Welcome to The “Anti-Diet”

Fat Loss, Mindset, Nutrition By August 23, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Have you tried every diet known to mankind?

You’ve done keto, paleo, Whole30, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, IIFYM, etc. But still find yourself in a never ending cycle of food restriction and bingeing and weight cycling.

You have 10 pairs of jeans in 10 different sizes to accomodate your weight fluctuations/shape fluctuations. People will see you once and not be able to recognize you three months later because of how different you look. Not only do you change physically, but mentally you’re always between the highs and lows of “succeeding” and “failing” to change and maintain your body.

I’m here to tell you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to suffer anymore. You can have a body that love without punishing it, you can enjoy the foods you love without feeling guilty. You don’t have to be “on/off plan”, you can just be.

I understand it can be scary to let go of all the conventional wisdom you know about weight loss and changing your body. But how useful and healthy are conventional protocols if you cannot maintain or adhere to them consistently? 

The reality is that restrictive dieting is not healthy. Any diet where you overly restrict caloric intake, restrict macronutrient intake (ie. eliminating carbs, fats, protein), or obsessively dichotomize food into “good” or “bad” can be devastating to you physically or mentally.

Yo-Yo Dieting is more harmful than it is good and is highly correlated with the following:

  • Loss of lean body mass
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Bradychardia (slowed heart rate)
  • Obesity
  • Developtment of Eating Disorders
  • Depression/Anxiety

In addition to this list, 95% of dieters usually regain their lost weight within 1-5 years or dieting. So why suffer for a fleeting “success?” Personally, I’m not satisfied with results that don’t last. I’m not satisfied with being restricted. I’m not satisfied with day to day suffering. And I don’t think you should be either.

If you’re tired of yo-yo dieting and gaining and losing the same 10, 20, 30, 50 lbs over and over again – it’s time to embrace The Anti-Diet.

The Anti-Diet is exaclty what you think it is. Not a diet. It’s a philosophy that helps foster healthy relationships with food, with our bodies, and allows up to optimize our physical and mental health.

The Anti-Diet is a way of eating day to day that is free of restriction. It is sustainable, effective and easy to adhere to. The Anti Diet is also known as Attuned Eating or Intuitive Eating. People who adhere to the philosophy of intuitive eating tend to have lower body weight and a greater overall sense of well-being than those who adhere to conventional dieting.

If you’re ready to be done with diets and become an Anti-Dieter or Attuned Eater…look no farther.

The Principles of The Anti-Diet

  1. Eat when you are hungry. Listen to your body’s cues. We were created to thrive and our body’s signals tell us when we need energy and when we do not. If your body is sending you hunger signals it is time to eat – if your body is not giving off hunger signals, it is not time to eat. If we delay eating despite being hungry we can lose our ability to moderate our food intake and will naturally want to overeat and make less conscientious food choices.
  2. Stop eating when you are satisfied. Closely tied into eating when you are hungry you also need to listen to your body for the signals that it is satisfied. Ideally you want to minize experiences or being painfully hungry or painfully full. Listen to your body’s signals to regulate your energy intake, you don’t need to count calories. You just need to be mindful of what you are feeling physically.hunger scale
  3. Enjoy the foods that you eat. Eating foods you enjoy brings you satisfaction. If you hate brocolli there’s not point eating 5lbs of it just because someone told you to. Explore different foods and flavours. Eat foods that satifsfy your taste buds and your cravings. When you eat intuitevly you generally won’t experience intense cravings and you won’t feel the need to binge on your favourite foods because you are always allowed to have them (which will generally make you want them less becausey they are not “off limits.”)
  4. Reject restriction and convenitonal dieting. Reject caloric restriction, reject macronutrient restriction, reject dichotimizing food into “good/bad” and “clean/dirty.” Restrictive eating promotes disordered patterns and food phobias. You are free to eat whatever you want as long as you enjoy it and it makes you feel good physically.
  5. Respect your body. Learn to appreciate your body for what it is. It’s hard to accept and embrace listening to our bodies when all we can focus on is changing them. When we can’t actively respect or enjoy our bodies it’s hard to treat them properly and healthfully. anti-diet - good body image
  6. Do physical activity and exercise you enjoy. Stop punishing yourself by doing exercise to “burn calories.” Engage in exercise because you feel good when you do it. Your workouts and physical activity should leave you feeling happy, energized and more confident. Do types of exercises you genuinely enjoy and I guarantee you will never miss a workout – you’ll build a routine that serves you and allows to exercise lifelong healthy habits.

If you’re ready to stop dieting – it is never to late to start the Anti-Diet. Habit change takes time but there’s no reason why you can’t feel great mentally and look great physically by implementing the princples of the Anti-Diet in your day to day to life. Sometimes even just being more mindful of your eating will make a big difference alone. You can let go of restriction and get ready for healthier relationships with your body and with your food.

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 Check out this TED Talk from 2014 on dieting and the consequences of it that most people experience.

Do you need help implementing habit change in your life? Are you ready to stop dieting and start feeling amazing every day? I offer in person and online coaching for exercise and nutrition and we can get you started on the right track today.

 

Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback? 

Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail. 

