Machines vs free weights part two

In the first part of the this post between machines and free weights I talked about the safety aspects between the two different training types.

If you missed the first one you can check it out here http://robdickson.net/?page_id=88

Aside from the safety thing, the other big debate around machines is if they are as effective as free weights at building strength and muscle.

Like I pointed out before the definition of a machine is to make work easier. In the gym to make muscles grow and get stronger you don’t necessarily want to be making things easy.

Lets first take a quick look at how muscles grow. When put under stress, tiny parts of the muscle can become damaged, providing the stress is high enough.

If you were able to subject your muscles to enough stress to cause damage then your  body says “wait we just tried to lift this heavy thing and we damaged a muscle. We need to repair it. When we repair it lets make that muscle cell a little bigger and a little stronger so when faced with this stress again it won’t get damaged.”

Here is  quick video to reiterate my information above.

 

When you keep repairing your muscles bigger and stronger you need to keep increasing the intensity by increasing the weight or reps or sets or time under tension to continue cause damage to the muscle so that it will continue to build up bigger and stronger.

 

biceps

If your body can lift something easily then there is no reason for it to build up bigger and stronger. So there need to be enough stress to cause the damage.

Working with free weights can be more challenging. The weight that is on the bar is the weight you are lifting. Compared to a machine where the weight may be reduced depending on the number of pulleys it goes over or if it is on a leaver system of incline plane it can make the exercise easier. This goes back to the number of pulleys the cables go over or the angel the machine is on or the length of the lever arm of the machine. I won’t go into that any further. If you ever work out on different machines or in different gyms with different machines most people find there is a little difference on how much they can lift because of the difference in designs.

When using free weights you do need to use a lot more stabilizer muscles in order to do the exercise correctly. This can make the exercise seem more difficult because you are recurring more muscles to stabilize therefore using more energy. This involvement from stabilizer muscles is why free weight exercises feel harder. Having to use a lot of energy to balance weights instead of using that energy to just execute the movement.

To increase the intensity on a machine just increase the weight. just like on any exercise if you can do the desired number of reps and sets with ease then you are not using enough weight. To increase the intensity add more weight this will increase the stress on the muscle and cause the damage you are seeking for muscle growth.

intensity-big1-300x197

Free weights also allow you to cheat a bit more when you are working out compared to machines. It is still possible to cheat on machines but seems to happen more with free weights.

Cheating is usually where you swing your body and swing the weight a little (or a lot) to help move the weight. Advanced lifters use this for increasing the tension the muscle is under or bringing the set past failure. Some younger lifters use it for their entire set just to move heavy weights. More of an ego thing than anything else. It is an advanced lifting technique and can be quite dangerous if done incorrectly.

cheat-curl

With all that taken into consideration your muscles can’t tell the difference between a machine or free weights. If you compare a bicep curl with a barbell and a bicep curl on a machine your body can’t tell the difference. If the intensity is high enough that you cause damage to the muscle using the barbell or the machine the end result will be muscle growth.

When planning a resistance training program it is good to mix it up and have some variety in your programs. Use a variety of machines and free weight exercises in your program to keep things fresh and interesting.

I personally like to add some machine work into my program especially at the end of my routine. This will increase the safety factor because I may be tired but still allows me to use enough weight to stimulate muscle growth and still remain safe.  By putting machines at the end I am able to use all my remaining energy into the exercise and not have to worry about trying to stabilize heavy weights if I am already tired.

 

 

 

Machines or free weights part 1

I was teaching a course last week on exercise adherence to a bunch of up and coming personal trainers and wellness coaches. On one of the breaks we were chatting about our own personal workouts and how we liked to train.

I typically train like a bodybuilder, but don’t compete. I can’t do certain exercises because of old sports injuries. One exercise in particular I have trouble with is squats. I have three compressed discs in my lower back so heavy squats are out of the question. Light squats are fine but nothing like I could do when I was younger.

When I mentioned this to the trainers one of them immediately spoke up and asked how my legs were so big if I didn’t squat. The answer was easy and with the trainers in the room I thought they would have known already; heavy leg press. I definitely recommend squats as long as you can do them pain free and with perfect form. Even 6X Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates had to give up squats in 1986 because of a hip injury and he was able to build Olympia caliper quads with leg presses.

yates

That conversation really got me thinking about the difference between machines and free weights and the stigma around them. Many in the bodybuilding and some of the extreme fitness sports and even some personal trainers advocate for free weights and free weights only. Some state that machines are only for beginners.

These stereotypes are becoming less and less but they do still exist.

Some state that machines are safer and easier therefore you can’t get as good of a workout or the same results you would as if you used free weights. Free weights are more dangerous but you get better and faster results with them for various reasons we will explore.

But first the definition of a machine. The machines in a weight room are simple machines, levers, pulleys and incline planes for the most part. We as a society have invented machines and continue to invent machines to make work easier. We don’t tend to invent things to make our lives more difficult.

The difficulty of a machine exercise is very congested and I will talk about that in part two of machines vs free weights. Today we are going to talk about the safety of machines.

