Fitness Anywhere is proud to announce that we will be opening our first personal training studio at 175 Lisgar, just meters from Elgin Street this Spring. Our spacious, yet intimate location in the heart of downtown Ottawa will provide our clients with 1600 square feet for personal, private training, with the latest equipment and the city’s best trainers. Exact opening date to be announced very soon, but keep checking our site for more information on our pre-opening registration for small group classes and one on one training.
After back to back interviews this week, with two separate individuals, both looking to lose more than 60 lbs of excess weight and both being self-proclaimed “food-a-holics,” I presumed that addressing food addiction might be a helpful subject to tackle for my readers. After all, nearly 60% of the emails that I receive about nutrition and meal planning ask specifically about whether there is such a thing as a food addiction and if so, how might one break it.
Like with all addictions, using a substance, be it alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, pornography or yes, even fatty foods, as a means to release stress or to provide immediate physical and/or emotional gratification, is a complicated pattern to break. Studies show that food, particularly high calorie foods consumed repeatedly over a long period of time, activate the same pleasure centres of the brain as highly addictive drugs. Making “overuse” or binging behaviour more prevalent since with each act, the exposure to the substance needs to be increased, making it more difficult to satisfy the craving each time.
While reading this month’s copy of Maclean’s, I stumbled upon an interesting article that summarizes this very subject, and backs it with research done by two men, Paul Kenny and Paul Johnson. Normally, I wouldn’t go to great lengths to repeat the findings of rat studies, but the results found by these two gentleman simply baffled me, and support my belief that the key to weight loss starts first with nutrition, and then exercise.
Kenny and Johnson, two researchers, published in the Journal of Nature Neuroscience, performed a study with a group of lab rats. The rats were provided with all sorts of unhealthy, fatty and sugary foods. During the study, the rats were exposed to junk food only, but were also later given healthy food, in addition to the foods high in fats and in sugars. Not surprisingly however, these rats opted only for the junk food, even when other healthy options were available. Yet what’s even more intriguing, is that when the fatty, sugary foods were taken away as part of the experiment, the rats, now obese, preferred to starve themselves for days rather than to eat the healthy foods that were still provided to them. (A Magic Calorie Ride, MacLean’s, January 17, 2011)
The power of junk food is enormous! It’s the reason why there are over a “billion served” at fast food restaurants. Like any addiction, you need to approach it with a support system in place and a good plan of attack. I too, grew up on numerous cans of cola per day, and fast-food-Fridays. It took me a long time to see myself through to where I am now, eating simply clean, healthy food from the earth….and not food from factories. Digging yourself out of a hole that can only get deeper is hard work and could be the biggest life-challenge that you’ll ever face. But the change is worth it! Making the decision to make a change is the first step. Getting help and support is the next.
January is an interesting time of year for those of us working in the fitness industry. Each New Year that comes, fitness professionals see a resurgence of energy and self-motivation that transpires simply from the turn of the calendar page. With it, the ability to start over, to shed ourselves of our old skins, to start afresh simply because it’s January 1st, seems effortless.
However, how many actually successfully stick to their New Year’s resolutions in the long term? And why do so many fail, and eventually creep back into their old patterns, be it smoking, eating poorly, or continuing to live a sedentary lifestyle? Put simply, behavioural change, especially for adults who are very much already set in their ways, is difficult to achieve in the long term unless small, gradual steps are made. What I often see as a fitness trainer at the turn of each New Year, are a fleet of newly motivated individuals, so eager to change their ways, and get started on their new path toward health and fitness, that they do everything all at once. For example, if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, quit smoking, drink more water, exercise more regularly, and to eat more healthily, one of these changes alone could cause you unexpected disruptions to how you have become accustomed to living. Planning for too many changes at once, can be too much for you to take on and could cause you to give up all together. Your best chance for success is to give yourself a long-term plan of attack that begins now, but includes small individual mini-goals to achieve in your own good time. Set all your desired changes as long-term, and plan to get to them by accomplishing very specific small, short term goals, such as quitting smoking alone, or by simply cutting out on fatty foods, or by committing to one set day for exercise per week. What ever your resolution, achieve it by taking small steps towards it. This way you do not become overwhelmed, overworked, and discouraged by shooting for everything all at once. Work on one thing to change at a time, the one that is most important to you and your health, let your body and mind adapt slowly before you introduce another challenge.
