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Nutritional / Dietary Certifications

Recently I had a club owner ask for assistance as he reviewed all of the Nutrition and/or Diet Certifications out there. He is looking to qualify his 100 plus trainers to provide nutritional counseling to clients.  Here is my response to him, which is what I have always believed. I hope this helps clarify the limits of your true scope of practice as a Certified Personal Trainer.

 

“Thank you for reaching out to us.  We do not have a dietary certification, nor do we intend to go down that path.  I realize there is a lot of money in it for both of us, and it is tempting to offer a Dietary Certification like a lot of other groups.  The reality is that Dietary Counseling is not truly in our industry’s wheelhouse.  We do have all kinds of nutritional workshops available with respected authors, to help educate trainers to work with all age groups.

“My reasoning is based simply on staying in our respected professional lanes.  Dietary Certifications from other groups are treading into illegal waters with weight loss credentialing, in my opinion.  There is huge liability in acknowledging trainers as credible prescribers of diets.  A Nutritional Certification is really out of the realm of a personal trainer’s scope of practice. It gives trainers false hopes of knowing  exactly what to do with a client in this area.  

“What we all should do is to network with Registered Dietitians who have the depth of knowledge and official license to be safe and effective.  Teaching trainers superficially to know just enough to prescribe a diet is dangerous.  I would respectfully share that it can get them/you sued.  There are so many variables to consider when prescribing a diet which include medications, medical issues, herb use by the clients and much more.  That is why a Registered Dietician is the safer business choice.  At that point you can network with many of them and send clients back and forth for the best results for the client.  

“Bottom line is that Registered Dietitians are not fitness professionals and they need you as much as you need them for clients’ results and business growth.

“I hope we can network and talk soon on many levels.

Jay”

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Debunking Physical Activity and Training Myths

This blog post is courtesy of our guest blogger, Dr. Sheri Colberg. 

How often have you heard certain things about physical activity and exercise training that you thought sounded correct, but found out later were totally wrong? If you hang out at a gym or even talk with training coaches, you’ll hear just about everything, including contradictory statements about the right ways to stay active.

Should you work out in a “fat burning” range? Will weight training make you bulk up? Will your muscles turn to fat if you stop working out? Do you need to eat a lot more protein to get bigger muscles? Confused? Here is the truth about some of the more common myths you’ll hear about being active.

Myth: Exercising regularly makes you more tired.

Although you may feel somewhat tired during a workout, once you’ve recovered, you usually feel more invigorated, not less. Doing any regular physical activity is guaranteed to raise your overall energy levels and make you better able to undertake life’s challenges. If you’re having trouble concentrating at work or getting too stressed, it helps to take a short walk or do any type of physical activity to clear your mind, bump up your energy levels, and decrease your mental stress. Doing regular physical activity also helps you sleep better at night, leaving you more refreshed and energetic during the day.

Myth: If you want to lose fat, you have to work out within a “fat burning” range.

Exactly what is the “fat-burning” range you see on a lot of aerobic exercise machines? You have to understand which fuels your body uses during rest and exercise. Typically, during rest 60% of your energy needs are supplied by fat (stored or eaten), with the other 40% coming from carbohydrates. As soon as you start to do any type of physical activity, though, carbs become a much higher percentage of your total energy supply. In fact, when you’re doing just moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking, you’ll use very little fat, so you’re burning mostly carbs, even when you’re in a so-called “fat-burning” range. During more vigorous exercise, your body can’t use fat effectively, so almost all energy is supplied by carbs when you’re working out hard. You do use slightly more fat at a lower intensity, but fat is mostly used during your recovery from exercise, so just try to expend as many calories during exercise as possible without worrying about what types of fuels are supplying them.

Myth: When you don’t use your muscles, they turn into fat.

Have you ever looked at someone who used to be fit and thought that his or her muscles had really turned into flab? While there is no discounting the change in appearance, it is physically impossible for inactive muscles to turn into fat. What is really happening is this: when you work your muscles out regularly, they may increase in size or simply look more toned; if you stop using them, the muscle fibers will atrophy and disappear—similar to what happens to many people with aging. As your muscle mass decreases, your caloric needs also decrease, and if you don’t start eating less, you’ll gain fat weight that is stored under your skin (among other places). The reverse is true as well. If you drop body fat, your muscles will look more defined simply because there is less fat to cover them up. The bottom line is that it is never good to lose muscle mass, but if you don’t gain fat weight as you lose muscle, you’ll just look thinner without acquiring a flabby appearance.