Are machines in the gym safer?

They are technically, in theory safer,  but that doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt by using a machine, especially if you use it incorrectly.

 

This is a classic youtube video. You can see as soon as he spreads his feet apart a little things start to go wrong very quickly.

In most machines You probably won’t get crushed to death if something goes wrong. But you can still get hurt, like we saw in the above video. You need to be properly set up in the machine, have correct alignment, still use proper form, keep your abs tight, do the movement slow and controlled and use a weight you can lift for your desired number or reps and sets.

benchfail

Machines fit average size people and they have adjustments on them (seat, back, chest pads and handles depending on the machine) that need to be adjusted on them properly so you fit in the machine correctly. If you are not in there properly you can increase the joint torque stress on certain joints or put your body in compromising positions. If this happens you can end up fighting the machine for range of motion.

Not literally fighting it but if your body wants to move in a certain direction because it is designed to move that way, and the machine prevents you from doing that, and forces your body in a different range of motion, you will be fighting against the machines motion. Even if you are off by a little in your alignment (depending on the machine) you can be working against a force you won’t win against.

I have seen a few people using machines that lost the fight. It is usually a quick snap or pop as your body gives into the machines aliment and forces a limb to go the way it wants it to go.

If you are lined up properly but you start to contort your body to move a heavy weight you can’t move with proper form, again you can be putting your back, knees, hips and elbows out of alignment and causing undue stress on those joints. Don’t think that leaning into the peck deck and using momentum and your abdominal muscles to move the weight is going to build you a bigger chest.

If you don’t know how to use the machine, seek to understand before attempting to use it.

 

This guy should really get an orientation to the gym before touching anything.

I am a professional trainer and there are many like me in gyms around the world that love helping people and want to see people safe. Come find us if you don’t know what you are doing. We can show you, it will keep you safe and make your results faster.

Free weights can be dangerous too, especially if you don’t have a spotter, or again if you have no idea what you are doing.

There are many youtube videos out there of people getting hurt doing free weight exercises completely wrong. A missed step, bad set up, no spotter, things can go wrong quickly.

Fail

The good thing when it comes to free weights is that you define the range of motion and the path the weight travels in. If you have injuries or other restrictions you can change the exercise ( as long as it is still biomechanically safe) so that you still get the benefits of the exercise.

You do have to have proper form when using free weights, strong stabilizer muscles and be set up to execute the exercise properly, if not you can suffer an injury. If you are having difficulty completing the last one or two reps of a free weight exercise, hopefully you have a spotter that can help you out before things go wrong. Worst case (except in barbell bench press) you are able to “dump” the weights before you get injured. It makes a loud noise but scaring people is better than a serious injury.

When it comes to the safety aspect of machines vs free weights, I am in favor of using both. I use both in my personal exercise programs and when training clients. One is not necessarily safer than the other, you can still get quite injured doing both. The unfortunate thing is the false sense of security people get when using a machine. Uninformed people think that the worst injury in a gym is having weights dropped on you. When bad form and technique can lead to acute and chronic injuries.

The important thing to remember is to have proper instruction on how to use the machine or how to perform the free weigh exercise properly. With proper set up and instruction anything can be safe.

In Machines vs free weights part 2 I will talk about the effectiveness of machines compared to free weights in building strength and muscle.

Stay tuned!

Can technology help us on our fitness journey?

Technology is great. Think of all the wonderful things we can do with today’s technology. The diseases we can treat and cure. The safety features that make life safer, the appliances that make life easier and the games that enable you to waste an entire afternoon.

angry

Eventually some of that awesome technology was going to make its way into the fitness industry.

I see a lot of people using technology to track their fitness progress, some of my clients included. I have had a few conversations with clients as to the effectiveness of some of those devices. Not that I don’t think their effective, but do my clients, and the general population find them useful?

There are a ton of those products on the market. From the Fit Bits, Jawbone, Nike bands, phone apps and the regular old school step counters.  Many of the devices now a days, especially the higher ends ones, can track total activity (not just steps), body weight trends, calories consumed, calories burned, heart rate and other measurable elements.

Do those pieces of technology make a difference? Do they, can they, enhance peoples fitness levels? Does tracking all of those measures really change things?

Fitbit-Force

They certainly can if used properly. If not used properly they can be a big waste of time and money. I personally hope people find them effective and use that technology to get closer to their goals. I am in favor of anything that increases exercise adherence.

Some of the technology is quite good. It will also you to track your progress verses your goal and some will allow you to compare or challenge your friends. That brings a level of accountability and social support into the equation. And for those that are competitive, a level of competition.

If, and that is a big if, the technology is causing you to change your behaviors, your habits, and keeps you accountable to yourself then yes it is useful. it is is causing you to eat better, because you now have a more accurate measure of what you are eating so you naturally consume less calories then it is doing its job.

If you are using it to track your workouts and you are making adjustments to increase or make your workouts better based off of the data then it is a good thing,

Even if you had a pedometer to track your steps, and you set a personal goal of 10,000 steps per day. What would you do if you were at 9000 steps and it was almost time for bed?

