Another week or training people and various fitness conversations. Some of my main chats are below –
Junk Food Causes Blindness – You may have seen the BBC article about the teenager who lost his sight due to living off a diet limited to just chips and crisps. One of my more driven clients was telling me about how he went on an extreme low calorie diet for an extended period when he found himself going blind also. His doctor told him how his deficient diet had caused this and if he didn’t stop it then he could go permanently blind. Luckily he heeded the doctor’s advice, sadly the teenager in question avoided taking the needed supplements or changing his diet.
This highlights the importance of nutrition. Your health is represented not just by your energy balance (weight) but also the input of the needed vitamins and minerals into your system as well avoiding foods that irritate the body. Often too much is made of weight to the exclusion of vitamin intake etc. The boy in question was of normal weight yet severely malnourished due to basically eating a diet of just potatoes for years.
This is not the first time I have mentioned getting all your needed vitamin and minerals. You may remember the various example nutrition days I have provided in previous newsletters including this one using normal foods, a higher protein day and a vegan plan.
The Body Graph – Last week I wrote about ‘Who Judges Your Body’ and a new “Body Image Workbook” I have been working on. One of the exercises in the book is charting how your body has changed over time as it gives us an insight into what areas you need to develop. A case in point, one of my clients was doubting if she had what it takes to lose weight so I had her to chart her weight change during adult life. When it was all totalled up she had lost over 100kg (~16 stone, 220lbs) in 10 years. Unfortunately she had also gained around 95kg in this same time period.
The distinction is important though, if you have lost 100kg you definitely know how to lose weight. The problem you have is that you are unable to maintain your results. In looking at her graph more specifically she was able to maintain weight for long-ish periods but she was unable to stop her slide backwards when got into a fat gaining phase. This usually coincided with a period of stress.
The opposite of this is people who have never lost weight and are not overly good at doing so. I have seen this numerous times, for example, with mothers who maintained their weight all their life but post pregnancy they are never able to really shift it. Both situations require a different focus on the pathway to getting to your goals. See photo below of some body weight change patterns
Muscle gain vs Tone – I spoke to a couple of people about whether they need to lose fat or gain muscle to achieve their goal. This comes back to the equation of looking toned or ripped which is;
How Toned (Ripped) You Look = Muscle Size vs Body Fat %.
The reality is for the vast majority of women and a large percentage of men they just need to lose fat to achieve the goal they want. For the rest then they actually need to develop muscle which raises a new problem of having to do resistance training. Fat loss can come from food control and movement which can be done in many different ways, e.g. food control only, food intake vs walking, food vs fun exercise (e.g. dance), food vs traditional exercise e.g. gym.
When it comes to gaining muscle you HAVE to do resistance training 1-3 times a week, possibly 2-5 times depending on your goal. There are different forms of resistance training from dumbbells to bar calisthenics but the variety of options is much less. The results are also massively slower to see with changes being seen on 2-3 month timescales not every 1-2 weeks like with fat loss.
How do you know if you need to lose fat and/or gain muscle? You don’t! As you lose fat you will see how your body begins to look and whether you need to be developing muscle as well. There are of course many health benefits to resistance training so I would encourage you do both simultaneously of course but if you do need to make muscle gains to achieve your goals you will need to focus on this area at some point.
Fitness Improvement – I speak to way too many slow joggers, I give full credit to anyone who can run. Simply by being able to jog at all puts you in the top 25% of the population but once you have been doing this you need to increase your speed. Jogging at walking speed is not great on the joints, the point of jogging is that it is mechanically more efficient when you reach a certain pace. .
There is confusion in jogging because much advice comes from Marathon training. However, preparing for a 42km run is not the same as learning to run at a nice pace. The latter should always come first. The problems arises because there is too much focus on people trying to run for longer so they can do 20, 30 or 60 minutes running etc.
However, you need to look at the speed you are running. For most newer / slower runners they would benefit greatly from maxing out their time limit of a run at 10/15 minutes and focusing on quality/speed. The only way to get fitter is to challenge the body with speeds that are past the edge of your comfortable longer pace. This is more easily done when doing shorter runs.
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