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A Transformation of a Lifetime

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 11, 2017 17:04
This Transformation Coaching Package will be an opportunity of a lifetime for one person!  This Free Training Package isn't just for anybody. If you have a lifetime of struggling with your body weight, experienced fad diets that lead nowhere, and you don't know where to turn next; this opportunity is for you! 
 
Pictured Below is Russ Buhr.  Russ, as you may already know, is one of the Team Wawryk Pro Trainers that operate out of Fitness Focus. Russ hasn't always been a professional Personal Trainer; for years he had his own battles with weight gain combined with a lifestyle that didn't consist of enough physical activity or proper nutrition. After meeting Vince Wawryk, Head Trainer of Team Wawryk, he redirected his lifestyle, started to learn proper diet and training methods and shortly after began competing in Provincial Level Bodybuilding alongside his wife Lorraine.
 
 
 Fitness Focus Saskatoon Personal Training
 
Now, with ISSA Professional Training Certification under their belts, Lorraine and Russ wantto share their knowledge and experience with one deserving applicant for this Training Transformation Package. 
 
If you have a substantial amount of weight to lose and the drive to completely change your lifestyle, Russ & Lorraine of Team Wawryk Pro Trainers want to help you create a whole new healthier version of yourself by giving away this one year of free coaching package.
 
One Year Package Includes
Mentoring & Coaching
Weekly Check-ins
Gym Membership
Personal Training Sessions
Help with Meal Prep
Year End Photo Shoot
 
To nominate yourself or someone you know for this once in a lifetime opportunity please email russ.teamwawryk@gmail.com 

Personal Training at it's Best

posted by Fitness Focus    |   February 12, 2016 17:43

Personal Training isn't about having your work in the gym done for you, it's about learning something new or building on what you already know, from someone with experience.  You want a Personal Trainer that you can build a relationship with, so that their success is your success.

Take some time to learn about the Trainers here at Fitness Focus, the TEAM WAWRYK Pro Trainers. Their passion for fitness makes them your ultimate weapon to reaching your goals in the gym. They specialize in every aspect of fitness from weight gain, weight loss, proper nutrition, training programs, fitness competitions, psychological approaches to fitness and much more. You have nothing to lose by sitting and meeting with a trainer, consultations are a no cost way to see if a Personal Training is right for you.

Saskatoon Gym Personal Training

Through the chaos of work, raising 4 kids, coaching hockey, moving and the failing health of his father, Vince never put the dumbbells down. He entered his first bodybuilding contest in 1991. Over the past 20 years, Vince has dedicated his life to the sport. He works hard, researches information constantly, studies nutrition, he eats, eats, and eats some more. Vince is constantly tweaking his diets different training methods to be the best that he can be. His motto has always been..."compete against yourself" he tells clients "don't worry about somebody else on stage, and work towards doing better than you did the time before. If you can do that, you will learn, grow and ultimately achieve your goal." That's what Vince did; and that is how he became the 2007 Canadian National Champion of Body Building.

Saskatoon Gym Personal Training

Fitness and sport have always been a passion of mine and I feel fortunate to be able to share this passion with clients and friends at Fitness Focus. I am a firm believer in practicing what I preach and as such I am not only a trainer but also a competitive fitness athlete. My goal as your trainer is to be %100 honest with you on your progress, on what is achievable, and in our business relationship. I will continue to educate myself to provide you with the latest and most effective techniques to help you achieve your goals. Additionally I will not only help you condition your body but also your mind, to make my teaching something you can live with and enjoy.

Saskatoon Gym Personal Training

 Hard work, perseverance, motivation and determination have fuelled my passions throughout my entire life. From a very early age, I discovered an athletic ability within myself and excelled at many sports including volleyball, basketball, swimming, track and hockey. After high school however, the demands of post secondary education forced me to lose focus on sports and fitness and I came face to face with the reality of not only being uncomfortably overweight and out of shape, but also dealing with an unhealthy relationship with food. Realizing I allowed myself to lose sight of something that I was so passionate about for so long, lead me to embark on a journey that I haven’t looked back on in over ten years and ultimately lead me to a career in the fitness industry. Having been through my own experience battling weight issues and emotional eating, I know what it takes to get desired results. My goal as a personal trainer is to motivate inspire and educate others about the benefits of exercising and living a healthy lifestyle. Results do not come over night, but with patience, persistence, and consistency anyone can achieve realistic goals. I am so excited to be working with Team Wawryk and I can’t wait to get you started on the right track to reach your goals.