Would you:

a) not worry about it and just keep tracking the steps every day for the sake of tracking them?

or

b) Head out for a quick walk to get to you goal for the day before bed?

Collecting data is great if you are going to do something with it. Unless you are really curious about the number of steps you are taking each day for the hell of it.

I personally don’t use that technology except for the odd step counter to confirm the number of steps I think I am taking each day, especially during events, or conferences. Throughout the day, because i have a very similar routine I know my steps and calories.

I do have a lot of clients that use them and swear by them. it helps keep them accountable to themselves. As well as to me if they allow me to see the data. I can help them set goals based on their activity levels and nutrition intake.

I would use it in the example above. setting a goal and making sure they do everything in their power to reach the goal each day.

Any of the food and nutrition apps can be used the same way, setting a caloric goal and making sure my client only takes in that amount of calories per day.

If they allow me access to their profile then i can keep track and help keep them focused on their goals.

The irony is some technology is causing us to become sedentary and out of shape bur forcing us in front of a screen all day long and not allow us to get up and move then we use the same technology to track out workouts and how much or how little we moved.

the idea that modern technology is doing more harm than good to our health is another blog post on its own.

Whether we like it or not technology is here to stay and will only get more common in the fitness industry. Lets make sure we are using the technology to its full potential to keep us on track and allow us to reach our goals.

 

 

Weight loss tips

I have been getting a lot of questions recently around weight loss. Losing weight, or at least the quest of losing weight is one of those societal things that won’t be going away anytime soon.

Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. From books, diets, eating plans, pills and supplements, North Americans spend more on losing weight then some countries GDP.

For starters the weight loss industry thrives on failure. If people that were overweight lost the weight and kept it off then there wouldn’t be anyone needing the services of the industry. The trick is people lose weight from a product, gain it back after they stop using the product and either use the same product again or try a newer one on the market.

The_Diet_Cycle_20101

When people lose weight, especially rapidly do to some fad, gimmick or trick without making any significant lifestyle changes the weight will come back on. Sometime people gain more weight.

fad diet

Losing weight is all about caloric balance. You need to burn or use more calories in a day then you consume. There are two ways to go about doing that.

1) Eat less calories

2) Burn more calories daily

Number two can be done in two ways:

1) Moving more

2) Make your body burn more calories at rest.

I could go on and on about fad diets but will save that for another post. Today I wanted to share with you some tips to help you either consume less calories or to burn more calories each day.

keep calm

There are hundreds of tips on how to lose weight but here are the top 10 I give to my clients. Most tips I provide are based on their goals, and their lifestyle. Many of my clients are business professionals and are very busy with their careers so trying to develop some eating habits is key. But these tips will work for everyone.

1) Take your lunch to work as often as you can and avoiding eating out. This way you can be certain of how many calories you are consuming. Restraint and cafeteria food always have a lot more calories in them than you would expect.  It is also a good way to save money. This is a good start at reducing the calories you eat every day. It goes hand in hand with some of the other tips below.

2) Add weight lifting or some sort of resistance training to your workout program. Adding a little bit of muscle will enable you to burn more calories at rest.

3) Limit alcohol. Alcohol has calories in it too. A beer (depending on the kind and size) has around 150 calories per bottle. Hard Liquor (depending on the proof and the shot size) has give or take 100 calories, then you need to add in any calories from the mix. With a few drinks comes the fatty snacks. So you need to limit those as well when you are out. 

4) Before eating have a glass of water. Many people when they thing they are hungry are actually thirsty. This will help fill you up and reduce the amount you need to eat to feel full and satisfied at your meal.

5) Replace higher calorie foods with low calorie ones. for example replace cream based salad dressings with vinegar based ones. Use tomato pasta sauce instead of alfredo sauces, sweetener instead of sugar and so on. 

6) Eat more Veggies. By filling up on veggies you are filling up on a food that is not that calorically dense but has a lot of volume. Besides that vegetables contain a lot of fiber and water that fill you up. Essentially eating a lot of veggies will make you full without adding a lot of calories so you eat less total calories in the day. 

7) Cardio/HIT/Interval training. Doing cardio will help expend a lot of those excess calories. If your body needs more energy it will tap into your fat stores for energy. One of the biggest factors that influence a persons desire to perform exercise is if the person likes the exercise they are doing. 

If you are forced to do a particular exercise or to go beyond your comfort level before you build the habit then you are not likely to want to continue with that exercise. 

 

Do you think joelle is enjoying her training session? Do you think she is going to want to continue to do that even though she accomplished it at the end? Think she would do it on her own? If you start associating negative feelings towards exercise in general it is less likely someone would do it. 

If someone has positive feelings towards the exercise they are more likely to stick to it. 

Starting an exercise plan like a horse out of the starting gate won’t help if you only do it a few times. 

8) Eat 5-6 times a day. This keeps your metabolism high, thus keep you burning calories throughout the day. Don’t eat more food in the day just spread out the food out over 5 to 6 meals throughout the day, usually every 2-3 hours. 