🙂

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Understanding Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating

Uncategorized By August 16, 2015 No Comments
  • 10% of people with Anorexia Nervosa will die within 10 years of onset of the disorder.
  • Approximately 30% of high school aged girls engage in weight loss related behaviours.
  • 40% of high school aged girls view themselves as too fat regardless of if they are of healthy-bodyweight.
  • Girls who diet moderately are 5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder within 6 months of dieting than non-dieters. 
  • Adolescent girls who diet are 324% more likely to become obese than those who do not. 
  • 20% of overweight females and 6% of overweight males report using laxatives, vomitting, diuretics and diet pills to try and lose weight. 
  • 20% of female elite athletes and 8% of male elite athletes meet the criteria for being diagnosed with an eating disorder. 

These are all various stats from short term studies that show that eating disorders and disordered eating impact people of all walks of life in different ways. As prevalent as eating disorders are in our society they are often very misunderstood by most people – part of that is because a lot of the behaviours associated with disordered eating are considered culturally acceptable.

To better understand people who have eating disorders or engage in disordered in eating, we need to know: what is considered an eating disorder or disordered eating, what’s considered optimal eating in terms of physical and psychological health, how disorder eating effects the body, what needs disordered eating fulfills, who’s at risk for developing disordered eating patterns,  different types of disordered eating, how disordered eating effects the active population and the role exercise plays, and how to effectively treat eating disorders.


When I say the word “Eating Disorder” you probably visualize an image of a frail emaciated woman who looks she hasn’t eaten in 4 years. It’s a common misconception that eating disorders manifest themselves in the form of an extreme visual. The majority of the time eating disorders and disordered can’t be identified just by looking at someone’s body.

In fact when it comes to eating disorders or disordered eating, for every person you see looking extremely frail with all of their bones protruding from their skin their are thousands who look very athletic, average and chubbier. Disordered eating / eating disorders can only be confirmed by analyzing behavioural patterns towards food, exercise, body-image, etc – not by aesthetic. And a lot of the time disordered eating behaviour slides under the radar due to the fact that a lot of disordered eating patterns are considered socially acceptable in our culture.

So what is disordered eating?

Well before we can understand what “disordered eating” is, we need to understand what is optimal. What’s considered optimal along the spectrum of eating is something called attuned eating.

SPECTRUM OF EATING

In a nutshell, attuned eating can also be referred to as “internally regulated eating” or “non-restrained eating.” What this means is that person will eat simply by listening to their body, they are in tune with their hunger and satiety signals and know when it’s time to start eating and when to stop eating and act accordingly. Attuned eaters will use moderate constraint when eating but are non-restrictive in their food choices. Their food choices will vary in response to emotion, schedule, hunger and proximity to food. They include both “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods in their diet in order to maintain satisfaction over the long-haul. Their bodyweight has a way of self-regulating itself because they listen to their body in order to determine their energy needs.

When our behaviours start to deviate from this model we start to fall into what’s called “disordered eating” which can eventually transgress into eating disorders. Disordered eating is externally regulated – meaning there is cognitive control of food intake. This can often times be referred to as dieting. Essentially all variables are controlled in terms of determining when, what, and how much a person eats – eating is based on external guidelines. Hunger and satiety are often ignored or given minimal attention attention and the person actively resists the needs of the body. Some people are able to undertake dieting or disordered eating behaviours for short periods of time without it becoming an issue, however when done for prolonged periods of time the risks of developing an eating disorder increase significantly.

 

What’s the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating?

Eating disorders are very misunderstood by anyone who isn’t going through one or anyone who isn’t a professional that deals with treatment of eating disorders. The main difference between disordered eating and eating disordered is the emotional and psychological factor. Eating disorders are symptoms of low self-esteem and powerlessness and are often accompanied with isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Eating disorders can manifest in many different forms, such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS.) BED is the most common eating disorder in North America. And many people who are suffering from and eating disorder can experience symptoms of more than one eating disorder

 EATING DISORDERS

An eating disorder will most likely develop after a prolonged time of disordered eating behaviours. Most commonly with prolonged disordered eating and eating disorders peope lose their ability to regulate their caloric intake and can lose the internal cues from the body for hunger and satiety.

 

Loss of Internal Cues

Despite the face the we develop the ability to regulate caloric intake at 6 weeks olds a lot of people lose the ability to respond to internal cues of of hunger and satiety. They may block them out or consciously ignore them and as a result lose the ability to respond to internal cues of of hunger and satiety. People who lose this ability do not know when to eat, when they are satisfied, nor do they know how much to eat. Sometimes people have ignored these cues for so long that they don’t know they exist. This creates a dependence on externally regulated eating and pulls people farther and farther away from attuned eating.

 

Who’s at risk of developing disordered eating patterns?

Some things that increase the risk of developing disordered eating patterns are:

  • Having low self-esteem or depression
  • Being exposed to media portrayal of unrealistic body standards
  • Being unable to respond to or communicate emotional needs
  • Being exposed to culture that places a high emphasis on “physical ideals”
  • Having a history of abuse (emotional, physical, or sexual)
  • Having a history of dieting behaviour
  • Being a high achiever or perfectionist (academically, professionally, or physically)
  • Being female

 

Functions of Disordered Eating

The reality is that people don’t pick up disordered eating habits because they want to. Generally they pick up disordered eating behaviours because it fulfills a need or a function for them. These are some of the functions that disordered eating can fulfill:

  • Comfort and soothing
  • Attention
  • Release of tension, anger or rebellion
  • A sense of predictability, structure or identity
  • Avoidance of intimacy
  • Numbing and sedation
  • Self-punishment or punishment of the body
  • Cleansing or purification of self
  • Creating of a large or small body to protect from abuse

It is important to understand the cause of the behaviour or what the disorder is fulfilling in order to treat it properly. The most neglectful thing a person can say to someone who is suffering from an disordered eating or an eating disorder is to change the way they eat. “Just eat more” or “just eat less” are commonly touted by misinformed people. The behaviours have nothing to do with food, the food is the expression, but everything causing it is psychological and emotional, hence the need for qualified professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers) for proper treatment.

