Thursday, January 17, 2019

Time for Daily Minimums

I had a little Google fun today and tried searching “Reasons people don’t exercise.” The most common barrier to exercise that was listed over and over (and over…) again: I don’t have enough time to exercise.
As a personal trainer who used to have a (very stressful) 9-to-5-type job, I do understand where this particular barrier to a healthy and active lifestyle comes from. Most people have a busy schedule, and some people have schedules “hectic” doesn’t even begin to describe. Working at Fit ‘N’ Well, I see clients with full-time jobs, kids, social commitments, and a side hustle -- who find they still need time to cook, clean, and take the dog for a walk. 

In the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, (CSEP) the suggested “150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.” (Please click here for link.) If we break this down over five days, it’s about 30 minutes per day in 10-minute increments of aerobic activity like brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or running.
So how exactly do these minimum recommendations fit into a weekly schedule? What if I don’t feel that I have 30 minutes every day to do this?
Instead of focusing on the 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, how about breaking it down to a simple plan where the days can vary, depending on your needs? It could look something like this:
Sunday: 15 minutes
Monday: 20 minutes
Tuesday: 30 minutes
Wednesday: 20 minutes
Thursday: 15 minutes
Friday: 20 minutes
Saturday:  30 minutes
Voila—150 minutes!
While I would advocate a well-balanced and active lifestyle includes substantially more activity than what’s listed here, (including resistance training, aerobic activity, and activity for fun,) a great place to begin would be to work toward consistently achieving these minimums and making this your new “normal”!
If you aren’t currently participating in daily exercise and feel intimidated with the need to suddenly find the time in your week, how about aiming for 50 minutes (in 10-minute intervals) in your first week, and increasing that total by 20 minutes per week for five weeks? This would allow for time to adapt to both the increase in physical activity and the changes to your daily schedule.
Cheers to getting in your minimums!
-Written by personal trainer Regan Degan of Fit 'N' Well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


How the heck do you remain consistent with an ever changing or super busy schedule?  We need to answer that text, see what is happening on Instagram, search up ideas on Pinterest all while folding the laundry, making dinner and driving the kids to their next event. Wait what? You’ve just spent at least 45 minutes looking at nothing in particular on-line? Yup. It happens fast and easily.

I think we all have felt the realization that an hour has just gone by and have accomplished nothing. That’s okay if it’s your moment to zone out but is it a habit that has been added to a sedentary day and lifestyle?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means consistency in good habits. What’s the key underlying element for consistency? It must be something you enjoy and really interests you. Being held accountable helps too. This can be as simple as planning to meet a friend to exercise or join a group or class to work out. Besides, things tend to be more fun with other people. Friends can help to keep you motivated and challenged and make it easier to keep your work out appointment. This is espeically true on those days that you don't feel like exercising. When all is said and done, some of the most rewarding workouts for me have been the ones where I didn't feel like exercising originally, but once I started, I got into it and ended up really enjoying my work out.

Friday, January 11, 2019


Models and those in the fitness industry can be very inspirational. As a personal trainer I look towards other leaders for inspiration and ideas regarding diet and exercise. It can all be a little overwhelming at times. It’s all well intentioned, pairing fitness and inspiration. Social media and mainstream media put fitspiration images in front of us everyday. Advertising and marketing campaigns want us to aspire to these images and a belief that this is ideal. Lose weight, look younger, be happier. Sure, these are all great aspirations, but these very images and beliefs can also be damaging and essentially be false advertising for a healthy lifestyle. It’s finally becoming more well known that these “ideals” are not helping people live a healthy lifestyle, neither physically nor mentally.
I came across an article which was first posted about a year ago. I appreciated the studies that were mentioned, and I believe and hope the messages it carries are more wide spread and understood. It talks about how the whole fitspiration movement is backfiring. Yet, it is still extremely prevalent.
Just seeing fitspiration images can lead to feeling dissatisfied with ourselves. As the article mentions, it can promote depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. A scientific study doesn’t have to confirm that part for me. It will be to varying degrees, but I think it’s an automatic human reaction many people can relate to. It’s the way our brains are wired. We focus on what we lack in ourselves. It frustrates me when exercise becomes less about health and more about aesthetics. I understand it. I am guilty of it as well. We all want to look good in or out of our clothes.
When you look at athletes across a variety of sport in your community like amateur weight lifters, wrestlers, martial artists, shot put, bikers, the list goes on, any one who is not paid as a professional or competing at a high level (and even those who are), these people have a variety of body types. I’m generalizing here, but over all, these people are fit and you will see many body types. Overall, they may likely fall into the “normal” BMI but there isn’t just one body type.
I’m not disputing the science that says a waist circumference above 80 cm for women and 94 cm for men increases health risks. It is an important statistic that will indicate health risks. It just really bothers me when society places one body type on a pedestal. 
Striving for healthier daily choices and habits should be something we think about first. There is my rant. I may tend to harp on the same topic. My friends can attest to that, but until fitness magazines and social consciousness changes to see there is beauty and strength in more than one body type, it will always be on my mind.
I believe there is beauty and fitness in more than just one mold. So enjoy your movement and appreciate your body!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Do It Now!