Saskatoon Gym Personal Training

My fitness journey started simply from one word, Competition. I was just a young boy from Cape Breton, NS with a brother 7 years older than me who was not only my role model, but a guy the fed a fire that still is burning today. 

I began lifting weights at the age of 13 in a small Olympic Powerlifting gym that was set up in a garage for $20 a month. Over the next year I developed my body, learning proper form and gaining strength which helped me excel in Basketball; that’s when I fell in love with fitness. 

After High School and numerous injuries, I realized I was not getting anywhere with sports. But, still having the competitive fire and burning desire to compete I became interested in Bodybuilding. A few friends were competing at the SABBA Provincials in 2012 and I began to follow their “cookie cut” diet without anyone knowing, so with the thought of maybe competing I pushed myself harder in the gym. After a year of building my body and dieting myself, I entered the 2013 SABBA Novice show in the newly created Men’s Physique category. I placed 4th which did not stand well with me. 

Realizing experience is what I needed to get to the next level I decided to contact Vince with Team Wawyrk and worked alongside them ever since. Gaining incredible amounts of knowledge and developing my physique from a 4th overall SABBA Novice finish to a top 4 overall CANADIAN National finish in little under 2 years. 

Since then I have become a MAGNUM Nutraceutical Sponsored athlete, started prepping for future shows, such as the Arnold Classic Invitational and CBBF 2016 Nationals; also coaching clients towards their own fitness goals, from weight loss, strength building, fitness contests, and more. 

To me, fitness is not about flexing, taking selfies and being better than the guy next to me. It’s about a passion, shared with numerous individuals, with many different goals, dreams and definitions of what fitness means to them but, at the same time trying to be the best they can be! 

I’ve made many lifelong friends, been places I never thought I could be and developed connections that will help me in my own fitness journey. 

This isn’t a part time job. It’s my health, it’s fun, it’s a community and most importantly… It’s a lifestyle!

10 Tips and Tricks for Weight Loss

posted by Fitness Focus    |   June 16, 2013 16:01

Here are 10 tips and tricks for weight loss that you may never have heard.

1.       The weight loss equation

The easiest way to explain the process of losing weight is that weight loss occurs when the body consumes less calories than it burns.  So the simple equation goes like this: Calories In – Calories Out = Weight Loss.  There are obviously many other important factors involved here, but keeping this simple formula in mind can be helpful in many situations.

2.       Monitor your daily calorie intake

Do Not obsess over counting calories. Being aware and maintaining a clear idea about the number of calories you're consuming daily is important to keep on track with weight management.  Get to know how to use food labels; know what you are eating in terms of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and remember: 1 gram of Carbs=4 calories, 1 gram of Protein=4 calories and 1 gram of Fat=9 calories. 

3.       Eat at predefined hours

Plan to eat your meals at the same time of day, everyday.  This helps digestion since our biological clock is synchronized with our brain and stomach.  Also, eating with consistency will help your know when it actually needs food, versus when your brain wants food.  Eating with consistency makes it easier to monitor and maintain weight management. 

4.       The importance of Water

Dehydration, lack of energy, tiredness and headaches are just a few of the effects from not drinking enough water.  Many of us make this critical mistake. All the maladies aside, when it comes to weight loss, water can assist detoxification and the removal of unnecessary toxins from the body and skin but also helps with digestion and keeps the stomach full, which reduces hunger and the unnecessary consumption of calories. Like vitamins and minerals, water also has a daily recommended intake.  For women, its just under 3 liters of water per day and for men its about 4 liters.  So, begin your day with a cold glass of water to restart all your body's natural functions for the day and don't forget to carry a bottle with you at work, during your daily errands and of course in the gym.

5.       Do not rush into getting super-fast results

Follow a slow and steady regimen to manage your weight loss and keep it off.  Taking on a crash diet from the Internet will end right where you started before diet.  Proper, healthy weight loss takes a bit longer.  Take time to do it right, and learn the proper changes to your lifestyle to make your weight management something you can do for life.