 

The behaviours will manifest differently in people based off of their behaviours, beliefs and attitudes surrounding food and eating despite any parallelisms between causes.

 

Disordered eating will usually manifest in one of two forms: deprivation eating or emotional eating.

Deprivation

Emotional

Disordered Eating in the Active Population and the Role of Exercise

An often neglected population when it comes to recognizing and diagnosising disordered eating is the active population. The active population includes athletes, regular gym-goers, our beloved meatheads, weekend warriors, etc. It’s harder to recognize disordered eating patterns in these populations because we generally admire characteristics in pursuing athletic endeavors. Some of these people will try to hide disordered eating by saying they are doing it for performance. Disordered eaters of the active population will typically have skewed relationships with exercise in addition to food and eating. They will often fall into the category of being a compulsive exerciser (Note: someone can be a compulsive exerciser without exhibiting disordered eating.) A proper psychological analysis will usually indicate that compulsive exercisers are not exercising for performance or reshaping the body but because of not dealing with feelings. As a result this creates an exercise dependence in order to avoid dealing with unaddressed emotions.

 

Exercise Dependence is expressed as:

1.A stereotyped pattern of exercise; once or more daily

2.Giving up other aspects of life to maintain exercise

3.Withdrawal symptoms following a cessation to exercise

4.Relief or avoidance of withdrawal by further exercise

5.Subjective awareness of a compulsion to exercise

6.Rapid reinstatement of the previous exercise pattern after a period of abstinence

 

Treating Disordered Eating

Disordered eating needs to be addressed by qualified professionals meaning psychologists, social workers, nurses, doctor’s, dieticians, etc. Treatment of disordered eating does not focus on regulating food intake as dieting is generally at the root of the problem for most disordered eaters and needs to stop in order for the disordered eating to stop. In the active population, if compulsive exercise is an issue this also needs to stop for proper treatment to occur.

Counselling is the most appropriate and effective way to overcome an eating disorder and is a crucial part of the treatment – a large component of the disorder is psychological and without addressing that there will be little success in overcoming the disorder. Often times, challenging food fears is necessary as most disordered eaters develop phobias around certain foods. We want to challenge food fears because the fear of what people believe food can do to them underlies many eating problems. Dichotomous food labeling (Good vs. Bad, Clean vs. Dirty) discourages exploration, discovery and natural feedback from the body. Often reframeing the mindset around food with supportive vs. non-supportive eating is crucial. With supportive eating food should be emotionally and physically supportive, meaning it should attribute to your physical and mental well-being.

In addition to learning to eat supportively, people also need to relearn how to respond to hunger and satiety. And it’s important to answer the following questions:

  1. How do you know when you are hungry?
  2. How do you know when you are full?
  3. How do you know when you are satisfied?
  4. What is the difference between full and satisfied?

Being able to answer these questions will help you learn how to eat supportively. Learning how to eat supportively is crucial in overcoming disordered eating and is an important part of the treatment. Fortunately there are qualified and caring psychologists, social workers, dieticians, and nurses who specialize in treating eating disorders and can help implement the treatment.

If you or someone you know is a disordered eater or has an eating disorder, please encourage them to reach out and connect with professionals who specialize in treatment of eating disorders. I know it may be difficult, as I was once personally in the same position. There are caring professionals and excellent outpatient/inpatient treatment centres that want to help and have successfully helped others in the same position, myself included.

RESOURCES:

The NEDIC (National Eating Disorder Information Centre)http://www.nedic.ca/

Sheena’s Place – http://sheenasplace.org/

Sudbury District Eating Disorders Program – http://www.mentalhealthhelpline.ca/Directory/Program/12703

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Why you reached your goal and still feel miserable

Fat Loss, Mindset, Training By August 3, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

I want to talk today about feelings. Especially in regards to fitness and achieving results in fitness.

I continually see people who get induced into fitness because they want to lose weight or change the way that they look – which is perfectly fine.  But usually the reason they want to change the way they look is because they want to change the way that they feel.

So then what you can typically see is that this person will take on an exercise regime and have success with it, but once they achieve that success they’re still not satisfied. And this happens because despite changing how they looked on the outside and achieving that objective measure they didn’t bother to change how they were feeling on the inside or to change the things in their life that are preventing them from feeling the way that they want to feel.

To me the solution is instead of focusing on losing 10lbs, or 20lbs, or getting bigger biceps, what actually needs to be done is just creating more activities or experiences that make you feel the way that you want to feel – whether that can be achieved through the training process or just by changing the things that you do on a day to day basis.

Meaning if you want to feel more confident do things that make you feel more confident; like learning a new skill or doing things that showcase your competency. If you want to feel sexier than do things daily that make you feel sexy.  If you feel insecure or uncomfortable find things and do things that will make you feel secure and comfortable, surround yourself with people who care about you, and work on ridding yourself of negative feelings and fill your life with the actions that directly elicit your desired feelings.

We essentially shoot ourselves in the foot when we don’t this because we end up looking for feelings in objects and quantifiable outcomes instead of just having the actual experiences that will make us feel how we want to feel.

