Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tracking Progress with Weight Loss

As a trainer, it drives me CRAZY how much people put value on how much they weigh. The numbers on the scale tell only a small part of the story when it comes to someone’s fitness level. We always consider body composition to be the most important number when it comes to body change and fitness increases. This number is presented as a “percentage” of total body weight. Simply losing pounds does not always convey success if the pounds lost are lean tissue. Nobody wants to be lighter and fatter at the same time. Having said this, it seems like EVERYONE wants to be lighter!

At  All Canadian Fitness, we have had a couple of memorable clients that achieved great results. One of them was my Spect Fit Cadet, Diane Ledonne. At the 5 week mark or her training, she had lost just under 3″ from her waist (in 5 weeks!). She had also lost about 7% of her bodyfat. Her blood pressure came down from 140/90 to 126/86. Very impressive results all around. BUT, from weeks 3 to 5, her weight stayed exactly the same!!! During that time, all of her body composition measurements went down, her strength went up, her blood pressure went from hypertensive to normal…AND her energy was waaaaaay up. If we had been evaluating her progress solely by the scale (like they do on that awful Biggest Loser show), then she would have felt like a failure.

Check out these awesome pictures of Allie from…

The other client experienced frustration at the numbers on the scale that appeared to her to be stuck. Every single day, however, she was getting compliments from people about “how great she looks”. She also lost 4 dress sizes in 4 months. Again… impressive results that simply would not have been recognized if the scale were the only measure of progress.

Here are some measures that really, really matter when you are trying to get into great shape:

Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR)-  Measure your waist at the navel and your hips at the point where your buttocks protrude the furthest.  Divide the waist number by the hip number.  Besides watching the individual numbers go down as you get lean, try to achieve a WHR of less than .9.  .8 would be even better.

Resting Heart Rate and Resting Blood Pressure-  Both of these numbers are crucial to good health.  Resting heart rate of 72 beats per minute is about average for adults.  Getting into the 60’s or 50’s would be ideal and shows that your heart is getting stronger and more efficient.  Resting blood pressure of 120/80 is ideal.  140/90 is considered borderline hypertensive.

Skinfold Measures-  Get someone to help you with this one!  Pinch a fold of skin on the back of your arm (tricep) and measure the width of the fold in millimetres with a tape measure or ruler (if you do not have a body fat caliper).  Do the same diagonally at the hip bone.  You can also measure a vertical fold beside your belly button.  As you get leaner, the measures (which are measuring fat near the surface) will get smaller.

The “skinny jeans” Test-  Take a piece of clothing that just barely fits.  As you progress in your exercise and nutrition program, put them on weekly and make note of how easy it is to close them, how comfortable they feel, if they start to get baggy etc…  This is MUCH more significant then how much you weigh.

Strength and Endurance-  Measure your upper body muscle strength and endurance with a max set of pushups.  If you can do more than 30, then choose a harder pushup version (from the toes, feet on a chair, clap pushups etc…).  Keep track of how many more you can do over time.  Perform an abdominal plank for max time.  If you can do more than 3 minutes, then choose a more challenging version (one arm, one leg etc…).  Pick a distance to run (or walk or run/ walk).  Record how long it takes you to go the distance and re-test yourself over time.

The Bottom line– We are human beings with LOTS and LOTS of things to consider about ourselves other than simply a number on a scale. Do yourself a favour and throw yours away (or give it to someone you really dislike!).

Sitting is Bad For Your Health Part 2

Last week, I wrote about the negative effects of sitting.  To say that some of the stats cited were shocking would be an understatement.  I mean, I figured that sitting too much wasn’t exactly the healthiest thing in the world, but…  a decrease in Fat Burning Enzymes?  …  lack of electrical impulse to the legs IMMEDIATELY?  … and a 40% greater death rate than non- sitters?


This week I want to approach excessive sitting from the perspective of a fitness professional.  For 20 years, I have been working with clients from all walks of life.  Super fit athletes and totally sedentary post- accident victims.  While they may have very little in common, the one thing that almost ALL of our clients have in common are the effects of “over sitting”.  In the modern world, we do most of our work and most of our play sitting without ever changing positions.

In the past, even the activities that required sitting, like watching TV and typing required breaks in the sitting to continue.  Simply put, you had to get up and walk to the television to change channels and you had to get up and actually file a paper away across the room when you got to the end of a written report.  These little, seemingly insignificant breaks, gave you a chance to straighten your legs, your back and to rotate your torso and actually stretch your body.  The phrase that I love is that it allowed you to “undo the sitting position”.

When someone sits too long, too often, we tend to see a few really common deficiencies in their bodies.

1-  Shortened tight hip flexors.

2-  Short, tight hamstrings.

3-  Tight lumbar muscles (low back).

4-  Rounded shoulders and upper back with weakened scapular (shoulder blades) muscles and tight pectoral (chest) muscles.

The result is that people who sit longer have sore lower  backs, headaches, neck and shoulder pain and they breathe more shallow and have trouble running injury free due to stride changes as a result of all of the tightness and weakness in their legs.


Top 3 Exercises to Undo the Sitting Position

1-  Medicine Ball Chopper 3 x 15 each way

2-  Scapular Retraction with Rubber Tubing or  “Shoulder Blade Squeeze” 3 x 15

3-  Kneeling Kickback 3 x15 with each leg

Add 3 sets each of these into the warmup of your regular exercise routine three times per week and you be amazed at how good you will feel and how much better you will move within a couple of weeks.