6.       Learn how to lose weight the safe way

Even people that have made healthy living part of their lifestyle for year make mistakes and often just aren't doing things correctly.  So as a beginner, its important not to get discouraged; there are many paths along the way to your goals and a lot of them will be dead-ends. If you are new to dieting and weight loss then most probably you are confused from where to start and what should be your first step etc. This is very common and one of the most popular questions we get from our readers the last 6 years. In my opinion before even starting a diet or weight loss program you should do some reading and familiarize yourself with the basic weight loss concepts. I am not suggesting spending days learning the theory, after all losing weight is a practical matter, but learning a few important concepts in advance can prove very helpful in the long run. The guide you are reading now is a good starting point as it covers all aspects of weight loss, fitness and dieting; you can continue reading our other articles as well since we have planned to gather all the information you need in one place.

7.       Keep a food and emotions journal

For many people emotions and feelings are associated with the quantities of food consumed.  When you are stressed or depressed you turn to food (and especially fatty food) for comfort. This is may be happening to you as well and you know that this is bad and can destroy all your hopes for losing weight. You cannot easily control this but one handy tip to try is keeping a food and emotions journal. This is basically a piece of paper (or an online food journal) where you record what you eat per day and your emotional state. If you do this for a couple of weeks and go back and have a look at the results you may identify some patterns and take some precaution measures. For example you can remove sweets and snacks from your cupboards and replace them with healthy alternatives. By doing so when you are feeling stress and turn to food for relief you will not end up eating a tone of calories but food items that are at least healthier.

8.       No need to measure your weight on a daily basis

As mentioned before, weight loss takes time and getting on the scale everyday won't make the process any faster but most probably will add more stress and frustration. Instead try to weigh yourself once per week with consistency; that means the same time of the same day every week because the later in the day will always be high than your weight in the morning.

9.       Never try to follow more than one weight loss program at a time

If you choose to follow a commercial diet or weight loss program then concentrate on one program at a time. Good weight loss programs have different phases, each phase having a clear start and finish goal. Follow the program guidelines correctly for the time required and evaluate your results at the end. Mixing different programs together or not following their instructions will not generate any good results.

10.   Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you are not getting any results. The Internet is a great way to learn how to lose weight but sometimes other factors such as diseases, functional disorders may hold you back. A professional (a doctor or nutritionist) will be able to identify these and suggest ways to overcome them.

 

Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Find Your Fitness Personality

posted by Fitness Focus    |   May 6, 2013 16:40

Now that we’re a few months into the New Year, if you have committed to new fitness practices, you’re likely either enjoying new activities while planning to keep on going with what you’ve started or you are struggling to keep doing what you committed to and wondering where that crazy idea came from in the first place! For many, that’s often the case after trying something new. If it’s not the right fit for you, you may give up due to frustration, boredom, difficulty or lack of enjoyment.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that both exercisers and trainers can align fitness regimens with personality types to best structure a lasting routine and recognize pitfalls. Figure out what drives you and use that knowledge to help you stick to it and enjoy it. The key to thriving in those fitness challenges you set for yourself toward long-term goals is to find your fit and work with your personality, rather than against it. For example, consider if you like consistency in your day to day or prefer an ever-changing environment? Do you work best with specific goals set or do you like to go with the flow? Are you an early riser getting your obligations out of the way first thing or are you more spontaneous, taking opportunities to be active as they arise or at random times during the day? First things first, what is your personality?

Are Weight Loss Goals Part of Your New Year’s Resolution List?

posted by Fitness Focus    |   January 3, 2013 17:20

This next year will be different, and you're going to make a fresh start this New Year. Around this time of the year, a lot of us find ourselves reflecting on what we accomplished in the past year and decide what changes we want to make to make a positive difference in our lives for next year. After all the prioritizing, you make your big decisions, and then within a month or so, the ‘New Year’s resolutions’ are all but forgotten.

Weight loss goals don’t have to be another promise to yourself which got lost along the way. Setting a goals is only part of the work; plan smart and get ready for the task and make it a success and avoid being in the same spot next year.  Weight loss doesn't have to be hard; it's all in your approach. Try asking yourself and this is very important; is it that you want to lose the weight or is it that you don’t want to eat or live the way you have been any more? The later is a lot harder if your heart’s not in it.  Long-term planning is important; you have to define your path, not just where you want to be.

1. Be realistic

It's been said a million times over, be realistic in when trying to make changes in your life.  Be honest with yourself about what is possible and what suits your lifestyle.  Planning to lose too much weight in a short period of time will only lead to failure and discouragement.  Make your decision with reality in mind. What is it that you can do, and how much time do you have to spend in exercising or follow a meal plan and so on. Start with what you can’t do and then build around it.

