As I look back on my blog history, I can't believe it's been so long since I've written one. Many people know me as a personal trainer and health coach. Many more people know me by my day job. Yesterday I was driving through a parking lot and saw a man open his trunk. He had no less than six pairs of shoes in his trunk. I worked my way up to him and politely asked why in the world he had so many shoes. The man (Mr. Rick) told me that he loves to walk, sometimes 4 hours a day, but he just can't seem to find a pair of shoes that will keep up with him! The first thought in my mind was "at least he hasn't been using the same pair of worn out shoes!" As I spoke with him for about 30 minutes, he described how he went to the doctor for some medical issues that he was having. His doctor told him that he was headed in a direction that he might not make it back from. He said that his doctor told him "you'll be alright if you can just come off the weight." Mr. Rick took his doctor's advice to heart and to this day has lost over 300 pounds and still losing. We talked about everything from proper foot pronation to finding the right shoes to balancing your diet. Mr. Rick and I learned a great many things from each other yesterday. In a world full of "instant miracle diets" and fancy machines, it was a warm and comforting feeling to have met another man who believes in the value of sweat and discipline. Mr. Rick, thank you for reminding me of why we do what we do, and thank you for spreading the word of fitness. To everyone: Never, never, ever give up!
As trainers, our clients expect a lot from us. Sometimes what we’re legally certified to do isn’t in line with something that a client needs. A lot of us aren’t legally allowed to give recommendations on certain things, and the types of clients we’re allowed to work with are often limited by our certifications. I’m not an advocate of stepping outside of scope of practice, however I do recognize the demands placed on trainers. I also recognize that in certain situations, those who have the ability to help another person also have the responsibility to their fellow man/woman to do what is necessary, to do what others will not do or what others are afraid to do, and to do what is right regardless of what is acceptable.
One of my clients is an older woman who also happens to be a dear friend of mine. She is also a patient at the Mayo Clinic. Her doctors had advised her to hire a personal trainer, but because of her numerous medical conditions no one wanted to work with her; they felt like it was a lawsuit waiting to happen. This woman reached out to me in desperation. She was going to be kicked out of her medical program if she didn't lose 30 pounds by a deadline that was fast approaching (she had two months from the moment she contacted me about this problem.
Because of my lifetime connection with this woman and having over the years acquired intimate knowledge about her specific conditions, I stepped up to the challenge with what experience I have. She offered to pay me, but I politely let her know that her success and her determination would be payment enough. Initially, I had the same concerns that other trainers would have had/did have, but I put those fears aside, because I believed with my whole heart that I had both the ability and the responsibility to help this woman reach her goal.
When I started working with her, she provided documentation of her physicians' consent for exercise and limitations to exercise, her physical therapy program, and the information given to her by her nutritionist. I stepped outside of my scope of practice for this client, because she needed someone to help her. We've often discussed scope of practice on this site before, and my official position on scope of practice is that a trainer should never step outside of what he/she is legally certified to do. However, I made an exception for this client because I was confident that having known her for so long, and being intimately acquainted with the issues in her life, I could help her better than anyone else might be able to. I was also 100% certain that if I didn’t help her, no one else ever would.
There we were. She had 2 months to lose 30 pounds. This isn't considered a safe amount to lose in 60 days, but she had to get it done.
I took on the role of a life coach, more or less. She had been given a lot of information, and she didn't know how to put it all together. Her diet is a very strict, special diet. She had been given the knowledge, but not the means to adhere to her diet. I sat down with her and went through everything that her Allied Healthcare Team provided her with; we reviewed all of the "doctors' orders." I helped her to make sense of it all, and I created a food log for her that helped her to track everything she needed to be tracking (sodium intake, for example). I reviewed her physical therapy schedule, and created an exercise plan for her based on both this schedule and the limitations set forth by her physicians.
We have been working together for 3 months now. She went back to Mayo about a month ago. She had lost 28 pounds by the day before her scheduled appointments. I also wrote a very extensive report for her Allied Healthcare Team, which she carried with her to the Mayo Clinic. She called me from Jacksonville after she had met with her Allied Healthcare Team, and she said that they were absolutely blown away by the progress that she had made, and they commended both of us on a job well done. They actually filed my report in her medical records folder, which took me by surprise. Her Physical Therapist reviewed our workout plan, and he said that we were right on the money with our activity routine. He even sent her home with some information specifically for me to use while progressing her program. How cool! We meet once a week and we spend 2-4 hours every session, mostly talking about behavior change and the stresses of life. She now has the tools to succeed and reach her goals, because I took a chance and stepped up where another trainer would not. I’ve earned a lot of respect with her Allied Healthcare Team, as well.
