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Weight Loss

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...

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...

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...

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...

Don't Eat Till You are Full : 80% is Full Enough

Don't Eat Till You are Full : 80% is Full Enough

Recently we were discussing the speed of eating and highlighting how few people take the time to eat slowly and find enjoyment in their nutrition...the premise was simple eating fast encourages over eating which in turn assists weight gain. This is a sort of part 3 to our 2 previous discussions related to this area...

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.

I like the term " best weight"...

Recently I joined the Canadian Obesity Network, something that I stumbled on during my quest for more information on all subjects health related, they produce a neat little read entitled " Best Weight " ( Freedhoff and Sharma). I want to pick out some of the best bits that I think are helpful to those looking to loose weight...

I always like to see if my client has realistic expectations and a plan, more often that not I find that they don't have either. Further questioning may be needed to learn about motives and objectives.Aesthetic reasons can often be a prime motivator and these could be short term ( my daughter is getting married and i want to get into a specific suit) or long term goal like improve self esteem or finding a grew partner...However successful weight loss for aesthetic reasons may be harder to achieve than doing the same for health reasons. If weight loss is driven by self esteem or concerns over  body image then these issues need to be addressed first. To assist in that sometimes I refer clients out to a life coach...

If the goal is health related weight loss its nice to share with the clients what to expect, maybe increased energy or less knee pain....I try to define objective quality of life goals that can be obtained in a reasonable time..success should be measured by achievement of these goals rather than actual weight lost.Maybe we should take away that the goal of weight loss is not about numbers on a scale but to reduce health risks and improve quality of life. Even a 5 % weight loss can produce measurable medical results!

In goal terms its probably best that they are as least daunting and obtainable as possible...rapid weight loss cannot be sustained, it can be achieved short term , but has a negative affect on lean tissue in the body. Sustaining weight loss is more important than achieving massive numbers..its better to lose 50% less than too regain it all and sometimes more back...

This leads me to the concept of " best weight". I do like this concept, its refreshing and I am surprised that I have never come across it before. Its so simple.The book describes " best weight " as a non statistical goal that is easy to set. Clients can take their weight down to any weight they put their minds too, but to maintain that weight they need to enjoy the lifestyle that got them there.

The term " best weight" is the weight achieved whilst living the healthiest lifestyle that they can truly enjoy. They maintain that there is a point when you can no longer eat less or exercise more and still like their life. The weight achieved whilst still liking their life is the " best weight " achieved without further intervention...and that is the lowest weight currently possible.For sustained weight loss the client should consume the smallest number of calories that allows them to enjoy each day.With exercise clients should do as much as possible, but there is a maximum above which the person will not do, chances are they will come to hate exercise, then they quit.

Eating less and exercising more in a situation that the patient doesn't enjoy is the definition if a diet which is why 95% of them fail as the client returns back to previous lifestyle choices. A healthy lifestyle is the smallest number of calories and the greatest amount of exercise that a person can enjoy.

Ref: Best Weight . A practical Guide to obesity management ( Yoni Freedhoff and Ayra Sharma . ) Published by The Canadian Obesity Network

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..

Good Nutrition : How to achieve optimal results! (Part 1)

Nobody knows how many diet books are in circulation, its in the thousands , people buy them clinging to the hope that some where between the covers all the answers to " weight loss " or indeed " gain" can be found . Its a huge industry , each author tells you to follow this plan, this advice, but if they all held the answer then we would in theory only need one book, they come and go in trends ( just one feature on the Ophray Winfrey Show was enough to sell thousands of copies)....low carb, high fat, south beach, atkins ... but successful body transformation is not as easy as people are lead to believe.As John Berardi put it nicely in his Precision Nutrition manual " how often does merely reading a book cause someone to change the habits of a lifetime' . When you think about it these cooker cutter books obviously cannot work for every ready, its way more personal than that.

He continues to suggest people need action based strategies and that book reading is intact just that, " passive", this is based on the premise that to change body composition is as much about re wiring the brain as it is changing your diet. 

Indeed in her new book " The Weight Loss Prescription " Dr Ali Zentner suggests " lets face it , diets don't work... they are only for a fixed period of time...they offer a beginning a middle and an end" In contrast " lifestyle changes offer a completely different mindset and a way of doing things"

Indeed all diets restrict calories, its a way of making results ( and book sales) possible.

Even if you find the knowledge you want in a book and you know exactly what to do you will not achieve them unless you turn what you know into action. Not doing anything is the biggest hurdle to change! People it appears are good at seeking knowledge but poor at applying it.

 

Dr Berardi suggests 10 tips towards achieving success, at the moment I am being coached through the same system and its pretty powerful. I like these and see this with nearly everybody who is in a body change situation.

Tips

1. "Maybe You don't know"

I like this one the most. Imagine the conversation between a doctor and a patient : " you need to lose weight and exercise more" In reply the patent nods their head "I know I know" The patient has probably heard it may times, but even though they think they know maybe they just don't and use the " I know" as a standard reply as a mental shortcut to shut off the brains. Do you really know something unless you have actually done it ?

 

2. Match behaviour and goals.

Stuff doesn't happen just because we want it too, it only comes to us when we engage in the right behaviours, if the goal is big the behaviour should match the goal.

3. During the course of any change programme there will be peaks and valleys

Stuff comes along that throws you off the path you want to travel on, it happens to everyone, you can't be full on all the time.

4.Start small and slow.

Too much change too quickly can be overwhelming and self defeating, however as with tip 2, if the goals are big small change will result in small not big results

5.Start basic, then individualize to suit your needs

6.If you have specific goals measure them..

This can be done in many ways but at least you know where you are at and how its all going!

7.Measurement and Expectations

Progress can be hard to see on a regular basis, plateau`s can happen frequently, stagnation can occur...if you stick to it change will happen sooner or later , don't be discouraged

8.Dont live and die by numbers.

Dont relate happiness to a number( good or bad ) on the scale..this isn't just about numbers but about health, longevity, energy levels, sleep quality etc..

9. Reasonable progress

Understand reasonable progress, celebrate small daily " wins' and don't get impatient if you aren't loosing 3% body far each month..

10.Maintain your rate of progress

Quick progress cannot be maintained indefinitely ,as you get leaner for example you body will fight to retain fat, around this time you may have to start tweaking what you are doing to get the body to change its response to stimulus.

 

Part 2 where we look at habits will be coming shortly...