1. Ode to the Forgotten Deceased: Needless to say I’m saddened by the death of Michael Jackson. As a child of the 80’s, he will leave an indelible mark on the musical and cultural scene with his unsurpassed talent. Given that there were some other notable passing’s, I feel it time to recognize those who have deceased around the same time as someone more famous and hence didn’t get their due recognition.
The following sites/blogs are what I consider to be the absolute best in terms of cutting edge, evidence-based and applicable information when it comes to training, nutrition, fat loss and health.
- Band members work as hard as athletes: A study out of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has proposed an interesting theory: The band on the sidelines work just as hard as the athletes on the field. Hmmm… the studies head author, Gary Granata says this about the bands “Performers are constantly moving, and often running, at velocities that reach 180 steps or more per minute while playing instruments that weigh up to 40 pounds.” Riiiight… This may sound harsh and I apologize in advance, but does anybody really like “the band” – other than people in the band, their parents and those over the age of 87. And look, I realize that hitting the bridge of “Louie, Louie” while moving your upper body side to side and gliding the trombone (sometimes inclement weather) is difficult, it’s not the same as having to run full-out while eluding 275 lbs men who are looking to flatten you. I’m sure that carrying an instrument that weighs up to 40 lbs isn’t easy, but try carrying fending off several men weighing over 200 lbs. It’s not the same.
- Exercise and fat loss: This topic has been a recurring theme for some time – with gurus, journalists and the like claiming that exercise doesn’t help for fat loss. A few points on this.
- The enormous amount of refined calories we’ve consumed over the past 25 years is the main contributor to our waistlines – no argument there. This doesn’t mean that sedentary lifestyle isn’t a factor; it means that we’ve eaten so damn much that no amount of exercise can help us out of our collective girth. You need to eat well to lose body fat – period.
- While lack of exercise may not have been a significant part of the problem, this doesn’t mean it isn’t part of the solution. For optimal results, you need both – no exceptions.
- Please define ‘exercise”. The problem with the “exercise doesn’t cause fat loss” mantra is that very few people are defining “exercise”. There is a massive difference between walking slowly on the treadmill and performing compound resistance exercises and high intensity intervals. I don’t think anyone can argue this.
- Research is for the most part clear that combined diet, resistance training and cardio exercise is more effective for fat loss than any of the other factors combined.
- How cooking made us human: This book is a very intriguing look at how cooking basically shaped how live as humans today. Check out my Diet Blog post here for more info.
- Current reading: Once again, I’ve fallen behind on my reading and I’m currently tackling the following: The Diva Diet by Christine Latakos, The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler and a Diabetic Cookbook (the title and author escape me right now).
- Youth Fitness:After a couple of years of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to dive into the youth fitness specialist certification. An old friend of mine, Brian Grasso has become the preeminent world authority on youth conditioning – founding the International Youth Conditioning Association. The certification material is nothing short of phenomenal and the importance of such services to our youth is beyond critical. Having 2 children of my own and having a passion for teaching and a heart for kids – I’m sensing a shift in my career path. Stay tuned….
- Leigh Peeletells us if plastic is making you fat. For those who don’t follow me on Twitter or aren’t Facebook friends with me, I would be remiss if I didn’t direct you to Fat Loss guru Leigh Peele’s new home www.leighpeele.com While your there, be sure to check out her podcasts and find out if plastic makes you fat.
- Current writing project:Unstable Surface Training. I am currently penning an article for one of the premiere health and performance magazines in Canada (read: pretty much the only health and performance mag. In Canada). Joking aside, I am hoping to shed some light on the limitations and appropriate uses for stability balls, BOSU’s and other balance implements.
- Do it anyway: As a coach I have the pleasure of working with some fantastic people. A distance coaching client who is training for the fire department physical test emailed me today on his progress. He writes:
“After only 5 hours sleep (and that’s being generous) when I arrived I just did not feel like running, let alone doing some HIIT (high intensity interval training). But I pushed through that and forced my self to at least get out there and do some running. Well even during my warm-up run I kept thinking to myself “do I really want to be doing this?” Haha. Even my dog was hanging back and looking at me like she just wanted to lay down. I managed to force myself to begin the sprinting figuring I’d just see how it went. Funny thing happened at that point. I just kept doing the intervals and killing them. I ended up doing 14 sets of sprints all with only 30sec rest in between. Once I had broken through the mental block and weariness that I was feeling, I ended up having one of my better HIIT sessions ever.”
