The human body is meant to move. It is not so far fetched that if the body is meant to move, that not doing so will cause malfunctions. We find this in nature time and again. You even see in in machinery. When a car sits for a prolonged period of time it develops problems when you finally try to start it. Here's a brief overview of how human movement impacts the body... some of which may surprise you.
Human movement improves hand eye coordination, balance, bone density, and blood circulation, blood composition, and energetics. A lack of human movement has the opposite effect and results in various diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, sarcopenia and heart disease just to name a few. It slows down the ability for the body to recover and regenerate on a cellular level. This then increases secondary aging.
Human movement and exercise help youth in physical development, as well as develop a healthy self-image and confidence. For people of all ages it helps alleviate depression and promotes emotional well-being. It promotes hormonal balance, which additionally impacts our moods, and our body's ability to heal.
Exercise and human movement improve our immunity. There's a fluid called lymph that helps eradicate viral infections found in and around the muscles. Human movement then helps circulate the lymph which allows it, to do its job. The improvements in physical health that increase our breathing and heart rate also make us less susceptible to viral respiratory infections.
Exercise as we age helps reduce falls, fractures if we fall, and frailty. Heavier lifting... such as taking out the trash or moving boxes at home can have dire consequences if we do not keep our muscles strong. When we become frail the heart rate dramatically increases when we lift something that is "heavy" compared to our physical ability. Such instances can result in heart attack, back injuries and falls. Furthermore by keeping dense bones through exercise if you happen to fall the likelihood of breaking a bone is dramatically reduced. Staying healthy in this way ensures you can live unassisted for a longer period of time.
Exercise and human movement are associated with improved cognitive function. This is true of those over 65 years of age, and is also true of youth. Studies show children that regularly play tend to out perform their sedentary counter parts academically. There is some research looking at exercise and its impact on ADHD.
New Year’s fitness resolutions are characterized by joining a gym (or getting a trainer), and going on a diet, which is typically drastic for that person. This will get you results, right? Of course, it will. However, will you keep those results? Probably not. Why? Because you are missing something… something important, something huge! It’s sustainability. What is sustainability? Sustainability means you make a change that is permanent. So instead of thinking exercise and diet, think strategy and sustainability. Also keep in mind strategies change and adapt. This is not the same thing as “I’m going to try a trainer and go on the keto diet to lose weight”. This is not a strategy it is merely a test. A test to see if those actions work for you, and they may temporarily, but is that what you want? Getting a qualified trainer is a great piece to a strategy, because they can help you find the mini strategies that will eventually comprise your day-to-day routines. After all most people need to lose weight or get in shape because their day-to-day routines got them to that point. However, people often have those day-to-day routines because they serve some underlying need or desire. So in order to be successful you will need to find ways to meet those same underlying needs and desires that aren’t counter productive to your weight loss and health goals. For example:
You and a group a friends meet for drinks every Friday night, or brunch every Saturday morning, or beer and wings to watch the game every Sunday afternoon.. or you and your co-workers go out to lunch each day. In many cases we have multiple events like this throughout the week. These examples illustrate where food is the center piece for a social gathering, and meets those needs of connectedness, and joy. Both of which are important and cannot be stifled long-term.
When people go on a diet, they may still attend these social gatherings but often it is borderline torture for the but they may still succeed by telling themselves it’s only temporary. Once this temporary time passes, they go back to participating in these activities and of course they put all the weight back on. So it would appear you have one of two choices. You either give up those social gatherings, or you give in to those social gatherings. However, I’m here to tell you, you have more options than that.
This is where strategies come in. However, to do that you have to rethink your social calendar, which “events” are most important to you, which one’s you may have no problem attending without gorging. You also want to rethink your nutrition on those “high calorie” days. For example, on Fridays we frequently do a pizza/stromboli night, or wing night. These all full of fattening calories. However, since I know this event is coming, I’ll eat much lighter during the day. During the day Friday all I have is black coffee (to curb my appetite) and a protein shake. Then when it is time for pizza I’ve only had 200 calories leaving me the balance (rest of calories I should have that day) of my calories (1600-1800) for that evening.
This does not mean lose control and absolutely gorge yourself because you can still over-do it. It does mean that you can eat until you are no longer hungry and feel satisfied. I would encourage you to eat slowly (i.e. 40-50 chews per bite) and maybe take breaks between servings allowing for your hunger hormones to shutoff. This is an example of a few mini strategies that works for me. It may not work for you, or maybe you’ll need to adjust it, but the point is, you’re not going to create a sustainable lifestyle by mindlessly following a diet.