As coach, I can’t promise you that when you lose 10lbs you’re going to feel sexy or confident but I can tell you that if you do things that make you feel sexy or confident whether you lose 10lbs or not, you will feel how you want to feel and you will always feel that way regardless of whatever state you are in physically.

Your level of satisfaction or completeness in life is completely dependent on what you feel versus what you have.  The sooner you realize that, the less time and effort you waste on pursuing things that aren’t going to give you what you really want or only give you a false sense of security and satisfaction.

Have you struggled with feeling satisfied in life before? Are you always longing for something else but aren’t quite sure what it is? 

Leave your comments, stories and feedback below, I want to know more about you. 

Also if you’re looking for resources to help you become more in tune with your true desires and feelings, I highly reccomend Danielle Laporte’s The Desire Map.

 

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5 Exercises You Should Be Doing

Fat Loss, Training By July 27, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to do “cool” looking exercises like a single leg romanian deadlift while standing on a BOSU with the flat-side up. However the most effective exercises in terms of developing your overall strength, balance, muscle and physique really aren’t that “fancy” or gimmicky. The greatest exercises aren’t absurdly difficult to pick up and don’t require you to have been practicing gymnastics and contorsion since you were 3 years old.

It’s also easy to want to stick to isolation machine exercises because they are easy to pick up and figure out on your own however these exercises aren’t going to maximize your training potentially.

I was recently giving a client at my gym a machine orientation and she was asking me how I trained in order to get results…and so I explained to her, I generally focus on compound/multi-joint movements and try to do different variations of those movements regularly in full-body workouts. To train the full-body, you need several movement patterns a hinge pattern, a squat pattern, a pressing pattern, and a pulling pattern.

When it comes to weight training, without getting too hung up on minutiae, but there are five tradition exercises you should be focusing on that will help train your movement patterns. These moves were introduced to me as the “Golden Five” and I was told that they were what I should focus on the most while training.  To this day, I still believe 95% of the gym population would see better results if their focus shifted more towards doing more variations of these lifts.

The common denominator between the Golden Five is that they are all “full-body” movements and qualify as compound exercises. Compound exercises allow you to maximize the muscles used and joints moved which translates nicely into getting very strong, puting on more muscle, increasing your metabolism, getting leaner and geting the most bang for your buck from your workouts. The five exercises we’ll be focusing on are the deadlift, the squat, the bench press, the row, and the overhead press.

The Golden Five

1) Deadlift: The deadlift is the best exercise of these five for developing overall strength and it’s normal to see impressive and rapid gains on this lift in novice trainers. This exercises is awesome for developing the posterior chain, especially the glutes and hamstrings. When performed correctly it trains the core and is awesome for developing power.  It also the most metabolically demanding exercise of the Golden Five and should be implemented in any fat loss programming.

There are many different variations of the deadlift that can be used depending on your goals and training experience, some that I like to use with clients are: Kettlebell Deadlifts, Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts, Conventional Barbell Deadlifts, Trap Bar Romanian Deadlifts, and Rack Pulls. 

The biggest take away with this exercise is making sure that you’re using “neutral spine” throughout the whole movement – meaning you’re maintaing the natural curvatures of the spine and not comprosing on that form. Maintaining neutral spines ensures that you will be using the correct muscles and be able to perform the exercise safely and effectively.

Neutral spine in the start of the deadlift.

Neutral spine in the start of the deadlift.

**Note: All of your exercises should enforce good posture and spinal allignment. To have a better understanding of what that means refer to the following image:**

skeleton

Basic Cues for the Deadlift:

  1. Chin tucked in – neither looking down nor up. Look ahead.
  2. Shoulder blades pulled back and down.
  3. Keep your ribs down
  4. Lift with your hips, and squeeze the glutes. Think of it like you’re pushing the floor away from you.
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This is a Kettlbell Deadlift. A great variation of the deadlift for beginners to start learning and grooving the hinge pattern.

 

2) Squat: The squat is an exercise that is loved and hated by many. Few feats of strength or more impessive than dropping it like it’s hot while holding 200lbs on your back. While a lot of people may think squats and deadlifts are similar or even the same the fact is that they are not. They have similar overall benefits in terms of fatloss, strength and muscle gain…but they emphasize different movement patterns and muscle groups. The squat is excellent for developing the quads and the glutes but feels entirely different from a deadlift.

A big argument with the squat is whether not it should be performed to full or partial range. My stance on this is that it should be performed in a way that is most effective to the trainee based off of their needs, ability, and goal. I say the range ends when there is a loss of neutral spine. This range or depth can be improved through doing proper warm-up, mobility and stability work. However other factors such as bone structure of the pelvis and femurs will affect what range is actually suitable for the squat. Play around with the movement and find the range that is most suitable for you. Variations of the squat that I love are: Goblet Squats, High Bar Back Squats, Split Squats, and Box Squats.

The Basics of the Squat:

  1. Break at the hips and push the knees forward (yes, you want your knees to pass your toes.)
  2. Keep the knees and the toes inline.
  3. Keep the torso upright and chin tucked in with ribs down.
  4. Press through the whole foot while lifting – toes, ball and heel.
image2

Goblet Squat being performed with a kettlebell.

3) Bench Press: Now that we’ve gone over the lower body exercises it’s time to give some attention to the upper – starting with everyone’s favourite exercise to do on a Monday, the bench press. The bench press is used to develop, the chest, triceps leading to stronger horizontal pressing power and it can be done using many different implements, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, etc. Other great options for working on horizontal pressing are push-ups, dumbbell or barbell floor presses, dumbbell incline press, decline presses, plate presses, or kettlebell presses. 

