Why I Don’t Offer Meal Plans Online

IHT_MealPlan
I see it all the time; online “trainers”, celebrity or otherwise, offering their meal plans or nutrition advice, or  “…for just $99.99 you can have access to exactly what I eat in a day/week/month…”.
These tags drive me crazy and you’ll soon find out why.
There are so many of these online trainers who will guide (read: tell you) exactly what to eat per his/her typical day, or worse, push keto or some drastic fad or diet on readers.
Here is why I don’t offer online meal plans and why what these online gimmickers are doing is dangerous: NO TWO CLIENTS ARE THE SAME.
So how dare I (or anyone else) treat them the same?  What a 115 lb Instagram trainer eats in a day (or tells you what she eats in a day) will more than likely not be sufficient for most people who are watching her videos or subscribing to a website.  There is no personalization, no background, no medical or health history provided by the “client” – there is simply only a way to pay.  These are all important factors in prescribing a healthier diet in proper nutrition, or weight loss plan.  Individualization is a key component.
I must acknowledge that each and every client is unique.
In addition, I cannot have a preconceived notion of my clients.  I must recognize the individuality.  I need to be able to approach my clients with an open mind so that I can understand their specific and individualized needs.  I also need to understand what contributed to their present state or desire to change their eating habits.  Is there an underlying medical condition?  What is home life like?  Are there any financial contributions to unhealthy eating (can the client not “afford” better quality or healthier foods)?  These are questions that may need to be asked.  And going hand-in-hand with this approach is my understanding of how I can best assist them.
Because is client is different, what works for one person, may not offer the same success for another.  Client A may need better information/education about nutrition, whereas Client B may require full-on support and step-by-step guidance.  As a professional, I have to be humble enough to recognize when a client may need to be referred to a different professional altogether (doctor, psychologist, dietitian, etc.).  Although my clients are coming to me for my expertise, my expertise just may not be enough, and as such, clients who I believe may have disordered eating, health or medical issues, etc. must be referred to the proper practitioner.
Another step in my individualization is having my clients keep a food journal, as well as completing a basic health questionnaire.  How can I assess and provide knowledgeable information if I do now know my clients.  How can an online trainer purport to provide meal plans for clients/followers/readers/Googlers if they do not know each member of their audience.
As a Personal Trainer, I am not qualified to give my clients nutritional or diet advice.  As with any other trainer, it is considered out of my scope of practice.  As a Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach, however, I can provide nutrition advice and guidelines, parameters for healthy eating, support, coaching, etc.  And I certainly recognize the importance that each of my clients is unique and will therefore have unique, if not specific needs.
NWL
In addition, my clients will receive personal, one-on-one coaching from me.  I will work with each of them to discover what approach is best for them, and we will work together to create the best program suited to their individual needs.  You don’t get that with random, generic, online meal plans.  They will also get check-ins with me – whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or more or less.  My clients can ask me questions any time and a personal response will be guaranteed.  And since I am certified in both nutrition and fitness, I can also work with clients to design an exercise program that will work for them to ensure it fits their means and lifestyle.  Just as it is with nutrition, understanding that not all fitness levels are the same is just as important if my clients want to see results.
It is truly important to not lose that human touch and to recognize that each person’s needs are unique.  When it comes to health, it’s time to step away from the ease of the internet and to understand why our clients are coming to us, where they need help the most, and offer them the guidance, understanding, and support that a computer – or $99.99 – won’t provide them with.
~FB

Why Women Should Strength Train

There is an old adage that women should not lift weights because they will get big and bulky and manly.  So, let’s just scrap that idea now.

BW Lifter

A woman’s strength and muscular development are predetermined by hormones, physiology, and genetic make-up.  Generally speaking, women have about 1/10th of the amount of testosterone compared to men.  Because of the smaller amount of testosterone, the average woman does not have the ability to “bulk up” like her male counterparts.  In addition, women do not possess the same size muscle fibers or amount of lean tissue as men.  So, unless you are a professional bodybuilder – or have an overwhelming amount of testosterone (whether natuarally or by supplementing) – you are unlikely to turn into the Incredible Hulk

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on the reasons why you should be lifting weights.

