For many of us - especially the parents, teachers, and professional students among us - September is the true start of a new year. (Forget January!)
It's a time of new beginning, and of return to routine - which makes it an ideal time to establish a new healthy habit. Here are some tips to set you up for success if you plan on setting up a new fitness routine this fall.
This is embarrassing to say but, even though I own a fitness company, I haven’t always been the fittest looking guy.
A decade ago, working out was my life. I dabbled in strongman training and got to a point where I could deadlift 725lbs and held a record in the 800 pound tire flip.
Even after my dreams of being the next Magnus ver Magnusson waned, I remained firmly committed to fitness and strength training. But, as it does for so many people, life got busy. Kids came along, my business grew and demanded more of my time and energy and, somewhere along the way, I stopped prioritizing my own fitness.
The Body Mass Index - or BMI - is an algorithm of weight and height that was created by insurance companies many decades ago to help determine a person's risk for disease or mortality.
Fast forward to the present day and it's commonly used as a measure of health - but it shouldn't be. From a fitness perspective, this simply doesn't make sense because it doesn't factor in muscle mass or bone density. A person who is lean and muscular but has big bones could have a very high BMI. And on the flip side, someone with a healthy BMI can be 'skinny fat' and unhealthy. (Here's a detailed article about its shortcomings, if you're interested in more detail.)
So if the BMI isn't reliable, what IS a good measure?
If you search Instagram (or just about anywhere else) for "fitness", you'll be bombarded with chiseled bodies, videos of people lifting huge heavy weights, and (far too many) toned-ab selfies.
It suggests that fitness is an extreme, all-or-nothing thing. Which it isn't. And that's why you won't find any greasy posed muscles in our feed. We believe that success looks different for each of us, and is about more than what you see on the outside.
One of our favourite 'traditions' at Nielsen Fitness is to capture - and celebrate - our clients' goals as they achieve them. Here are some recent ones that our clients gave us their blessing to share with you.
We think they're a great reminder that fitness is for everyone and success can take so many different forms.
Want to join these healthy folks? Click here to learn more about our process, and here to read about how we're different. When you're ready, give us a shout and we'll come to you for a free, no-obligation consultation and mini workout.
What's YOUR motivation for working out? Whether we like to admit it or not, for most of us, it's to look good.
This is just fine, but I always advise new and potential clients to think more broadly and deeply than that and see their exercise efforts as an investment in long-term health, and the benefits you can't see on the surface.
In my experience, it tends to be a more powerful, long-term motivator - and for good reason. Almost immediately, your health will begin to improve as a result of exercise - even if the scale or measuring tape are taking their time. Some key benefits:
So, as much as you may want to fit into that dress or bulk up your muscles for the beach, remember that each work out is doing wonderful things for your body that just might not be quite as visible. Plug away at it and, before long, you'll start to be able to see the benefits on the outside too.
This has been a sleepless week in the Nielsen household as our youngest, 2.5-year-old Grant, has been under the weather with croup. Normally though, we're a family that takes sleep very seriously - hitting the hay early (by 10) and waking up with the birds.
So this week, which we've spent feeling grumpy and agitated, has been a good reminder of just how important sleep is to our basic functioning. It also plays a more significant role than most people realize when it comes to fitness success, and fat loss.
A goal is a dream with a plan, as they say. But setting a goal isn't as simple as you may think - if you want to achieve it, that is.
Here's our formula for setting fitness goals that stick. It is based upon the widely-used SMART goals model, and we use it with our clients all the time.
While it's true that you can't out-exercise a bad diet, if you're just starting out and have a lot of fat to lose, it may be best to leave your diet as-is and start with exercise.
Have you ever heard the expression that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet? There’s a lot of truth to it. For long-term health, and to fully reach your fitness goals, it’s imperative that you support your exercise habit with healthy eating habits.
We see some very common dietary “mistakes” time and again with our clients that are impeding their success. One of the most common we see in clients who have stubborn fat to lose is that they eat poorly throughout the day. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they eat too much – in fact, they’re usually eating too little, and choosing the wrong things.
Everyone wants to lose weight these days – and I have a problem with that. Are you surprised to hear that from a personal trainer? Hear me out.
“Weight loss” is not universally a good thing. When you lose weight, you lose a combination of water, fat, and muscle. This is inevitable – nobody loses pure fat – but the goal is to lose as much fat as possible, and as little water and muscle. In fact, you should work at adding muscle, while losing fat - but we'll get to that in a minute.
Unfortunately, most weight loss programs, products, and diets ignore the distinction between weight loss and fat loss, and focus solely on the number on the scale. The end result is a loss of muscle - to the tune of about 50% - and a really messed up metabolism.
Poul Nielsen is the owner and operator of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 16 years' experience in the fitness industry and has taught courses in Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!