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Fitness

Behaviours and Stress Eating

Behaviours and Stress Eating

If we look at client lifestyles, which I consider to be a major component of weight management, we can identify behaviours that may help assist in advising clients on changes in their eating. Certain behaviours can be defined as eating disorders and others identified as maladaptive...

How Thin People Think

How Thin People Think

As part of the Precision Nutrition course there are some great book recommendations, my new favourite is The Beck Diet Solution (Beck, J) which basically looks at the inclusion of cognitive therapy techniques to help you learn to think differently enabling changes in eating behaviour...

I Have Flown Countless Times But That Doesn't Mean I can Fly a Plane

I Have Flown Countless Times But That Doesn't Mean I can Fly a Plane

I have flown countless times but that doesn’t mean I can fly a plane....yes, that's the funniest thing I heard today! And it's so true. Actually, we were talking about health and fitness at the time. In particular, we were talking about gyms. It's no surprise that so many members pay the hefty gym fees but don’t use the gym...

Mindful or Mindless.... How much thought do you put into your Nutrition?

Mindful or Mindless.... How much thought do you put into your Nutrition?

I came across the concept of Mindful v. Mindless about three years ago. The concept was related to exercise. I'm afraid to admit a lot of the exercise I was prescribing at that time was verging towards mindless. In fact, even I was exercising like that to some extent. When I sat and thought about this, my mind turned to nutrition...

I Have Slipped Off My Path - How Do I Get Back On Board?

I Have Slipped Off My Path - How Do I Get Back On Board?

Ok, no names mentioned but here is a story of someone who found themselves slipping off the path. It happens to us all; something or a combination of things come along and before you know it you find yourself weighing more than you expected and maybe even heavier than you have ever been...

Lean My Kitchen Up

Lean My Kitchen Up

If you buy it you will eat it. Eventually. If it's in your house you will eat it. Eventually. If it's in your desk draw you will eat it. Sooner or Later. If it's on your desk you will definitely eat it sooner. If some one gives you a food gift you will probably eat it. So if you can't resist temptation but can you minimize your intake of less than lean foods...

A Client's Journey Part 2: "Getting Going"

A Client's Journey Part 2: "Getting Going"

This is going to be a monthly feature probably. We are still following one particular client, this journey started many moons ago and still brings something new to the table each time we visit it. Imagine how you could be inspired by reading the words of someone who actually went on a real weight loss journey, after all the words are the words of a real life person like you or me...

How to Facilitate Change in Diet and Exercise Patterns

How to Facilitate Change in Diet and Exercise Patterns

For most people, modification rather than elimination is all that is needed when it comes to changing ones diet or physical activity levels. Unlike stopping smoking, for example, there is no "quit day" when it comes to behavioural change linked to exercise and nutrition. There may of course be targets...

Effective Habits of Lean Eaters

Effective Habits of Lean Eaters

I have been following the Precision Nutrition (PN) Lean Eating programme for sometime, recently this has proved more successful to me than before, in the last 5 months I have lost 7 lbs and maintained and dropped 3.5 % Body Fat, my hydration level has climbed 3 %, not bad but could do better...

Confronting the Truth: It's Tough

Confronting the Truth: It's Tough

As a trainer I am often giving advice. I generally have an opinion on most things fitness related…are they valid?  I hope so!   One of my guiding lights is Dr John Beradini, who runs a company called Precision Nutrition based in Toronto (www.precisionnutrition.com). He was recently chosen as one of the top 20 most influential trainers in North America by Livestrong. He has a lot of awesome stuff to say…

A Client's Journey Part 1: "Rose Tinted Glasses"

A Client's Journey Part 1: "Rose Tinted Glasses"

Finding out what inspires is a difficult process...when it works , BANG ... we are "in" and it's all good. This is a story of one of my clients stretching over 4 years. The words belong to them, it's a wonderful story of highs and lows, of plateaus and tears, of marathons and heartache, of pain and frustration...

Do One (Positive) Thing Each Day...You are So Worth it...

Do One (Positive) Thing Each Day...You are So Worth it...

I saw this quote the other day and like many similar quotes it made me smile.. "the difference between a rut and a grave is just the dimensions". I come across many people who if I was being judgemental are in a "rut", whether that be with their life, their health, relationships, work...

