Why Your Diet Doesn’t Work…

You have made that commitment…

You are willing to forgo all treats…

You have changed your Facebook profile picture to Linda Hamilton/ Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2: Judgement Day or someone equally bad ass….

Your life is about to become a Nike commercial…

But…. that was yesterday and now you are hungry.

It will pay off, won’t it? I mean a little bit of a short term sacrifice to get the body you always wanted?

You have dropped calories and eliminated as anything that isn’t green or your have to kill with a spear.

Six weeks later you are miserable- the initial weight loss has plateaued and you aren’t losing body fat any more.

You might have been taking advice from someone who has recommended chicken and broccoli at every meal, carbs and sugar are worse than the devil so you best avoid them as well, you may even have bought a super food smoothie to get all your nutrients in. The problem remains… you are still bored and hungry.

This is where we find a lot of our clients.

Fat loss nutrition has been sold to them as a short term approach

It will work in the short term but you are screwing yourself in the long term.

So try this instead…

If you are calling it a “diet” you are doing it wrong…

Be less strict and get to understand what sensible nutrition is…

Your nutrition plan needs to focus upon a number of things for success.

1. Your food preferences and overall goal.

In the context of this article we are looking at fat loss. Food preferences come down to like’s, dislikes and tolerances. I spoke to someone who cut gluten from each of his clients meal plans- I asked if all his clients where gluten intolerant, he said no. My point is that there needs to be flexibility in choice. In some cases some people may want to limit the consumptions of certain foods but I consider if you remove a food group you are actually cutting back on your food choice options. Personal preference comes in to this things as does personal health.

2. The flexibility to change up what you eat and when.

Some days are just a nightmare when you can’t find quinoa (I said never). I have used calorie counters with individuals in the past and often people become slaves to these obsessing over the minor details. The route cause of this is that we have lost touch with what actually a portion size is. Socially it can be awkward to make choices when on a strict plan and you don’t have a “healthy option” which leads to the next point…

3. A loose structure which is maintained even if you overeat.

At some point you may make what you consider a “bad” choice for fat loss. This is totally not the point.

The fundamental approach that runs through the core of losing weight is that calories need to be reduced to lose weight. To make a point that it can be hard to reduce calories if someone eats in an unstructured way e.g. very low calories during the week with massive binges at the weekend. The necessity to perhaps bring calories up in some cases in order to help people make the right choices rather than binging or defaulting to emotional eating can help to create better overall “structure” and help create a better framework for success. If you overeat or eat an undesirable food it won’t torpedo your overall results if you have a structured approach to balancing your nutrition.

What happens when you “diet”?

When people set up a diet two things happen. You become immediately focussed on the short term results and failure to maintain the diet is seen as absolute failure. In fact you often become heavily focussed upon short term achievement because your approach is so stringent with no flexibility. You may loose weight but ultimately you will plateau. Why? Your calorific intake know matches your expenditure- you are now a smaller person so you need less calories. What do you now?

I consider this the “friends” zone of dieting, I mean you are reaping the rewards of the diet from losing a bit of weight but you want to lose a bit more and aren’t happy- what do you do? Stay on the plan? Revert to what you did before? It’s generally pretty confusing at this point especially when you have to consider at a lower body weight you may need to drop your calories lower- however, that sounds horrendous at this point and is where most people fall of the wagon as they revert to their previous habitual eating pattern which is different to their stringent “diet.”

Setting up a”diet” for success!

Follow these pointers and you will be on the right path:

1. Create a structured way of eating that you can maintain without extreme behaviour or food avoidance.

A great example of this is that some people love breakfast, other people can take it or leave it. The strategy of forcing someone to eat breakfast is unnecessary- it’s a cultural norm from our society as it wraps the working day. You have to work with what’s comfortable before changing everything.

2. Educate yourself to understand what a protein, carbohydrate and fat is and what foods are rich in these.

Probably the most important point, if you have no idea what you are eating then you have no position to revert to. A great example of this is meal replacement supplements and why people put weight on when they go back to normal food- they don’t know what is in them so they can’t stratagize to replace the calories in them sensibly. Simply this generation have such an abundance of food that we don’t know what is in it or what enough is, hence the soaring obesity rate.