Myth: Weight training will bulk you up.

This myth probably arose because you may look bigger as your muscles expand with heavy weight training. Women are especially worried about bulking up and getting bigger arms or legs. Remember how losing muscle can make you look thinner if you’re not gaining fat at the same time? Well, the same applies here, only in reverse. If you’re losing fat all over (including from under your skin) while you’re gaining muscle mass, you’ll stay about the same size. If you gain muscle without losing fat, you may look slightly bigger, or simply more toned. Either way, most people don’t gain enough muscle from weight training to ever look bulked up. More likely, you’ll just look more toned. When you first start exercising, your weight may go up slightly or just not come down as quickly as you think it should, simply because as you gain muscle while losing fat, the heavier of the two (muscle) will keep your scale weight higher. Focus less on your scale weight and more on your measurements and how well your clothes fit.

Myth: No pain, no gain.

If you’ve ever hung around a gym, you’re sure to have come across this myth. The “pain” part of exercise results from the build-up of acids in active muscles (like lactic acid), and acids drop the pH of your muscles and sensitize pain receptors. Usually, it’s just a sign that you’re working hard or that your muscle is fatiguing. However, you can certainly have gains in your strength and endurance without pushing yourself to the point of pain in the process. The more fit you become, the more easily your body can clear out those excess acids produced by physical activity. Too much pain can also signal that you’re likely to get injured.

Myth: Lifting weights slowly builds larger muscles.

Remember how we just debunked the “no pain, no gain” myth? If you try lifting weights more slowly, you’ll certainly feel the pain, but it absolutely doesn’t mean that your muscle or strength gains will be greater. On the contrary, lifting weights slowly when you could lift them faster will build more muscular endurance, while lifting the heaviest weight as quickly as possible will recruit extra muscle fibers and cause you to build bigger muscles. So, the rule of thumb should be that if you are lifting a weight slowly, but could lift it faster, you either need to move it faster or try a heavier weight for optimal results.

Myth: Working on your abdominal muscles will give you a flat belly.

You’ve probably always heard that if you want to get rid of that stomach flab, you have to do a lot of abdominal work, but don’t be fooled into believing that. As much as we’d all like to pick and choose where we lose our fat, it is not possible to spot reduce, and doing hundreds of crunches will not make you lose stomach fat any faster than you lose it from the rest of your body. If you want a flat belly, you can certainly work on toning up your abdominal region, but focus more on simply burning off excess calories. Doing harder workouts will also build more muscle, and having more muscle increases your daily caloric needs. One side benefit of including abdominal exercises, though, is that having toned abs makes it easier for you to pull in your stomach so it appears flatter, even if you can’t spot reduce there.

Myth: The more exercise you do, the better off you’ll be.

There is a limited benefit to anything, and that includes excessive exercise. When you do more than 60 to 90 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, you’re much more likely to develop overuse injuries—such as stress fractures, tendinitis, bursitis, and other joint issues. You don’t want to get injured because you will have to stop working out while you heal. You are better off doing slightly more intense exercise for a shorter period of time, which you can do with any type of interval training (including some of the latest crazes like HIIT and CrossFit). You can push yourself a bit harder from time to time during a workout, or do the whole thing at a higher intensity if you can, while cutting back on your duration—and you will gain the same benefits, or even more, from your workout. Most of us don’t have time to work out all day anyway, so it’s good to know that we really don’t need to.

Myth: If you want to gain muscle mass, eat more protein.

Ah, yes, the protein myth. It is true that you have to eat some protein to gain protein (muscles are made of amino acids, the building blocks of protein). And, yes, physically active people do need more protein that sedentary folks, but not that much more. In fact, no training athlete needs more than 1.6 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (~0.75 grams per pound), which is just twice that of a sedentary person. Does that mean you need to take protein supplements or up the protein in your diet? Not usually. Most Americans already eat well over 15% of their calories as protein: about 75 grams of daily protein in a 2,000 calorie diet (or 112 grams per 3,000 calories), more than enough to cover protein needs. Taking in some protein (especially whey) with carbs right after hard workouts may be beneficial, but make sure your protein is coming from good sources without a lot of extra saturated or trans fats. Instead of spending money on supplements, try eating more egg whites or drinking chocolate milk post-exercise.

Myth: If you’re not sweating, you’re not working hard enough.