This biggest mistake people tend to make when performing the bench or other horizontal presses is forgetting to engage the core and glutes, and neglecting press throught the feet or in short “get tight” before the lift or movement. Press your feet into the floor and get the lower body fired up too, don’t just think about your arms – you really do want to be using your full body. In addition to that – in beginner’s there’s usually a lot of “elbow flare” which is okay if the exercises you’re trying to do calls for that, but if it’s not stated or demonstrated that way you want to keep the elbows tucked in. There’s a “sweet spot” between having your arms held out at 90 degrees and having them right along the sides of your torso – play around and find your sweet spot.

elbows

image2 (2)

Single arm kettlbell floor press – note the elbow tucked in versus being flared out in the bottom position of the lift.

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The top position of a kettlebell chest press – it’s like the floor press and plate press had a baby.

4) Row: The Row is our next upper body exercise. It is essentially the bench press of the back. It’s important to train the back in order to prevent and correct bad posture. It targets the romboids, lats, rear delts and traps. Depending on which variation of this exercise you do it will target these muscles different, but my go-to row movements are the Seated Cable Row, Standing Cable Row, Chest Supported Dumbbell Row, 3-point Dumbbell Row, Ring Rows, Inverted Rows, T-Bar Rows and Barbell Bent Over Row.

If you are already very comfortable working with body weight and have good mobility, other good exercises for your back that could be added in are Pull-ups, Chin-ups, and Lat pull-downs. To me being able to row correctly is a prerequistie before moving into overhead pulling, which is why I would prioritize rows before doing pull-ups with novice trainees.

Highlights of the Row:

  1. Keep the shoulders retracted – meanining pulled back and down.
  2. Think of this exercise as trying to bring your shoulder blades as close together as possible versus pulling with the arms. Squeeze your back muscles together
  3. Avoiding pulling with momentum or rocking the upper body.
  4. Add a pause at the end of the “squeeze” in order to maximize contraction through the muscles.

**Note: If you don’t feel it in your back, it’s not working your back.**

image3

Bent Over Row being performed with a kettlebell.

5) Overhead Press: Last but not least, we’re finishing off with the overhead press. This exercise is great way to develop your delts as well as your core. Any imbalances or weaknesses you have will likely be made visible while doing the press. The predominant muscles worked during the overhead press are the deltoids, while many other muscles (abs, glutes, triceps, traps, serratus anterior, etc) are firing and working in order to make the movement happen. The press does require a great deal of mobility through the shoulders and thoracic spine, if you are limited in these areas this is not a good exercise for you until you rectify those issues.

Some other alternatives to the Overhead Press are: Arnold Presses, Dumbbell Split Stance Presses, Half Kneeling Dumbbell Presses, Seated Presses, Z Presses, and Push Presses.

Points of Note for the Press:

  1. Keep the abs and glutes engaged, these are your stabilizers, get tight before pressing. Stand with your feet in a comfortable position (usually similar to your foot position for the deadlift or squat.)
  2. The path of the weight should start by your collarbones/anterior delts or below the chin, hold the weight just outside of your shoulders and keep the elbows close to the body.
  3. Squeeze the glutes and bring the head back as your start to press overhead, once the weight has passed the top of the head, push the head forward and finish into the top range of the lift.
image1 (2)

Overhead Press demonstrated with a kettlebell.

Implementation

If you’re not sure exactly how to implement these exercises into your workout, here’s a basic outline of a  German Body Composition workout that you could use for 3-4 weeks performing the workouts 3 to 4 times per week. You can run this on Monday, Wednesday, Friday type of schedule or a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday type of schedule depending on your recovery.

 

workout

The beauty of the Golden Five exercises is that they can be implemented in multiple ways. The deadlift, squat, bench press, row and overhead press can be altered through loading pattern, implement, and positioning. Any variaiton can be found and used based on your goals and needs, it’s just a matter of finding which variation is ideal for you. Play around, explore, find what feels comfortable and make sure you have some compound movements in your training – whatever progression or regression may be appropriate. Whatever you do, make sure you’re hingeing, squatting, pressing and pulling in one way or another.

Get to it!

Do you love or hate some of the exercises? Maybe a little bit of both? 

Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail.

 

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3 Things You Can Do To Beat Stress!

Mindset By July 22, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

How’s your stress level? Do you feel like a ticking time-bomb that’s about to unleash it’s wrath upon the next person that looks at you the wrong way?

StressB1

 

If this sounds like you, then I’ve got some tips that will help you kick stress and get you back to feeling calm, mellow and back to your best.

 

1) Meditate

Meditation is often misunderstood. Most people think meditation is about voiding your mind. It’s actually the opposite. Meditation is about bring your awareness to the present and what is happening in the here and now. Meditation is very easy to practice and can be done in 15 minutes or so. All you need is a relaxing environment that is free of distractions, There are several ways to practice meditation, however you want to make sure that you are in comfortable position where there is minimal pain of discomfort. You can choose between several different positions for meditation; laying on your back (supine), seated, or in “child’s pose.”

I personally prefer supine, either in my bed before I go to sleep or on a yoga mat on the floor. Once you are comfortable you want start to bring in your awareness to these things:

  • Breathing: Pay attention to the depth of the breaths – are they shallow? Are they deep? Are you trying to control them? Is the belly rising and expanding as your breathe? I often advise to just lay supine and focus on breathing and even counting the breaths until this becomes the only thing you are focusing on.
  • Heart rate: Is it quick? Is it slow? Is it getting slower?
  • Muscular tension: Are your muscles relaxed? Are they tight? Start at the feet working up through the limbs. Relax the feet and legs in the floor, working your way up to the hips and eventually back, focus on dropping the shoulders into the floor and eventually the crown of the head too. Think of it as if you want your whole body to sink into the surface it is touching. Just relax.