The lesson: Some days you just don’t feel like you “have it”. It is all too easy in these moments to say “ta heck with it”. It’s in these critical moments where you need to tell yourself “I’m going to do it anyway”. Know what? You may not have a great workout, but you may also have a surprisingly awesome one. Either way you will benefit from it.
- Terminator Salvation is awesome! That makes 2 fantastic action movies in a row (Star Trek 2 weeks ago). After the lukewarm reviews, I wasn’t sure but this movie did not disappoint. It was disheartening though to hear that “Museum” beat it out at the box office – are you freaking kidding me? Memo to movie-going public. Ben Stiller is not funny and his movies are crap (excluding one’s where the Ferrelly bros are involved).
- Speaking of summer blockbusters, I always enjoy watching the trailers of the upcoming features but (digression warning) whoever is responsible for putting regular commercials in movie theatres should be shot… digression over… here are some thoughts on some of the upcoming flicks:
- The Hangover: If the trailer is any indication, this movie looks hilarious!
- Inglourious Basterds: Tarantino is hit and miss with me. I don’t know if I’ll have the stomach for this one.
- Year One: With due respect to Canadian kid Michael Cera. He is the new Jon Heder read: 1 movie wonder. Jon Heder was memorable as Napolean Dynamite and has pretty much been craptacular in everything he’s done since then. Ditto with Michael Cera – excellent in Juno but it’s been downhill ever since.
- Other notables: Tranformers II – haven’t seen part I (I know, I suck). GI Joe: Looks like a bastardized futuristic version of the series – not interested. Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downey Jr. is hard not to like – I may see it just based on him alone.
- Hate Mail: It seems some people get their feathers ruffled when their sacred cows are questioned. The extreme low carbers are particularly sensitive to any criticism levied at Gary Taubes – author of the popular “Good Calories, Bad Calories. This is evidenced by a few not-so-nice messages in my inbox and a great deal of flack in some health forums. In brief, Taubes wrote a pretty big book that challenges conventional dietary wisdom. In many levels it is a very impressive book in terms of its historical accounts and the variety of sources Taubes was able to tap into. Alas, the book contents isn’t infallible as most of Taubes’ adherents would have you believe. Here is a mercifully short synopsis of his contentions with my counterpoints.
- Lipid hypothesis: (ie. Fat causes heart disease) is a myth with no evidence to support it. On this I agree – the evidence of saturated fat being a direct cause of heart disease doesn’t have much in the way of scientific support.
- Insulin Hypothesis: Insulin is the key regulator of body fat. Insulin spikes cause the body to store fat, the body cannot store fat without it and carbs cause insulin elevations therefore carbs make you fat. There are some partial truths in there but this theory is a little myopic and far from foolproof as there are many factors involved with process of fat accumulation. Calories have nothing to do with fat loss or gain. Oh bother… Taubes cherry picked some studies to support his conclusions here. There are many tightly controlled studies that show calories DO matter (which isn’t to say they are the sole factor).
- (and here’s my favourite) Exercise has nothing to do with fat loss: The problem with this statement is that Taubes has never (to my knowledge) clarified what he means by “exercise”. Because he refuses to clarify, I am left to believe that Taubes thinks that high intensity intervals combined with full body strength training is as useless for fat loss as walking on the treadmill at 2mph. Alas, being vague is a common tactic to give one loopholes. So either Taubes a) thinks that all exercise is the same and none of it has any impact on fat loss whatsoever (which makes him an idiot) or b) Taubes does concede the difference in body composition effects of varying types/intensities of exercise (which makes him a liar).
- New Toy: I finally broke down and purchased a TRX – a suspension system that you can hand from overhead bars and doors alike. If you aren’t into working out at a gym and need something portable and light weight to give you numerous options for full body functional work – the TRX system is a good choice. They go for about 160.00 CAD – well worth it if you use it. Go to www.fitnessanywhere.com to find out more.
There are no shortages of opinions about the right way to lift weights - the best set/rep spectrum, the ideal rest periods, the optimal exercises, lifting tempo, sequence, etc, etc. Let's put those things aside for now and key in on some of the most foundational aspects of strength training. Continued...