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.
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?
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.
As we always say, personal training isn't just for fitness models and bodybuilders. The vast majority of our clients are normal people looking to live their best and healthiest life. Recently, we've started capturing and sharing our clients' little (and some not-so-little) victories. We find it hugely motivating to track and celebrate these changes - and we hope you do too :)
It may be intimidating, but having your measurements taken is an important metric for tracking your progress. One of the many dials on the dashboard to speak.
Here are my thoughts on the subject of measurements and why they're important.
Hope you enjoyed my two cents, I’d love to hear what you think, and what you would like to hear more about.
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!