Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fitness Trends 2011 2012

American College of Sports Medicine survey predicts fitness trends for 2012 (1)

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals. Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by ACSM.

2. Strength training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete physical activity program for all physical activity levels and genders.

3. Fitness programs for older adults.
 As the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.

4. Exercise and weight loss. In addition to nutrition, exercise is a key component of a proper weight loss program. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.

5. Children and obesity. With childhood obesity growing at an alarming rate, health and fitness professionals see the epidemic as an opportunity to create programs tailored to overweight and obese children. Solving the problem of childhood obesity will have an impact on the health care industry today and for years to come.

6. Personal training. More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that students are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.

7. Core training. Distinct from strength training, core training specifically emphasizes conditioning of the middle-body muscles, including the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen – all of which provide needed support for the spine.

8. Group personal training.
 In challenging economic times, many personal trainers are offering group training options. Training two or three people at once makes economic sense for both the trainer and the clients.

9. Zumba and other dance workouts. A workout that requires energy and enthusiasm, Zumba combines Latin rhythms with interval-type exercise and resistance training.

10. Functional fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.

Although producing educated and experienced fitness pro's is the top fitness industry trend it's still very much buyer beware.  Take a look at this video posted on the American Counsel on Exercise website..

The ACE article say's, "If a trainer demonstrates a technically challenging exercise that you don’t feel comfortable attempting your next exercise, run (not walk) away from that trainer in order to avoid an unnecessary (and completely preventable) injury,"

The article was also careful to point out that "this is not an indictment against Crossfit". I agree. In general the Crossfit program places special emphasis on good technique, but as I have seen over and over, it does't matter what kind of certification a trainer has, I've seen all levels of trainers make these critical errors.

The number one red flag that signals you should run, not walk, away from a trainer?  No assessments or measurements.  If a trainer doesn't do a valid fitness test or movement assessment (used to find common posture and biomechanical problems) it means they have no evidence from which to build a personal recommendation for you from.  You are likely to receive a cookie cutter program from trainers that don't do assessments.

In my opinion the number one fitness/ healthy living trend that needs to occur is changing how we think and feel about healthy choices.  Why?  How many times have you or someone you know looked forward to their "cheat day" more than they look forward to making healthy choices?

Thats the self sabotage we inflict on ourselves and is the number one reason for failure to lose weight and get fit.  We simply don't value the healthy choices as much as we do the unhealthy choices.

If you're in love with unhealthy choices you'll always feel drawn to those choices and the healthy choices will forever be relegated to being perceived as restrictions that prevent access to the supposedly more rewarding unhealthy choices.

In general I don't like most group exercise classes, the bigger they are the worse they are because individual attention becomes non-existent. Also group fitness classes place pressure on everyone to perform whether your tired or not. Group classes can work, but look for smaller groups with no more than 6-10 people per instructor. 

Here is my list of what you must do to get and stay healthy:

Overall it's the psychological work that precipitates everything else. Free your mind and the rest will follow.  Get your head and your heart into loving healthy living instead of viewing it as restrictive.

The top four things that you have control over that make your body healthy are:

Exercise:  Strength train 1 to 2X per week. Cardio 2 to 3X per week, some activity daily

Nutrition:  Pass on processed foods, fill 1/2 plate with veggies, be mindful of what you eat.. "is eating this really going to help me; or hurt me?"

Quality sleep:  Get to bed early and same time every night.  Avoid late nights.

Stress management 

The first three also pull double duty and serve to aid stress management. In addition though cognitively processing why we get angry, why we fret and worry, as well as what makes up happy and content is very important.  Most of us simply habitually react to situations instead of being mindful of our thoughts and emotions.  Being mindful helps us realize we can choose not get so uptight about things, and be less judgemental of others and ourselves, helping us reduce our stress and even avoid stress altogether. 

If you can get the right amount of these four you'll discover how liberating and rewarding it feels to be stronger with more energy, have fewer colds, have less body fat, and not feel like weight gain, being tired, and being stressed are a ball and chain.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Eat Less To Get a Six Pack

The elusive six pack.  There is an endless number of super six pack programs at your disposal. Entire books are created with the sole purpose of teaching you the super secrets, known only to the author until you buy the book.

What about incredibly challenging gut burning core workouts with everything from planks to throwing medicine balls at your mid section?  These hardcore workouts are important for athletic performance, but are overkill if the main goal is solid posture, good strength, and a lean six pack.  Besides, hard core training usually causes overtraining injuries when jumped into too quickly, typically with high hopes and promises of fast gains in exchange for a torturous workout.  If you need this level of performance it's best to work up to it over a long period; athletic development takes months and years, not days and weeks.

Then there's the secret foods to eat that make abdominal fat disappear in which failing to eat these foods is proposed to be the true reason for failing to achieve a beach worthy state of being ripped.  Nope, those are phoney claims.

There are only two primary variables that relate to revealing a six pack; how much food you eat, and increasing the size of the rectus abdominis muscles through resistance training.

Actually the second variable, training, isn't as critical as you might think to merely expose the outline of this muscle group.  Certainly larger abdominal muscles stick out more and for sure make a difference in the wow factor, but anyone who is really lean will show abdominal muscles.

The main thing that stands between you and your hidden six pack is extra abdominal fat.  To simplify the complex layers of tissue let's look at the three main layers; muscles on the bottom, subcutaneous adipose tissue (fat) is next, with the outer skin (epidermis) on the outside, forming a kind of fat sandwich if you will.