" I Hurry Through My Day But I Don't Know Why"

Recently we posted about eating slowly , something that I have to remind myself of all the time. As a trainer I work irregular  long hours and sometimes the gaps between feeding get way too big, this means I have to extra careful with my  meal planning, especially in the evening .Some days there can be a four hour gap between eating, if I am lucky I may grab a quick snack , usually an apple or a handful of walnuts in greek yogurt, other times I come home feeling like I have eaten for days. I walk into the house famished , I smell something cooking, its too late to eat big amounts so I have to be careful not to do so. My two favourite strategies are 1)to put the fork down between each mouthful or 2) to push the bowl completely away from me temporarilly and do something to distract myself from the food, I may even get up from the table .I also try to take a smaller portion in the first place.

Often my day is hurried ...and some times I have to ask myself " why"  . Why am I hurrying my day and why am I hurrying my food? I mean hunger isn't an emergency and being 5 mins late for a client isn't going to be the end of the world. ( just as a FYI if I am travelling between 2 places I leave a time cushion gap as there are too many factors out of my control , a short time gap just makes life stressful), maybe I suffer from some level of " martyr complex" where I feel I have to work hard or long hours.

Many of my clients also have busy lives and schedules, some even want to hurry their workouts , I have probably said " slow down your repetition speed" to clients  in excess of 100, 000 times and I probably am not joking.Not only is it stressful to keep rushing but the outcome response from doing the exercise will be diminished. Time under tension is key to getting results! Sometimes I think there is almost a game called " too busy'" and they are all part of it, thats for another blog I guess. The " fast " life people are often the ones who are most stressed and also getting less than optimal results. Now if we can just get you to slow down that eating you might enjoy it more, it may also stop you racing through the rest of everything you do!

I am suggesting that if we can start slowing down our food, make or set aside specific times for eating ( and stick to them ) then we can slow down the rest of our lives, many people want to make each day 25 hours long ...when this starts to happen health starts to become less important ... even during the workouts or exercise thats  are being achieved the person is planning in their heads to rush off to the next thing on the agenda. Stressful indeed.

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Eat slow, lose weight, it could be that simple..

Western society has become one of rush rush rush, busy is seen to be sort of status symbol. I hear it every day, "I am too busy to exercise", I once heard a fanatic quote surrounding this topic.In reply to " I am too busy"  a thought provoking reply was "tell me how you do too busy". Its a bit provocative but many people over busy their day and their lives , not only are they too busy to exercise but too busy to even look after themselves, too busy to even eat better, almost out of control.Food or nutrition is not a priority, in fact neither is looking after themselves. Even during the busy day everything is done at a rushed pace, driving is stressfully, the journey to work is fraught and stressful, breakfast is eaten a hurry ... its go.. go ...go... it ends up being a day of mindlessness from start to finish. Everyone needs 25 hours in a 24 hour day it seems.... we all know the end result .... stress, poor sleep, poor nutrition, increased good pressure, the negative list is endless, the positive list is less long. SLOW DOWN THE FOOD

It appears that this is the easiest way to lose some weight. Experiments have shown that eating quickly without putting the fork down can make a difference in a total amount of calories consumed by an amazing amount.Eating quickly showed a possibly 646 calories in 9 minutes but only 579 in 29 mins by eating slowly. A study showed that by not putting the fork down people could eat 67 calories more in 9 mins by eating fast than they could by eating slowly in 29! On top of that the fast eaters reported being hungrier after eating quickly even though they consumed more calories. A double whammy there. Where is rushing taking you?

The body breaks down enzymes slowly ...it takes over 20 minutes to get the brain to tell you that you are full...most meals are over in half that time. Its looking like a triple whammy! Our stomachs are full but we still keep eating ..if we slow down we only eat what we really need.We are treating our food disrespectfully, its all part of go go go... we eat in the car, we eat in front of the TV , we eat lunch of the phone,we eat standing up, it becomes stressful as we worry about our next task, our next job in our over stuffed day as we over stuff ourselves, and we don't really even know why we are doing this to ourselves.

I get up extra early for breakfast, I see it as essential, why would I rush the most important meal of the day...I like to be conscious of what my body is doing, its more enjoyable to taste what I am eating or drinking!!