3. Understand your personal needs for protein, carbohydrates and fats.

This will vary on individual differences and activity levels. Simply though we are all pretty similar and total amounts are a factor when it comes to weight loss.

4. Set a long term “health” goal rather than a short term “avoidance” goal.

Regardless of how you eat if you can’t maintain some semblance of your target weight/ body fat over a period of time then you need to slightly reset your targets or your calorific intake.

In conclusion…

These words should remain with you “eat in a way you can maintain.”

If there is no or minimal transition to eating in a different way you are more likely to be successful. If this way of eating becomes the new “normal” then you level out the boom and bust approach to calorific consumption.

Remember you are in charge of your calorific consumption and you make the decisions. You can have your cake and possibly eat it- in this way of working it helps if you understand what is in the said cake and how it relates to your daily needs. In itself this decreases the necessity to beat yourself up about making bad decisions/ failing and should make you more determined to emphasise the healthy structured approach to how you mange your relationship with food over the long term.

More news and views from Results FAST: Foam Rolling, Social Media and Fitness Industry Professionalism.

1.Someone asked me about why everyone foam rolls at our gym. In summary here are the benefits:

Pre- workout: evidence currently suggests that there is an improvement in joint flexibility as well as no negative effect to performance (in comparison to just stretching which can see decrements).

Short-term (in session) recovery: evidence suggests foam rolling reduces the deterioration in jump based movements performance.

Long term recovery: Foam rolling seems to reduce muscle soreness and the ability to train more frequently.

Health: Foam rolling may reduce arterial stiffness and may be of benefit to arterial health.

For a more in depth review with research and stuff head over here for an excellent review by the guys at Strength and conditioning Research.com

Also here is a link to some of the soft tissue drills we work with.

2. Motivation and mindset “training.” Simply, if pictures on social media motivate you then we can’t help you (that is unless the picture is you). Photo shopped images with quotes written over the top are not motivating- if anything (on consulting our members) they are building up an image that is only relevant to the top 2% of exercisers). We were told by our website guy that we should post up to three times a day on social media- many businesses do this by sharing this type of content, we don’t as we believe what we share on-line is representative of our business. That’s why we only share credible articles by companies and individuals in-line with the same focus and ethics as Results FAST.

 

3. Leading on from the above…. Professionalism and the fitness industry. If you are going to try and sell us something at the gym be it a product, piece of equipment, workshop or course then please, please, please just say “We want you to buy our product.” This week I have had three conversations with people who were promising me a unique opportunity (in one case the product will probably stay pretty unique but that’s another story). One company posted straight to our Facebook business page- you could have called or e-mailed but no they basically spammed us. In the past couple of months we have been visited by trainers/ managers from other gyms- we know because our members used to train at your centres and they recognize you. If you want to come in and see how we work just ask- don’t go through a convoluted game of cat and mouse pretending you are interested in training with us, we would respect you more if you admitted “We want to see how well you do things” (because you wouldn’t bother coming in if you didn’t think we where that good:). Professionals share anyway- steal/ replicate if you can but you can’t replicate experience and a good education. On the positive side of things big shout out to a supplement rep though- they contacted us and asked if we would like to sample their product and then sent us basically enough protein, sports drinks, smoothies to sink a battle ship (I love free stuff). We might not buy their product but I will still respect their companies professionalism and the fact that there was no hard sell straight out from them.

5 Reasons You Should Quit The Gym

I don’t normally post fitness business content but this piece highlights a few points for gym members and “fitness consumers.”

1. If you are a member of a gym, read their website. If the landing page informs you of what equipment they have in the gym then it’s time to quit. Why? There is a saying that facilities tell while services sell. If all they are doing is informing you what is in the place then how does this help you achieve your end goal. If they are not telling you how they can help you then you are paying an expensive equipment rental.

2. As a follow on to point one if the gym has an extensive range of TV channels, monitors, games, swimming pool, spa and saunas unfortunately they are trying to distract you from the thing that you go to the gym for. Don’t get me wrong music can be incredibly motivating and create a great training environment but watching the latest reality television series is only going to dampen your intensity while exercising. You don’t go to the gym for a distraction- you go to get fit, join a spa and stop kidding yourself that you are “training.”