Those seeking the ultimate ripped showing, usually bodybuilders preparing for contest, will tell you about sodium, water, and carb intake manipulations to get that paper-thin skin over muscle look, but that group will also tell you that particular state is only sustainable for a short period.. don't worry about this approach as it's impractical for achieving or maintaining a healthy sustainable six pack.

Really the main variable is food intake.  Can't get rid of that layer that's covering your six pack?  Eat less.

There is no secret.  Goofy fad diets need not be considered, simply employ a safe caloric deficit (around a 500 calorie deficit per day or most days) and every week you will lose fat.  Of course keep up with healthy exercise and keep eating fresh whole foods and balanced nutrition, but eat less to lose fat.

There's no rush.  Despite our ability to convince ourselves that we must lose fat or get ripped abs by a certain date, there really is no rhyme or logical reason to do so, and such goals are often set so unrealistically that most will give up when they fail to achieve unrealistic goals, or worse, turn to crazy supplements and even more crazy quick fix promises..

To maintain your ripped abs, continue with a healthy diet where you don't overeat.  This is very difficult for most to achieve as most of us typically associate reward with overeating, and we typically make every excuse in the book to overeat whenever possible.

If you can get passed weekend binge eating and the huge environmental and social influences to overeat, you can successfully achieve and maintain the ripped abs look, and you don't need a weird diet to do so.

The real secret to the six pack?  Not much of a secret, eat less to lose fat; maintain a healthy caloric balance to maintain it.

Final notes; your abs will look like your abs, not someone else's.  There are of course genetic variances between us all that make our superficial surface appearance unique to each of us so don't get hung up on trying make your abs look exactly like someone else's.  The width of the tendon material between those six pack blocks varies between people as does the exact shape of each segment of muscle; you can't change this.

Avoid getting too worked up about the exact way you look.  It's too easy for us emotional humans to develop self esteem and self image issues by placing too much emphasis on such things.  Having said that, here is a narcissistic self photo (age 45)..  My ab routine?  Only once per week, and limited sets.  I go harder when I feel good and do less when I feel off.  Simple floor crunches, standing cable crunches, axe choppers, and cable crunches are my staples.  Bridges occasionally, but bridges (also called "plank") only drive your abs to about 45% of peak contractile force which is fair for a base or a beginners program, but bridges, despite all the hype, are not appropriate for advanced core strength and power.

If I didn't love riding my mountain bike so much I would love to be a gym rat and get big, but the trails call me more than the gym does.. Find what makes you feel good, and stick with it. Oh.. and watch the calories!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fat Filibuster

Filibuster: a delay/ diversionary tactic.. keep talking but don't really say anything, and of course, avoid addressing the real issue.

For windbag politicians the filibuster seems to be part of their genetic code, but are we guilty of the same technique to avoid addressing our obesogenic culture?

Filibuster: Boy am I busy!  Time is not my own, I simply don't have time to eat healthy.. between work, the kids, keeping up the house and everything else I do, I just don't have time to think about eating a stupid salad, I have to eat, and go.  Besides, you have to live sometimes and I'm not going to live my life eating dried grass and nuts!

So.. eating a donut takes less time than eating a banana or an apple?

Eating a banana is such a huge cerebral challenge that it slows brain function?  Is that why there is no time to think about healthy eating?  Monkeys don't seem to have trouble deciding to eat banana's.. are we not as smart as monkeys?

Ordering an appetizer, main plate, and dessert takes less time than ordering less food?

Eating all that food in one sitting, typically over 1500 calories, takes less time than eating 400-700 calories?

Eating healthy is factually reduced to eating dried grass?  That's not an extreme and phoney claim meant to portray healthy choices as unpalatable in order to justify eating fat-bombs?

Even when faced with obvious truth we'll spiral down into denial and spew out an essays worth of diatribe in order to justify our unhealthy habits that cause weight gain, leave us feeling tired and out of energy much of the time, and causes us to have more frequent colds, sick days, and ill-health in general.

Every defence from "right to choose", to "it's my genetics, hormones, big bones", is regurgitated over and over again each time espoused as novel and defensible reasoning.  Really though it's all a diversion from having a real conversation about eating too much and how to overcome overeating.

I know this topic has a tendency to be viewed as an us and them confrontation, with the unhealthy on one side and the healthier on the other, both somehow perceived as having righteous indignation towards each other, but really that perception is simply another contrived diversion away from the real issue.

Most have a terribly difficult time talking straight about overeating and lack of exercise. Equally there are a great many people who exercise too much causing harm to themselves, who also follow weird fad diets with cult like tenacity, and they have just as much trouble talking about how they harm themselves with their actions.

The common thread here is that it's part of human behaviour to go into denial about bad decisions we make, and part of facilitating that denial is talking up a storm of diversionary irrelevant anecdotes.

When I used to eat 10 oz steaks (it's now closer to 3 oz), and sit on the couch bad-mouthing those crazy runners, I'd light up a smoke and berate the do-gooders who's healthy choices seemed to insult my personal autonomy and think defensively, "those people think they're better than me, who the hell are they to judge me?"

Into the filibuster I'd go.. but objectively what is the endpoint?

For me now the endpoint is this.. I haven't had a cold in years, I'm closing in on age 50 and I feel great, I'm strong, I'm not overweight and I rarely feel tired.

When I was a smoker I had smokers cough.. I couldn't enjoy the release of laughter without coughing.. is that fun?  I hated feeling tied to the chain of addiction.  Was that exercising my personal autonomy? I would feel lethargic and have indigestion after eating too much.. is that really enjoying a meal?

Am I wrong to believe that I'm better off now compared to what my health status would have been after overeating, inactivity, and smoking for the past 30 years?  Is it worth working so hard to defend unhealthy choices?