Its simple when we eat fast we eat more than we need, its crap for our digestion, it increases weight gain, we feel over full...so chewers out there savour every morsel, slow down your day, make time for food, proper time, just slowing down your food is a great way to start to get healthier, start now, yes, tonight!

Comfort Food Thoughts..

I stole this wholesale from a trainer in Toronto who had this on their website, her name is Lynsy so if your out there you deserve the credit, I loved this sentiment... read on..
COMFORT FOOD
It is time to change our definition of COMFORT FOOD.
We all use this term on a very regular basis, and usually when we're describing foods that we know are not good for us. These foods are usually behind our emotional eating, weight gain, low self esteem and confidence, poor digestive habits, stomach aches and an overall 'crappy' feeling once the food has been ingested. Typically this comforting feeling we get from these types of foods last for a few minutes, and then the guilt sets in, along with all those fun things I just mentioned.
HOW CAN IT BE COMFORT FOOD IF IT ACTUALLY MAKES US FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY IN OUR OWN BODY?!?! How can it be comforting if it contributes to unhappiness and poor health? We need to change the meaning of this word now, and forever....
Fat and Sugar are not comfort foods. They are an addiction, and in fact this has been proved over and over again in many different scientific studies. These studies are done on the brain responses to food and desire for food and of course in terms of actual weight in adults and children.
YOU ARE ADDICTED. The only way to break this addiction is by practicing healthy habits one meal at a time. This is something that is extremely difficult, otherwise it wouldn't be the epidemic around the world that it is today. You need to take responsibility, you are and adult and capable of taking control over your eating habits. Don't let food control you, it is seemingly ridiculous to think that a donut from Tim Horton's will win an afternoon snack battle, or McDonald's runs your fast paced lifestyle. "Well body, instead of of feeding you fuel I'm going to treat you like a garbage can, because hey I just can't say no to those french fries!!" Sounds pretty insane when you think of it that way... but that is exactly what is happening!
It is time to start making the decision to make better choices, you'll be shocked at how quickly you feel empowered, confident, strong and physically lighter. Your body won't be weighed down by the actual food or more importantly the guilt every time you make a poor choice. YOU DESERVE better treatment, if you don't treat yourself well why should anyone else? These healthy habits (or unhealthy habits) run full circle in terms of your career and relationships as well, so ultimately if you take care of yourself physically you're also taking care of yourself in life. So start today, make healthy decisions one at a time so it doesn't seem like such a huge change, that is the only way to make it work. Beat your addiction, make it a priority, take control.... or stop complaining. In fact, stop complaining.
I hope this comes across well, sometimes the truth may seem like tough love, but that is exactly what it is, tough love. You'll get through the tough part and learn to love yourself and the world around you on a whole different level. Don't believe me? Prove me wrong, or better yet, prove me right.

Are the fit getting " fitter " while the rest stay still..???

This has been on my mind for a few years and its something I see all the time. By now most of the New Years Resolution people have " failed " in the gym and put the kit bag in the back of the cupboard... at least they have tried , right. Sadly its probably this group of people who the big box gyms court so heavily emotionally at the start of each year  who need the help the most.

Go into a busy spin class mid January , there they are at the back of the room getting physically crushed and probably emotionally crushed by whats surrounding them. Desperately trying to burn calories in a 60 min power class , the instructor doesn't care about the outcome , nor does the gym. I have never heard an instructor yet say, "hey you are   new, is this your first class..???  ..feel free to stop and leave when you want, cool down for 5 before you do that..work at your own pace, its not a competition... etc etc. "

Its a really intimidating environment mentally and physically. ( it would be nice if gyms offered taster classes , 30 mins max, show them the bike set up, give an idea on intensities, make them feel welcome .. ) . These people are usually in  a spin class based on loose info from the membership sales team that " spin can burn up to 800 calories per class"... The usual outcome is something like this... person gets frustrated at lack of progress....motivation drops...attendance suffers...and so the journey towards leaving the gym quickens...

Meanwhile at the front of the class the instructor is sharing the latest private gym based joke about the "new joiners". It takes a lot of courage to go down to the front of a new class, you fear the watchful eye and critique of the instructor and the critical eye of the fit ties.... Also down the front in the fitties section is the professional spin groupie, colour co ordinated water bottle in hand , matching headband and pro cycle shorts and shoes...

