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Weight Loss

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 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...

Liquid Calories Add Up Fast

Liquid Calories Add Up Fast

When people are filling in food journals I always remind them to add all liquids ....not just water but juices ( we recently discussed that  fruit juices could do without being in the fridge) , pop ( same as fruit juices) , alcohol, tea, coffee, yes calories are lurking every where especially fat and sugary ones...

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...

The Journey So Far 2013.. (Half way through the year already!)

The Journey So Far 2013.. (Half way through the year already!)

So how is it going? Yes it's almost half way through the year already! How is it going with your health and fitness goals? I thought I should review mine and do it publicly so to speak, kinda makes me more accountable. This is a summary of the year to date and the issues along the way.

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…

Eat Slowly Lose Weight (Part 2)

Eat Slowly Lose Weight (Part 2)

"Fast Food", indeed lots out our nutritional intake has become "fast" , everything has to be eaten/ available/ done in the quickest possible time...we previously discussed that speed eating (maybe like speed dating?) is just not good for you on many levels. Most of our meals never reach twenty minutes...

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!

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.

So if the Fitness Industry is a mess what should we do?

What do I see in the future of the fitness industry? I recently devoted a blog to my thoughts on why its such a mess and out of control, it is after all a relatively new industry ,commercial gyms probably only came into being in the 1970`s, Personal Training, as we know it sometime in the late 80s... My point in short was that it has become a sort of cash cow preying on fear and emotion...( for example big box gyms like to exploit this ...my most recent work experience within such an environment had me hawking my services around at about a minimum investment of 5k, selling a minimum package of 50 sessions, this was somewhat painful if, in my professional opinion the client only needed 20 sessions , and after all its the " professional " you are paying for, as such I had to attempt to sell something that the person didn't really need, or indeed want )...yes folks it was all about the money, never about the client.

Needless to say client results ( those who had paid for a trainer), in my opinion were low and trainer turnover was high....it was like a semi successful business model , one side made a load of cash , the other side of the equation ... well, you know what I am saying.

My first observation I guess then across the whole industry is lets see clients as people not as a waking ATM machine, I once heard a training pressuring a client to come back and train again on the same day, yes, really.

Secondly lets put some regulations out there that mean something, anyone can own a franchise small box gym, a training studio, don't get me wrong it gets more opportunity  to people out there in places that weren't previously served , but hey can you imagine running a yoga studio and not having a clue about the discipline , not able to offer basic gym user advice is surely a recipe for disaster.

Yes its about business but really its not is it? Its about health.

It appears that anyone can open up a chain of weight loss clinics and franchise them to anyone who has the cash...there are many of these chains out there, are they any good at taking your cash and giving results...well they are good at one side of that equation too. Can you imagine giving cookie cutter weight loss advice too someone who is desperate ...would you feel guilty if you were selling like this...

Thirdly, I am bored with fad diets and the people who peddle them...book after book, do you know how many times in the last ten years of my career that some one has said to me " what do you think of Atkins, South Beach, Cabbage soup, hi fat , low fat, low carb ...latest book on Oprhey  etc etc" its crazy.. publishers wanting to cash in , fashions are fads eating healthy shouldn't be.

It drives people crazy as they jump on board the next train to " ten less pounds" to fall off at the first station. Ever notice how many people want to lose " ten pounds".... .The whole media , Tv , press, advertising should consider that pumping out health advice for profit isn't really helping.There are some great exceptions ( I like Dr Oz ..but even then he recommended something last year that was sweeping the nation so to speak , I even saw handwitten cards in a local supplement shop proclaiming basically you were going to lose 20lbs and live to a ripe old age if you took his product, emails swept around the net... and then.. nothing).

Everybody wants the scoop , then the next scoop...it fills up TV space. I saw a programme yesterday morning selling a treadmill with a desk built in so you could use your laptop and still use the treadmill, apart from the fact that its dangerous , stupid and  totally unnecessary the show just went right along recommending it, ITS WRONG GUYS. You have a responsibility to the nation to give good, impartial ( not product placed ) advice.

Fourthly, lets start thinking for ourselves, do we need reality TV shows to tell us our nutrition is crap, do we need another diet book to tell us what we are eating is wrong, do we need anymore people telling us to exercise more,eat more vegetables, get more sleep , guys we can do this for ourselves , we don't even need gyms... lets not be dictated to by some early morning chat show host who knows nothing about anything really let alone fitness , lets be mindful on what we are doing.

Just think where did your grandma go for advice on nutrition, she didn't she worked it out for herself.

From " Why " to " What Can I Do?" Lets do some positive....