Boost Your Metabolism Naturally

Although cardio burns more calories than strength training (during the first 30-minutes of your session), lifting weights burns more calories overall.  When you build muscle by adding strength training into your life, your resting metabolic rate (your ability to burn calories and fat) also increases.

           = Muscle Growth And Fat Loss

Strength exercises increase lean body mass while decreasing fat stores. The greater your proportion of lean mass to fat mass, the more metabolically active your body becomes, providing an increased metabolic rate, fat oxidation, and energy consumption (which means you burn more calories and fat simply by carrying more muscle!).

oxygen

Via Oxygen

Structural Tolerance

Structural Tolerance (strengthening of tendons, ligaments, other connective tissue) will aide in the ability to sustain greater stresses in training, and greater resistance to injury. Ligaments, tendons, and cartilage hold your bones together. These joints are at risk of injury when they become unstable. Resistance training strengthens the connective tissue, resulting in improved joint integrity, stability, and injury prevention.

Bone Modeling (and “fighting” Osteoporosis)

Bone modeling (and remodeling*) is the process by which bone adapts to load by changing size and shape and removing weak or damaged bone tissue. (*Remodeling affects material properties such as microdamage, mineralization, and collagen cross-linking.) When muscles contract against bone, it creates stress that causes bones to strengthen against the contractions. The stronger your muscles get, the stronger your bones must become to handle muscle contractions. Bone modeling helps prevent fractures and reduces your chances of getting osteoporosis.

As women age, their levels of estrogen decrease.  We lose both bone and muscle mass.  In addition, as women age, we are prone to osteoporosis due to loss of estrogen.  However, resistance training can increase bone density. When bone feels the “pull” from the muscle contractions, bone growth is stimulated. Not only can strength training offset bone loss, it can actually cause an increase in bone density in women who regularly lift weights.
In addition to all of the benefits above, strength training can also provide improved mental health (as with any exercise, you’ll be happier and reduce your stress levels), better sleep, stronger (and more defined) body, a healthier heart, improved posture and balance, reduce diabetes risk, and longevity (that’s right!  Lifting weights can help you live longer!).
With all of this in mind, if you are not already implementing strength training into your regular exercise routine, you should consider doing so.  The benefits outweigh any negative aspects (whether there is truth to them or not).  So, just get out there and start.  You don’t need a lot of equipment or even a gym membership; improvise with what’s around you (laundry jugs, water bottles, cans, etc.) and go from there.
~FB

Why Your Rest Days Are Important

Several years ago I wrote about my addiction to exercise .  I had been working out nearly every day for years, and avoided my rest days like the plague.  Although I’ve come a long way since then, I still often struggle with finding the time to take my rest days – between teaching boot camp classes, running, cycling, and my regular gym routine – finding down time to recoup really can be a difficult task.

I so often preach to my clients and friends, “TAKE YOUR REST DAYS!”  And I explain to them the repercussions of not doing so (and threaten them with a huge bill if they don’t listen).  (I’m working on heeding my own advice.)

WHY REST DAYS ARE IMPORTANT

REST

Taking a break from your workout routine is just as important as your workout because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Exercise, especially strength training, breaks down body tissues.  Rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild.  Your rest days, and the way you handle them, can greatly affect your ability to build muscle and get stronger. For many lifters, the problem isn’t that you take an occasional rest day, but that you don’t take enough. And not using your time wisely in your training week can also hinder your progress.

I know all too well that it can be torturous taking down time from the gym. If you’re like me, a rest day can make you feel like you’re slacking off, or even guilty for taking said down time. Instead, we will train six or even seven days per week – hindering our progress.  But the proof is in the pudding – the most successful lifters and bodybuilders usually train (only) four or five times per week.  Those of us who train more than that will see our progress (if any) at a slower pace.  Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but most of us are not that fortunate (or genetically inclined) to reach those successes so sudden.

WEIGHT LIFT

I can attest that my seven-days-a-week training addiction caused more problems than it proved progress.  I suffered (and still do) from over-training syndrome and adrenal fatigue. My cortisol levels were/are elevated, causing weight gain, which I am still struggling to lose, and my sleep was severely disrupted.