Behaviour is not an easy thing to change, but it is possible if you do it with patience, persistence and with a good progressive plan that follows sequential steps or mini-goals that ultimately lead toward your target goal.
Enjoy the New Year and all the motivation that it brings, but take things in stride, set your goals high, and plan to reach your goal by successively taking small baby steps toward it.
For help with meeting your health and fitness goals this year, contact Fitness Anywhere today.
Did you know that many people live day to day in a dehydrated state? Our bodies are made up of 75% water and 25% solid matter. The average male needs to 3.7 litres of water everyday and the average female 2.5 litres of water in order to properly lubricate joints, prevent kidney stones, to maintain good healthy skin, to ward off colds, flu and other winter ailments, as well as to maintain proper organ function. Most importantly, it keeps us from poisoning ourselves from our own waste.
Water is also the key to weight loss. Without water, vital chemical reactions aren’t present in order for proper digestion to occur, so your body won’t metabolise fat properly without it. Paradoxically, by not having enough water, your body retains fluids in an effort to keep a reserve, and can cause ankle swelling and other conditions that make you appear bloated, overweight and unhealthy.
Exercise, salty foods, caffeine, and alcohol dehydrate the body. Drinking a full, pure, 8 oz. glass of water first thing upon waking is an excellent way to rejuvenate the body and reactivates your sleeping digestive system. Carry a refillable bottle of water with you and sip it throughout the day. Drink 500 ml of water an hour before any physical activity, then another 200 ml 20 minutes before, and then again every 15 minutes during activity and enjoy another 500 ml post workout.
If you find it difficult to put back so many glasses of water, try drinking with a straw. This facilitates ingestion as the water goes down much more quickly and easily. Always keep it on you, and never let yourself get thirsty. At this point you’re already dehydrated.
Remember that the well-known 8 – 10 glasses per day is the bear minimum to avoid dehydration. Add an extra glass for every 25 pounds you are over weight. If you are physically active or live in a hot or a cold dry climate, you can nearly double this amount. If you’re not currently drinking close to the recommended amount of water, slowly and gradually add a glass of water per day so that you don’t over work your kidneys all at once. Stay healthy by staying hydrated!
When it comes to weight loss, eating habits and proper nutrition play an enormous role in your success. You can train hard everyday, but if you’re not fueling yourself properly, it will be impossible to get the results that you’re looking for. What is the number one mistake that the average working person makes with regard to their eating habits? Nope, it’s not one too many happy meals, but rather skipping meals all together.
When it comes to weight management, cutting back your calories is certainly a good remedy for trimming the waistline, but how you eliminate those excess calories is just as important as what you eliminate. Counting calories has never been a practice that I’d condone as a personal trainer. However, being mindful of your body’s daily caloric needs is very important when it comes to having a healthy weight. Your body needs calories in small amounts regularly in order to keep your metabolism up and working to burn the calories that you consume. However, skipping meals, especially breakfast, can greatly affect how your body uses the fuel that you provide it.
Imagine that your body’s metabolism is like that of a campfire. In order to keep the fire burning without going out, you must continuously maintain it with sticks and twigs and small fire logs, keeping the flame hot by regularly adding more good fuel to it. Forgetting to add more wood to the fire would result in a weak flame, or could even put the fire out, leaving you merely with smouldering embers. Once you realize that it’s time to add more fuel to the fire, it could be rather difficult to get a hot flame back. Your tendency might even be to add a rather large log in a desperate attempt to get it going. However, you needn’t be a scout to know that an oversized fire log will take days to burn over embers.
