Monthly Archives: March 2013

Do You REALLY Need a Personal Trainer?

Things are so complicated  these days.  You hear it all the time.  Why can’t things be simple?  …like they “used to be”.

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The world is connected, automated and integrated.  Life just isn’t simple anymore.  If someone could come to 2013 from 1913, they would barely recognize the place.  Is it better?  … or is it worse?  I would venture that it’s neither.  It’s just different, that’s all.

The thing is, that while technology has changed tremendously, human beings and their physiology have not.  We are still made up of the same flesh and bones.  We have the same muscle, blood, amino acids etc… as we did in 1913.  So, while we sometimes yearn for simpler times, we still need to navigate within our new reality.

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As the world has changed technologically, so have everyday things; like how we live, how we work and how we feed ourselves.  The overwhelming majority of people are no longer physical during their days.  Forget about hunting and gathering, we can’t even be bothered to walk across the room to turn the TV on or change channels!  Our populations have exploded, increasing the need for more food at lower prices.  For the most part, while we have more and more food available, the quality has gone down and our consumption has gone up.  Commerce, along with mass media and advertising, has become the driver as to what most people consume and what they buy.

When you think about it, it’s a pretty lethal combination.  Less movement, more low quality, cheap food.  Add to this mix, the fact that we now sleep less because of all of the options available to us for entertainment 24 hours a day and we’re all “connected” all the time… to everyone!  Including our office and boss!

Remember, when cartoons ONLY came on Saturday mornings, hockey ONLY came on Saturday nights and grocery stores closed on Sundays?  Seems quaint.  Was that “better”?  Who knows?  It sure was different.

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As a personal trainer, I see clients all the time that exhibit the symptoms of this modern lifestyle.  They usually have bad backs and necks from sitting all day in front of a computer.  They’ve usually got extra fat around their middle from lack of exercise and over-consuming high calorie, low nutrient food.  They drink too much coffee, sleep too little, work too much, stress too much about work and don’t drink enough water.  You’d think we’d know better with all of the information about food and exercise available to us everywhere we turn.

The Personal Training Professional of today is perfectly positioned to help everyday people navigate through this new reality.  Forget about simply counting repetitions, a trainer will teach you how to strengthen your core, sit up straighter, hit a ball farther and feel less stressed.  Today’s fitness professional will also teach you how to spot the marketing “double talk” that you’ll find on food labels and will show you how to skyrocket your energy levels by stabilizing your blood sugar levels.  Along with this, a personal trainer will guide you to develop a plan that fits your lifestyle, that is sustainable AND that will let you experience real world “peaking moments” throughout the entire year.

Most of all, today’s Certified Personal Trainer will help you to meet the challenges of today’s world.  We don’t live in 1913.  The reality of 2103 is that the world is not a simple place.

Here is a list of things that I came up with that pose unique challenges to us human beings living, on earth, in 2013.

1-  Our lives are run by computers.  We sit (or stand) in un-natural positions for hours and hours every day, ruining our posture.  This affects pain levels, breathing and even energy levels.

2- Because of the above, everything we have is automated.  We can navigate our lives and do lots of stuff without actually doing anything!  We hardly burn any calories going through our daily lives.

3- The way that we buy and consume food is different.  Below are 4 major differences in our food reality vs. the year 1913.

a- High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It’s sweet and it’s cheap.  It’s also in everything.  We don’t need it and it’s making us fat and diabetic.

b- Drive- Thrus.  When did we get so busy that we couldn’t stop to eat?  Drive- Thrus, for the most part, didn’t exist a generation ago.  Now you don’t even have to walk into the restaurant to get your order of fat, salt and grease.

c- Packaged foods.  It was UNTHINKABLE that my mother (let alone my grandmother) would have bought and served canned soup or prepared mac and cheese.  Today, it’s the norm.  And we’ve got the hypertension levels that go along with it.  Package foods are absolutely loaded with sodium.

d- Supersized or “value” meals.  Does anyone really need to eat that many deep fried potatoes with their lunch while they drink their 20 teaspoons of sugar in their “biggie” drink?