She has come SO far, and she still has plenty of strength and determination to continue making progress. God willing, she will continue to make strides and I'll be right there with her!
So you see, sometimes there is a higher calling. It’s not always acceptable to go outside of scope of practice and many trainers may go their entire careers without ever doing so, but sometimes, when every option has been exhausted, going outside your scope of practice might be essential in order to fulfill the needs of the client because you, the trainer, may be the only “go to” source. The key is to be absolutely sure of yourself and always work in conjunction with physicians or Allied Healthcare Professionals whenever you can!
I was only able to share this story with you with the written consent of my client.
I am truly grateful that she has allowed me to share this story. I hope her story inspires you and others to never underestimate the impossible, and to never lose hope that there are still good people in this world who truly want to make a difference!
I have my home page set to Yahoo on my computer. If you've ever been to the Yahoo home page, you know that there is a ticker for news articles, funny stories, etc. Every so often, you'll find an article or two that relate to diet or exercise. Sometimes I don't agree with what's posted in some of the articles, but more often than not the information is supported by a number of reliable sources. This is one of those articles. I've included the link at the bottom of the text.
In this article that was originally posted on Health.com, a number of Registered Dietitians and physicians offer up their opinions on common health fads and what I like to call "Diet Folklore." I've rearranged everything so that it's easier to read, and it's all in one place. You might find that some of this is surprising (like the recommended caffeine limit, which seems really high to me).
I'm not recommending anything by posting this; I just thought some of these were cool. Remember to consult a Registered Dietitian before making any changes to your diet.
1.) "Cleansing" your system
It sounds simple: Drink "body-flushing" liquids and eat little or no solid food. But just because celebs do it doesn't mean you should.
"Will you see the weight loss? Absolutely. But it isn't safe, in terms of getting the nutrients you need," says Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. Once you eat solid food, you'll gain back the pounds.
Because the liver and kidneys remove toxins, a "cleanse" is unnecessary and even harmful, says Sonthe Burge, RD, a nutritionist. It can cause diarrhea, "so you can't go far from a bathroom," she says. Other side effects: Headaches, lack of energy, and trouble focusing.
2.) Skipping meals
"When people skip meals, they think they're saving calories," says Shapiro. But the habit always backfires. "It can wreak havoc on their metabolism, and they tend to eat more later because they're voraciously hungry."
Some research shows that as long as calories stay the same, it doesn't matter if you eat small quantities more often or large quantities less often.
Eating more small meals may help dieters to quell cravings, though, and it also discourages bingeing later, says Shapiro, who recommends meals of less than 500 calories every three to four hours.
3.) Trying Laxatives
Is it ever safe to take a laxative to flush your system of waste and water and make your belly less bloated? No way.
"You definitely would be losing essential nutrients, you'd be at the risk of becoming dehydrated, and you can become dependent [on laxatives]," Dubost says."Your body was not meant to be taking laxatives."
A better idea: Introduce more fiber and fluids like water into your system and you'll flush it naturally.
4.) Using Diuretics
Diuretics are no better for your system than laxatives, and the weight loss they provoke isn't the permanent kind, says Dr. Muth.
"Diuretics force the kidneys to dump lots of water. The weight lost comes strictly from water and can trigger dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities," she says.
5.) Quaffing Ice Water
You can stop snacking on ice cubes to lose weight.
Shapiro says clients have asked her whether drinking ice-cold water is an effective dieting trick, "because your body has to heat it to body temperature. It maybe helps you burn a small fraction of calories, but not enough to see significant weight loss," she says.
1.) Filling Up On Fiber
"Fiber is not absorbed well by the body, but is also very filling, which makes it a great choice for people trying to lose weight," says Natalie Digate Muth, MD, an American Council on Exercise spokesperson.
Dietitians recommend 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day (for both men and women), but most people get less than 15, says Burge. To lose weight, she suggests aiming for 30 grams of fiber per day. To add fiber to your diet, swap out white rice for barley, or add beans to soups and salads.
Don't go crazy. Too much fiber (50 to 60 grams per day) can cause side effects like flatulence and diarrhea.
2.) Snacking Before Exercise
Snacking before your workout? Go for it. While researchers are divided about whether eating before exercise really promotes weight loss, experts say a quick bite might just be a slimming crutch you can count on.
