Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Canadians: Out of Shape and in Denial

A new report from the Heart And Stroke Foundation, aptly named Denial, say's that while most Canadians understand the risks of living an unhealthy lifestyle, many are in denial about how much they are doing make healthy living something they do every day.

31% of Canadians self-reported being physically inactive in leisure time, but in reality 48% of us are making a lasting impression in the couch.

39% report eating less than the recommended 5 or more servings of fruit and veggies daily, but the survey says 54% of us are shunning the good stuff.

18% of adults say they're obese, survey say's.. 24%.

The number one reason why people claim for not making choices?  No time.

Of course that's pure denial, and we hate hearing that we're in denial.

But that's what denial is all about: avoiding the truth.

After I quit smoking, exercised more, and ate more healthy, life got better.  I wasn't tired as often.  I had more energy during the day.

Studies show that our cognition improves with regular exercise, better sleep, and better nutrition.  I don't know if I'm any smarter, many might argue otherwise, but it seems like a worthy benefit of living healthy.

I have a love/ hate thing with Heart and Stoke.  They do a lot to get the message out, but most of the time their message is doom and gloom mixed with academic boredom that would kill the even the most well-read bookworm.

Take their new adds for example.. Make Death Wait. 

The short video's have a somber soundtrack and a super boring Mr. Death narrator telling us all how he loves us and that he's going to get us..  Yawn.

How about a video showing how enjoyable it is to live healthy?  What?  Put a positive spin on living healthy?  Thats crazy!

I guess I'll have to do the heaving lifting..

Imagine not feeling tired every morning, or for that matter every morning, afternoon and evening.

Imagine feeling like you have the energy to take on the day and more.  No, this isn't rose coloured fitness enthusiast glasses.. it's a physical reality.

Making healthy choices changes your body making every cell work better, brain cells, muscle cells, vital organs.. it all works better when we live healthy, and it's tangible.  You can feel it.

The biggest challenge is re-setting our sense of reward.  It's unlikely anyone is going to be successful switching to a healthy lifestyle if they hang on to old love affairs with overeating and inactivity.

Some things to think about..

Healthy eating is not restrictive, unhealthy eating is.

Exercise does not interfere with life's priorities, it enables them.

How many people, when diagnosed with heart disease, say, "yeah!  Right on!  I knew this would happen by eating all that crap and sitting on my butt all day! Woohoo!  I win!"

That's the disconnect. Can't deny that eating crap food tastes good at the moment.  But eating healthy food also tastes at the moment.  One makes you feel great and live longer, the other makes you overweight, tired, and die earlier.

I don't know, sounds like feeling great most of the time might be worth it.

Studies show that healthy living can reduce the number of colds we get each year by 40%, reduce the duration of the colds we do get by 40%, and reduce the severity of cold symptoms also by 40%.

That's all about having less time feeling bad and more time feeling good.  Is that worth something?

I think it is.  I haven't had a cold in years.  Colds are miserable.  I don't miss them.

What are some things that you'd like to miss?

Feeling tired?  Sleep apnea? Being sore, weak, and out of energy?  Getting sick often?  Having high blood pressure?  The battle of the bulge?

The absence of these things leaves you feeling great; and whats wrong with that?

You can't be a two-timer.  You'll need to cut ties with that old dysfunctional relationship with living unhealthy, and make a commitment to the new lover, healthy living.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Internet Nutrition


Your tax dollars at work.. eaTracker was developed with money from the BC Ministry of Health and is brought to all us surfers by Dieticians of Canada.  The new version is far easier to search and find foods to enter, previously a punishingly tedious process.

Also improved is the food database.  The previous versions didn't have popular health foods like chia seeds and quinoa, this one has it all.

Here's a screen shot of the nutrient breakdown of one my favorite quick meals:

100 grams of quinoa
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 Cup vanilla yogurt
15 almonds (not roasted or salted)
1 Grapefruit

I usually put 1/2 a cup of blueberries in there too.  If you're wondering, I eat the grapefruit separately, it's not added to the yogurt mix, but all the other ingredients are.  The grapefruit is a great vitamin C source.  Quinoa is high in iron, but it's non-heme iron (plant sourced iron) and non-heme iron is not absorbed very well. Vitamin C helps all iron absorption, be it heme iron (animal sourced) or non-heme.

The old saying "there's a method to my madness" almost applies here in that I've purposefully added a vitamin C source to this meal so my body can use the iron in the quinoa (noted for its high iron content).  I say almost because there's nothing "mad" about purposeful healthy eating.  It's all good; good tasting, good for you, as well as being smart and practical.  Can't beat that combo!

The site will help you figure out how many calories you need in a day, meeting your daily nutrient requirements, and teaching you what you are really putting in mouth.

To get a quick and very detailed breakdown of any single food  NutritionData is my favorite.

Screen shot from NutritionData:

If you're wonder what chia seeds are, yes, they are the same seeds used in the infamous Chiapet.

They're also one of the best sources of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, have a complete protein profile, and are high in calcium.

A note on those Omega-3's from chia seeds.. plant sourced Omega-3's are high in ALA, but lack DHA and EPA, which are abundant in sources like salmon, or fish oil pills.  We need more research but for now the push is on to get more of the population consuming DHA and EPA Omega-3's more so than ALA.

Interesting info on Omega-3 from Wikipedia

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Building Muscle Does Not Cause More Fat Loss

One of the biggest myths in the fitness business over the last 10 years or so is the promise that extra muscle gained from training with weights will result in extra calories burned while exercising, and also while at rest, which in turn will cause more fat loss, especially when sitting around doing nothing.. supposedly that extra muscle mass will burn through your fat stores causing fat loss.

