Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shedding the holiday pounds

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially in this case.  The number one most effective way to deal with holiday weight gain is to not gain the weight.

"But Cris, you're ruining my holidays!  I have to indulge during the holidays; that's what it's all about!"

Hmm..  Hard to help you then.

I used to think the same way.. Whoever told me that I should watch what I eat at Christmas was a Grinch trying to put a downer on what makes me happy.  Loser.

So what happens after the fact?  Crap I overate and packed on more pounds.  I do this every time!  Now I have to lose it.  I always have trouble getting rid of the extra weight.. still haven't got rid of the extra weight from thanksgiving..

It's like you're stuck watching a repeating video loop;  get excited about the reward from overeating, regret overeating after you're done, have trouble losing the extra pounds, gain more weight every year.  Repeat.

About 95% of the population does not do the prevention part.  Let's assume that we'll all do the prevention thing next time :-) 

What do we do about the extra weight we've gained so far?

Number one: stop overeating!  Spending extra time at the gym isn't going to help shed pounds when we replace the burnt off calories with leftover gravy and Christmas cake.

What activity is the best for losing fat?  You'll drive yourself nutty trying to associate a specific exercise with fat loss.  Just get active and don't overdo it.

The goal is to eat fewer calories than you expend and continue doing so until you reach your fat loss goal.

Both weight training and cardio burn calories and will contribute to a caloric deficit so long as you keep a lid on your eating.  It can take you 30 to 60 minutes to burn off 500 calories exercising and only 5 minutes or less to eat 500 calories.  If I was pushed to give a nod to either weight training or cardio for burning off more calories during a 30 to 60 min workout I would say.. it depends.

If you compare hammering weights to a lazy walking pace then hammering the weights burns more calories.  If you usually don't do weights and you hammer it you're going to get hurt so it isn't worth it.  If you compare moderate steady state cardio with hammering weights you'll come out with about the same calories burned over 30 to 60 minutes with maybe 100 extra calories for the cardio.

Those who are into endurance activities like cross country skiing, running, and cycling, will easily burn off 2000 calories in a 2 hour session; but they've slowly built up the fitness to do so.

If you're a regular exerciser and can tolerate pushing harder you can burn off 700 to 1000 calories in an hour without pushing yourself too far. 

The main point is get active and burn off more calories than you eat. 

Great! So how many calories do you need?  Take your weight in pounds and multiply by 10.  That's how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight, but this calculation assumes little to no physical activity.

Spent an hour shopping? Add about 300 calories to your daily needs.

Example:  You weigh 170lbs.  You need 1700 calories if you sit around all day.  To lose weight sitting around all day, subtract 15 to 20%.. you'd need to eat 1350 - 1450 calories to lose weight.

Went to the mall?  1700 + 300= 2000.  Let's throw in a few conservative calories for household activities and general moving about: 2000 + 200= 2200.

2200 - 15 - 20% = 1750 to 1850 calories.

Yes you can lose weight without exercise!  Woohoo!  Not so fast.. Studies show weight loss without exercise increases the loss of lean muscle mass, tendon mass, and bone mass.  That's not so good.  Weight loss with exercise and balanced nutrition comes 100% from fat.  Do it right and you can even add some muscle while you lose fat :-)

There's no rush!

Safe and healthy fat loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week.  Keep in mind that a 2 pound loss in a week requires a 1000 calorie deficit every day.  This can be done fore sure, but if you're a yo - yo dieter then you already know rapid weight loss is a guaranteed 100% failure.

A 1000 calorie deficit is more prone to leaving a person feeling hungry and perceiving that they are deprived, which increases the desire to get off the diet and return to more overeating.

A 500 calorie per day deficit is an easier way to delete our extra fat deposits.

How do you do that?

Cut as much processed foods as possible.

Take a moment to measure some of what you eat so you can understand how many calories you are eating.

Use the Internet to find the calorie values for foods you eat.
Example: Google calories turkey sandwich

Don't want to count calories or measure your food? You should because without measuring you can only guess, but if you're stubborn about it then the next best thing is; whatever you eat, eat 20% less.

Exercise a little bit every day; try for 30 to 60 minutes of continuous movement.

Avoid rapid weight loss

Not sure if you're doing the right thing?  Send me an email or ask a question by leaving a comment here and I'll respond with an answer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Physical Exercise Prevents Cellular Senescence in Circulating Leukocytes and in the Vessel Wall -- Werner et al. 120 (24): 2438 -- Circulation

Physical Exercise Prevents Cellular Senescence in Circulating Leukocytes and in the Vessel Wall -- Werner et al. 120 (24): 2438 -- Circulation

Exercise and live longer?

It's a genetic fact. A recent study further confirms what previous research has shown; exercise affects cells and DNA structure increasing function and lifespan.

An important structure of DNA called a telomere dictates how many times a cell can make copies of it's self. Once you reach the telomere section of your DNA you are literally at the end of your rope. A length of DNA can make copies of it's self but each copy made uses up some of it's length. Telomeres are like end caps and when DNA has used up it's length and gets to the telomere it stops dividing.  The length of the telomere matters too: longer increases number of possible copies; shorter decreases number.