This happens in other classes, the person who can't get that stretch in the yoga class may even find the instructor pushing them into position, its sort of humiliating, and I have seen it with my own eyes.Its hardly encouraging for the struggling newbie. In the end we tend to just have classes full of clones ...if you don't fit it.. well you know the outcome..

I find there is little encouragement in gyms for beginners, newbies, people with issues , however there are " 100`s of classes per week " for the ultra fit. Any encouraging programmes I see are " sold " as a package .. not a bad idea unless the person has been emotionally blackmailed into buying to maintain someones sales quota. ( and yes I have seen evidence of this in the chain store gyms, sad but true..)

It would be revolutionary but why don't we change our approach to minorities in the gym , after all we want them to join  the majority... don't we?

Everyone gets on of these along the way.. the PLATEAU !

There are many health and fitness magazines out there, they tend to be heavy on advice on " how to get a six pack" or how to get a " beach body in 14 days" or how " to look like Arnie " , I guess having this on the front page sells magazines , however, real nitty gritty stuff/ subjects    gets passed by. One subject that receives scant attention is one many if not all people on a change journey experience. Yup the dreaded plateau. CALORIE DEFECIT

To get weight loss you need to create a calorie deficit. Many times ( and I have said this about myself!!) clients will tell me they are doing everything thats being asked of them but are not or have stopped losing weight. This situation could be called weight stable or a eucaloric state where intake and expenditure are equal.There are 3 possibilities here.

1. They are consuming more than they think

2. They are exercising less than they think

3. A combination of 1 and 2.

INTAKE

If you are not keeping a journal or counting calories in some manner  then you may be totally unaware of where you are at in terms of calories per food or calories per portion.Raising awareness may be needed, clients may need to learn how to find out how to understand calorie content of foods, especially ones that they consume frequently. People can be shocked to find for example that a large latte has more fat and calories than a piece of deep fried chicken.Another big issue is the amount of calories that get forgotten about that are obtained via liquid intake.People often underestimate calories drunk...especially when it comes to alcohol, fruit juice, milk...some of these are hard for clients to remove. Journalling can also be improved to help identify eating patterns, making them more accurate can turn up many hidden calories and show where food is being consumed. ( e.g. restaurants where sometimes even " healthy " options have become calorie laden)

ENERGY OUTPUT

A plateau can occur in a number of ways. Most people when they start to loose weight enjoy some success especially if they have received both nutritional guidance and have started to follow a well designed individualized exercise programme, however, after changes occur some form of stalemate comes along . This can be very frustrating for the client " I have been working so hard"....this would be a time to change the programme around.As weight loss occurs then changes occur in the physiology of the individual, as this happens the energy cost per exercise goes down.This is for two reasons a) the person is lighter and they burn less with each activity and b) the metabolism slows due to a decrease in calorie intake...

As such the same programme that got the client to loose weight may not continue to help them on their journey. The physical changes that have taken place have altered the clients need  for energy intake or expenditure.

Often clients , product manufacturer`s , textbooks, websites, " experts" all over estimate the amount of calories used during exercise. People get very hung up on " what machine burns the most calories", well if you are just starting out it probably doesn't really matter.  If you  are only going to start off with 20 mins of cardio 10 extra calories isn't really a big deal.However seeing big numbers on the display of a machine can lead to a false position leading to actually increasing calorie intake in an over compensation .

PLATEAU THOUGHTS

As clients lose weight the amount of calories they need per se becomes reduced.This is because as there is less body  to actually burn calories.You could say that with every % point they decrease they will burn 1% less calories.In effect if the person wants to lose 10% of their weight they need to find a way of living on 10 % less calories.In "Best Weight" by Freedhoff and Sharma they ask how  to determine if a plateau has been reached. Two questions should be examined;

1. Can the client eat any fewer calories and still enjoy life?

2.Could the client exercise more and still enjoy life?

If the answer to either is " yes" then they have reached a plateau. If the answer is " no" and weight hasn't changed for 6 weeks then they have reached a floor where no further loss of weight is likely.