I must admit I have been reading a lot recently, soon I will publish a reading list to help guide people out there who may be interested in helping themselves along the road to change...the most recent book I have enjoyed is The Weight Loss Prescription by Ali Zentner MD, its written so that anyone can learn from it. No its not a diet book. One of her most interesting sub chapters  is called " Stop Asking Why".It starts with the line" we are creatures of habit" , that got me thinking . With a client you can notice " habit " behaviours really quickly...ranging from cancelling often to bringing me in a treat...everyone has a set routine that they live by.Good or bad! However many clients are seeing a trainer because they want something to change, often they know that if behaviour changes the so does outcome. Getting someone to change behaviours is hard especially  when , for example , as a trainer you are well versed in exercise and maybe not so much in counselling.

Zentner continues to discuss why people do things? And concludes if asked people answer by saying " I just do" and that there are no answers to " why " questions . A common misconception she explains is that in to modify behaviour that you must figure out why you do what you do in order to fix it..but suggests that " we often discover the cause by finding the cure" . I thought that made perfect sense.If if you do find out why you do something, maybe through counselling, then she believes that people are conditioned to think that " I know the why.. now I can fix it" Countless times I have seen that thought process fail because people dwell on the " why" and get stuck when they should be doing something differently.When you find the " why " you need to take action.

For example: " Why don't I eat Better?"... "What can I do to eat better?"

" Why don't I exercise more?"....." What can I do to exercise more?"

The " what " is your way forward!! A place to start.Its great to know why but unless behaviour changes nothing happens.You can learn more from loosing weight than by talking about it!. Our behaviour is a reflection of who we are and how we think. Taking action can prompt our inspiration and our thoughts which in turn continues to promote our actions. And so on in a beneficial spiral.Actions are a powerful tool to reshaping how we think.

In future trade in the question " why am I unhealthy right now?" to " what can I do today to be healthier tomorrow" Ask the right question and reap the reward.

Its a great book ... go read it.

 

 

 

Whats Wrong with the Fitness Industry and why is it not working?

Been holding off on this topic for a long time but its time to share some thoughts on whats going wrong. Lets see ... more gyms than ever, more trainers than ever, more health fitness and diet books, TV shows offering advice .. more companies trying to sell you your dreams, endless lose weight franchises.. I could go on... do you see where I am going with this ...health in general is getting no better despite advice and facility availability  reaching an all time high...Nautropaths, holistic nutritionists, dieticians.... ten a dollar , personal trainers " qualifying " by the bus load, gyms open 24 hours at the end of the street dragging you , sometimes literally in the door...so how come the health of the nation at every level is getting worse.

Where do I point the finger?

1. Government... a client recently told me he was meeting with a senior ( very senior ) government minister to discuss " health programmes " , I can't go into further details but lets say it was a good job I wasn't meeting the guy ....what does the Government do now, when you think about it it scrapes by with the bare minimum of input . A couple of years ago they even raised HST on for example " personal training" , hardly encouraging and a pain for gyms and their owners. But what could Governments do ... lets see... what about taking fast food adverts of TV that are directly aimed at children.... what about more funding for schemes such as " Right to Play" , what about banning sponsorship by fast food companies of sporting events ...its been down with cigarettes, why not with junk food. Mind you some sports would fall apart without MacDonalds and Coca Cola`s funding...at Government level the list of educational and financial input could be endless... why not use some of that extra revenue raised through HST and put it back into health, what about subsidizing obese peoples gym memberships and allowing Personal Training to be available to these people through health care schemes..

2. Big Gyms: Always advertising on the radio and TV promoting themselves, but what do they give you? Ever walked around a big box gym ( lets say in May) and check out a class, 90 % plus of the people in the class don't really need to be there ...then 10 % who do need to be are not even really getting results . Are the wrong people going to the gym, do the people who really need to go ever sustain attending more than a couple of months ( they end up paying for the next 8 months as they either can't cancel membership or feel too guilty about giving up)...gyms can be intimidating to the people who need them the most...do you ever see a gym advert showing overweight people ..? Do they specifically try to help minority special populations...not really.

3. Personal Trainers; Possibly the worlds most unregulated " profession" , countless certification providers, no continuity , poorly educated , ( its not there fault by the way) and allowed to work in a industry whose standards should be questioned and thoroughly scrutinized . Did you know that a 3 day training course and a 2 hour exam is all it takes to become certified in this country , then you are licensed to " kill" so to speak. When you compare time spent " qualifying " as a trainer relative to other professions its laughable , would you let a doctor tell you what to do, diagnose you, offer you a health opinion if they had  40 hours max education. I think not. Things seriously have to change and I speak from very close personal experience as we take on board coop placement students from local colleges for work experience, what they lack to be considered " safe"  , even after 2 years of college ,is shocking and sad to see. There is no one out there providing uniform standards or qualification, no one governing body and no sight of one on the horizon. Did you know that anyone can call them selves a " personal trainer " regardless of qualification, would you trust your body and maybe even your life to someone who is $30 an hour on Craigslist who is actually showing you a photo of themselves shirtless and showing off their abs..is this what it has come down to...you are better than this people..