2. Enjoying the holidays

This doesn't mean you should give in to all urges and have massive eating spree, but just eat sensibly.  The smart thing to do at times like these is, for a few days, try not to diet on the holidays. Eating sensibly isn't the same as constantly sticking to some lettuce and cabbage diet while everyone around you is allowed to enjoy all the goodies that come with the season.

Try looking at it this way, everyone loves the holidays and they only come around once a year. If you don't take advantage of some of the holiday treats you'll be depriving yourself of all the Christmas excitement.  Why spend your holidays hating every minute of it.  By the end of all the festivities, you will be so sick of the dieting you have been sticking to and will find it harder to stay with that good eating plan as long as you had planed.  Don’t stress yourself about your food intake for a few days over the holidays, relax and eat sensibly.

3. Small is bigger

There is no need to go to completely radical lengths to lose weight. Usually it's the small changes we can comfortably make are the ones that last the longest and make the biggest difference.  Lifestyle changes, even the smallest of changes, like replacing certain snack foods with for veggies and greens; you can also cut down or space out your portions into more-smaller meals rather than attempting a very low restrictive diet.

Simply losing weight doesn't mean much if you don't change your eating and lifestyle habits as well.  Set a goal that you'll start walking to work every day instead of saying you want to lose 8 pounds in a month. Small commitments like that will add up expending extra calories.  These types of lifestyle changes are easily made permanent by incorporating it into your day to day lifestyle.

4. Measure the results

It's the reason you want to make changes in the first place, you want to see change and results. You don't want all your effort and time invested to be all in vein.  Measure your results to reassure yourself that you're on the right track. Measure your results consistently at the same time every week. And don’t just look for a change in your weight, results can come in many different ways.

Take Measurements at your waist or other parts of your body right before you start down this new path.  Your weight can be influenced by a few factors, one being water retention, but your waist may have shrunk or that your clothes feel baggy, it all counts because desired result are the biggest motivator. Record your results so you can actually see your progress and all the results.

5. Keep it interesting and keep it moving

The most frustrating part of weight loss and weight management are plateaus.  It happens to everybody at some point in time. This is what happens when your body adapts to the changes you previously made. If you are following a specific diet or workout regime maybe swap regimes every month or every 3 weeks. This may also help in keeping things interesting and battle boredom. Allow at least 2 weeks for any adaptations before changing your diet.

6. Keep a food diary

Try it, by the end of the day chances are you don't remember everything you consumed over the past 12 hours.  Maybe you're eating more than you think you are or more than you subconsciously want to admit.  Keep a diary of everthing you consume including drinks; it is surprising how much extra sugar and calories you probably consume through drinks.

Keep the diary before you start your diet and then see how many things you can change to lose the weight. To be honest the Christmas week may not be an ideal representation of your average week but it can provide you with an idea of what your actual eating habits are like.

Understanding Gluten Foods and Gluten Free Diets

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 21, 2012 10:11

A very common term that you might have heard recently is "gluten-free diet".  It is a relatively new term, meaning a diet that is structured around excluding foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), rye, malts and barley. It is commonly added to foods in the processing phase in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing, and thickening agent. Gluten free diets are the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy.

Gluten free eating might also exclude oats. Medical Advisors are divided on whether to exclude oats or not; it is questionable as to whether they are an actual allergen to celiac disease sufferers or whether it is a matte rof the oats becoming cross-contaminated in milling facilities or in transport by other allergens. Contamination is even possible when oats are grown in rotation with wheat when wheat seeds from the previous harvest sprout up the next season in the oat field and are harvested along with the oats.  A growing body of evidence suggests that a majority of people with celiac disease that follow a gluten-free diet can safely consume oats in small, conservative amounts.

The term gluten free is typically used to indicate a seemingly harmless level of the gluten protein rather than a complete absence of it. The precise level that gluten is harmless for anyone with celiac disease is unknown as well as controversial.  In 2008, a systematic review tentatively conducted and concluded that consuming less than 10mg of gluten for celiac in one day is not likely to cause any physiological abnormalities, as it is still a relatively newly discovered disease few reliable studies had been conducted.

