When most people think of losing weight, the first thing that typically enters their mind is that they should go on a diet. Dieting appeals to many individuals who have lost their way nutritionally since it offers a temporary change in nutritional habits with the purpose and benefit of bringing their body composition to a satisfactory level.
The main problem with dieting is that it creates a yo-yo effect due to it being a temporary change created out of sheer discipline. A person will go on a diet: typically one that counts calories or restricts intake of certain foods, suffer a lowering in metabolism due to gaps in nutrient profile, and then once the diet is over they return to their old nutritional habits in a hurry, only with a lowered metabolism. This causes an increase in stored fat since the body can no longer process higher amounts of food, and before long the individual is right back where they started or worse. They may then go on a diet again or even try another diet, starting a weight on/weight off effect that keeps them from ever attaining their weight loss goals.
The solution for this problem lies in making better lifestyle choices when it comes to eating. A major problem with the idea of dieting is that it promotes inconsistency with nutrition. The human body is a highly adaptable organism that adjusts itself to whatever it is faced with. This means that eating poorly causes the body to adjust itself, and it is not until the habit of eating poorly is conquered that the body will be able to become healthy. What I am arguing is that nutrition is a lifestyle.
Any lifestyle changes are difficult and take time and commitment. One cannot expect to overcome a lifetime of poor eating habits overnight, or even in a week. The best way to transition away from poor eating habits is to slowly progress towards what is better for today, with the goal of making further changes down the road. For example, if you are having highly processed cereal for breakfast (all of the ones that look fun, and even many that are marketed as being healthy), you are consuming far too much sugar and preservatives, and not enough healthy carbohydrates and other nutrients. A simple change in this situation would be to add a piece of fruit to the meal, and a further change would be to switch to a healthier option, such as cereal made with whole grains. Once at that step towards better nutrition, one can implement having more natural, unprocessed foods such as oatmeal made with fresh nuts and fruit. As you can see, changes can be slow, but as long as they are consistent and sustainable, success will be attained.
A professor of mine once gave the class some golden rules for nutritional change, and asked that everyone work on checking off one item at a time:
- Eat to live, don’t live to eat
- Think lifestyle, not diet
- Drink clean water throughout the day
- Eat natural, whole foods
- Have some high quality, complete protein with most meals
- Have fruit and/or veggies with every meal
- Exchange unhealthy fats for healthy fats
- Food first before supplements
- Eat 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day
- Do the best you can in each situation, and when you feel you’ve made a mistake, focus on getting right back to health this moment forward.
Some of these may not seem very clear right now, but in future articles we will elaborate on these 10 items, as well as provide some guidance through the phases of making proper nutrition part of your lifestyle. For now, plan and prepare for making small, slow, consistent changes to your nutritional habits, starting with one small step today.
Those who have tried or trained in distance running in the past most likely have dealt with some manner of joint pain or soft tissue discomfort. This pain may come and go or be persistent, but whichever the case, it diminishes any possibility for gains or improvement in running. Even when the pain does not hinder the runner, but tends to quickly subside, it can have long term effects on the joints that may become severe. Injuries such as shin splints, runners knee (iliotibial band syndrome), patellofemoral pain, and stress fractures are the most common conditions in runners, and all of them can be greatly reduced with form or alignment correction. These conditions can be greatly reduced through balancing out the leg muscles by: strengthening weak stabilizing muscles, releasing tight muscles, increasing joint flexibility, improving running form, changing run surface (trail vs pavement), or by wearing shoes that are meant for your feet.
Your feet, and therefore shoes, are what connect you to the ground when you run. They face a large amount of stress from repetitive impact, so any misalignments are compensated for by the body. This in turn can cause muscle imbalances, tightness, and joint friction, leading in turn to injuries. The importance then of having proper footwear that promotes good running form is essential in preventing injuries. Perhaps you have heard about minimalist running shoes: you know, the ones with the toes. One of the pioneer companies, FiveFingers, is probably the most well known due to its distinctive displaying of the toes.
The concept with minimalist running shoes is that they allow for the runner to stride through/on their natural foot arches. This involves having the foot be completely on the ground, as compared to running shoes you may be familiar with that have a larger amount of cushioning at the heel. The issue with having a higher heel is that it promotes a heel-strike to toe-strike method of striding, which puts excessive stress on the joints in the legs causing injury. A great solution to the problem of heel striking is using a midfoot or forefoot strike. Both of these are biomechanically more efficient for striding, and cause less impact and stress on the runner’s joints. Minimalist running shoes promote the midfoot and forefoot strike. Having less of a heel cushion and heel to toe difference encourages runners to develop better running form.
One issue with minimalist running shoes however, is that most people are too used to their traditional running shoe. Removing the height difference is typically too radical of a change for individuals who have been running for quite some time. Easing into minimalist running shoes can solve this problem, but there is also another solution. Running shoe companies such as New Balance and Nike, have been quick to come up with their own version of the minimalist shoe, with both companies opting to manufacture not only completely minimal shoes, but also transitional shoes that still have some heel to toe height difference and maintain some cushioning. These transitional shoes still promote proper form, but are not as extreme of a change, and allow runners to more easily adjust to running on their arches.
The transitional shoes still need to be eased into. Some elements of a good transition include starting with a significant reduction in run distance, but not necessarily run frequency. Running on dirt paths, undulating trails, and rougher paths are beneficial for foot stabilizer mechanisms, and Running uphill with good form can strengthen the muscles and feet to make a faster transition. There is much that can be done to take the body’s running mechanism to a more efficient and less injury-prone level, but a good start includes an update of training gear. Minimalist runners allow you to run on your natural arches and assist you in running efficiently off of the mid or forefoot, just the way nature intended.