In summary plateau`s can be overcome , it can be a very frustrating time for both the client  and the professional alike..when this stage occurs its time to make changes..either to the volume of exercise or the nutritional part of the equation. The latter may be achieved by keeping a more accurate journal and an increased awareness of portions and calorific amounts of foods  and liquids consumed.

Another Day in the Life of a Personal Trainer....

Occasionally we are going to do a snap shot of a day in the life, today is the second in a series , its hard hitting and nothing in here is untrue or spiced up to sensationalize . Read on. Its Friday , for most the last day of the week, for me its day 5 of 7 this week....trainers can get worn out too!! The day starts early, 5.30 am , I eat before I leave, this never changes even if I am running late, its cold as I hop on the bike, probably about minus 5 degrees but its only a short trek to the studio. First up its bootcamp ( BC for short) now it our third year and still full up 3 x a week. It takes a lot of effort to attend at that time of the day and we are still rolling with a full house, today is a station circuit , 50 seconds per station, 10 second rest, 3 sets per station , ( we do a working set, an isometric set and a working set back to back depending on the exercise) we work hard , we still have a laugh . Three bootcamp members (later) today are starting a journey to become personal trainers , which is awesome , I am going to be more than happy to help them grow and develop as they work towards their goals. I am proud of them...

One hour later we are done and off people go to work ,get the kids ready for school,and the next client comes in. We will call the client DP We have been working together for over 4 years and have a fantastic relationship, always smiling and sharing a similar sense of humour  aids to the session flying by. DP missed the first session this week so we pull back a little on the resistance levels paying close attention to a couple of injuries , we always do something new, I like to challenge each client mentally and physically. The client is having with breaking or changing some food habits and we agree to have a sit down hour in the coming week to go over some issues and hopefully we can find some agreed solutions.

Next up come a couple who are relatively new to Inspira. Last week the gentleman came on his own and felt the after affects of solo attention for a few days. From a training perspective its not nice to get feedback that points to me overloading the client and we agree to lighten up today. I regularly check in during the session to see if we are aggrivating any part of his body that was bothering him last week.We regularly rest as required. The session goes real fast and we swap  coaching ideas ( he is a lifestyle coach...always full of pearls of wisdom that I rebound back on to my clients)...we always do an educational component to each session , usually about movement patterns, what does what and why  in the body. I encourage them to get at least one session done before we meet next..

Back on the bike for a 20 min cycle south, its still colder than I would like, I guess its good for the complexion...and it burns a crap load of calories.I have pre written the next clients programme but H has just come back from an injury so we have to see how it goes, for example one row motion hurts the elbow, a quick switch doesn't help so we search for an alternative exercise. Ok thats better and the client can continue without pain... H is another long term client who always makes time to ask how I am and we swap a few stories health related along the way. Its all good at the end, I must remember to follow up on that elbow situation in a few days.

Moving again to another long term client, I arrive and SC seems bit down and quiet , it takes me at least ten minutes to ask and I find that she has been diagnosed with arthritis in her big toe,( she has been in a lot of pain probably from running and has other foot issues) this is a big problem as she is running a 30 k at the weekend and worse is leading a team of Running Room entrants ( and doesn't want to let them down at the last minute) . In short we are going to have to modify many exercises ( those that use the big toe to push off , bend , generally use...did not realize that even eccentric part of the squat was also a problem) ..so we have to think quickly, do some mental reassurance and show some quick " foot box" exercises for the ankle to try and take the pressure away from the painful area...( I found out 2 days later that the race was run and the soreness in the toe probably changed the gait pattern and caused some grumbles in the hip musculature..but hey we got there...)  We did discuss the possibility of not running especially as the " pain" and other potentially related injuries seem to be increasing with time and usage.

A quick 20 minute cycle back uphill and into the wind ( cold, cold, cold..) to the last client of the day,,,we have been training frequently just recently , working at increasing strength and at the same time introducing new and different exercises. We have been training over a year and progressing nicely . K was a complete gym and weights virgin a year ago , now she can do many many things that make me proud...her skill set has gone through the roof and she is probably only one of a very select few who has never sworn at me during a session. Soon..maybe soon.

