Winter is tough for a lot of people – an estimated 1 in 5 (yup, that’s a full 20%) of North Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, known as SAD.
According to Psychology Today, the symptoms of SAD include sleepiness, carb cravings, difficulty concentrating, feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, weight gain, lethargy, decreased libido, and hyperphagia (increased consumption of food).
The prevalence of SAD has been linked to the lack of sunshine during the winter months. Depending on the severity of symptoms, there are several treatment options available – including light therapy and, in some cases, medications – and you should absolutely talk to your doctor if you are suffering.
But know this: for minor cases of the ‘winter blues’, exercise can help.
It’s that time of year – people across Toronto and beyond are setting ambitious fitness goals for 2017. If you really want to succeed this year though, you need more than a resolution.
You need a practical plan – and we’ve got one for you. Put these six tips into practice – and use our free habit tracker (which you can download below), and you’ll dramatically increase the chances that you’ll create lasting positive change this year.
Many people find themselves out of synch with their regular fitness habits over the holidays. In addition to missed workouts, there are food treats galore, indulgent office parties, and – often – lots of wine to wash it all down.
Here’s what we tell our personal training clients who are worried about all their hard work going out the window during the month of December.
If you’re like most people, you spend 80% of your time SITTING.
Did you know that doing so it’s wreaking havoc on your body? Humans aren’t built to sit for long periods like we do these days – we’re designed to be standing and moving.
As a result, it causes rounded shoulders and forward head posture (we call this Neanderthal posture here at NF!), and can also affect your breathing (because it compressed your diaphragm) which, in turn, can aggravate stress and even anxiety.
So. What’s an office worker (or driver, or other kind of all-day-sitter) to do? We’ve got three easy tips to help you combat ‘Neanderthal posture’ and feel better…
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.
Last week we talked about the importance of sleep. People always ask us if it's worth sacrificing sleep for exercise. We briefly touched on it at the end of last week's post but thought it merited further discussion.
So, the question (which we hear all the time): If the only way to fit in exercise is to cut short your sleep, should you do it?
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!