4- Techno stress.  Being connected was supposed to make life easier and give us more leisure time.  Wow… that didn’t happen!  Your job is now literally in the palm of your hand (along with your customers, co-workers and even your boss).  It’s as if we decided to all get paid the same as before while agreeing to work 24 hours a day.  Just because we CAN do it, doesn’t mean we should.

5- We’re living longer and doing more.  The crazy thing is that, while we are getting less and less healthy, we’re managing to live longer and we’re doing more with our time.  A whole new term called “boomeritis” has cropped up.  Adults are wearing out their bodies by snowboarding, mountain biking and doing marathons instead of fading away.  Our arthritic joints are the price we pay.

6- Finally… we want it all.  And we want it now!  When our email slows down, we get PISSED.  It’s hard to really appreciate anything if everything is available to us.  All the time.  This keeps us in a stressed out state of feeling that it is our right to have it all.

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At this point, you may be wondering what exactly all this has to do with personal training!  Well, life is pretty complicated these days.  Humans are having a hard time keeping up.  As a result, we’re stressed, fat, in pain and “managing” some kind of condition with medication.  The value of a personal trainer is to bring things back to simple.  It isn’t enough to simply “move more”.  That’s just not reality.  More isn’t what we need.  We need to understand specific needs and make small, manageable changes day to day, week to week to bring us back to health.

We also need to  understand just what eating “better” means.  The reality is that our food source has changed and is driven by marketing as much as anything.  Again… we don’t need “more”, we need to make things simple.

So, do you REALLY need a personal trainer?  If you’ve got a body and a mind and you’re confused….

….you just might.

Crazy Hockey Parents and Amazing Kids

As the hockey season winds down this weekend for the 9 year olds that I coach, it got me thinking…

What exactly are we doing this for?  …what do we want for our kids?  …what are we trying to teach them?

I’ve seen some pretty disgusting behaviour in hockey arenas over the last 9 months.  There have been some amazing, uplifting, thrilling moments too, but, there has been some ugliness.

The kids that I’m coaching are amazing.  They absolutely LOVE hockey!  If they aren’t on the ice, they’re playing mini-sticks in the basement, NHL Slapshot on the X-Box, playing ball hockey outside or watching Hockey Night in Canada on TV.  It’s a pure, unadaulterated kind of love.  It’s refreshing and inspiring.

The amazing thing is that as much as the kids love it and work like crazy for a positive outcome (a win… or a goal), in the end they don’t really care if they win or lose.  20 minutes after the game is over, they’re on to the next thing and can’t wait to play again.  THAT part of the game is beautiful.  They’ve got the right perspective and act with a level of maturity that is wonderful to see.

The parents of these 9 year olds, however, can be an entirely different story.

For some of them, it’s ALL about the win.  That and “development”.  “Fun” comes in a distant third.   Living vicariously through their kids, they push them, pay a small fortune for training and dwell on every single “bad play” or loss.  These parents are the ones that sit in the stands with stop watches to time their kids, count their shifts and demand answers as to why their kid isn’t the full time centre, or goalie or how could someone DARE put their kid on defence.  That part of the game is ugly and not so nice to see.

To me, the sad thing is the missed opportunity to make this such a positive experience for our children.  99.9% of them will never make it to the pro level.  So why exactly do we treat them like they ARE part of the 0.1%?  After all, we’re talking about children playing a game.  A GAME.

When did playing games go from being something to have fun with to a tool for measuring achievement?  I was a Division 1 College athlete and a professional, so believe me, I understand what it takes to get to the “show”.  The point is that it’s perfectly fine to play for entertainment, for exercise, for character building and for social reasons.

Teach your kids how to work as a team.  Teach them about commitment.  Teach them how to follow through on achieving a goal.  Teach them about mental and physical toughness.  But, above all, teach them that this is THEIR time to be with their friends and to have fun.

Parents…. it’s not about you.  Take your kids to the games, cheer for them and then sit down and watch.  Let them have fun.  Let THEM succeed or fail on their own.  They’re watching and listening all the time.  They hear you calling the (teenage) referee an a**hole.  They can see you screaming and banging on the glass like a wild animal.  They can also hear everything that you say about their coach.  The “coach” that is to be respected and appreciated.  If you tear him or her down, you send terrible, mixed messages to your kids.