There are however, certain starches and grains that are considered to be acceptable that can be included in a gluten-free diet. The most frequently used are rice, corn and corn starch, potatoes, quinoa, and tapioca (derived from cassava). Other grains and starch sources generally considered suitable for gluten-free diets include amaranth, arrowroot, millet, montina, lupin, sorghum (jowar), taro, teff, chia seed, and yam. Sometimes various types of bean, soybean, and nut flours are used in gluten-free products to add protein and dietary fiber.

An unrecognized substitution is Almond flour.  Almond Flour is a conciderably low-carbohydrate alternative to flour, it also has a low glycemic index. Although the name suggests otherwise, buckwheat isn't related to regular wheat. Buckwheat, for the most part, is generally acceptable for gluten-free diets.  Commercial buckwheat products on the other hand are mixtures of wheat flour and buckwheat flours, and therefore can't be included in a gluten-free diet. Gram flour, not to be confused with Graham flour, is derived from chickpeas, is also gluten-free.  Graham flour is not gluten-free as it is made from wheat.  With such similar names, this is why it is important to thoroughly read your food labels. Gluten is used in foods in some very unexpected ways; sometimes added as a stabilizing agent or thickener in products that need to maintain consistency like ice-cream and ketchup.

People that must maintain a completely gluten-free diet must also be aware of the ingredients of certain over-the-counter or prescription medications and vitamins.  Again, check for a gluten free symbol or the words "gluten free" near the product information on the back of bottle. Women should be aware that cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balms, and lip gloss may contain gluten.  Even these trace amounts can cause gluten related reactions, so these products should be investigated before use.

Cross-contamination issues

Restaurants have started recognizing the growing trend among patrons and now offer specific gluten-free menus. People who are gluten-sensitive must always be aware that there are a variety of cooking procedures used in kitchens and grills that increase the likelihood of cross contamination between foods. This especially is the case in buffets where utensils typically are used in different food bowls by customers.

Being Aware of Gluten Free Labels

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 12, 2012 02:15

The Accuracy of Gluten Free Labels

The legal term of the phrase "gluten free" does vary from country to country, however current research is suggesting for people with celiac disease the maximum safe level of gluten in a finished product is probably less than 200 parts per million and possibly as little as 20 parts per million.

Certain standards only allow the "gluten-free" label to be used on foods with less than 5 parts per million of gluten, 5 parts per million being the smallest percentage that we are currently able to detect. The following ingredients are typical ingredients found in food that does contain gluten:
  • Wheat Flour contains 80,000ppm
  • Wheat Starch contains 200ppm
  • Maltodextrin, Dextrin, Glucose Syrup all contain 5ppm
  • Caramel Color has varying amounts of gluten depending on the processing method.  It can still affect those with celiac and gluten intolerance.

Wheat flour contains almost 12% gluten; such a small number is still a very significant amount.  Even the tiniest trace of wheat flour can cross-contaminate a product that is gluten-free.  A certain degree of care must always be taken to avoid cross-contamination of foods. 

Gluten Free Bread- Fitness FocusGluten-free diets rule out many of the normal foods that we are all used to eating on a regular basis.  The foods in question span from ordinary breads and pastas to many convenience foods in our diets such as crackers, chips and cookies.  Gluten rich foods are food that also use certain thickeners such as gravies, soups, and sauces thickened with rye, barley, wheat or other flour. Gluten hides in many of our favorite day to day food choices. More and more these days various gluten-free bakery and pasta products can be found in specialty retailers.  Large chain grocers are now dedicating sections of their shelf space to gluten-free pruoucts.  Gluten-free foods tend to cost more than non-gluten-free foods, due to the higher cost of production and contamination prevention.

Other unexpected sources of gluten are non-foodstuffs such as certain medications as well as vitamin supplements, mainly the ones available in tablet form, may contain gluten as a binding agent. People with gluten intolerances might require specialist compounding of their medication.  There are also vitamins available without gluten, the package or label will have symbols indicating so, you may also see after any exclaimers the words "gluten free".

