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?
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.
Every month, our team gets together for a professional development session where we share knowledge and increase our skills so we can better serve clients.
Recently, team member and recent graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine Kamala Sivasankaran led a very informative session about stress, hormones and weight gain. This is an important topic to understand if fat loss is one of your goals. So we thought we'd share some of the key points of her talk with you here.
I was talking to a client this week who came to us because he had a significant amount of fat to lose He's motivated and making great progress towards his goal. As is often the case, many of the people in his life are also overweight. He told me that they often make comments to the effect of "oh you're still on your diet" when they see him eating his healthy food. (Which is not at all uncommon, BTW).
I have always had a major issue with the show Biggest Loser. This article surfaced a few weeks ago, outlining exactly the reasons why. It is well worth the read.
The obese contestants on this show need the exact opposite of what they’re getting in order to succeed long term.
Last week I posted about the ‘skinny-fat’ phenomenon. And it sparked a lot of interest in our readers, including one who pointed out on our Facebook page that, while skinny doesn’t always = healthy, overweight doesn’t always = unhealthy.
And she is right: it is entirely possible to be overweight, yet healthy ‘under the hood’ so-to-speak.
While it may be true that some – or it might even be fair to say most – overweight people have unhealthy habits, there are some who are strong, cardiovascularly fit, and otherwise quite healthy.
But I will say that it’s rare for someone to be doing all the right things in terms of diet and exercise and still be overweight – there is almost always an underlying reason for the extra weight.
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!