Fun, commitment, team work, discipline and achievement.  Put things in this order and both the kids and the parents will have a positive experience that will produce memories and lessons for a lifetime.

“Show” or no show.  That’s really what it’s all about.

Ernie Schramayr

(Hockey Coach and Dad/ former Hamilton Tiger- Cat)

Eating Simply

I was really excited this week to receive a package in the mail that contained a newly published book from my friend, Dianne Bailey.  Dianne is a Personal Trainer and studio owner near Denver, Colorado.  I’ve known Dianne for 7 years and she is an inspirational fitness educator and role model.

She also just hit a Home Run with her first  book “Eating Simply“!

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If you’ve been in a book store lately and looked down the “Fitness and Nutrition” aisle, you’ll know how confusing it can be to look for some simple guidance into how to exercise and, especially, how to eat.  Low Fat?…  Low Carb?…  Vegan?…  “Paleo?”…  You need a PhD just to understand some of them and others require you to obsess over ever last little detail of what goes into your body until you’re ready to scream.

In my experience, if a plan becomes a burden (or boring) people WILL NOT  stick to it.  As the title of Dianne’s book implies, the eating style that she promotes is “simple” above all else.  It is also very realistic and it WORKS.  The foundation of “Eating Simply” is that it features real food… for real people.

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To make it even easier, Dianne created what she calls The 5 Tenets of Eating Simply.  They are as follows;

1-  Eat frequently.  To be able to burn fat effectively and maintain (or gain) a lean body, it requires that you have an efficient metabolism.  Metabolism is the speed which with your body burns fat and uses fuel.  It increases every time that you add muscle AND every time that you eat.  Ideally, you would consume a mix of protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat every 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  Example…  Greek Yogourt, Berries, Pumpkin Seeds.

2-  Eat naturally.  Natural means, closer to how nature or less processed.  Food in it’s natural state requires the body to do great amounts of work in the act of digestion.  This means that your body will actually burn calories digesting a real potato as opposed to potato chips.  More work in digesting also means that you will get energy for longer with no blood sugar spikes, meaning less cravings and more stable energy.

3-  Eat completely.  Some diet fads have you eliminate entire “macro” nutrient food groups.  The fact is that you NEED each of these three types of nutrients.  Protein, carbohydrate… and fat.  When you eat them in the right combination (every 3 to 3 1/2 hours), you will be training your body to be better at NOT storing excess fat and at maintaining stable energy supplies.  Example…  a large salad with tuna, slivered almonds and avocado with an orange for dessert.

4-  Eat less sugar.  Sugar is associated with many health problems from cellular inflammation to diabetes and obesity.  It is also addictive and added to almost everything that we eat.  While Eating Simply encourages you to EAT for health, not to deprive yourself, cutting back on sugar is one thing that can move you quickly in the direction of consistent energy and a leaner, healthier body.  Simply put, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave sugar.  Over consuming sugars will spike your blood sugar levels and force your body to produce more of the hormone, insulin to process it.  When this happens, your body goes into a “storage” mode and you start to store body fat at a higher rate.  Cutting back can be challenging at first, but, you can do it and will notice big changes very soon.

5-  Eat to be stable.  If you follow the 4 previous rules, your blood sugar levels will be much more “stable”.  This means that you won’t have tremendous highs (…ever seen a kid after eating a big bowl of Cap’n Crunch?) or those crashes where you feel nauseous or dizzy and irritable.  Stabilizing your blood sugar levels by eating simply will give you consistent energy throughout the day.  It will also create a hormonal environment where your body does not have to store, or hold onto, energy and it will accelerate the rate that it releases energy (primarily fat).  The importance of stabilizing your blood sugar can’t be overstated for you to be successful!

That’s it.  Simple, easy and very realistic.  Take the foods and meals that you already eat.  Clean them up a bit so that they are “complete” and then adjust your portion sizes so that you are hungry every 3 to 3 1/2 hours.  And then EAT!

Simple.

You can order “Eating Simply” at http://www.TheConditioningClassroom.com

Ernie Schramayr