Everyone equates sweating with working hard, but that isn’t always the case. People vary in their sweating rates. Being physically trained improves your ability to sweat more and to start sweating sooner, but men always tend to sweat more than women. Sweating is related not only to exercise intensity, but also to the environment. If it’s hot and humid, you’re going to sweat more, even if you’re not working hard. You will also sweat less if you’re dehydrated or lose too much fluid while you’re working out, as your body has mechanisms to limit fluid losses to keep enough in your blood. So, sweating is often not reflective of your effort level.

Dr. Colberg is a renowned expert on diabetes and nutrition. To learn more about working with diabetic clients, check out “Essentials of Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes: Overview Program”, available in the W.I.T.S. store.

Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, is the author of The Athlete’s Guide to Diabetes: Expert Advice for 165 Sports and Activities(the newest edition of Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook), available through Human Kinetics (https://us.humankinetics.com/products/athlete-s-guide-to-diabetes-the), Amazon (https://amzn.to/2IkVpYx), Barnes & Noble, and elsewhere. She is also the author of Diabetes & Keeping Fit for Dummies. A professor emerita of exercise science from Old Dominion University and an internationally recognized diabetes motion expert, she is the author of 12 books, 28 book chapters, and over 415 articles. She was honored with the 2016 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award. Contact her via her websites (SheriColberg.com and DiabetesMotion.com).

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10 Reasons You’re Not Making Enough Money as a Personal Trainer

When you first became certified as a personal fitness trainer, you were excited to share your passion for fitness and the benefits it brings, not just to your clients’ health, but to their overall quality of life. But for many newly certified trainers, getting career traction can be a challenge. Big box gyms often underpay, or can guarantee only part-time hours, and striking out on your own can make huge demands on your time and financial resources. 

Yet, the demand for personal training is high, and continues to grow. If you really want to pursue your dreams of success as a fitness professional, consider some of the common reasons trainers don’t make enough money to succeed. 

  1. You’re focused on the money: This one is tough, because it’s hard NOT to think about money when you are trying to establish your career. Nevertheless, many trainers scare away clients by focusing on the money instead of the benefits. Stay focused on analyzing and meeting your clients’ needs, deliver amazing results, and watch the money roll in!
  1. Your thoughts are self-limiting: When you decided on a fitness career, you may not have considered the business end of the equation. Many novice trainers are dismayed at the need to sell themselves to potential customers. Others fear they cannot make it as an independent contractor. The truth is, if you think you cannot do a thing, you are right. Take time to identify self-limiting thoughts and attitudes, and work to overcome them. 
  1. You’re not managing your business: This goes hand-in-hand with #2: as a personal trainer, it is imperative to keep accurate records, monitor your clients’ session packages, regularly re-evaluate their progress, and review their goals. To put it simply, there is a lot more to personal training than the actual training sessions. Step up your business game, and you will see your profits increase. 
  1. You lack self confidence: Let’s face it, the competition for personal training can be stiff. Colleges and universities turn out thousands of newly degreed job candidates each year with advanced degrees in exercise science. To build your own confidence, keep your certification current, take continuing education courses, and think about working toward more advanced credentials. Learn everything you can, and leave your competition in the dust. 
  1. You work for low wages: As mentioned earlier, big box gyms and smaller training studios often underpay their trainers. Basically, you do all the work, and they reap the rewards. In addition, many trainers who take on private clients grossly undercharge. This is largely driven by fear (see #4 above), but undercharging or undercutting the current market rate will hurt you in the long run. In the eyes of many clients, your session fees reflect your value as a trainer. Low-paying clients are more likely to skip sessions, meaning they don’t get results. Clients who invest in training have more skin in the game, and they are more likely to reach their goals and buy more sessions. 
  1. Your clients are not seeing results: At the end of the day, the fitness business is, and always has been, about results. Successful clients are your best advertising, and if your clients are not reaching their goals, that is negative advertising. Hold your clients’ feet to the fire, review goals regularly, change what’s not working, monitor food and activity logs, and use behavior contracts to keep your clients moving forward to remarkable results. 
  1. You lack professionalism: Personal training is considered a high-ticket luxury item by many clients, and they expect a lot of bang for their bucks. That includes professional conduct and appearance on the part of the trainer. Good grooming and hygiene are fundamental. Clean sharp-looking fitness wear, clean athletic shoes in new condition, and showing up for sessions on time, prepared and organized, are all elements of your professional image. Step up your professional game, and step up your income!
  1. You’re staying in your comfort zone: In case you haven’t heard, you cannot grow without facing and overcoming obstacles. In fact, “no pain, no gain” is the mantra of our profession. To make more money, you may need to take on challenges and obstacles that are over your head, take risks on opportunities that do not guarantee  success, and be willing to fall flat on your face. Take the advice you give to your clients every day, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone to get the results you desire. 
  1. You’re not seeing the big picture: It may be difficult to imagine yourself making large sums of money as a personal trainer, but you have to look at the big picture. Personal training opens doors to one of the hottest industries in history. Online training, group training, celebrity training, niche training, athletic training…the sky’s the limit! Use your imagination, keep your eyes open for opportunities, and create the career of your dreams!
  1. You need more education: Knowledge is power, and in the fitness business, it can mean the difference between success and failure. Lucky for you, W.I.T.S. has everything you need to succeed, right at your fingertips! Check out our current offerings:

Making more money as a personal trainer is completely up to you. Work hard, help your clients get results, keep your head in the game, and we’ll see you at the top!

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10 Reasons to Renew Your Professional Fitness Certification, Even if You Don’t Work in Fitness

Prior to the late 90s, when US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop declared in his annual report that “exercise is medicine,” people mostly pursued fitness for its cosmetic benefits and weight loss. Since then, the health benefits of fitness have superseded its role as a cosmetic intervention, and people are increasingly exercising to improve their health and quality of life, and to avoid premature death.

CPT-badge

Consequently, the fitness industry is evolving and gaining recognition as a health care alternative, meaning that fitness certifications are more important than ever. If your fitness certifications are about to expire, or if they have already expired, here are 10 good reasons to renew now:

  1. Fitness is on a trajectory to becoming a recognized health profession, and certified professionals will have a head start in obtaining licensure or satisfying other credential requirements as the industry evolves. 
  1. Fitness jobs like personal training or group exercise instruction are highly flexible. In today’s gig economy, having a fitness certification makes you eligible for short term gigs that bring in extra money when you really need it. Working in fitness is perfect for parents who need to work around their kids’ schedules, or anyone who wants to supplement their full-time income.
  1. Your professional fitness certification looks great on any resume or CV. It tells prospective employers that you care about your health, and the health of your family. For employers, that translates to better cognition, higher job performance and fewer sick days. 
  1. If things don’t work out in your business or day job, the high demand for certified fitness professionals provides you with a Plan B, so you can keep working while you explore your options.
  1. Renewing your certification is much less expensive than retesting for a new one, especially with the convenient and affordable continuing education bundles and discounts offered by W.I.T.S. 
  1. Maintaining your certification keeps you in the professional loop, and provides endless opportunities for networking and link building. You never know when your fitness connections will pay off. 
  1. Being a certified fitness professional qualifies you for many volunteer positions, like working with youth or older adults. 
  1. Your fitness certification can help you get into college, especially in fields related to health or athletics. 
  1. Your fitness certification can be a stepping stone to higher-paying jobs in fitness, like club management or numerous online options.
  1. The demand for fitness is universal, and your certification can open doors wherever you go. 

If you are sitting on the fence about renewing your certification, consider all the work you put into getting it in the first place. You chose a fitness career for a reason, and maybe it’s time to get back to your roots. Or maybe you never did anything with your cert, but it is never too late. Renew now, and keep the door open for the many future opportunities that are sure to come your way. 

W.I.T.S. Makes It Easy to Renew!

At W.I.T.S., we want you to succeed. That’s why we created these great CEC bundles and renewal deals, to save you time and money!

  • Hardship is considered too….
  • Pay Pal zero interest for buying any packages

Renew today, and take pride in being a W.I.T.S. certified fitness professional!

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10 Tips for Setting Weight Loss Goals that Really Work

Despite the push for body positivity to combat body shaming, men and women of every age and persuasion are still in quest of the Holy Grail for weight loss and a lean physique, and weight loss continues to be a prime driver for personal training. But as we all know, helping our clients lose weight is one of the biggest challenges we face as fitness professionals. 

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The “Hidden” Benefits of Physical Activity in Youth

Guest Post by Dave Johnson, MS

In 2010, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity sent shockwaves through the public health community. According to the authors of the study, researchers found that 20% of people born between 1966 and 1985 were obese in their 20s, an obesity prevalence milestone not reached by their parents until their 30s or by their grandparents until their 40s or 50s[1].

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Top 5 Secrets to Weight Loss Success in 2019

A decade or so ago, we all believed that most of our calories should come from whole grains and other carbs, and that eggs and other saturated fats gave us heart disease. We were also sure that longer bouts of cardio would yield greater reductions in body fat. But times have changed, and the jury is in. New research shoots holes in just about everything we thought to be true about successful healthy weight loss. 