9) Eat breakfast. Like tip number 8 you need to spread your food over several meals and unless you are on some strange polyphasic sleep pattern you need to eat immediately upon waking. If you sleep between 6-9 hours at night, even if you ate right before bed you have been fasting for 6-9 hours. When you don’t eat for several hours your metabolism slows down. To kick start your metabolism to an optimal level so that you are a calorie burning machine.

10) Keep a food log. Keeping a log will help keep you accountable to yourself. I often get my clients to keep a food log of what they eat, how much the eat and when they eat it. Before making any changes to your diet I recommend logging everything you eat for three days, including one weekend day, because everyone eats differently on the weekends. Then when you make some eating habit changes you can compare where you were to where you are and see what the caloric difference is. 

 There are just a few of the tips I offer to my clients. Often times I will help them work on a plan that is best suited to their lifestyle and habit. The tips can be modified and changed based on an individual’s lifestyle, goals and workout habits. You don’t need to add in all the changes at once. One or two changes at a time, especially if you are not accustomed to making drastic changes in your life, work best. Build  the habit of those changes first and make them part of your lifestyle. Once those are established then you can add on more changes to help compound the weight losing effect.

 

A trip to the bank

We have hectic and crazy lives.

I am very blessed to live in a peaceful country and a great city. I go to work during the week, I get to work out, spend time with my family and friends and enjoy life. We often take for granted what we have sometimes, actually I would venture a guess as to say most of the ime.

We don’t live in a war torn country where going to the store can be dangerous. Your religious  beliefs, sexual orientation or other personal beliefs won’t get you killed.

We are free (for the most part) of natural disasters and extremist actions. And if something were to happen in this country our government and government agencies would act fast to help and save as many people as they can.

I was at the bank the other day and took notice just how stressed out people are.

I had to go to the bank for work. I needed change for our till at the gym. So one of those times where you actually need to see a teller. Before I started my new position I couldn’t remember when I actually did my banking business with a teller. Like most people that are versed with technology, and to be honest I don’t know much, I use an ATM or online banking for almost everything I need to do.

But this day I need to talk to someone, If I could have gotten the change I was looking for from an ATM I would have.

This particular day as soon as I stepped inside the bank I knew something was wrong. The line to see a teller was a lot longer than usual and people in the bank seemed stressed. Evey have that vibe when you walk into a place that everyone seems mad or upset? Well this place stank to high heaven of it.

Needing the change for work I stepped in line and began to wait, Another odd thing about the day was that I didn’t have my phone on me. So no facebook, twitter texting or checking email while I waited my turn. Nope just had to hurry up and wait.

While waiting, when not occupied with my phone, I like to watch people and observe their actions.

First thing I noticed was that there was only two tellers working. Normally when I come in this bank there are at least three or four, So I deducted that they were short staffed today. No biggie, has happened to me in my gym and happens at other customer service places as well.

Second, the main teller that is getting through the most people in line looks stressed as hell. She is concentrating like she is defusing a bomb. She is not happy and I am sure she is getting the brunt of the complaints of people having to wait in line.

Next come the people in line. They are stressed and starting to get mad because of the wait. As I am starting to make my way up to the front of the line and the customer service “help desk” that is not actually a teller is trying to help people if they don’t have or need cash. It helps but I can’t tell if it is making those people more or less mad.

As I get closer to the front I start overhearing conversations between the members and the teller that is whipping through customers. Two of the three people in front of me are making a deposit.

Wait! a deposit?

WTF! I say to myself as I stay there in line. The two most stressed out people in line just wanted to make a deposit.

wtf

 

Well the ATM over in the corner is working fine and doesn’t have a lineup. They could have easily made their deposit there and saved a ton of time. They actually waisted their own time by wanting to see a teller.

When I finally get to the teller she looks stressed. I smile and that immediately relieves any tension between us and I think puts her at ease, I am a big guy and I bet she thought that I was going to complain about the wait. I engage her in small talk ” busy in here today!” “you guys short staffed today?”

“Yeah sorry about the wait” she replied as she was counting out my change.

“Don’t worry about it. Its not your fault. If the worst thing that happens to me today is having to wait an extra 10 minutes in line at the bank, then its been a pretty good day.” I replied.

Thinking back as I left the bank and all those stressed out people I thought about how much of that stress was self induced? Many of those people could have done the banking they need to get done online or at an ATM.

In total I don’t think the wait was more than 10 minutes. Many of those people have waited in line at starbucks longer.

Here is a little rant about the lines at Starbucks.

The best is when there are 10 cars in the drive through and no one in the store yet you choose to stay in the drive through because you don’t want to get out of your car. You could be with your coffee much sooner and lower your stress level by many points but the drive through is just easier. Even though you are stressed you are late you still want your coffee and you still want to go through the drive through.

To get to the point of my post today, stress is everywhere but much of it is self induced. If I went into line at the bank mad because I wasn’t going to be in and out as fast as I thought I could have stressed myself out too. Yet I choose to look on the bright side of things and enjoy that time to people watch. then write a blog about it.