"A small snack before exercise helps to have a more productive workout since it gives a quick energy boost," says Dr. Muth. This energy boost can lead to a harder workout, which translates to more calories burned. She suggests munching on something high in carbs and relatively low in fat and fiber (like a banana) to minimize stomachaches and cramping.
3.) Chugging Water
Dietitians recommend staying hydrated all day long. "A lot of times we mistake hunger for hydration," says Shapiro. "For dieters, it's important to stay hydrated because then you'll know when you're hungry."
You can over-hydrate, but it isn't common, says Joy Dubost, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson. Serious overconsumption can lead to a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia (symptoms include nausea, headache, and confusion).
The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters daily (about 11 and 15 glasses of water a day, respectively).
4.) Cutting Portions
Be your very own portion police.
"All restaurants serve up different portions. I tell my clients to leave half or quarter of their plate," says Shapiro. "Half can be dramatic because let's say you just got a piece of fish—you want to eat until you feel satisfied."
It's a great way to eat something more decadent, while still adhering to a diet, Shapiro says.
5.) Chewing Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing more to lose weight seems counterintuitive. But wait—we never said you could swallow!
Some research suggests that chewing gum for 45 minutes after lunch reduces your appetite and cravings for salty or sweet snacks later on.
Dr. Muth says that while the calories burned from chewing gum are minimal, "If you're chewing gum, maybe you'll be less likely to be eating food."
6.) Eating Frozen Meals
A frozen lunch or dinner is a great way to stick to your diet, says Shapiro. "It's forced portion control," she says.
But, she cautions, some frozen meals are full of sodium, calories, and saturated fat. "A meal should be less than 500 calories and have 5 grams or more of fiber," she recommends.
One option is Kashi's Mayan Harvest Bake, which has 8 grams of fiber, but only 340 calories and 380 milligrams of sodium—less than 20 percent of the recommended daily limit.
DO IT RIGHT:
1.) Packing In The Protein
Bad news: Adding more bacon to your diet won't cause the pounds to melt away. That's because the addition of protein to the diet doesn't cause weight loss itself. But switching out a higher fat protein source, such as pork sausage, for a lean one like chicken or salmon does help, says Burge.
"You can't just eat protein to lose weight. When you do that, your body starts burning fat for energy," she says, because it will produce ketones, compounds that can be harmful to the brain. But consuming lean protein and good carbohydrates (like whole grains) allows your body to get the energy it needs without the added fat.
2.) Guzzling Diet Soda
Does diet soda make you skinny? One study suggested diet soda drinkers may gain more weight over time than those who don't drink it. It's not clear why, but the brain may anticipate calories when foods taste sugary or fatty, so calorie-free sweeteners may spur people to overconsume later on.
But Burge says awareness is key. "If a dieter were aware that drinking diet sodas may cause cravings later on, I don't think there would be harm [in having one]," she says.
Did you hear that? One a day—meaning you probably shouldn't invest in a diet Coke tap for your kitchen counter if you're serious about weight loss.
3.) Constantly Caffeinating
While caffeine can briefly suppress your appetite and acts as a diuretic, it has not been shown to cause real, sustainable weight loss.
Caffeine is thermogenic, which means it triggers the body to burn some calories through heat production. However, this doesn't seem to be enough to cause weight loss.
It's safe to boost your energy with a bit of caffeine before a workout, but too much caffeine can be harmful. "It's a central nervous system stimulant, which can affect your heart rate and blood pressure," says Dubost. (Keep your daily caffeine to 250 milligrams or less.)
4.) Gunning For Grapefruit
Grapefruit, a low-cal, high-fiber fruit, has been shown to help obese patients lose weight when consumed in moderation.
But diet plans that promote one ingredient as a "magic" fat burner—as the Grapefruit Diet does—are usually accompanied by a very low-cal meal allotment. That's where the weight loss comes in.
If you add grapefruit to your diet, be careful not to max out intake; you don't want to ruin your taste for the nutritious fruit by eating too much, too quickly. Shapiro cautions: "Eating a grapefruit every day won't help you drop 20 pounds without making other lifestyle changes."
5.) Turning Up The Heat
Adding spices (like cayenne pepper) to food makes you sweat, which may also boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite for certain foods. But these effects may not be significant enough to cause substantial weight loss.
"In the scheme of things, you could add [spices] to foods, but implementing that one little thing won't help you get there," says Shapiro. In other words, if you like spice, go for it. If you don't, it's not worth burning your tongue to lose a few extra calories.
6.) Cutting Carbs
Is parting with pasta the best way to part with your paunch, too? Not necessarily.