 

4. Magic Formula Weight loss centres: Hand over your credit card now, but before you do ask them for their success ratios ... I know of one that keeps it statistics looking good by throwing people off the programme if they are not losing weight...no wonder " results are guaranteed".. these places play on your emotions, sell you some product and then sell you some more. There is no magic formula, its all down to you...I approached one of these places recently offering training services for their clients....apparently "their clients don't need a trainer", flabbergasted I left...

The fitness has been turned into a cash cow as business see an opportunity to make some bucks, I won't point fingers but the list of bad boys out there is big and growing , be careful where you spend your hard earned..

New Years Resolutions : Do they Work?

New Years Resolutions  So its a new year and the resolutions will be flying about all over the place. For me its the same one every year, no alcohol for January as a minimum and after that see how long we can last in abstention. This started would you believe 30 years ago this year and has been broken only once ( blame some fog, a fear of flying and a 4 hour delay in Amsterdam ....it was also on the 28th of the month so it was four actual weeks which is kind of a month.)..I digress but it can be done.

I pick only ONE target and stick to it, this has meant over the years going to weddings and not even toasting the bride ( water just doesn't do it) , avoiding alcohol situations ( pubs, meals out , ) etc etc, its not been easy, temptation is always there, but I have been immensley proud of my achievements. During the period of abstention I become a bit of a preacher man , telling all and sundry that I am on a " mission" , I use this as a sort of reinforcement mechanism, reminds me and makes me sort of accountable to the person I am talking with.

Now back to you, I am not that interesting ! What is it about a date on a calendar ,in this case 1st January that sets people off in a frenzy of health related thoughts and activities. The gym owners  love January, the regular gym devotees hate the month, it lasts around 3 months , the persons resolutions wither and off they go, usually paying for a gym they aren't using for months after. I think I once read that by March only 5 % of January joiners are still going to the gym more than once a week, a massive 80% weren't going at all.

I have alluded to this elsewhere but for me its about behavioural change  and not about outcome goals, does anyone think that joining  a gym  ensures results ? So setting yourself a weight loss target is less of a good idea than setting yourself a goal of "attending" the gym 3  times per week and adding one extra hour of sleep per night ( the idea being that a change in behaviours will produce outcomes)

However,  change is difficult people , I hear all the time how much " I want to lose weight" , " I want to get fit (whatever that means ) again"  everyone resists change , even though going to the gym 3 times a week looks easy on paper trust me its not. If you are currently not going to the gym at all suddenly trying to attend 3 times a week is a big ask, HUGE...and what happens is people find themselves missing the target weekly, this causes stress and in turn opens up the " I am defeated " trapdoor and they drop off the wagon completely....A simple suggestion is to find some one to act as a coach to help you set up realistic expectations for you and to help you when things go wrong . All successful people have or have had coaching at some level . You may just make yourself accountable to a friend, show them your " goals" and ask them or indeed many people to check in on you periodically. You could do this via Facebook for example , there are other support group structures out there if you look around...

So stop asking yourself " why " questions because they don't have answers, asking " what  questions " ....for example " why don't I exercise more"? becomes " what can I do to exercise more"?...and if you find yourself " falling off " the path, wipe that slate clean in your head, refocus, change paths if necessary , get your support on your side  and get back on the path. A recent book by Ali Zentner, " The Weight Loss Prescription " is well worth a read.

Carbohydrates ... its not all bad !!!

"Carbohydrates" are probably one of the most discussed food subjects of the last ten years , maybe starting back at the time of the Atkins Diet (Low carb intake, High fat) through to more recently Dr  Natasha Turner` s 2012 book " Carbohydrate Sensitivity there has been a massive amount of information released across all aspects of the particular food group. Dr Turners book is an interesting read as it discusses the relationship between weight reduction, and the maintenance thereof when carbs are re introduced back into a persons diet where it has previously been removed .For some people the reintroduction of a particular carb produced weight gain for some the maintenance of the weight loss remained. Hence " all carbs are not created equal in their effect on different people" Everybody needs carbs as they are essential for life.The brain and the central nervous system require glucose ( made from carb breakdown) , if the dietary sources are insufficient then lean muscle mass is metabolized to make up the demand. The established daily minimum recommended intake is 130 grams.This level is affected by size, shape, demand, activity levels,however excessive carb intake will be stored as body fat for future use.

The speed at which carbs are digested and absorbed has a big influence on individual health and body composition.Lower glycemic ( slow release) carbs enhance satiety, blood sugar levels,insulin concentrations,energy levels,  and composition are found in vegetables,fruit, legumes and whole grains and should feature highly in a diet.

Conversely,high glycemic, refined carbs such as bread, white pasta,cereals, added sugars enter the body quickly , raising the blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance.This quick absorption can you leave you feeling like you need to eat more, and sooner than you would should you have rated slow release carbs.

Occasionally during and after exercise the body may require rapid refuelling , at this time insulin sensitivity is high, muscle uptake of glucose is rapid and carb resynthesis . This is the only time I tell my clients that they can have processed rapidly digested high GI carbs.This will quickly restore the bodies needs.