"I should tell you this transaction is being recorded, and may appear on my blog."

Stress kills! it takes a tole on your physical and mental health. And to tie it back in with the theme of my blog, stress can prevent you from losing weight and depending on how you cope with stress cause you to gain weight.

Next time you find yourself stressed out take time to think to yourself “is this really worth getting stressed out over?”

In a future post we will explore some stress reduction techniques.

in the meantime remember, things could always be worse.

 

Rob

Fitness and Nutrition Myths Part 2

Since there are still some New Year resolution  around the gym, although we hear less and less about them now, I decided to write about some more of the common fitness and nutrition myths that affect them the most.

 

Crunches are Awesome!

crunches

 

Nope, well not for what you think. Crunches are OK. There are many other core exercises out there are just as effective and safer. For general purposes crunches are an OK core exercise especially if you do them properly,

The problem is people thinking that doing crunches will decrease their waist line. Nope! You can’t spot reduce. If you are carrying extra fat then you need to burn that off. In theory you could do crunches to burn calories but you would need to do a lot of them. There are 3500 calories in one pound of fat.

Men’s Health Magazine suggests that you need to do 22,000 crunches to burn that one pound of fat.

There are may other safer, time efficient and effective ways to burn off fat than lying on the floor and doing thousands of crunches.

Spend your time wisely in the gym. Do Crunches to strengthen your core but hit up some more cardio and keep your diet in check for that calorie reduction.

 

No Pain No Gain!

Quite the opposite, you can get quality workouts without feeling like a bag of smashed As*%#^es the next day. That mantra comes from the guys that crave that burn, the pain. They like to puke in the gym and think it is great when they can’t walk or shampoo their hair the next day because they are so sore and can’t move.

Those guys are a special breed and yes that works for them. If it worked for everyone there wouldn’t be a obesity epidemic in North America.

in reality a good exercise program should feel like you have more energy and that you are refreshed after your workout.

Instinctively we are taught to avoid pain. If we start to associate pain with exercise we will start to find any excuse there is to avoid it.

That’s not how we want to view exercise. You should enjoy your exercise time. That will want you to do it more and you will achieve greater results.

 

You need to Sweat a lot!

Sweating is your body’s way of cooling off.

You could be lying in the sun in Mexico and heave sweat pouring off you. Does that mean your burning calories? No! It just means that your hot and your body is trying to cool itself.

clip-art-sweating-315452

You burn the majority of your calories when you are not exercising anyway. You burn a lot of calories just in normal things around the house and your body’s own internal processes keeping you alive.

Sweating is determined on how good your body is at thermoregulation. There is a good Wikipedia article here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoregulation

If you sweat a lot when you exercise that is fine. If not don’t feel like you need to step up your intensity to the point of sweating buckets, especially if you’re not ready.

You are more than capable of burning extra calories from exercise every day without sweating up a storm.

 

Machines are safer than free weights!

Many think machines are safer because if you mess up you won’t have a bunch of weights dropping on your head. This is true but you can hurt yourself in other ways.

Machines are designed for the average person. If you are really tall, short or wide then you may have difficulty adjusting the machine to fit your body.

If you can’t adjust the machine to fit your body properly then your range of motion or form may be altered because or improper body alignment. There can even be an increase in torque stress placed on joints if you are not set up properly.

If you are using a machine and not adjusted to it properly, the machine will continue to run in its movement path. If the machines path is different than your body’s preferred path and you are trying to force the machine into a different path, you will lose.

 

 

exercise machine

 

Don’t be afraid of machines, they’re great. Use a variety of techniques in your exercise program and get proper instruction on how to use the machines or free weights and perform the exercises before starting

 

 

If you lift weights you are going to get jacked!

I read an interesting quote on social media the other day and it went something like this

“Lifting weights won’t turn you into a bodybuilder just like driving a car won’t get you into NASCAR”

The Quote is completely true, hit the nail on the head with that one.

muscular-girls-12

 

I have many friends that want to be bodybuilders and continually want to put on muscle but can’t. Just lifting weights is not going to transform your body overnight.

All of the competative professional bodybuilders and many ameature bodybuilders are on very strict diet plans, insane workout programs, a ton of supplements and other performances substances, both men and women.

That being said, women don’t have enough testosterone to build that kind of muscle. If they are crazy muscular than they are probably adding a little extra into their diet.

To play devil’s advocate, if i may, building that quantity of muscle does not happen overnight, even with “supplements” If anyone that was lifting weights and said “I think I’m getting too big/too muscular” then it is easy to take some time off the gym or cut back a bit. It is not that hard to get out of shape.

 

Hopefully that dispels some of the other myths that are out there.

If you need further details on any of the myths or want clarification on an other myths in the fitness or nutrition world hit up my comment section belowor drop me an email

 

 

Nutritionist vs Dietitian

Now that a lot of people are a few weeks into their fitness resolutions I have started getting a lot of questions about diet and what to eat to lose weight.