Exercise increases the length of the telomere allowing the DNA to keep making copies. The affect isn't indefinite; research has shown that exercise in sufficient volume and intensity can increase life span by over 10 years while smoking and obesity can shorten telomere length subtracting 10 years from normal life expectancy.

This research compared life long masters athletes (ave age 51) and younger pro athletes (ave age 20) and compared them to healthy non exercisers who did not smoke.

The athletes were significantly more fit (no kidding), had lower BMI, lower resting heart rate, and better cholesterol numbers. When the masters athletes were compared to the sedentary group it was found the athletes had lower telomere loss.

The masters athletes had exercised for decades with an average week having 80 kilometers per week of running.

This doesn't mean everyone should start running 80 km/ week, but it does show that people in their 50's who have been regular exercises have a distinct genetic advantage over their sedentary peers. The best thing about this genetic advantage is that you can make it yourself.

How do we make practical use of research looking at how our behavior affects telomere length?

Stay away from excessive sugar intake

Ditch the smokes or don't start smoking

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Exercise regularly

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are holiday and weekend eating patterns affecting obesity rates?

Are holiday and weekend eating patterns affecting obesity rates?

Pile it on during weekend eating. I've heard the common complaint that people can't get their weight down because they eat too much on the weekends.

Eat less then?

Practical and effective advice to be sure. So why do so few do it (eat less)?

Habit and social norms. It's normal for us to chat up the upcoming weekend meal.. how big, juicy, tasty, filling etc. it's going to be. Boasting about how much indulging we're going to do.

Strike that. I'm not in the "we" anymore. Used to be. It was difficult to change the weekend overeating habit. Yes I did experience being criticized by friends and family for not going back for seconds at first, not so much anymore. "Eat, eat! It's not going to kill you!" (sic) "What.. like you gotta worry; you're not overweight" "You're skinny, you could afford a few pounds."

Most who cut back to reasonable eating will be cajoled by their peers to eat more. Weird.

But seriously folks.. The data is very strong; overeating on the weekends stymies the path to healthy weight. A person could sustain high blood pressure through being overweight because they can't get passed weekend overeating.

"But it's just this one time". Yeah, it's only for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, my birthday, my wife's, husbands, partners, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, bosses birthday, company dinner, so and so's wedding, dog's birthday, club event, guy's/ girl's night out..

That's a lot of "one times".

Truth is overeating has been normalized, prioritized and prized. Healthy eating has been demonized, criticized and pushed aside. Healthy eating tastes better, is more satisfying, doesn't come with a guilt trip and will drop your blood pressure not raise it.

Let's be more supportive of ourselves and others making the right choice. Eat less, eat healthy, and enjoy :-)

On Reality Show to Lose Weight, Health Can Be Lost in Frenzy -

On Reality Show to Lose Weight, Health Can Be Lost in Frenzy -

Dehydrating to the point of urinating blood. Pushing exercise to the point of collapse and being taken away in an ambulance. Wearing extra layers of cloths to promote weight loss through sweating/ dehydration.

Sound like a healthy exercise routine?

That's exactly what some contestants on the "Biggest Loser" show do, according to this story in the New York Times. Medical and exercise experts not associated with the show are expressing doubt on whether the mega exercise and calorie cutting method used on the show is really the best idea.

When I first saw the show myself there was nothing I saw that correlated with what I have learned through my coaching certification courses in terms of healthy exercise and eating. In fact contestants appear to be trained harder and longer than even the worlds most elite Olympians and world champions.

Amongst savvy coaches and trainers it's known that about 50% of the population can't sustain an exercise routine that has more than 2 hard exercise sessions per week without burning out or developing a repetitive strain injury. For certain no athlete who has a professional team of doctors, trainers, and therapists would do the training that is depicted on the Biggest Loser show.

I'm pretty fit myself, certainly significantly more fit than any Biggest Loser contestant, and there is no possible way I could endure the constant hammering to exhaustion that is portrayed on the show. Don't misread me.. It's not that I don't have the mental drive to push myself to succeed at fitness; I've won my share of races and am sure to win more. What I mean is I know that I would become injured on the Biggest Loser program simply because the human body can't take hard core training every day.

So if a fit well trained athlete like myself scoffs at the Biggest Loser program, and even the worlds best athletes can't tolerate that kind of exertion; how is it that people who are the least fit with no base conditioning are doing this kind of program?

It's insane if you ask me.

Finally some in the medical community are raising concerns as well.

Read the New York Times article and find out about stringent non disclosure agreements that contestants sign that prohibit them from talking to anyone about their experience on the show; but some have spoken out anyway. Read about how although the show has doctors examining the contestants, the contestants sign a waver that says such an examination doesn't mean much.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The science of exercise | Local/State | The Bulletin

The science of exercise Local/State The Bulletin

I've got an article on my website about lactate testing (click here for article). On pubmed, an online database of scientific studies, there are more than 750 studies pertaining to "lactate threshold", and a google search of the same term gets over 10,000 hits.