Some of the claims say that a pound of muscle burns 50 calories a day so if you gain just 5 pounds of muscle you could be burning an extra 250 calories per 24 hours, which is just over half a pound of fat loss per week just by sitting around doing nothing.  Those numbers are outrageous, and of course not true.  Muscle can burn a lot of calories when exercising, but over a 24 hour period a pound of muscle will use approximately 6 to 8 calories.

It's true; more muscle equals more calories burned, which also means more calories are required to make those muscles work, and to prevent atrophy of that mass.

When calculating our daily caloric needs our body mass plus our daily physical activity are used to figure out how much we need to eat.

If we have two people of the same height and daily exercise levels, one weighing 150 lb. and the other weighing 170 lb., with the greater weight being muscle, the 170 lb. person will need more calories to sustain their current level of muscle.

While this is clearly understood for some odd reason the more muscle = more fat loss myth perpetuates.

The reason I suspect is because we are pretty gullible when it comes to any promise of fantastical weight loss or weight management.

So the more muscle you have the more you have eat to feed the machine.  Calories in and calories out is what determines fat loss or gain.  If a well muscled person overeats, they will gain fat, no more and no less fat than had they overate by the same amount but having less muscle mass.

Build muscle for fitness, physical performance, and health; watch what you eat to control body fat.  Yes, calories burned during a weight training session contributes to the total calories you burn during the day and will help with caloric balance, but overeat on that day you weight train and your body will store the extra calories as fat just like it would on a day you didn't exercise.

Building more muscle is great for our health.  Generally as we age we are less active and we lose lean muscle mass.  There is a degree of loss of muscle mass that is age related that we can't really do anything about, but studies show that even seniors who take up a safe and progressive weight training program can increase lean muscle mass, so exercise really can offset to a very large degree, muscle loss due to aging.

Live Healthy: Seniors Can Gain Muscle Mass And Strength

Loss of muscle mass contributes to unstable joints, loss of balance, and of course loss of functional strength.

Stronger and larger muscles adds stability to our joints and makes daily movement and general physical tasks easier.  If you're into sports you can increase your performance with stronger muscles, and quite often with larger muscles as well.

Building and maintaining muscle mass is good for us, but extra muscle does not magically result in extra fat loss.  You can have lots of muscle and still be overweight.  Easy to do, just eat more food than you need and the extra calories go to fat stores, no matter how much muscle you have.  Ever heard of an overweight linebacker?  Of course.  In fact overweight football players are becoming a great concern.  It's becoming more common for overweight football players to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health issues that come with being overweight.   These athletes have huge muscles, yet many are overweight and clinically obese.  Extra muscle does not make automatically make these athletes immune to gaining excess fat, and it won't work for anyone else either.

Heavy NFL players twice as likely to die before 50 - NFL - ESPN

Weight Loss Involves Will Power

News stories in the last couple weeks have delivered a crushing blow to those struggling with weight loss:

You can't win, will power is useless because hormonal changes that come with overeating and weight gain perpetuate a state of hunger which actually gets worse when you lose weight.

Don't dispare the study was a goofy one.  That might be a bit harsh.. better to say that this single study does not tell the whole story, but rather a story that is specific to the conditions of the study (1), which was going on a 500 calorie per day starvation diet.

After 10 weeks of starving on a diet that is totally unrealistic and would never be recommended by any health professional, weight loss occurred (of course, you're starving).  What also occurred is the hormones that regulate hunger changed; hormones that stimulate hunger increased, and those that suppress appetite decreased.

The most interesting study finding was that one year after the initial weight loss the shift in hormonal balance remained out of balance, causing the study participants to feel hungry and also needing more calories to feel satisfied from eating.

The real conclusion hear is not that weight loss is impossible but rather that if you try drastic measures like crash dieting and extremely low calorie diets you will cause significant changes in hormone levels that govern appetite which will strongly influence regaining the weight you lost.

Permanent weight loss is possible, but only about 5 to 10% of people are successful.  How is this done?

Change your love affair with overeating.  It's important to learn the caloric value of foods so you can know how to meet your daily needs, and in light of these discoveries of hormonal imbalances driving appetite, it's important to be able to self talk and cognitively process your sense of hunger, "I get that I feel hungry, but do I feel hungry because of a true caloric need, or is this the hunger caused by hormonal imbalance?"

If you've had enough calories and still feel hungry the hunger will be from hormonal imbalance.  Initially you will use your will power to resist eating when this happens.  Over time you will adapt to eating less, but unless our ingrained sense of gratification from overeating is also addressed we'll forever be trapped in a dysfunctional love affair with food.

With the self talk try something like, "I'm going to feel so good about myself by eating healthy.. this is the right thing to do."  Repetition is the key.  Just like practicing musical scales on a instrument, learning to type, or learning anything for that matter, the brain needs to experience repetition so it can adapt.. lot's of repetition.

Expect relapses and expect a long term process.  Want to lose weight quick and keep it off forever?  Most likely not going to work for you so don't bother trying.  Want to earn a living by winning the lottery?  Quick weight loss is just as unrealistic.

If you look at how much we admire overeating, and how much we long for it every day, it's easy to see why eating healthy can be so challenging.. almost nobody does it, and almost nobody supports it.

Despite these real challenges, successful weight loss is possible, it can be done, and it feels really good.

Healthy eating is far more satisfying than overeating, teach your brain to automate that association and you'll feel a natural desire to eat healthy, instead of overeating, and that is truly liberating.

1) Long-Term Persistence of Hormonal Adaptations to Weight Loss — NEJM