There was a couple guys in the gym asking if i know and nutritionists that I would recommend. This led to an in depth conversation about nutritionists and dietitians and the difference between the two.

There are some differences. Many trainers have a preference for one over the other. Some people even go to bash the other profession.

dietitian

 

Trainers shouldn’t bash those other professions too much themselves. I wrote another article on personal trainer certifications here:

Choosing a Personal Trainer

For the most part I don’t beleave that either is nutritionist or a dietitian is better or worse or would ever give anyone bad advice on purpose. The opinion of a nutritionist and a dietitian may be the same or it may be different it really all comes down to education and beliefs. Some will get in heated arguments with you on who’s advice you should follow.

Personally I am not a dietitian. The minor I took in university was nutrition so I have a very strong background in the Science of nutrition. I could call myself a nutritionist because there are no regulations on what education you need to be called a nutritionist and that is where the difference lies.

In Canada the terms ‘Dietitian’ and ‘Registered Dietitian’ are protected professional titles. Each province has an independent professional college which is responsible for protecting the public and regulating the profession. The collages investigate malpractice or reports of negligence, make sure all the dietitians are following their scope of practice. Basically they have a governing body that keeps them accountable.

To practice as a registered dietitian within a province, a dietitian must register with the college and obtain a license. The activities of the college are governed by legislation passed by the provincial government. It is the presence of this regulatory body which distinguishes registered dietitians from nutritionists in Canada, the regulations for which vary by province.

The colleges also set the minimum entry requirements for admission into practice as a registered dietitian. Requirements include a four year undergraduate degree from an accredited university (which includes courses in science, foods, nutrition, management, communication and psychology/sociology, among others), a 10-12 month supervised practice period, and successfully passing a board exam in nutrition and dietetics.

Many dietitians work in clinical settings like hospitals and retirement residences.

For more information about dietitians in Canada check out their website at http://www.dietitians.ca/

In most provinces the term nutritionist is not protected. meaning that anyone can call them self a nutritionist even it they are self taught in their field of nutrition. If they are self taught and not accountable to anyone they can say, prescribe and recommend anything they want to their clients without consequence.

Again I don’t think that anyone is out to give anyone bad advice on purpose.

Dr. Oz recently got into trouble for recommending products that were not scientifically based. He was pulled in front of a senate committee hearing to answer questions.

Dr. Oz is not a Dietitian Yes he is a Doctor, a cardiologist. He went to school for a long time and is really smart but didn’t spend 4 years studying nutrition. I’m sure he learnd a bit about nutrition but even he got his hand slapped for this one.

Check the video out  here

 

He doesn’t look super happy being there. He is not trying to do any harm to people, quite the opposite.

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As a cardiologist he keeps up on what’s new in that field to keep his medical licence. Just like my account keeps up with new tax laws so he can keep his chartered accountant designation. Nutritionists keep up with the new research in nutrition. Nutritionists may or may not keep up with what is new.

The title “nutritionist” is protected by provincial law in Quebec ,and Nova Scotia. The term “Registered Nutritionist” is protected in Alberta . The term “Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist” is protected by law in New Brunswick.

Nutritionists want to give people good advice, they may not agree with dietitians or maybe they do they just don’t want to go to school for 4 years.

Some Nutritionists are “Certified Nutritionists” which is a good start because they have some certifying body. They passed some test and hopefully need to keep up with what is relevant in the industry and get some ny professional development credits from attending conferences and or workshops every year.

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You can check out some of the nutrition courses and other information here

http://www.csnn.ca/

or here

http://www.canfitpro.com/nwl

It may seems like I picked on nutritionists a bit here. I know a lot of nutritionists and dietitians and enjoy working with them both. I even know some nutritionists that have their 4 year degrees in nutrition along with their masters yet choose to not register as a dietitian.

When choosing take several things into account. Do some research and ask some questions.

If it is a nutritionist or dietitian ask for credencial, look for or at their certification. Ask them how they keep up with what is new in the nutrition industry.

Ask for references or testimonials from other clients.

Ask what there beliefs are and see if the line up with yours, are pro supplements, cleanses, no wheat, no dairy, and elimination diets.  Good ones will say that nutrition is very individualized with many factors coming into play.

What is there success rate

Do they have insurance?

If you have a medical condition check to see if they have worked with other clients with that same condition and what the success rate is. And is working with someone with that condition within their scope of practice.

Nutrition as well as personal training are two professions that are very young and continue to grow. We are learning new things every day in these fields. Be sure whoever you choose that they are keeping current and informed.

 

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

New Year resolutions can be frustrating. your excited and ready to go. Your a race horse ready to be let out of the gates. But as soon as you are released and you start your resolutions things begin to slow down. You are not seeing results as fast as you would like. This can be discouraging and make you think why you are bothering to keep up with your resolutions.

Slow and steady wins the race. Even if you get a 1% improvement, your are going to improve. And if you build off of that one percent you will continue to improve.

There are lots of ways to say it but put it into practice is different. But making those small changes will make huge improvements in the long run.