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It’s not uncommon to get up feeling wonderful with a smile on your face after meditating. I’m almost certain this is the reason why yoga has a cult following – not because it’s “exercise” but because of the meditative aspect. When you learn to bring your awareness to your body and it’s feelings, sensations and reactions to different things you are learning to be in the present and your focus completely drifts away from the past and the future and to the only things that are real – which is the present.

 

 

2) Work it out!

Few things can kick stress quite as well as doing a workout. This is why it’s so valuable to have a regular exercise routine – it’s like you’re pre-emptively making a strike so you can win the war on stress. Setting up at training program where you’re training 3-4 times per week for about an hour time can be key in reducing stress and anxiety and even decreasing depression and other mood disorders. When you build this into your daily routine, it’s much easier and you’ll notice your mood will start to get better and better.

And even if you’re short on time and can’t hit the gym, don’t neglect doing something quick and physical with bodyweight at home. Even doing movements such as squats, push-ups, lunges and planks for 10 minutes in the morning can help you get you energized and feeling great for the day ahead and eliminate any antsiness you may have later in the evening.

In fact, here’s a quick workout you can do with your body weight when you’re feeling the stress and you’re short on time:

A1) Body Weight Squat x 20 reps

A2) Push-Ups x 10 reps

A3) Jump Squats x 20 reps

A4) Touch Planks x 10 reps per side

Perform 3-5 rounds, rest minimally between exercises. Rest between rounds as necessary.

 

workout

 

 

3) Practice GRATITUDE

Last but not least, never neglect practicing gratitude. Take inventories of all the things make you grateful. If you can make practicing gratitude a routine – even better. When you focus on the positives that are in your life, you feel an abundance and just making that shift alone in your mind can have great effects. Some things that work well for practicing gratitude are:

  • taking time at the beginning or end of each day to state the things or make mental notes of what your are greatful for that day
  • Gratitude journalling: This is especially great for people who already journal on a regular basis, you can focuse on closing your daily journal entries with lists of three (or more) things you are grateful for that day.
  • Having a “gratitude jar”: A gratitude jar is a small jar (or other resealable container) which you fill with post-it notes. On each post-it note you place in that jar, you will write one thing you are grateful for. The objective is to fill the jar with as many things as possible that bring joy and happiness to your life and make you feel grateful. Think big, but don’t forget to think small. We often take a lot of the small things for granted – like having clean laundry, or having access to water, and three meals a day.

gratitude

 

So next time you are about to go off, kick stress in the face by taking care of yourself! Meditate and get in touch with your physical self, get your training in and don’t skip your workouts, and remember…always be GRATEFUL!

Your attitude determines your altitude…don’t let stress take you down. 

Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions or feedback?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section or feel free to contact me by e-mail.

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Ladies, go with the flow! – Losing your period IS NOT NORMAL

Fat Loss, Nutrition, Training By July 12, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

Cramps, cravings, bloating headaches, tiredness with insomnia…just a few of the delights women experience as part of our “monthly gift.”

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As annoying as it may be to have your period, it’s important to remember that it is good indicator of overall health. For women who experience their period regularly – this indicates that you are in good health and all is well inside your body. Having regular periods means your period is generally around the same time every month,the duration is usually the same, the heaviness of it is usually the same, and the symptoms of it are usually the same. There are even handy apps you can download on your smart phone to help you track the time, duration and symptoms you experience. This can help you determine if your periods are regular or irregular.

*If your period is non-existent and you’re not (post-)menopausal/pregnant, then it is irregular.*

An irregular period can be caused by many things but can be an indicator of underlying problems. These causes can range from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), stress, menopause, etc. However, I want to focus on menstrual irregularity that is caused by extreme exercising and dieting. I am hearing more and more of young women all the time who are losing their periods and thinking nothing of it.

Losing your period is a sign to stop and reflect on what’s going on in your body. When a young athletic woman loses her period she may fall under the category of having Female Athlete Triad. Female Athlete Triad is often observed in women who are in sports that require or emphasize leanness and low body weight (gymnastics, distance running, ballet, swimming, diving, figure skating, physique competitions, etc.) The Female Athlete Triad consists of:

  1. Eating Disorder / Under Eating
  2. Amenorrhoea (Loss of period)
  3. Osteoporosis / Bone Loss

It may be shocking for you to see osteoporosis as part of the triad, as you would generally think of Great Aunt Sue’s tumble down the stairs that broke her wrist in the year of 1998. But I am 100% serious when I say there are 16 year old girls showing up to their doctors with fractures because they have low bone density due to under eating and over training.

This would be a really bad time to break a bone, home girl.

This would be a really bad time to break a bone.

Osteoporosis at any age doesn’t sound great to me, but is seemingly worse for someone who should be thriving health wise at a young age. Although osteoporosis, ammenorrhea and eating disorder/undereating are used to diagnose the Female Athlete Triad there is an extensive list of other not so great symptoms that accompany it.