By Coach Kevin Hehr
Distance: 8.5km (17km total)
Elevation: 820ft base -> 4500ft peak (3680ft gain)
We parked at Mike Lake and set out on “incline trail”, which is as described, a straight-line, steady-grade trail that serves as a good solid warmup. After a few kms of climbing, you get out on an old dirt fire access road that gives the climbing a break. There is an initial shortcut trail that is more engaging – we took that for some foresty single-track like trail with a decent incline. There is a second “short-cut” that doesn’t provide a short cut so much as provide you a narrower, more engaging and harder trail, while the way around is a boring, wide gradual/mild climb.
The map warns of a dead-end trail, but it’s hard to miss the “mt. Alouette” signage that shows the way back into a deep-woods trail. From here on the terrain is very challenging. Wi the late snow melt, and no defined trail aside from orange tape tied on branches and markers nailed to trees, the ascent is very bushy, with lots of small, young pine-trees to brush out of the way and plenty of fallen trees to get around or over. In addition, areas that have well-defined trail are plagued with lots of large mud-pits and much of the trail acts as a creek! Matt was awesome considering he was wearing a cast for the wrist he broke 2 days before! Tip: I would suggest full hiking boots as an advantage over even hardy trail runners.
The progress felt slow with a lot of repositioning to find the next marker, but the trail is adequately marked. You must have patience to navigate through this! Next up was the snow, which at this time of season was in some of the thicker trail. As e trees thinned out and exposed some snow-fields, the second-last climb was visible. Steeper and with lots of snow to cut/stomp into but much easier to navigate as it was all old growth with minimal ground foliage. We could see the skyline more and more as we ascended this relatively short ridge. 20 minutes later on top of this mini ridge-plateau, we could see the final ascent, steep and short. Matt and I looked at each other and confirmed that it was time for the final solid effort and ascent. To the summit.
The summit: Another 15 minutes of solid effort up bare and snowy steep incline got us to the top. As the peak crested and opened up to the sky, the horizon came into open view and finally the cities of Langley, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam appeared far below. In the far distance, a cluster of hazy-gray rectangles that was downtown Vancouver was barely visible. It was amazing to see from above and from the distance, the 2 million lives that buzzed below, each working their lives to rent or own one space, some going to expand their venture to owning a commercial or industrial property and making that their life’s financial success and acquisition. It was humbling to see that even this would only be a speck on the vast city-scape that is brought together by the aspiration of so many individuals, families and companies.
Matt cracked a can of Stella, which he shared along with some delicious home-baked trail snacks. We shared the expansive perspective and feeling of accomplishment before making a well-paced descent back to the trail-head – which was loads of fun and a great reward for the initial climb.
Conclusion: The greatest challenge of the trail is in time you spend going through deep and rugged and inclined woodlands, following markers to find your way through. The distance covered in this section is short, yet it took about 1/4 of our time on our way up the mountain. This would be made increasingly difficult in rainy conditions or earlier in the year where more of this section is covered in snow, which you can’t really trust as some of it is a thin cover that breaks loose to reveal dead-space beside a fallen tree, a tree well or a light layer of suspending foliage.
Not a beginner’s hike, but if you want to do a hike that requires more than simple walking up and down trail, the view make it very worth it. Lastly, with the new Golden Ears bridge, coming from south Langley or Surrey, the trip takes less than 45 minutes to the trail-head, making this hike, along with many others in Golden Ears Provincial Park very accessible… So what’s holding you back?!?
As of Monday, May 23, I started day 1 of my cleanse http://exploringfitness.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/the-master-cleanse/#more-38 with the goal of staying on it for a minimum of 7 days.
I am recording my body composition measures on a daily basis, as well as providing thoughts about how the day has been.
I will be updating this same post with my progress daily – stay tuned!
- Weight: Total body weight in lbs
- Body Fat: The percentage of your body weight that is comprised of stored fat
- Visceral Fat: A rating for the amount of fat in your abdominal cavity, a health-risk factor
- Muscle Mass: The percentage of your body weight comprised of muscle mass and its stored glycogen.
Day 9 – Back to eating – balanced and healthy!
Weight-loss is more than just a goal or something people try to achieve. Surrounding the concept is what people are willing to do, and pay, resulting in a multi-billion dollar market with products and services ranging from good potential to high-risk and downright harmful. From personal training, to nutrition plans, bars, teas, pills, workout plans & videos, support groups, and everything in between, it’s easy to see (without even looking at a decline in our nation’s statistics) that weight-loss is a massive issue in Canada and other first-world countries.
With all this in mind, I can only stress one thing in response:
The answer to healthy weight-loss and the maintainence of healthy body composition is and only ever will be a lifestyle.
Although there are many approaches to having a low body-fat percentage, I strongly affirm that the only way of achieving this while providing the nutrients needed for proper mental and physical function is the full embrace of sustainable life-term choices, most of these having their physical outworking in the sphere of nutrition.
Here in BC it feels like we are waking up from some form of hibernation when the sun comes out the way it has recently. Though we can feel the immediate boost through every facet of our being, we tend to find ourselves relatively less fit and less motivated than we would like to be. Even for those of us who maintain off-season training, getting outside can be a challenge.
Let’s work together on two opposing ends to set ourselves up for success, taking hold of every bit of sunshine and enjoying summer in the best state of emotional and physical health possible!
[do not continue reading unless you are ready to do something for yourself!!!]