Written by Regan Dacey
As a personal trainer with Fit ‘N’ Well, I do quite a bit of reading online to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world of fitness. Sometimes what I read makes me laugh or shake my head, and other times I can’t help but think YES, ALL OF THIS!!!
While some articles resonate more than others, this one has been one of my favourite reads thus far in 2019:
If you’re the type who is waiting for something specific in order to begin working toward something you really want, I’d suggest giving this article a read. (The article does belong to Precision Nutrition, so there is a bit at the end promoting their coaching. I’m not in any way associated with their organization, but the article itself resonated with me enough that I believe it’s worth a read!)
Reading this, I wish the author, Krista Scott-Dixon, had jumped into my life with this a few years ago. I used to be the type who was always waiting for the perfect time to start something… then found that years would pass and I’d see those around me doing the things they love and achieving personal fulfillment thought their forward action while I seemed to be stuck waiting for something.
Change doesn’t have to be huge and life-altering, and you don’t have to wait for the beginning of a year, a month, or a week to make choices to start working towards a goal. Do it now!

Monday, January 7, 2019

The problem with trying to reach other people’s ideals

For the most part, I’ve always been relatively comfortable with my weight and felt like I was within a healthy weight range. There have been times where I have been more active and fit than others, but every once and a while that gnawing feeling comes back that a few pounds could be shed. Weight and how I look become a concern. It bothers me that my mind will go back to this reoccurring thought instead of focusing on health, movement and good eating habits.
For me, I think it comes from a society that, on the positive side, always tries to push us to be better. The other side of it is, we are never good enough. I’m no longer in the thick of uncertain adolescence when we care so much about what others think of us. I’m not stuck on relying on what other people say and the images that surrounded me to tell me what to aspire to, but neither can I completely ignore it.
I’m fairly old school, so I am not immersed in social media and the altered world that people want to mimic. I think I was fortunate that I was brought up in a way that my self worth was never based on what I looked like. Well, maybe that’s not the whole truth but I didn’t care much because I just wanted to play. I was considered a “tom boy” as a kid because I loved movement and challenges. The love of movement continues to follow me. This has helped me stay within a ‘normal’ weight range.
I’m about 5’6 ½ “ tall. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s my weight was between 128lbs and 132lbs. This put me at a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 20.3 and 21. As mentioned in a prior post ‘normal’ BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.  So, I was well within the “normal” range. Yet, I was told that, ideally, I should lose weight by more than one person.
One individual was especially significant. I liked and trusted my doctor but during each visit and checkup I do remember she always told me I should lose some weight and be 120lbs. Yes, for an active young adult and a weight that was already within “normal” in the BMI chart, her ideal for me would have been to lose 12lbs. That would be a BMI of 19, which is still within the normal range, but not far from under weight.
Dealing with someone else’s ideal of what my body should be like, especially from someone I trusted, was a little confusing. I remember not wanting to diet but I did pay more attention to what I was eating and tried to eat a little healthier. I was a dessert and chocolate lover then, as I am now, and that is where a continuous journey of trial and error started in order to find out what better habits worked for me.
There was one point where I did purposefully lose some weight. I restricted my diet and recall constantly thinking about food. I knew I was quite a bit thinner but not feeling any better for it. It was my best friend’s mother who showed concern and stepped in. Thank goodness for her. She stopped what could have been a cyclical struggle with food and diet.
I weigh more now, but I’m also stronger in many ways. I’m still comfortable with my body although I don’t always like the aging process. That lingering feeling of not being at an ideal body weight has never been completely silenced but I enjoy life and the people around me. I enjoy helping others maintain their movement and making them feel strong.
Other people’s ideals should not necessarily be our own. Take a break from social media or what others think you need to be. Figure out the advantages and disadvantages of making changes in your routine based on your own ideals. It’s always a work in progress but at least the ideals will be your own and keep you motivated.
I’m wondering what my doctor would tell me now. I’m still within the normal range on the BMI chart and have limited sedentary time. With the push towards body acceptance and overall health, would she still direct someone to a possible unhealthy mental relationship with themselves and food?
I would only hope that her focus would be on maintaining my active lifestyle, and work on continuously adding good habits. That is something a younger (and older) me could work on and appreciate.