Every major high performance center in the world uses lactate testing.

Every modern textbook on exercise makes a reference to lactate testing as standard fair for evaluating current fitness and for tracking progress.

I'm not saying lactate is the only thing to measure.. not at all. It certainly isn't the only value I measure. What I'm saying is lactate is a significant value that dramatically assists a coach/ trainer accurately assess someones fitness and fitness progression.

So why is lactate testing so rarely used in Winnipeg?

I've been doing it for 10 years and I still do more lactate testing than anyone else in the province. Actually, I'm only one of half a handful of people that do it here.

I don't have a good answer for why this but I can tell you why I use it with everyone from first time weight loss clients to my provincial champion cyclists, and of course for evaluating my own training:

Lactate testing significantly reduces guess work. Are you faster because you're motivated to push yourself; or are you faster because you're more fit? Lactate will tell you unequivocally.

Lactate values reflect muscle metabolism. There is no other single measurement currently available that can do this at the low cost and ease of use as lactate sampling.

What should your heart rate be for base conditioning so you don't go too hard or too easy? Lactate will tell you.

In 2008 I was in Toronto upgrading my cycling coaching certification (level 3). Appropriately the course was held at a high performance center. What were the phsyologists doing there? Lactate, heart rate, and power testing. Same thing I do here and have been doing for many, many years. It was gratifying to be in the company of people who take this testing in stride and regularly depend on it. Arriving back in Winnipeg was like coming back to the stone ages. Funny, because Manitoba is actually internationally recognized for being leaders in Hydro Power, manufacturing, medical research, and many other venues including being the home place of some of Canada's best athletes.

Try to find modern lactate testing though you're almost SOL. Aside from me and the University of Manitoba and a few members of Team Woodcock (who I introduced lactate testing to), there really isn't anyone else doing it. You can buy lactate kits at Woodcock Cycle, the ONLY place in Manitoba you can buy lactate kits.

How does a lactate value help me determine the correct intensity for starting an exercise program? Isn't lactate testing for athletes?

I like to say that lactate testing isn't athlete testing it's human testing.

If the beginner doesn't start at the right intensity or increase intensity at the right time by the right amount they'll either miss the opportunity to advance or advance too quickly.

Lactate tells me exactly what this beginning intensity should be and when to change it.

Despite all the science backing up lactate testing the vast majority of coaches and trainers never use lactate testing, or even heart rate monitoring (available since the early 1980's), so I may by comparison appear to be going against the grain.

Really all I am doing is following the research and employing the most comprehensive and easy to use science based methods for prescribing exercise; and making this available to who ever wants it in Winnipeg.. and why not. You can get it in any major city all around the world.

I get the sense that I'm trying to get ashore against a strong tide on it's way out. So while others are still riding the old wave of cookie cutter heart rate formula's and trumpeting their cause, I'm almost drowned out. But that doesn't deter me, and don't let it deter you.

Check it out. Lactate testing really is a significant tool that all coaches and trainers should be using in addition to heart rate and learning to interpret perceived exertion.

You could stumble along without the Internet, without email, and without a cellphone or even telephone. Try to function in any company without these modern tools. This is where you are at exercise wise if you're not using lactate and heart rate. It really is that significant. :-)

Beware: Trick Photography Staple in Online Ads - ABC News

Beware: Trick Photography Staple in Online Ads - ABC News

Watched a great segment on ABC's 20/20 last night..

Those online before and after photo's showing weight loss results from the latest miracle diet? They've been digitally altered.

Say it ain't so. While not necessarily breathtaking news, having a veteran news show do a story like this helps bring the issue to the forefront and show just how wide spread the phony claims are. For instance, many of the photo's you see of people that supposedly lost weight using a certain product will also appear promoting other weight loss products, only the claimed name of the person in the photo changes. The old trick using slight of hand to bamboozle people is alive and well in digital media.

One person who actually did lose weight safely and gradually posted her results on the Internet because she wanted to show people it can be done. To her surprise her personal photo's showed up on a fad diet website- without her permission- and claimed she the lost the weight fast with this miracle product.

So why do people set aside better judgement and fall for these phony hucksters? Desperate needs call for desperate action. If you're feeling desperate to lose weight chances are you will be willing to resort to desperate actions to achieve the loss.

I've found a lot of success with my weight loss clients when they do an emotional inventory on themselves. Those who feel anxious and frustrated with weight loss tend to succumb to poor judgement. Those who find a way to think long term and look at lifestyle changes tend to develop long lasting healthy habits. Go here for an article on emotional misscalibration- researchers suggest this is major player in why we choose to overeat.

Permanent healthy fat loss isn't quick but it is easy, so long as you can overcome the emotional and habitual roadblocks. That's where the time and energy is spent, and honestly it isn't always that easy. Those who can overcome the emotional and habitual roadblocks are the ones who succeed long term.

As for the phony diet pushers; they're a bunch of lying schemers and it's about time they were fully exposed and hopefully brought to justice for the fraud they perpetrate.