As a young active woman you may think the idea of being period-less is amazing, but losing the ability to menstruate comes with pretty severe repercussions. You lose your period because your body is changing it’s hormonal profile in order for you to survive harsh conditions. Just because your body is surviving, does not mean it is thriving and performing optimally. Human bodies are amazingly adaptable and can survive many things – but not without consequences. When you lose the ability to menstruate due to over training and under eating, you may also find yourself experiencing:

  • fatigue and low energy
  • poor sleep quality and sleep irregularity
  • hair loss 
  • cold hands and feet (Raynaud’s disease)
  • fluctuations in weight, loss of muscle, increase in fat
  • prolonged/reduced recovery from training or injuries
  • low mood, anxiety, depression
  • low sex drive and difficulty becoming aroused
  • infertility
  • low blood pressure (especially when changing position from sitting to standing)
  • low heart rate
  • muscle spasm and cramping 
  • feeling achy
  • experiencing constipation and bloating or other digestive issues

As you can see, some of these symptoms are down right terrifying and straight up suck. I don’t know about you, but having personally experienced the Female Athlete Triad – the most distressful moment I ever had would be when I was in the shower washing my hair and I had what seemed to be a never ending supply of long strands of hair falling out tangled around my fingers…that was more terrifying to me than the fact that I was 17 year old who hadn’t had a period in three months. However, I was able to get back to normal (no more hair loss or absent periods) by limiting my exercise volume and intensity and increasing my food intake.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the Female Athlete Triad, know that it is usually reversed/treated by eating more and reducing training volume and frequency.  In some cases, hormonal treatment may also be necessary. If Female Athlete Triad is accompanied with an eating disorder or disordered eating working with professional to treat the psychological aspect is also necessary as this would probably the “make or break” factor in terms of recovering and getting back to being fully healthy mentally and physically.

 

Have you experienced the Female Athlete Triad? Do you think your periods are irregular because of your diet and exercise?

Did this ruin or make your day?

Let me know.

 

 

 

 

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A Case for Selfishness

Mindset, Nutrition, Training By July 7, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

I want you to be selfish. But that doesn’t matter. You should want to be selfish.

selfish

[sel-fish]
adjective
1.devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2.characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.

While reading that definition you may have thought to yourself: well that’s not really fair or reasonable to disregard other people. But that’s not what I want you to emphasize.
You see, I was raised by an old Eastern European man who frequently reiterated the need for me to take care of myself. I was raised to be selfish. I was raised to be responsible. I was taught that nobody was going to care about my needs, goals, values, desires as much as I do – nor was it anybody else’s job to be concerned with what I want.
“Keep your brain in your head. You come into this world by yourself, and you leave this world by yourself. The only person who will always have your best interest at heart is you.”
You’ll have to pardon me, but I think when looking at the definition of “selfish” that being “concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, and welfare” is what standouts to me. That’s the way everybody should be. Especially since the only person in the whole world who can look out for all of your own wants and needs is you.
You know what you want. You know what you need.
You ask for what you want. You ask for what you need.
You do what you want. You do what you need.
Nobody is going to read your mind and make your dreams come to life. Nobody is going to hold your hand and tell you to go to the gym and build the body you want. Nobody is going to tuck you into bed at night to make sure you get enough sleep for the day ahead. Nobody is going to give you what you want. You have to do these things yourself. You have to ask for it, you have to want it, you have to work for it. The only permission or approval you need to do these things is your own.
I’m going to tell you something personal. I often get made fun because I don’t drink alcohol. Most people who know me well know that I don’t drink alcohol: 1) because it’s not conducive towards my overall health goals, 2) because I generally don’t feel great when I drink it. Now being a mere 24 years old, a lot of people think that I am weird and make fun of me for abstaining from alcohol. I also get made fun of frequently for being in bed by 10pm. However it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t bother me because I accept that fact that I don’t do it for them.
I do it for myself.
I give myself permission to say “Yes,” to the things I really want and say “No,” to the things I don’t want. I am selfish with my time and I am selfish with my efforts because those are things I can never get back. I don’t have time to waste doing things that are against my values, that don’t invigorate me, that don’t improve me, or that don’t bring me joy.
And to be honest, you don’t have the type of time either. So before you say “Yes!” to something that devalues what’s important to you or makes your miserable – please think of yourself and be selfish, my friend.
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Delicious Slow Cooker Chili!

Fat Loss, Nutrition By July 5, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

If you simply don’t like putting in the effort or time to cook food, it may be a good idea to start getting friendly with your slow cooker.

I use my slow cooker 2-3 times per month for a variety of foods ranging roast beef, to stews, to soups, etc. It saves me a lot of time and allows me to prepare healthy food in advance.

You can make pretty much anything in a slow cooker if you try hard enough. But one of my favorite things to prepare with the slow cooker is chili. I like it because the dish is very versatile and easily modifiable. You can eat as a stand alone meal or accompany it with a side of rice, or vegetables, or both.

It’s super easy to prepare, and it can be prepared in under 10 minutes. After you’ve got all the prep work done, you simply leave it the slow cooker and can expect to have a delicious meal ready by dinner time – or you can leave it to cook overnight and have your food ready in the morning when you wake up.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

**You can swap certain ingredients out for fresher variations if you’d like but that will generally require more prep work.**

  • 1/2 of a Spanish Onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of Garlic finely (chopped)
  • 2 tsp of Olive Oil
  • 1kg of ground beef or ground chicken
  • 3 tbsp of Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp of Oregano
  • 1 small can of Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup of Corn (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 can of Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can of Lima Beans (drained and rinsed)

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WHAT YOU NEED  TO DO:

  1. Heat olive oil in pan and sautee the onion and garlic.
  2. Brown the beef or chicken in the pan, add spices (chili powder and oregano)
  3.  Place the remaining ingredients inside the slow cooker.
  4. Add the meat into the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients and mix them together.
  5. At this point you add water, broth, or stewed tomatoes, to cover the contents of the slow cooker.
  6. Place the lid on on the slow cooker, set to low heat and leave it alone for 3-5 hours. Feel free to stir it periodically.