A diet may work for a short period of time, but eventually your head and heart are going to chime in with feelings of regret, or justification to cheat, or feelings of deprivation. Implementing strategies is how you manage those feelings until it eventually they all work together seamlessly and it just becomes something you do. If you find yourself about to cheat on your diet thinking to yourself…. It’s ok to have this because you’ve been doing so well, then you’re off track. That thought is common with “dieters” and if that does pop in your head you need a strategy to deal with it. For example, you can tell yourself you’ll write down the food item you want (maybe it’s a donut you saw at work) and plan a time to have it. Be sure to write down when you can have it, and make sure you follow through. Remember having it without a plan will undermine your integrity to yourself.
Lastly, also keep in mind there are other ways to meet those needs of connectedness and joy. Believe it or not you may even meet those needs better by engaging in new activities. For example, you can join a softball team, or a kick ball team, a dance group or a walking group. In these examples you can meet your needs without it revolving around unhealthy foods. The point is there are unlimited possibilities for meeting these underlying needs, and by finding the right strategies not only will you reach your weight loss and health goals, you may also find you’re living a more fulfilling life.
The year 2020 will forever be remembered for the pandemic and the draconian measures and taken by governments across the world. Yes there was a virus, yes people got sick, and yes people died. The fear was spewed all over every news channel 24/7. In may states across the United States businesses were shut down, but more specifically gyms were shut down. Some leaders encouraged going outside for physical activity. However in many northern states you're now contending with harsh cold and inclement weather. Even so, most of what you heard come from government agencies was wear a mask, and stay home. What very little mention of was physical activity. Here is where we missed the boat.
Despite the fact that data did not support shutting gyms down, there were other alternatives to simply shutting them down or merely suggesting going outside for physical activity. With the advent of technology and the amount of money being spent on the pandemic it is not unreasonable to determine we could have easily supported online personal training and small group fitness. We know that even in the elderly as little as 20 minutes of exercise three times per week improves immune function. If this message would have been spewed all over the news we could have really went into a direction of "health care" and not just simply "sick care".
If a real campaign about physical activity would have been launched we could have truly transformed a society where it is estimated upward of 70% of the population is overweight. Being overweight is not just important for chronic disease it is important in fighting viral infections such as COVID-19, and yet no mention of its benefits were mentioned. In fact it was so blatantly ignored that this was even acknowledged by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. This is not scientific theory, this is supported by a body of studies. There are more studies confirming the immune system boosting power of exercise than there is about mask wearing's effectiveness against an air borne disease.
If you simply look at the statistics (from the CDC) of who died of COVID-19, in 94% of the deaths, they had on average of 2.6 chronic conditions. That's 94%!!!! Of those chronic conditions most of them were preventable through exercise and nutrition. We were not a healthy society that got exposed to a deadly virus. We were an unhealthy society exposed to a largely non-lethal virus. The virus just exposed our weak areas. Is that overly simplistic? I don't think so, the data is pretty glaring. Certainly age played a large role, but most of our elderly have many chronic diseases because they did not take care of themselves in their youth. If our culture were different the death count would have been substantially lower, I have no doubt.
I often think about why exercise is so overlooked when it comes to treating disease. Is it because it requires effort? Is it because we believe we can not influence the public to do it? I don't think it is either of those. I think there is no obvious opportunity for additional money and power to be gained... so politicians don't care. We are in dire need of coaches and qualified fitness professionals to help the public, and to do that we need the support of the government. We need to incentivize fitness, and good nutrition... and this pandemic could have accomplished all of that. However the pandemic was politicized to what end I do not know... but what I am sure of is if we politicized exercise, and nutrition like the pandemic we as a society would be living longer, healthier, and happier lives than the generations that went before us, and I think that's a cause worth fighting for.
So here we are another new year upon us. Of course this is a good time to bring to mind the happenings of the past year. The year of 2020 was monumental in many ways... many not so great ways, but this is the time to let the ghosts of yesterday die!
As a coach and a trainer this can be a very busy time of year. Perhaps the restriction on gyms will hamper this... perhaps not. I have no doubt that weight loss will continue to be at the top of many peoples minds regardless of whether they seek a trainer, a diet, or some sort of life style change. So before you feel this obligation to jump off into a fitness journey. Ask yourself... are you ready?