People on low-carb diets initially drop weight as they lose body water, not from losing fat, says Dr. Muth.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what 'diet' someone starts, whether it's low-carb or low-fat. What does matter is the amount of calories the person consumes and how well they are able to actually stick with the diet," she says.
Everyone wants to know... what's the deal with carbs?
Why is it that everyone says to avoid carbs if you're trying to lose weight?
Are there such things as good carbs and bad carbs?
How much of my diet should consist of carbs, and what kind of carbs?
If you've ever wondered about one or more of these questions, despair no longer!
Before we go any further, you should know that I am not a Registered Dietitian, therefore I am not qualified to recommend and I am not recommending anything to you by giving you this information. The information that I will share with you is information that is known, or should be known, by every American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer, such as myself! Everything here is spelled out for us trainers in our Essentials of Exercise Science manual provided by ACE, and I'm going to share it with you, straight from the manual but simplifying it and hitting all the important parts.
Crash Course in Carbohydrates:
There are four main types of carbohydrates:
1.) Monosaccharides- We can divide this category into glucose, fructose, and glactose. Glucose is the main building block of most carbs. Fructose is found in fruits. Galactose combines with glucose to form the disaccharide lactose.
2.) Disaccharides- As stated above, lactose is a disaccharide. Lactose is found in milk. Maltose is simply two glucose molecules bound together. Sucrose (table sugar) is formed when glucose and fructose come together.
3.) Oligosaccharides- These carbs are 3 to 10 for fewer simple sugars (like the ones above) that are bound together in a chain.
4.) Polysaccharides- These are the most complex carbs, containing long chains of linked simple sugars. Two prime examples of polysaccharides are glycogen and starch.
Well, that's great Marlan, but... I don't see how any of that helps me. Here's the key:
Glycogen (found in meat products and seafood) and Starch (plant carbohydrates in grains and vegetables) are the ONLY polysaccharides that the human body can digest fully.
Both glycogen and starch are known as COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES (long chains of sugars).
OK.. What's so great about complex carbs?
Here's the deal; what you've been waiting for! The preferred energy source of the human body is carbohydrates! Any carbs that are not immediately used for energy are stored as glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscle cells and can be broken down into glucose to provide a rapid source of energy. When you train your body, you can actually increase your glycogen stores up to 500%!
The fact that your body so readily accepts glycogen can either work for you, or against you.
Yes, when you are regularly physically active you can increase your body's levels of stored glycogen. This is an adaptation to exercise so that your body can be prepared to give 100% during your sessions.
Glycogen is very large and bulky, so it's not suitable for long term energy storage. If you continue to consume more carbohydrates than your body can use or store, your body will convert the sugar into FAT for long-term storage!
This is where carbohydrates (specifically glycogen) can become your enemy.
So now you know that eating TOO MANY carbs might contribute to weight gain if you aren't regularly physically active, but what is the correct amount and type of carbs to include in your diet?
The answer varies largely from individual to individual. Obviously, more active people might need to consume more carbs because their muscles use them quite efficiently. Also, it is generally accepted that complex carbohydrates (in foods like pasta, grains, vegetables) are the best types of carbs to eat. Simple carbs don't generally offer as much of a benefit in the form of sustained energy as do complex carbs. This is why people often hear about athletes who "carb load" up to a week before a big competition in an attempt to increase the body's readily available glycogen for sustained performance.
I can't recommend anything to you, but I CAN point you in the right direction!
Below are some links to some information sponsored by the USDA regarding current general recommendations for your daily diet. Poke around on the site, you never know who might be inspired!
Remember, everyone is on a diet. Diet is what you eat, not what you do.
USDA's MyPlate.gov website
Home Page: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Food Group info: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodgroups/index.html
2010 Dietary Guidelines: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/PolicyDoc/ExecSumm.pdf
I was poking around on the Men's Health website and found a link (bottom of page) to an article that claimed to have the 25 best nutrition secrets. I've copied and pasted everything here for you guys. Some of the tips could use more clarification and explanation, but I think the source is reputable. I'm not recommending anything by sharing this with you, I just thought that some of these were pretty interesting. Who knows, these tips may help someone out; you never know who will be inspired! I encourage you to consult a registered dietician before implementing any changes to your diet.
1.) Drink a second cup of coffee. It might lower your risk of adult-onset diabetes, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
2.) Keep serving dishes off the table. Researchers have found that when people are served individual plates, as opposed to empty plates with a platter of food in the middle of the table, they eat up to 35 percent less!