3. If your primary source of information is from a trainer who has been working less than two years you are probably wasting your time. Controversial as I know that everyone has to make a start in the fitness industry and you can achieve a multitude of qualifications from certificates to degrees to start you off. The truth is most certifications are not relevant to actually performing the job. As with most professions personal training is learnt on the job.. There is an 80% drop out rate of employees in the fitness industry within 2 years of qualifications with poor pay being cited as one of the major reasons. The truth is it is a competitive industry, not a glorified hobby as some people think. Anyone who has made a success of a training business that I know has worked over 60+ hours a week for at least 5 years to get where they are. If you are working with a new trainer make sure that they are in a great learning environment and surrounded with experience- that way you can guarantee that you are getting the right advice.

4. If someone tries to sell you supplements that promise you weight loss you should quit that gym. But gyms sell weight loss supplements all of the time don’t they? There is healthy weight loss using sensible nutritional strategies then there are supplement based weight loss plans. Most of these products are poor quality soy protein mixed with a range of artificial ingredients. What’s more you don’t need a qualification in nutrition to sell these products. One of these meal replacement supplement company’s Herbalife are currently being investigated by The Federal Trade Commission for Multilevel Marketing which is technically illegal. Most people who push these products care more about earning money through commission then the benefits that they will bring you. If anyone suggests a supplement that is a meal replacement (therefore not actually supplemental to your normal diet) then you may want to seek alternative opinions about how to achieve your goals in a healthy fashion.

5. There is more cardio kit and weights machines than free weights. This isn’t a “hard core” statement. Simply the reason why big commercial gyms have lots of cardio kit and resistance machines is that they are low labour items to show their members what to do. Free weights necessitate explanations and examples meaning you need better educated fitness training teams compared to a machine that you either need to take a pin out of or press a button. I could talk about why there are more benefits of free weights but it’s not my job to convince you of that. What I am suggesting is that it is cheaper for a gym to provide less expertise.

Things I Learnt From 2013….

Every year I tend to way in with my opinion of a few things that we either do at Results FAST, have borrowed of other people and use at Results FAST or changes in approach to the way we work as professionals at the gym. These often can be translated in to many things whether it’s fitness industry related, business issues, down to nutrition and exercise tweaks we have put in place. So here goes this years run down:

1. Attitude is everything…. This crosses over to what goals you want to achieve, what new challenges you want to take on or in some cases just holding it together to make an omelette for breakfast everyday because eating a high protein breakfast is congruent to your goals. Life is tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean you let your health and fitness slide. Do you keep on getting ill? Are you looking to improve your health because of this? Are you overweight and want to lose weight? What are you doing to improve this situation is the question you should be asking. Your attitude then will define your actions. As a conversation point I now have morning omelettes down to 3 minutes 15 seconds….. so if someone says they have no time then there is your answer…. Can you spare 3 minutes 15 seconds!

2. Top post this year was on Glute Bridging– people simply must enjoy glute bridging! Bret Contreas would be happy!

3. People still love reading about trainers– this post is over a year old but still gets plenty of hits. The content for me still stands up for what is available in the current market and for the way we train clients at Results FAST.

4. Running your own business is the most fulfilling career move you can make if you dislike your current job. The fitness industry in no way rewards mediocrity- you have to be hard working to be successful. In all of the companies I have worked for there are some good guys who are going somewhere and there are people who watch the clock and punch in and out. There are good bosses and bad bosses. There are people who want to tell you what to do and people who want to help you (it’s not the same). When you are the head honcho I found it a weirdly cathartic experience. My expectations now have become my own limits. I wasn’t living up to someone else’s ideal or business practices which I no longer believed in. When you own your own business you have to have full engagement and a “buy in” with what you are doing and where you are going. It becomes your job to engage your clients and employees in that vision. That’s when your company grows… That’s also when you create what you can call a “brand” because it is more about what you do and how you act  and do it rather than what you say and what you tell other people to do.