The same principle applies to your metabolism. If you skip a meal, or let yourself go hungry for too long, your “fire” will diminish as well, since it’ll have nothing to sustain it. Once you do decide to eat again, chances are that your body will have placed itself in a starvation mode, slowing the metabolism down, storing up energy in the form of fat. This is the body’s means of survival since it doesn’t know when it will eat again, and therefore conserves whatever fuel it had last. Unfortunately, it conserves it as fat on your body.
What also happens, is that when you skip a meal, you choose to overeat at the next meal, so not only does your body store extra energy as fat as a response to being starved, but overeating at one sitting stretches your stomach so that it will need all that much more to feel full the next time you decide to eat. Your stomach is the size of a fist, keep that in mind when you’ve heaped a mountain of food on your plate.
You can avoid such detrimental eating patterns by eating small meals and snacks every 2-3 hours 4-6 times per day, with a cessation 3 hours before bedtime. After a good grocery shop, take a little time afterward to prepare snacks, cutting up vegetables and fruit, rationing portions of nuts and other snacks so that they are ready when you need them. Never let yourself go hungry! Keep your fire burning with regular, balanced meals and healthy snacks.
If you’d like more information on how to maintain a healthy weight by eating properly and regularly, contact us today.
So you’ve decided to take up running to get yourself moving and feeling healthy and fit again. That’s great! You certainly have made the right initial step toward improved health and fitness, but is it the only step? Certainly not! In fact, cardiovascular exercises alone are not enough when it comes to having complete fitness and health. Exercises such as running, swimming, aerobics and cycling are essential for keeping blood pressure normal, lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, and for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death. However, including resistance training (weight lifting) is a must and the ultimate compliment to cardio when it comes to weight loss and overall health and fitness.
Here are some of the benefits of including resistance training into your fitness routine:
- Decreases body fat
- Promotes joint stability
- Increases muscular strength
- Increases muscle mass and decreases body fat
- Increases resting metabolism
- Improves balance, coordination, and agility
- Improves strength in your core (back, pelvis, abdominals)
- Improves posture
- Increases self-esteem and body image
Resistance training can include training using your body weight, using machines or lifting free weights.
Unfortunately, although less and less, women tend to shy away from weight training for fear of increasing their size, getting bulky, or developing overly large, masculine muscles. To the contrary, weight training increases your resting metabolism far more than cardio exercises alone, so that your body burns more calories while you are not exercising. In order to maintain your developing muscle mass, your body needs to use more calories for fuel, so instead of storing calories, your muscles essentially eat up excess calories. Women do not have the testosterone levels that men have and therefore will develop small but strong muscles that help give great shape to the body. Hours and hours of weight training and high levels of testosterone are what yield large muscles. Including a 1-3 sets of resistance training exercises for each of your major muscles 2-4 per week, will not make you big, but will make you lean and firm and will help you on your road to weight loss and overall health and wellness.
Feeling …bla? How to get something out of those low motivation days.
It’s inevitable and it happens to the best of us. We all experience those low days when we know we need to get up and get active, but we just don’t have the drive to do it. We put off training, making excuses for doing it later, or even the next day, saying to yourself… “I’ll wait til it stops raining, til the traffic dies down, or I’ll go after work instead of going before.”
Sometimes it has nothing to do with energy levels or fatigue, but the continuous argument between your body, your brain and your schedule that keeps you from getting it done. My advice…get up and do something….anything. If’ you’re having this argument with yourself, and you really don’t feel like training, give in with a compromise: Tell yourself that you’ll do something for 15 minutes and if you still feel the same, then you can quit and call it a day.
Chances are, that when you start to exercise the increases in blood circulation and oxygen to your brain will change your mood. In other words, once you feel the effects, you probably won’t want to stop. And if it turns out that you still do, well at least you performed 15 minutes of exercise. Something is better than nothing!
No body is perfect. Accept your body and weight for what it is, and instead, aim for a healthy goal, such as having better fitness, to become a faster runner, or to be able to touch your toes. Avoid obsessing about imperfections by target training only problem areas. Work at your overall health and fitness and the rest will fall into place. Don’t expect perfection but strive to be you at your very best; healthy and fit.