Any win, no matter how small it is still a win. All of those small wins add up to big wins over time.

It is just like the story of the rich dad that offered to give his son $100, 000 today or a penny and each day he would double the money he gave him the previous day for 30 days, but it starts with the penny.

The impatient son wanted the money now, so he took the $100,000 up front. If he would have waited and took the penny he would have had over 5.3 million by the end of the 30 days.

 

penny a day

 

People want those instant results, when waiting a little longer and improving a little bit every day will have longer lasting results.

Dave Brailsford is a great example of showing us the power of the one percent improvement. He was hired on as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Great Britain’s professional cycling team. His challenge was to make the british team win the tour de france for the first time in history.

He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” He believed that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by improving the usual things you would think of when working with a cycling team. They tweaked their training program and nutrition like you would expect. Then they worked on the ergonomics of the riders bike seat, and the weight of the tires they were using.

That  in itself is not that unusual. Just like a hockey player would find the best pair of skates and the best stick with the best tape that works for that player for maximum performance.

Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for other areas to improve upon. Area’s that other cycling teams were not looking at. Things like finding the best pillow that offered the best most restful sleep and taking those pillows on the road to hotels with them. He tested for the best most effective type of massage gel. And he even taught the team the best way to wash their hands to best avoid getting sick.  He searched and improved on everything, even if it was just by 1 percent.

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This is no easy feet. I have trained professional athletes. they are already at the top, improving anything by a small percent is difficult. Brailsford was able to do it and the result was that they won the Tour De France in three years of him taking over.

Let’s take that mentality and put it onto your New Year’s resolution. For our purposes we will make our resolution weight loss.

Sprinting right out of the gate and trying to make all kinds of changes at the very beginning of the year will most likely end in disaster.

Many of us don’t like change so trying to make a lot or large changes in the way we normally do things, in our normal habits and routines  is usually not an attainable or sustainable thing.

It takes 66 days to build a habit. Depending on whom you talk to.

In my experience and from some of the past work I have done it takes about 6 months of regular exercise 2-3 times a week to build and establish the habit of exercise. That is 48 to 72 exercise sessions over the course of the 6 months. Which is right in and around that 66 day mark.

And when I say exercise, I don’t mean 2 hours in the gym. The exercise could be anything from a 15 minute walk around the block to a short gym session.

1% of your day is 15 minutes.

Start to improve yourself today by taking 1% of your day and going for a walk.

Nutrition is the other factor in losing weight for those New Year resolutions.

Going cold turkey  (no pun intended after all that holiday turkey)  on all your favorite foods and eating “Rabbit food” often leads to disaster in the long run.

Improving your diet by 1 % isn’t hard either. Think about changing some of your eating habits by 1%. You can improve a lot by the power of one percent.

1-Percent-A-Day

Change the cream you put in your coffee to milk, change sugar to sweetener in coffee and other places you would normally use sugar. Use vinegar based dressing on salad instead of cream based dressing. Use tomato sauce instead of alfredo  based sauces. There are many other small change you can make that we will explore in my next blog post.

It might not seem like a lot but all those 1%’s add up. And once you compound all those 1%’s you can end up with some significant gains. Or in the case of weight loss, some significant losses.

 

 

How to be successful with New Year Resolutions

Many New Year Resolutions revolve around  losing weight, eating healthy, exercising and joining a gym. For many of the regular gym goers, this is a time of fear when so many more people will be taking up their precious squat racks and treadmills.

For the regular gym goers they know the rush that the New Year brings and that it won’t last very long.

There are many jokes on the internet and around the gym that happen this time of year.

 

Gym-in-December-vs-Gym-in-January

 

Or

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The regular gym goers joke about it all the time. My goal is to prove all those regulars wrong. I want o help all of those New Year’s resolutioners stick with their new habits and keep the gym busy all year long.

I mean obesity is a huge epidemic in our country and with a little exercise so many diseases can be prevented and the quality of life that someone has can be vastly improved with a little exercise.

I give props to those that genuinely want to make that all important change and they take the first step in getting healthy. The problem arises after the excitement starts to wear off. To help prevent that resolutioner drop out you need to make a plan and start to develop the exercise habit.

First write down your health and fitness goals, run it by someone to make sure they are realistic.  Do some research, check out fitness clubs first to see if they have what you are looking for, including an environment that is comfortable for you to be in and is not  intimidating to you. Try the club out a few times, especially around the normal time you would work out to make sure it is a fit with what you are looking for. Don’t just join the closest club to your place. It may be convenient but if it is not an environment you can see your self thriving in keep shopping.

Once you have some realistic goals in mind you need to start building the exercise habit. Everything else will fall into place, can be added and or modified after the habit is established. No habit = dropout = goals not reached.

How-to-form-good-habits1

Small changes over a long time will make the biggest changes of all.

For exercise start slow and build up over time. If you take on the mentality of go big or go home you are more likely to fail.