5.  Language is important in your interpretation of peoples goals. Understanding that what people say occasionally has a hidden meaning and their use of phrases indicates where they see themselves in the world. My wife is a counselor with a major in psychology so I have only considered this when she became fully qualified and started analyzing my psychological make up (not quite Silence of the Lambs level but close). Getting a grip on understanding that if someone defines their place in the world by describing them self in a certain way does not highlight what is reality…. but it in turn is there reality. It means that your responses should not be about just what people say but understanding the sub text of their statements. For example, if someone describes themselves as a certain type of person e.g. happy, sad etc. then they are categorizing them self. It may not be true, we see it with body dismorhphia when guys see them self as small when they are large and women see them self as fat when they are a normal size. Understanding how people display this is important, as is your ability to discuss this with your clients. When someone redefines how they see themselves in the world it can make a major difference to their confidence, attitudes towards training and health as well as their whole personality and how they deal with change (which is what all fitness coaches deal with).

6. Yoga press ups are a great teaching exercise for progression to full press ups. I didn’t have time to shoot a video so the above is from Eric Cressey. We have used a lot of yoga press ups this year for two reasons. Firstly it creates controlled upward rotation of the scapular if performed properly which is great in exercising populations who’s shoulder blades may get fixed back and down. Secondly, a press up is a big torso exercise. If performed badly you will see dropped hips and a hyper extended back. Simply the yoga press up takes the tension out of the exercise at the hips high portion meaning that the elbows can be tucked on the decent portion of the movement and better overall form can be maintained.

7. Diets are for children and people looking for a cult to follow. Grow up and start thinking about nutrition like an adult. The reason that the human race colonized the planet was not that we had to only eat carrots on a Tuesday or that caveman represented our evolutionary peak for health. It’s because as humans we can survive under a broad range of nutritional intakes. Be it Eskimo, Sioux, Mayan, Viking, Hippie, Mod, Rockers etc. they all had variable diets and guess what pretty much all survived to pass their genetic line on to today. Some were better than others at this but it really had little to do with eating in the Zone. What do you need to survive. A bit of protein, some fat and ideally to keep you moving a bit of carb. Over do it on any of these and you find bad health. Eat healthily- you don’t need to remove food groups to do this. Detoxing and juice diets are sold to you- it’s not sustainable it’s not “healthy”. Eat fruit and vegetables and some lean protein at every meal, eat healthy options of fat, avoid overly processed food types. Is it that hard? My main point is not a discussion on the best diet but dealing with people as individuals is key to them understanding what healthy is. Ditch the diet attitude and aim for long term health.

8. Use bands to get your pull up numbers up. Everyone at Results FAST has had a crack at pull ups. We have had few niggly shoulders which need to avoid them but on the whole as long as the exercise is scaled back properly to the individual then most people can attempt them. we use a lot of band supported variations. When we started putting these exercises in during a strength phase of training for a lot of our new members the one reaction  they where not reacting was sore abs- most expected sore arms and shoulders but not the ab workout of a lifetime. Pull ups still stand up for us as a defining guide to upper body strength as well as a great developer for torso strength and can be utilized for both young and old.

9. Using a prowler is an awesome way of building lower body strength in individuals without them knowing. Simply said push a heavy object along the floor is the equivalent of performing barbell overhead walking lunges with a little more stability. The prowler is a great way to get people under load while making them think they are not weight training.  It’s also weird how many people enjoy this vomit inducing torture element!

grgrowler

So there you have it a round up of some of the more technical bits around how we work at Results FAST. This is my last post of the year as we head towards Christmas so I would like to thank all the supporters and regular readers of the information that we put out and look out for some exciting news of some of our new projects in the New Year. Have a good one!

Fascia, Pain and Corrective Exercise

A recent study has found that individuals with recurrent lower back pain have 25% thicker fascia in the lower back area than those with no pain. This was also reproduced in the neck area where increased fascial thickness of the scalenes (front of neck) was found in those with neck pain. Also it has been seen in the Achilles tendon as well.

thoracolumbar-fascia-xl

Your first question is what is fascia? Fascia is basically connective tissues that encapsulates the muscles, supports organs and transmit movement of the bones in the body allowing movement to occur. Fascia is in effect the clear, cling filmy substance that on a piece of chicken seems to wrap the main muscle tissue (preparing and cooking chicken is after all an anatomy lesson). For effective movement to occur the muscles must be able to glide past each other. If there is not clear movement then there may be a lack of proprioception, poor coordination of muscle function and possibly pain. Fascia is reactive to stress- place more stress on it and it will start to build up. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it will enhance the tensile strength of the body. However, excessive build ups clearly cause pain.