You might NOT be ready if:
If you've identified you want to make a change but are not ready, you're half way there! Now you just have to get yourself ready. We in the health and wellness industry refer to this as the preparation phase and this should not take much time at all. It could take a few days, weeks, or a couple of months... but not years! So this is where you do your research and speak to professionals. Just remember on the flip side of not actually being ready as noted above, some people wait and wait, and ultimately either they're not ready because they just don't want it bad enough yet, or they don't act out of some sort of fear. Here are common "i'm not ready" procrastinations that indicate you're ready but that fear is getting in the way:
I hope this has helped you in some some small way. Thank you for reading my rant. I wish you a happy and prosperous 2021,
It takes only about 5 minutes on social media to confirm that there appears to be a wealth of fitness experts. Instagram is especially notorious for this. I'm not knocking Instagram. I myself had an IG account, but found it sucked up more of my time than anything else.
The problem is people associate good looks and a hard body with fitness knowledge. When I was 20 I was in the Marine Corps and I fell into that very category. However, I knew very little about exercise or nutrition. I knew the basics movements, and the concept of the need of protein for muscle mass, and I knew a few things about supplements that the non-exerciser might not know... giving the further illusion that I was an "expert".
Now I hold a masters degree in Exercise Science, I hold the most prestigious certifications in the industry and have over a decade of experience as well as teach college courses and certification classes to aspiring trainers and by many measure may be considered an expert but that's now how I refer to myself. Firstly, the concept of expert has this connotation that we have all the answers, and there's nothing left for us to learn, because clearly we know it all. This is far from the truth. I know a lot.... more than most or almost any other trainer I come across but there's so much we "experts" and the scientific community have not yet learned. So if the fitness guru is calling themselves an expert and has advanced credentials that's fine... but usually that is not the case. Usually they have a couple of certifications, and a couple of success stories... which are nice, but hardly constitute the title of expert.
In the United States largely personal training is unregulated. There are only a few places that require any sort of education to claim to be a personal trainer. That means literally anyone with a heart beat who likes to workout can call themselves a personal trainer or a coach. I have come across quite a few of these very people. They very frequently think of themselves or call themselves an expert. In one particular instance I had one guy who was preparing for his first body building competition, and was working on getting a certification (but did not have one yet) attempt to poach one of my clients. He explained to the client that even though I was good for "basic" fitness stuff if that guy wants to build muscle, he'd be a much better choice. He justified this by telling the guy he was preparing for a body building competition and went on explain his muscular gains.
That example epitomizes the self proclaimed expert syndrome found in the fitness industry. The soon to be trainer/expert was in his early twenties, was using steroids, and was recommending to my client (who was 67 years old), to lift heavier weights and lower reps. This was his piece of expert information. The problem with this short sited recommendation is he ignored the conditioning phase that is so crucial in the ageing population especially if they do not have a history of lifting weights.
If you're looking for a good trainer, or fitness expert to help you achieve your goals here are a few things to pre-qualify them.
If you do not know me I am not nearly as hardlined as perhaps the title of this rant says... or maybe I am... who knows lol. In either event here it is in a nutshell. Life does not get easier, nor does it get harder, simply get stronger or weaker. If you get stronger life appears to get easier, if you get weaker life appears to get harder.
What makes me crazy about how fitness programs and nutrition programs being sold is they sell them on the concept that they're easy, pain free, effortless. This may be a hard pill to swallow but that is complete and utter non-sense. We get stronger by being challenged. Whether this is mentally, physically, or intellectually, we only improve by challenging ourselves. A challenge by definition means it comes with a degree of difficulty.
Pain has garnered such a negative connotation. It has been made to be the evil nemesis of living a good life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pain is an alarm. Sometimes the alarm notifies you that something is wrong like a flashing check engine light. In which case be grateful it went off in time to prevent any real damage from occurring. In other instances it's a result of a challenge to your homeostatic settings. These include things like if you begin to sweat, and you're not accustomed to sweating it is accompanied with an uncomfortable feeling, or if you've recently cut back on high calorie foods that then cause an uncomfortable feeling of hunger. These "pains" should be celebrated because that is the pain of change... but the result will eventually be pleasurable. If you can visualize the attainment of your goal and feel the pleasure from the anticipation of the reaching this goal each time your experience this "pain", it will eventually become a pain that hurts so good. One you will look forward to and that is how you become comfortable with being uncomfortable.