Melissa Leier’s Beyond The Weight Room: Whipping Santa Into Shape

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 7, 2012 18:47

Mrs. Claus wrote to Saskatoon Well Being Magazine and, much to their surprise, it wasn’t about a lack of a chimney at the publication’s office. Apparently, Mrs. Claus has enjoyed reading the first eleven issues and has especially enjoyed my column on getting in elite physical shape. She said that she and Santa were planning a beach vacation in the spring and thought Santa might better tolerate the heat and humidity if he dropped a few pounds between Christmas deliveries and the trip. So the Well Being honchos called me and said they had an assignment that was big, red and essential. “Santa? That’s a little preposterous,” I said. “Hasn’t he heard of Jillian Michaels?” A week later they called me again. “We need you to whip Santa into shape,” they said. So I said, “Yeah, probably not. You try to get him off milk and cookies without a television audience to hold him accountable!” The owners of Well Being can be rather persuasive though so I finally agreed.   -Melissa Leier-

Wow, this was going to be a challenge! Well, maybe more of an opportunity; an opportunity to tackle supporting a lifestyle change for someone who has been comfortable with a pattern of behaviours for years. Based on the initial inquiry from Mrs. Claus, I had to wonder if Santa himself actually wants to make a lifestyle change and what that might look like in his eyes. I thought that I had better find out.

Starting off with a readiness assessment and to establish a baseline for Santa, I learned that he has been contemplating becoming more active for a while, but hadn’t taken the next step. Recently, his annual physical check-up indicated a good level of overall wellness and, with some recommendations, he was not only medically cleared to become more active, but encouraged to do so.

When I asked what he had in mind for long-term goals, he replied that, yes, he knew he should exercise and eat better. When I asked him what that meant to him, it turned out that he really wasn’t sure.

Rather than just telling him what to do based on my knowledge and expertise in health and fitness, and then hoping he bought into the ideas I suggested, I decided that I would take more of a collaborative approach to help him establish his own plan. Ultimately, as a fitness coach, I need to remember that these are his goals—not mine— and my role is to guide him to where he wants to be. I needed to find out what was important to him and what was going to motivate him toward a positive lifestyle change.

Santa explained that what was really important to him was to be able to be healthy enough to play catch with his grandchildren, go hunting and fishing with his son, to have many years to come of vacationing with Mrs. Claus and to have fun without excessive stress on his body during the busy hectic times of the holiday season.

I asked him what it would look like for him six months down the road if he was achieving his goals and he said that he saw himself sustaining a habit of regular activity three to four times per week in combinations of cardiovascular, strength activities and recreational sports with his family. He also hoped to have developed a better understanding of fuelling the body effectively to feel great and satisfy his taste buds.

We discussed what kind of opportunities might exist to incorporate changes right away and he told me that he has a local community centre with a walking track that he had been curious about trying out, especially when it is too icy outside to risk slips and falls. The facility also has a variety of classes to take part in, from circuit training to swimming and yoga programs that he thought would give him some variety. Mrs. Claus was interested in a couples’ cooking class every Sunday that was focused on recipes for heart health. There was also a Saturday night dancing group and he did like to put on his dancing shoes and hit the town two-stepping!

Getting started with Santa, I asked him to keep a journal of his nutrition intake for a week, including amounts and portion sizes, as well as timing. I encouraged him to balance each meal throughout the day with fairly similar content and volume, rather than one large meal at supper. Another suggestion was to try to balance each meal with a lean protein source, low-sugar carbohydrate source and many fibrous vegetables. I also asked him to track his water intake.

Just starting a journal alone is a great way to bring a new self- awareness of what it is we are putting into our bodies and to recognize patterns. It also helps keep us accountable to fuel our bodies with better nutritional choices.

Melissa Leier SaskatoonPhoto by Tyler Harris
The second step was to examine patterns that his journal revealed and to develop action plans. Some quick fixes we found to help clean up his daily nutrition included:

• No need to add salt to meals. Most of the time, we actually get enough sodium from the salt that occurs naturally in foods such as meat, eggs, milk products, fruit and vegetables. A high salt diet increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. Herbs and spices, blends like Mrs. Dash, lemon juice, onion, garlic, etc. can be used to flavour foods instead of adding salt.

• Drink more water. Skip the pop and fruit juice since they’re empty calories and basically just all sugar.

• Learn to prepare meals by planning time to grocery shop and buy fresh produce and lean cuts of meat, rather than packaged, canned and processed foods.

• Use the right cooking methods. Use non-stick pans and non-stick cooking spray when needed, instead of dumping in oil or margarine.