AND THEN DEVOUR!

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You can change and modify this recipe as much as you want – it’s really just a base. You can play with the spices, the types of meat, types of legumes, you can add vegetables, whatever you want. I typically like to add tumeric into my dishes as I really love the taste. I’ve even added Kimchi before just for the hell of it.

Now this recipe will leave you with a significant amount of food, so if you live alone be prepared for left overs. If you’re not into eating the same meal over and over you can always freeze the left overs and save them for a later date. 😉

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

 

 

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Do you want something for nothing?

Mindset, Training By June 28, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone tell me “I want to lose 10lbs.”

Not that this is a bad thing to want. But I’d rather hear someone say “I want to start going to the gym because I want to lose 10lbs.” Do you understand the difference? The first is an outcome, the latter is an action…and you can’t have an outcome without an action.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with outcomes but consistently neglects the fact that outcomes occur as a result of work.

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As a result of this mindset, we turn into people who want something for nothing and fall into traps of self-defeat because we haven’t achieved what we wanted despite not having taking steps to achieve what we want.

How logical is that? It isn’t logical at all because you can never have results without taking action.

You need to shift from focusing on “what you want” to focusing on “what you can do” – and by doing this you are guaranteeing yourself results. You are creating a process, whether this is for your personal fitness, your career, your relationships, etc. Processes are the pathways to success.

Hearing someone say “I want to lose 10lbs” means nothing to me. Hearing someone say “I want to go to the gym five days per week, drink 3L of water a day and, and eat vegetables at every meal” is much more tangible and valid. It creates a sense of urgency and priority.

When we neglect to prioritize our process – we doom ourselves. Having priorities is how you get stuff done – and if you have no priorities than you should reasonably expect nothing in return. Every single day we can choose to be engaged in something that will bring us closer to where we want to be. Your priorities and your actions are a reflection of your values and your true desires. And you need to own your actions.

By owning your actions, you remove yourself from being a victim and you give yourself power. You don’t feel like a failure if you aren’t seeing results. You go back, change the plan, and keep trying because you are in control of how you feel and what you do. You understand that you are the only person who can take the necessary action to keep moving forward. You own your process. And when you own your process that is when you succeed.

“Action expresses priorities.” – Mahatma Ghandi

What steps are you taking today to get what you want?

 

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“Lifting weights is pointless.”

Fat Loss, Training By June 14, 2015 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

As a strength coach, I expect to be approached by people and asked questions related to training. A lot of the time I’m on the receiving end of statements that are misguided and downright wrong – and in those cases I have to put on my big girl pants and try to be as tactful as possible while still getting the right message across.

Needless to say, I was having a discussion with someone whom I care about greatly and they expressed to me word for word: “Lifting weights is pointless. Weights are stupid. I hate it.”

The first thing that came to my mind was: “UMMM…WHAT THE HELL?! That’s not a great thing to say to a trainer. Do you know who I am?”

love lift

Decidedly, this is not a great way to respond to people…so I chose to say this instead:  “Well what do you mean by that? I would disagree.”

Essentially the reasoning behind their statement was that they didn’t feel like they had accomplished anything of value in the they time spent lifting. “I would rather get exercise by shoveling snow, working on a farm, accomplishing tasks.”

And I get that – I used to say that before I ever started doing any type of training. Unless there was a direct objective or something that was instantaneously accomplished I couldn’t wrap my head around doing it.

With that being said, I have obviously shifted my view on training seeing as I work as a strength coach and I try to promote training for health and general preparedness for an awesome life to anyone and everyone that I meet.

I would say that if you don’t feel like you’ve done anything of value after training it’s because you don’t understand what training is and you don’t understand why you are training.

What training typically entails is moving the body under load from point A to point B with good alignment to stimulate the muscles and the nervous system in cumulative fashion over an extended period of time.

However 90% of people train because they want a specific benefit from it – not because they want to move objects from point A to point B.

People are usually training for one of the following reasons:

  1. Preparation: you are in the process of changing the way you want your body to look or function. In this case training is getting you ready to do everything you ever dreamed of with ease while staying injury and pain free. This can range from wanting to have shoulders that look like pumpkins, fitting in to your old jeans, being able to walk 1km with a 5 bags of groceries in your hands, or playing with your kids outside for more than 10 minutes without feeling exhausted and gassed.
  2. Maintenance: Your body already looks and functions the way you want it to without pain or injury and you want to keep it that way.

Training is a means to an end – it is not the end.

Training is deliberate – there is an aim and an end result. It’s not immediate and there usually is no instant gratification unless you learn to enjoy the physical act of training. The results manifest through a cumulative effort of progressions.

So when you consider that the whole purpose of training is to accomplish a specific result albeit not instantly – it is anything but pointless every aspect of good training is purposeful.

Now if your view of training or weight lifting is just going to the gym and randomly moving objects without knowing or understanding why you’re doing it or what you’re doing it for…then yes, I would say that is pointless and probably a waste of your time and energy.

But that’s not training.

 

 

What’s on your mind?

Leave your comments, questions, or thoughts below – I want to hear from you.

 

 

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