We have to let go of the “all or nothing” mentality and the mindset that we “must work out every day”.  I know first-hand how difficult this can be.  Instead, we should consider our future progress and the way we look at our training program.  It we think “stimulation days” instead of training days and “growth days” instead of rest days, would we be more inclined to take those well-deserved and needed days off from our training?  Growth days are meant to be exactly that: growing more muscle and preparing your body to perform the next day.

When you take a rest (growth day), you build more muscle, your glycogen stores are replenished more easily, and allow the nervous system to get back to an optimal working state.  Not only will you grow faster, but you will also improve your performance on the day(s) you’re back in the gym.

If we consider this: Our bodies have limited resources – think of it like a bank.  If you spend all those resources (your money) on your workouts, instead of resting (saving), then eventually, your bank will be empty, meaning you won’t have enough available resources to fuel your workouts or allowing for adaptation and growth.  Allowing your body to rest will replinish the resources, allowing for faster muscle growth and improved performance.

During off days, your body is devoted to more of your resources for growth and repair. the nervous, immune, and hormonal systems are also back to a place of growth and performance.  A rested body (and mind) will perform at a higher level, which means more volume, making your time in the gym more effective.

Those growth days make you grow directly by allowing your body to recover. They make you grow indirectly by allowing greater stimulation on your body during your sessions.

In addition to taking your rest days, you also must consider such things as your nutrition during your rest days.  Many people will lower their macro or calorie intake.  Seems like a good idea, but it would be wrong.

Sure, it seems like the right idea to lower your intake of carbs, since you won’t be burning as much when not working out; therefore you do not require as much fuel*.  (*If your goal is to lose weight, then there is some truth to this.)  If your goal, however, is muscle-building, then your rest days should be spent trying to maximize growth and performance, and not just days where you aren’t doing anything.   Thinking back to the bank analogy, your rest days should be seen as an investment.

So, with respect to the value of your nutrition on your days off, don’t cut carbs and calories that will leave you with muscles that aren’t replenished with glycogen and not taking advantage of the anabolic properties of insulin.  Instead, be sure to consume plenty of good carbs and protein during those rest (growth) days.  Either keep your carbs and protein at the same level of intake as your work days, or even increase your intake slightly.

Optimize your growth days.  If you are training four or five days a week, then you will need two rest (growth) days.  But, to get the biggest bang for your buck, it is not ideal to take two rest days consecutively.  (This does not apply, of course, if you are suffering with an injury.) To optimize your training, your heaviest lifting days should be your third and fourth training days because your performance should be at its highest.  Your first training day can certainly be heavy, but you don’t want to be negatively fatigued on your second day (which should be your lightest).  Your training days should always be challenging.

Each training day you should perform at the highest possible level.  On your rest days you should be putting your body in the preparation to perform at the highest level.  This also goes for your nutrition, supplementation, and training.

Training should be triggering biochemical responses that will tell your body to adapt and grow.  Once that’s been triggered, doing more will simply deplete resources.  Your body should be better to adapt if you treat if properly, including allowing it to recover.  It would be counter-productive to have to take more, unplanned, rest days because it was under-recovered from a previous workout.

If you over-train and don’t allow yourself the proper recovery time, you’re setting yourself up literally for failure and the possibility of injury, over-training syndrome, etc.  In addition, you could spend more time in the gym trying to make up for “lost time”, which could all be avoided just by ensuring you take proper amounts of rest.  We must keep in mind that intense workouts definitely shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.

Your goal respecting your growth days should be to train hard and rest hard.

REST TO GROW

In the not-so-long run, rest makes you stronger!  Rest allows the muscles that you have broken down to heal and recover.  It is the rest that allows you to recover so you can be strong, and thereby handle the increased weight, and increased number of sets and reps needed to gain further.

Plan your week.  Plan your workouts and your rest (growth) days.  Consider your nutrition (and supplementation).  Be flexible, adjust your training, rest, nutrition, and even sleeping accordingly.  And most important, listen to your body (and respond accordingly).

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2019
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