These changes would help reduce his blood pressure and decrease his risk of diabetes, which would allow him to enjoy the odd cookie or treat once in a while, rather than possibly having to avoid them completely. This was also a chance for Santa to learn to prepare delicious meals with his family, using creativity with spices and flavours. Don’t forget about the cost savings of preparing his own food instead of ordering take-out. More money for that vacation with Mrs. Claus!

Regular activity goes hand in hand with nutrition. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and Health Canada suggest that the minimum guidelines for older adults, age 65+, would be to take part in at least 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity each week. No, this doesn’t mean once a week Santa should run a marathon and he’s good—that would not be beneficial or safe. This activity is best done spread out into sessions of 10 minutes or more throughout the week. In addition to the cardiovascular activity, it is also imperative to add muscle-strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least twice a week to help support bone health and improve posture and balance.

So, if Santa goes dancing Saturday evenings, walks for 30 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon after his strength training circuit and then takes a swim or goes to a yoga class on occasion, he’s doing great! With his strength training circuit, he should target the major muscle groups of the legs and gluteal muscles, back and chest. Exercises to start with could be body weight squats and walking lunges, kneeling push-ups and a pull-down or row exercise. To add in some core and shoulder stability, he can include an opposite arm and leg raise from a kneeling and palms-down position on an exercise mat. Strength training can have a profound effect on improved bone health, arthritis relief, increased metabolic rate and reduced risk of heart disease.

I’ll make sure to check in with Santa in a few months. It will be no surprise at all to hear that Santa has experienced a significant improvement in his blood pressure and has lowered his cholesterol levels. He may be down three notches on his belt and he should be able to load up his sleigh full of packages and presents with ease and sleep like a baby at night. Most importantly, he will achieve a new self-awareness and establish enjoyable healthy lifestyle habits that will put him on track to being in great shape for Christmas 2013!

Do You Know What Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance Are?

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 3, 2012 16:30

Studies now shows that celiac disease and gluten intolerance, affect around 15% of the North American population.  It is possible that you are one of these people. It is important that you are able to identify gluten intolerance symptoms?

We first need to identify the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an immune reaction. It is a sudden and severe onset allergic reaction to the wheat protein called gluten. Gluten can be found in several different but very common grains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats. Celiac disease is initially a disorder of the auto-immune system, it is also a disease of malabsorption because essential nutrients are not able to absorb into the body. One of the most devastating symptoms of celiac disease going undiagnosed is malnutrition.

Typically, gluten intolerance often has a much slower onset than celiac disease, and tends to be harder to diagnose due to the wide range of symptoms and the many sources in which it is hidden.

Imagine a continuum of gluten intolerance symptoms; celiac disease would be found at the most extreme end with immediate autoimmune reactions. There are people with celiac disease that may not immediate symptoms, but internally the malabsorption of all these essential nutrients can erode one's health over many years. It is important to note that both celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be exacerbated by infection, surgery, emotional stress pregnancy and childbirth. Not everyone with a gluten intolerance or allergy will experience the exact same symptoms or to the same degree.  This creates a great challenge for medical practitioners trying to do a diagnosis.

    Here are some of the symptoms but not necessarilly limited to gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Nutritional deficiencies, example: low iron levels
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Body Pains
  • Stiff and Aching joints
  • Eczema and Skin Irritations
  • Depression
  • Head aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability and behavioral changes
  • Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
  • Cramps, tingling and numbness
  • Slow infant and child growth
  • Decline in dental health

If Gluten intolerance remains undiagnosed for a long enough period of time, conditions have been found to contribute to diabetes, cancer of the bowel, anemia and osteoporosis.

So, why are the symptoms of gluten intolerance so varied?

Much about gluten intolerance and celiac disease is still unknown.  Gluten intolerance can affect anyone from children to adults in a variety of ways, but one thing that has been found is the less stress the better for the affected person.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that emotional trauma and stress play a large role in amplifying the symptoms. Several studies have findings that show that the longer a baby is breastfed and the further it's delayed that they start eating gluten rich foods, it will creates a lower chance of developing celiac disease.  Completely avoiding gluten through a pregnancy and in a child’s younger years of development may also raise the possibilities of an allergic reaction, as the child's developing digestive system cannot recognize the substance at all.  Researchers remain unsure but perhaps a more moderate approach is best when attempting to preventing celiac disease, especially if the parents know that there is a genetic predisposition to the disease. Mothers might reduce but not eliminate gluten foods when pregnant, breastfeed for a longer than average period, and start introducing low gluten grains as first foods for baby.