Friday, January 4, 2019


Adaptation, diet and what I’ve done with desserts
Adaptation, in terms of our physical being, means that our cells and systems react and change according to the stresses or lack of stress to our body. Why is this important to know? It is the basic way to describe the changes that happen in our body through diet and exercise. Physical adaptation is what personal training is based on. When it comes to diets, understanding how our bodies adapt to things like limiting calories or high intensity workouts help with developing a plan and goals.
The body is meant to move and adapts well to movement. A personal trainer can keep you on the safe and right track to reach your goals. If weight loss is part of your goal, that’s where a nutritionist can be invaluable because following fad diets on a whim can do more harm than good. 
Its common knowledge that calorie deficit is the way to lose weight and is fairly straight forward. What is now becoming more well known, based on years of weight loss studies, is how our metabolic system adapts to sudden and drastic changes in caloric intake.
We now know that when the body does not get its “normal” calorie intake, the metabolic system slows down and stores energy more readily to make the most of what it is given. This adaptation creates the diet cycle so many millions of people struggle with. Reduce calories - Drop weight quickly - Back to real life - Regain more weight.
We know this, yet a billion-dollar diet industry still exists based on deprivation. Crazy right!?
So, what do we do with this information? When you are planning for weight loss, seeing a dietitian is a good place to start. If a plan is developed to cut your calories drastically, find another dietitian. It may not be what you want to hear, but just like exercise, manageable, long term changes are what will make the difference.
 Now, there are conflicting thoughts about how much impact exercise has on weight loss. Studies have shown both results where exercise alone can induce weight loss as well results where it may not significantly reduce weight. Just know that in either scenario there were benefits to exercise. What is interesting is in one study, it’s the small changes made that made the biggest difference when it came to measuring the difference between those who gained and lost weight and those who did not.
So how can we apply small changes that will make a big difference?
It’s finding the small changes that work for you. For me, I love desserts. If it looks anything like a cookie or chocolate, then my impulse is to eat it. Now, what is manageable for me is, I’ve set parameters I can live with. It must be fresh, I am now willing to share and I do my best to savour a delicious dessert. If it has an ingredients list, I read it. I avoid buying things with artificial flavours, so that already limits what I put in the grocery cart and a lot of desserts on the buffet table.
As well, if it’s not delicious, I no longer feel guilty for wasting what is supposed to be a good treat and I leave it. When I savour the flavour, it means eating slow and really appreciating what I am eating. That way, I have time to realize if it is worth it or not. If it’s not something I really enjoy, I stop eating. Plus, I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that too much of a good thing will leave me feeling gross.
Those few basic parameters haven’t taken away my opportunities to indulge, but it allows me to filter and check my impulses. It has made a pretty big impact on how I react to my cravings. It is also something I can live with on a long-term basis.
It’s no longer about will power, and the ups and downs of deprivation and binging because either way, our body makes adaptations. It’s enjoying the cake one slice at a time instead of eating as much of it as possible in one sitting (yes, I’ve done that).
*If you are dealing with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other dietary restriction there may be some drastic dietary changes required and this personal opinion does not address those situations.