From a training perspective this highlights two things:

1. Fascial thickness is related to pain. Training on it’s own does not correct fascial thickness. The main way to remove these tightness’s is to increase the body temperature of these areas of fascial thickness. The major way of doing this is by deep tissue, high friction massage.

2.Postural issues related to fascia thickness that cause pain need to be helped by reducing the amount of cumulative stress to the thickened area. This may be termed corrective exercise as it highlights that the tissue is overworked and therefore surrounding and supporting muscles and tissue needs to be picking up the slack.

You typically see this in individuals with forward head position developing shoulder and neck pain as well as in those with flatter back postures. You can also sometimes see what is called a Dowagers hump develop on the upper back as a protective mechanism. What happens here is that the neck is in a forward position and as the muscles of the upper back try to hold on to the head extra stress to that area means that as a protective mechanism the body lays down more tissue to provide stability. Interestingly you can sometimes see this on the Achilles tendon where as a protective mechanism the body will lay down more tissue if the joint is under excessive stress. Sometimes this is seen as a bit of a lump next to the heel.

You can tend to see poor movement in a lot of things, knee alignment in particular can be affected by tight fascia down the outside of the thighs. This doesn’t mean just pain in the knee- it can also relate to lower back and hip issues. No amount of cueing or form adjustment will really help if structurally the tightness’s are caused by excessive tissue. In this case a more holistic approach of soft tissue work and strength exercise will be key.

In summary, what to do if you know posture is poor and painful even on occasion. Strength train in an organised fashion to correct any strength imbalances and restore tissue quality by deep tissue massage.

Land Training for Swimmers

We work with a lot of good junior swimmers at Results FAST.

As we tend to specialize in shoulder and back care with these individuals it’s not surprising that of each of the junior athletes we have seen have some form of back or shoulder complaint or injury.

Simply said if your out of pool programme is not complimenting your swim programme and you are still in pain after 6 weeks either you could be on your way to surgery and you are not getting better.

The sole focus of training is that it is practice to get better, land training is no different and provides an accompaniment to the work being done in the pool. That doesn’t mean imposing a more vigorous approach to training- it means using knowledge and the art of coaching to know how to programme, when to push and more importantly when to step back.

swim1

Out of the pool we want to maintain sufficient mobility and strength to aid performance and maintain structural strength and the avoidance of injuries.

Simply- it is not about stroke correction, it is not about sport specific training drills.

It is about creating the best framework for athletic performance in the pool.

Broadly speaking when we see new athletes they exist in four categories.

1. Long but tight muscles and existing in a fatigued state. Poor structural stability at the shoulder and lower back. Not recovering well from training volume, chronic injuries or constantly aching backs and shoulders.

2. Mobile with poor stability, often weak on gym tests. On the edge of injury if training volume increases and they do not have the structural strength to deal with the increased training load.

3. Mobile in the right areas but with slight issues related to their posture dependent upon their dominant stroke.

4. Breast strokers- simply their postural issues in the lower body and lower back are different to those who do not do as much training volume in this stroke.

So how  do we deal with each case?

Often it’s not a straight in to train approach as assessment will determine programme. Initially there are two goals establish safe range of movement and improve tissue quality. Now this can be an issue if someone is in the pool for 16 hours a week so a lot of the time some individuals may need more out of pool work than others.

Once we have a suitable range of movement (which often in the injured we do not have) which is pain free we can look to create stability through movement. Again not usually an issue for those with no injuries but with those who are moving poorly or who indeed are coming back from an injury then this is tantamount to future progress.

At the last point we consider loading the athlete- strength in essence is the last thing we add to the mix. Why? When someone has high training volume then adding more strength and repetition in on top of training can be counterintuitve to the overall goals.

We need to clean up and educate correct movement before loading. This really has little to do with pool work but ultimately the postural cues and strength work in the right areas feed back in to swimming form and will help remedy any poor movement patterns.

So each individual is similar in the pool work that they undertake but the methods to support consistency in the pool are personal.

Tissue quality, joint range and strength training are prescribed as neccesary and as an accompaniment to enhanced performance- if one is compromised in one then performance decrements will be seen. 