Its bloody cold but I go home, exhausted, change clothing and pop out for crushing 30 min run in the cold, hard but enjoyable, have to keep in shape, have a 10 k coming in May so have to start training earlier if I want to beat last years time....,I am tired ,its early to sleep tonight.

Client Objections : How to overcome them....

We have all been there...some one tells us we need to change something in our lives,but whats the common reaction...generally its some form of  resistance.Who likes change .... even people in desperate need begging for help offer resistance . There are always " objections " despite or regardless of the advice... " I can't do that X because of X , Y and Z" ( there are often multiple reasons boosting the credibility of the can't do reasons) Many of the objections are on paper illogical and are often a knee jerk reaction on just being asked to change or there are deeper anxieties over a bigger picture. So how do you manage these objections? How easy is it to change a mindset from one thats closed and negative to one thats open and positive to change.I find often clients are focused on what " they can't do" rather than what they can.... Once a client has made up their mind that their case is impossible the brian shuts down and accepts the failure. The solution may seem easy on the outside ( set a timer on your phone to buzz every hour to remind yourself to drink some water) but sometimes they can't see how to solve their own problem. Hence the coach may need to reframe the situation.

There are 3 compenents  to re framing. 1. Acknowledge the client concerns without being dismissive. To the client the concerns are real even if they might not seem so to the practioner. 2 Move away from negative obstacles towards what the client can do, build up the current good ! 3. Get client participation to solve perceived problems.

It may help to reframe objections by asking what sort of conditions would have to be in place to over come the obstacle that the client is presenting.Moving from acknowledging  of the situation but at the same time looking for solutions . A list of " what if " scenarios can help open up a clients mind to possibilities.If you start to think you can then maybe you can.

Having recognized responses to change objections can all so be helpful.Many of the objections have a common theme and are heard by a coach multiple times, you can re assure them that they are not alone in their quest  and can put the client at ease with a simple quick solution ...if some one has time issues its easy to work on providing solutions, if they have reluctance to give up a foodstuff ( and its funny how many people tell me " I am not giving up X before it has even come up in conversation) let them know that they don't have to and their actually not even being asked to.

Ref :Berardi / Adams " Essentials of Sport Nutrition"

Why I was resisting keeping a food journal and what I did?

Until recently I had not allowed myself the benefit of having a " trainer" . Obviously having been a trainer for ten years I have often asked , indeed even given out deluxe food journals for people to keep. From a casual observation it does appear the people who are more likely to fill in a journal are also more likely to get results! So when i told my trainer that I wanted to lose weight I was told to fill out a food journal, a not unreasonable request especially when the trainer knows I also ask the same of my clients. This would be easy I thought (I had never kept one previously despite once previously being asked, I wriggled out of it) , indeed I had wondered many times before  why people didn't, fill them despite the obvious benefits. The diary can show behavioural and organizational issues that a client may have, I sometimes ask people to add in emotional feelings associated with meals..." how does it feel when you eat that"? This can show patterns of non diet behaviours and highlight alternative choices that might be helpful in eliminating negative emotions or reducing calorie intake.

Making people log the times of the food can show for example how hunger has a role in disorganized eating.. we can see for example common patterns arising that contribute to poor eating patterns.

Most commonly ( and also from my observations) the following issues shown by the food journal that don't help " organized eating" :

Not eating within 30 mins of waking ( so many people resist this simple great start to a a good days nutrition)

Going longer than 3 hours between meals and snacks

The journal can also highlight simple issues ( too few calories per meal ), not including protein in all meals and snacks...

But like my clients I found myself resisting keeping a journal, was this going to be used to judge me, show that I could improve my own nutrition..was it going to take up too much of my time, so I had a decision to make. What to do?

However I considered the benefits..it was going to provide me with calorie level feedback ( after all slight weight loss was my goal)  and as such decision making, it would help me show patterns that may be compromising my efforts, ( I can track my hunger back to questions like " why did I get hungry"?) and it was going to help me create new habits ( it was even making me think..." if I eat this I have to write it down... do I want it that much?)

So I did it and guess what.... I kept it going, after all we are all creatures of habit, initially what was daunting became my new habit, in addition raising my level of food consciousness started to bring results, so far I am proud of my efforts, in future I will work on strategies to help my clients become more compliant in keeping their own journals.