes of people in general, no accurate adaptation to the individual is possible without a knowledge of his daily habits and life, as well as to some extent of his personal peculiarities. No man, for example, can tell another what he can or ought to eat, without knowing what are the habits of life and work—mental and bodily—of the person to be advised. Notwithstanding which, no kind of counsel is more frequently tendered in common conversation by one stranger with another, than that which concerns the choice of food and drink. The adviser feels himself warranted, by the experience that some particular combination of nourishment suits his own stomach, to infer without hesitation that this dish will be therefore acceptable to the stomachs of all his neighbors. Surely the intelli-