Ernie Schramayr–  All Canadian Fitness

Sitting is Bad for Your Health

You may have seen the news stories recently proclaiming that “Sitting is KILLING You!” or “Sitting is DANGEROUS”.  I think that I’ve seen the articles about sitting and poor health in the papers, on TV, in blogs and I’ve heard it on the radio.  It seems to be everywhere.  The thought occurred to me that, I better find out more about this if I’m going to be able to lead my clients to live healthier, fitter, more productive lives.

Like many active people, I assumed that by exercising frequently every week (5+ hours), I was erasing the effects of an increasingly sedentary modern lifestyle.  Everything is automated these days.  You can change channels, open your garage door and answer the phone without ever getting out of your chair.  Sort of like the people in the movie Wall-E!

If you saw Wall-E… you know the outcome of a life spent in a high tech recliner isn’t good.

I examined the findings of a study conducted by the Sax Institute, who are doing the largest ongoing study of healthy aging in the Western Hemisphere (the Institute is in Australia).  The study was conducted specifically to determine the relationship between sitting and morbidity rates.  They want to find out if people who stand more vs. those who sit more are less likely to die from certain diseases.

After reading over the results, I have to say that the findings are quite shocking!  People who sat 11+ hours per day (at work and then at leisure) are 40% more likely to die in the next 3 years vs. people who sit less than 4 hours per day.  The part that was most shocking to me was that it didn’t matter if the “sitter” was healthy or sick or if they exercised regularly.  Sit longer…. die sooner.  In other words, you can’t “exercise away” a sedentary lifestyle.

I also read the results of a study from the Medical Billing and Coding group who gathered evidence from many sources.  One of their findings was that people who sit more than 6 hours per day are 10% more likely to die within 15 years vs. people who sit less than 3 hours per day.

The evidence cited in the Medical Billing and Coding report is that when you sit, the electrical activity to your legs is cut off immediately and the enzymes that your body produces to break down fat drop by 90%.  Within 2 hours, good cholesterol in your body drops by 20% and within 24 hours, your risk for diabetes increases.  People with sitting jobs are twice as likely to die from Cardiovascular disease according to the report.

Wow.  Heavy stuff.

What we can take from these reports and studies is that the human body is a “movement machine”.  It is designed to work best and last the longest when it is in motion…. upright!  One of the positives from the Sax study was that the one group with the lowest death rates was the group that exercised the most AND sat the least.

What we can do right now.

1-  If you can do an errand by walking 15 minutes or less… do not drive.  Walk.

2-  If you have a desk job, get up every 15 minutes for a few minutes to stretch.  Anytime that you are taking a phone call, as opposed to doing work on your computer screen, stand while you talk.

3-  Turn the TV off and go outside when the weather is nice.  Walk around the block, talk to your neighbours, go for a bike ride.  If you have young kids playing sports, resist the urge to sit for the whole game.  Stand while you watch.

4-  At the gym, switch from the exercise bike to multi-station circuit training or to the treadmill that keeps you on your feet.

5-  Set up your work station to include a “standing desk”.  Surprisingly, this might just save your life!


Ernie Schramayr-  Owner All Canadian Fitness

3 Tips for Staying in Summer Shape

Summer is here!  You worked hard throughout the dark, cold winter months and into the spring and your proud of your body as you head out in your shorts, tank tops and in your bathing suit.  It would be a shame to just let all your hard work go to waste by doing nothing all summer, eh?

The distractions are many from June to September, but, it IS possible to maintain your fitness level (or even improve it) throughout the hot, hazy days of summer.

Here are 3 Tips to maintaining or improving your fitness level during the summer.

1-  Plan your week before it happens.  Spend a few minutes on the weekend looking at your week ahead.  Decide what your focus for your training week is going to be (endurance, strength or performance training).  Look at your PERSONAL schedule to see just how much time you’ll have on any given day and come up with the workout of the day for each and every day based on where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing.

Take advantage of the weather and learn how to exercise outdoors.  It will have a great cross training effect and the change in environment will make you feel great.

2-  Create a dinner “menu” for the week ahead.  Make a list of the meals that you’ll be eating each night.  Plan to make meals that you enjoy that are high in lean protein and contain a mix of complex carbohydrates and vegetables.  For example…. Monday evening, Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs and mixed salad.  From this list, write your grocery shopping list for the week.  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR NUTRITION TO CHANCE.  There will be plenty of times in the summer where you will have no control over what is being served.  Control what you can when you can.

Also… get in the habit of making “too much” of the good stuff at dinner time.  Freeze it or use Tupperware for an easy, fast lunch the next day.


3-  Have a fall back or Plan B for both exercise and nutrition for the times that life gets in the way.  There is no excuse for doing nothing.

Plan B exercise might be Pushups, Squats and Crunches for 15 reps of each repeated with no rest for 12 minutes.  Plan B nutrition could be a can of Spicy Thai Tuna on a Flax Seed Tortilla with Spinach Leaves.  Easy, effective and way better than “nothing”.

Take these 3 tips to heart over the next couple of months and you WILL be in amazing shape come fall.