3.) Think before you drink. The average person drinks more than 400 calories a day--double what he or she used to--and alone gets around 10 teaspoons of added sugar every single day from soft drinks. Swap out sweetened teas and sodas for no-cal drinks and you could lose up to 40 pounds in a single year!
4.) Practice total recall. British scientists found that people who thought about their last meal before snacking ate 30 percent fewer calories that those who didn't stop to think. The theory: Remembering what you had for lunch might remind you of how satiating the food was, which then makes you less likely to binge on your afternoon snack.
5.) Eat protein at every meal. Dieters who eat the most protein tend to lose more weight while feeling less deprived than those who eat the least protein. It appears that protein is the best nutrient for jumpstarting your metabolism, squashing your appetite, and helping you eat less at subsequent meals.
6.) Choose whole-grain bread. Eating whole grains (versus refined-grain or white bread) has been linked to lower risks of cancer and heart disease.
7.) Think fish. Consuming two 4- to 6-ounce servings of oily fish a week will sharpen your mind. Among the best: salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and trout. They're high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. Study participants who had high blood levels of DHA also performed better on noverbal reasoning tests and showed better mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary than those with lower levels.
8.) Sign up for weight-loss emails. Daily e-mails (or tweets) that contain weight-loss advice remind you of your goals and help you drop pounds, researchers from Canada found.
9.) Cut portions by a quarter. Pennsylvania State University researchers discovered that by simply reducing meal portions 25 percent, people ate 10 percent fewer calories—without feeling any hungrier. Serving yourself? Think about what looks like a reasonable portion, then take at least one-quarter less than that. (By the way, studies show today's restaurant servings are 2 to 5 times bigger than what the government recommends!)
10.) Turn off the TV. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts found that people who watch TV during a meal consume, on average, 288 more calories than those who don't eat with the tube on.
11.) Put your fork down when you chew. Or take a sip of water between each bite—eating slowly can boost levels of two hormones that make you feel fuller, Greek researchers found.
12.) Choose rye (not wheat) bread for breakfast toast. Swedish researchers found that rye eaters were more full 8 hours after breakfast than wheat-bread eaters, thanks to rye's high fiber content and minimal effect on blood sugar. As a result you'll want to snack less and eat less for lunch.
13.) Eat a handful of fruit and vegetables a day. In one study, people who ate four or five servings scored higher on cognitive tests than those who consumed less than one serving.
14.) Sip green tea. It might help you build a strong skeleton, say researchers in China, and help protect you from broken bones when you're older. And one study found that it helps fight bad breath, too.
15.) Work out before lunch or dinner. Doing so will make the meals you eat right afterward more filling, according to British researchers—meaning you'll eat fewer calories throughout the day.
16.) Hung over? Choose asparagus. When South Korean researchers exposed a group of human liver cells to asparagus extract, it suppressed free radicals and more than doubled the activity of two enzymes that metabolize alcohol. That means you'll feel like yourself again twice as quickly.
17.) Sleep 8 hours a night. Too much or too little shut-eye can add extra pounds, say Wake Forest University researchers.
18.) Discover miso soup. Brown wakame seaweed (used in miso soup) can help lower your blood pressure, especially if your levels are already high, say researchers at the University of North Carolina.
19.) Drink two glasses of milk daily. People who drink the most milk have about a 16 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who drink the least.
20.) Take a zinc supplement. Just 15 milligrams of zinc a day (the amount found in a Centrum Ultra multivitamin, for example) will motivate your immune cells to produce more of a protein that fights off bacterial infections.
21.) Go ahead, eat your favorite foods. Good eating doesn't need to be about deprivation—it's about making smart choices. Why eat a 1,000-calorie cheeseburger if a 500-calorie burger will satisfy you just the same? The bottom line: Eat foods that you enjoy, just not too much of them.
22.) Choose foods with the fewest ingredients. There are now more than 3,000 ingredients on the FDA's list of safe food additives—and any of these preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colorings and flavor enhancers could end up on your plate. Do you really know what these chemicals will do to your waistline or health? Of course not. Here's a rule of thumb: If a 7-year-old can't pronounce it, you don't want to eat it.
23.) Snack on popcorn. In a 2009 study, people who ate 1 cup of microwave popcorn 30 minutes before lunch consumed 105 fewer calories at the meal. Just choose the kind without butter.
24.) Or snack on walnuts. Eating a handful of walnuts each day may boost your HDL (good) cholesterol fastest, while lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
25.) Scramble your breakfast. People who ate eggs in the morning instead of a bagel consumed 264 fewer calories the rest of the day, according to a Saint Louis University study. That’s because protein is more filling than carbs.