The Overtraining Myth…

Someone who I train on occasion recently said to me was that he thought he was “overtraining.” Now this is not the first time I have had this mentioned to me and I am sure many coach or trainer has had this said to them before. The fact is when someone says they are “overtraining” to me it is them saying they are either (a) tired or (b) bored.

Wikipedia- the font of all human knowledge gives the definition….

Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.

In laymens terms you are training too much for your body to recover so in effect your results go backwards. To this individual who mentioned overtraining to me my first question was “Why do you think that?” His answer “I just feel a bit tired.”

While not immediatly throwing a Snickers Bar at him and shouting “Grrr… Get Some Nuts!!!” we had a look at his programme and compared to the general recomendations for “health” he exceeded these recomendations by about 5 hours a week. However, this does not mean he was overtraining- yes, he was training a lot but 8 scheduled hours of training is not overtraining, especially if you are an amateur athlete. 

We reviewed his sleep patterns and his nutrition. Well, this is where we got our breakthrough. “Has your regular trainer looked at your diet?” I asked “Not really, I tend to avoid most carbohydrates though…” was the answer. On further review this guy in general was filling up on protein shakes, tins of tuna, fish oil capsuels and lettuce. He was tired not because he was overtraining- he was tired because he was not fueling his body to train or recover.

This is all too common-  a lot of people now are so conscious of body fat gains that they effectively can not train hard because they do not eat enough- usually in part due to ineffective dietry recommendations or a “system” of dieting which does not give flexibility to activity.

Adding in to the mix a lack of sleep and the recommendation is pretty much eat and sleep more and a lot of your “tired” symptoms will clear up. Focus on pre-exercise nutrition to give you intensity in training, put good healthy foods in to your body post session to help recovery.

Granted if you are overtraining you will have tired symptoms but don’t confuse this with poor nutrition and recovery- generally we will always review nutritional needs in line with the desired goals as a primary component of keeping exercise effective.

Bashing the Bootcamp…

Getting the form of an exercise to look right is a lot of the time the primary role when coaching. Indeed there are some great personal trainers, strength coaches and programme designers who in principal write good training regimes; a good programme though can be made great by informed coaching.

This is part of the job in my mind that is starting to be missed out on. With the advent of boot camp style fitness, the rise of methodologies such as cross- fit, fitness pilates and other mass forms of exercise the time for fine tuning and making sure things look right seems to be getting even smaller. Indeed if personal training and small group fitness coaching are the equivalent of fine dining then boot camp fitness is the equivalent of fast food- easy, cheap and although it cures hunger  there will be complications down the line if you do too much.

This does not mean I am anti-boot camps (or indeed fast food), I think that when you do this type of training it can be done in a more considered fashion. Take for instance most park based bootcamp workouts, they include excessive amounts of press ups, sit ups and dips. All these exercises can help aggravate shoulders susceptible to impingement or instability related issues. Twinned in with shed loads of running jogging you have some of the most aggravating methods of exercise for beginners.

Most beginners (male and female) are not functionally strong enough to handle excessive training volume, indeed after 20minutes good form may go out the window as another 200 press ups have to be performed.

The key is education: while I believe you can train a large group of exercisers I don’t think you can train a large group of beginners well. Coaching good form in large groups becomes more like a forest fire- once you put one fire out another three have started behind you.

My recommendations are quite simple if you are a beginner don’t join a bootcamp; invest in a fitness professional who makes sure you are doing things properly (this doesn’t mean sitting on a bike for an hour). The teaching of foundational moves such as squats, lunges and press ups are a start. Master 3 sets of ten, add some weight and then progress. Focus on developing basic strength levels before adding in higher repetition based workouts at least if you have a good foundational strength level then you know you will not be doing any structural damage to your body. Most over use injuries are related to poor movement dynamics and incorrect form, for example, your knee is a hinge joint- if it is not stable enough in time you may suffer from injury, time and time again we also see this with amateur joggers.

For intermediate exercisers and indeed the guys who consider themselves “expert” get some advice from someone who has been training more people than you. Indeed if your own training programme is built purely from your own experiences then you need to look elsewhere for advice.

Ask yourself what you goal is and get fit in a smart way! Don’t smash yourself in to oblivion- it’s progress you can’t maintain… and down the line you may find yourself suffering from a few injuries.