How to diagnose celiac disease and gluten intolerance?

Until recently it was somewhat of a challenge to diagnose celiac disease because it does have such a wide variety of symptoms and are quite similar to a few other common diseases. Some examples of these are Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, iron deficiency as well as intestinal infections can all have similar symptoms. There may be in fact a relationship between gluten intolerance and some of these conditions.  An person may have a combination of issues that become worse by food choices that do not agree with their body.  Doctors now know to test for raised levels of certain auto-antibodies in the blood. These antibodies are produced when the body senses a dangerous allergen, such as gluten. If the results indicate an allergy to gluten the doctor may perform a small intestine biopsy. This will reveal the damage to the villi in the small intestine. It is important to eat an ordinary diet including gluten, before being tested.

Look For The Gluten Free Symbol

Another method is to self test for gluten intolerance.  This requires a complete modification of a person's diet. It's a relatively simple thing to do, but does take a little bit of commitment.  For it to work properly a person needs to remove many normal things from their diet and resort whole/natural foods without wheat gluten such as rice, fruits and vegetables, and any fresh meat.  You can trust packaging that has a "Gluten Free" symbol on it.  Foods that contain gluten will have ingredients on the packaging that include Maltodextrin, caramel color, and wheat flour.  At this point it becomes important to understand how to read a food ingredients label.  If a person is feeling any of the possible gluten intolerance symptoms at the start of this process, they should begin to recede within a week or two.  At the time when the symptoms have all subsided, other foods can start to be introduced back into the diet a little bit at a time. It then takes a conscious effort to be aware if and when the symptoms begin to return.

New Research Suggests Brown Rice Can Offer Cardiovascular Protection

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 20, 2012 06:09

Nutrition questions from around the gym; here are your answers!

Typically, rice is thought to be a healthy addition to the diet because it is a source of fiber. However, not all rice is equally nutritious, and brown rice might have an unique advantage over white rice by offering protection from high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”), say researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center and Department of Physiology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

New research by Satoru Eguchi, Associate Professor of Physiology, suggests that a component in a layer of tissue surrounding grains of brown rice may work against angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is an endocrine protein which causes blood vessels to constrict and known culprit in the development of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Brown Rice and Angiotensin II

The subaleurone layer of Japanese rice, which is located between the white center of the grain and the brown fibrous outer layer, is rich in oligosaccharides and dietary fibers, making it particularly nutritious. However, when brown rice is polished to make white rice, the subaleurone layer is stripped away and the rice loses some of its nutrients. The subaleurone layer can be preserved in half-milled (Haigamai) rice or incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) brown rice. These types of rice are popular in Japan because many people there believe half-milled (Haigamai) rice and incompletely-milled (Kinmemai) are healthier than white rice.

The Temple team and their colleagues at the Wakayama Medical University Department of Pathology and the Nagaoka National College of Technology Department of Materials Engineering in Japan sought to delve into the mysteries of the subaleurone layer and perhaps make a case for leaving it intact when rice is processed. Because angiotensin II is a perpetrator in such lethal cardiovascular diseases, the team chose to focus on learning whether the subaleurone layer could somehow inhibit the wayward protein, angiotensin II, before it wreaks havoc.

First, the researchers removed the subaleurone tissue from Kinmemai rice (incompletely-milled rice). Then the researchers separated the subaleurone tissue's components by exposing the subaleurone tissue to extractions of various chemicals such as ethanol, ethyl acetate and methanol. They then observed how the subaleurone tissue affected cultures of vascular smooth muscle cells. Vascular smooth muscle cells are an integral part of blood vessel walls and are direct victims of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

During their analysis, the team found that subaleurone components that were selected by an ethyl acetate extraction inhibited angiotensin II activity in the cultured vascular smooth muscle cells. This suggests that the subaleurone layer of rice offers protection against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. It could also help explain why fewer people die of cardiovascular disease in Japan, where most people eat at least one rice-based dish per day, than in the U.S., where rice is not a primary component of daily nutrition.

“Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice [subaleurone] that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Eguchi. “We hope to present an additional health benefit of consuming half-milled or brown rice [as opposed to white rice] as part of a regular diet.”

New Research Suggests Brown Rice Can Offer Cardiovascular Protection  -  Written by Jeff behar

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