Look at it this way. You go big in the gym the first few days and end up really sore, so sore you skip a few exercise sessions. Soon you realize that exercise is painful and you associate exercise with pain or soreness. From infancy are taught to avoid pain so it is ingrained into our subconscious. If we start to associate pain to exercise we are going to start to avoid it.

Trying to work out like Mr. Olympia or like an Ironman the first day you get into the gym isn’t going to do you any good. Any of those athletes didn’t start out training like they train now so why should you?

Rome wasn’t built in a day…

You didn’t gain that extra weight in a day so don’t think you can take it off that quickly. I don’t want to discourage anyone from exercising but going into the venture with realistic expectations will help build the habit. If you think that you are going to lose 30 pounds in a week and you don’t , then you get discouraged and give up. And that is not what I want to happen.

Just because you are not dropping a ton of weight quickly doesn’t mean that you are not getting healthy. You are improving your heart and lung function, decreasing your cholesterol and blood pressure and helping to stabilize your blood sugars. Besides all that you are toning your muscles and increasing your bone density. Exercise does so much more then you can see on the surface. The extra weight will come off, you just need to stick with the program.

When it comes to your nutrition you need to get that in check as well. Don’t be fooled by fad diets.

Fad diets either are very restrictive and make you drop a bunch of weight really fast (usually water weight) and when you go back to your normal eating habits you gain the weight back (and sometimes more). Or the diet is too restrictive and you can’t sustain it long enough because you are too hungry and revert back to your old eating habits.

The key again, like in your exercise program, is habit and small changes. Dropping a bunch of weight quickly is not helpful if you are going to gain it all back because you revert back to old habits.

Some small changes to your current diet that will help you lose weight are:

Eat the same stuff but start reducing the portion sizes,

Drink more water                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Replace other liquids in your diet with water

Put milk in your coffee instead of cream, use a sweetener instead of sugar

Use vinaigrette based dressing on your salad instead of cream based ones

Replace alfalfredouce with pasta sauce

Replace white bread and pasta with whole wheat

Add in an extra vegetable

Have healthy snacks ready and available so you are less tempted to eat unhealthy snacks

Use low fat products

Cut back on processed foods

Cut back on fast foods

Don’t drink your calories

Take your lunch to work instead of eating out

I don’t expect anyone to immediately use every one of these tips, and by no means is it an exhaustive list. Using one or two of the above habits and establishing that habit and then adding in more healthy behaviours is the  easiest and most sustainable way to modify your diet

Weight loss isn’t rocket science, there are no fads, gimmicks or tricks that can help. If those things worked everyone would be thin and there would not be an obesity problem in Western Society.

First start with building the habit, along with small changes will build up to big changes and long lasting results.

Best of luck in your New Year Resolutions! Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

 

Happy New Year!

Christmas Treats

With the holidays upon us it is customary, or at least implied that people are going to overindulge in eating and drinking and take part in even less physical activity than they normally do.

The average person gains one to two pounds over the holidays. While that not seem too bad, the problem is that the weight gained stays on, most people do not drop that slight gain. If the weight never gets dropped, and every year the weight keeps accumulating then you start having a problem.

But what is one to do? It is implied that you eat. If you are off work, spending time with family and friends and watching the ultimate Christmas Movie (Die Hard) it is hard not to have that cookie and beer.

 

Don’t worry about everyone else. If you make a plan to eat relativity healthy, don’t let others derail you by giving into their temptations. Actually a lot of people choose to eat healthy over the holidays, or at least try to. Many put out healy alternatives but continue to serve the treats because that is what is expected.

There are dozens of websites out there dedicated to healthy holiday treats.

healthy treat

 

You don’t need to eat one of everything that is being served. Before you go out if you are worried about overeating, have a healthy meal at home before hand to fill you up so you don’t over indulge while you are out. It is fine to have a little extra here and there or a cookie or piece of pie. Treats are good, just in moderation.

No one feels good after drinking a gallon of eggnog. Nor do you feel good from consuming a pound of sugar cookies. If you did this before think about how you felt. If you felt like crap, think about that and realize that you don’t want to repeat it.

If your overall goal is to drop a few pounds keep that in mind. Is that third cupcake or 5th glass of eggnog worth it? Unlikely! It will make you feel good at the moment, but going back to the last point, you will feel like crap shortly. Either from being over full of crappy food, too much sugar, too much fat, or just depressed because you are three cupcakes.

Serve healthy food at your parties. You will be surprised on how fast it goes. Most people want to eat healthy and when given the choice will choose some healthier options.

Exercise over the holidays. Even a little exercise is better than none at all.  A 10-15 minute walking around the block after a big meal can do wonders for your blood sugar and your mood. The more you exercise the more you can eat and not feel guiltily. I had a professor in university tell us that is why he works out. He works out because he likes to eat.

Last this is booze. it is OK to have a drink, just be mindful that there are calories in alcohol. Also depending on what you drink there are added calories in any mix or other ingredients you put in your cocktail. Drink water between drinks or choose a lower calorie cocktail.

 

Remember It’s ok to have a treat. But everything in moderation.

 

Have a safe and Happy Holidays!