Here are five weight loss secrets, backed by clinical evidence, to help you succeed in 2019:

  1. Close the window: We once believed that eating small meals and snacks several times throughout the day was a great way to stabilize blood sugar and silence hunger pangs, thereby facilitating weight loss. Not surprisingly, few people who followed that advice actually lost weight. Giving your body a steady supply of energy negates the need to tap into fat stores. Instead of eating around the clock, practice intermittent fasting by eating all your calories within a six to eight hour window, and stop eating at least three hours before bedtime. Watch your energy soar as your fat melts away. Study
  1. Burst out of your plateau: Long bouts of moderate-intensity cardio lasting 60 to 90 minutes will help you burn fat, but it is a huge time commitment that most people cannot sustain. Burst training, aka interval training, speeds up fat loss while giving your metabolism a boost that lasts for hours. To begin, try walking for two minutes, then running all out for 30 seconds; repeat that cycle for a total of 20 minutes, three to five times per week, and watch your body shed its fat layer. You can adjust the walking to running ratio as your fitness level improves, spending more time in sprint mode. Study
  1. Lift heavy objects: There is no doubt about it, resistance training is one of the fastest ways to whip your body into shape and shed unwanted pounds. Use good form, and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You will be amazed at the transformative results. Study
  1. Manage stress and sleep: Sleep deprivation and stress make a double-edged sword that elevates cortisol levels, encouraging your body to hang onto fat. Your body needs sleep to maintain a healthy immune system and refresh your brain. Chronic stress leads to metabolic disease and weight gain. It is nearly impossible to lose weight when you are always stressed and sleep deprived. Study
  1. Fatten up your diet: A diet low in carbs and processed foods, with moderate amounts of protein and high in healthy fats encourages your body to use fat for fuel, all day long. Avocados, coconut oil, nuts, eggs, salmon, sardines, olives, cheese and other foods high in fat will cut your hunger pangs and give you plenty of energy for your workouts. Study

Losing excess body weight can be a positive step toward better health. However, the scale should not be your only tool for measuring your progress. A well designed fitness program will help you reduce your body fat percentage, lose inches, and increase your overall strength and endurance. Obsessing about the numbers on the scale can undermine your progress and kill your motivation. Instead of zeroing in on a specific body weight, think about your energy level and how well your clothes fit. Looking and feeling your best spells success!

Resources

W.I.T.S. has all the tools you need to keep pace with the fitness industry and stay informed about the latest research. Increase your value and tap into a growing market with an Older Adult Fitness Certification. Help your clients manage stress and lose weight with Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Hone your business skills with our Online Business Management continuing education courses. Stay on top of the latest industry trends and watch your business grow with W.I.T.S.!

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5 Nutrition Myths You Should Stop Believing NOW!

The field of nutrition is constantly evolving, with new research emerging daily. As we understand more about the relationship of food to human health and physical performance, some longstanding beliefs have been proven false. Yet these food myths persist, and they may be harming your health.

1. A Calorie is a Calorie


A calorie, or more correctly a kilocalorie, is a unit measurement of energy. It represents the amount of energy derived from a certain quantity of food. Calorie counting is one way to achieve energy balance by subtracting calories consumed from calories expended. However, not all food calories are created equal. Some foods have “empty” calories, meaning they provide energy but little else in terms of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and enzymes your body needs to stay healthy. Consuming empty calories can leave you depleted, and your body will quickly convert them to fat.

2. Grains are Essential


In the old Food Guide Pyramid of the 90’s, grains and other carbohydrate foods formed the base, with recommendations to consume 60 percent or more of your calories from carbohydrates. Our current obesity epidemic bears witness to the fallacy of that advice. Livestock are fed grains to fatten them up, and that applies to humans too. Grain based foods like flour, rice and corn should be eaten sparingly. Get your carbohydrates from fresh whole vegetables, and fruits in moderation.

3. Saturated Fat is Bad

Since the 1950s, naturally saturated fats have been demonized because they were thought to contribute to heart disease and arterial plaque, yet no concrete evidence has emerged to support those claims. In fact, the demonization of natural fat has led us to change our diets from protein-based to carbohydrate-based, and we know where that got us. The real demon, it turns out, is trans fat, derived when plant-based oils are artificially infused with hydrogen to make them solid at room temperature. Processed peanut butter, margarine and shortening are examples of hydrogenated fats. Trans fats are often hidden in processed foods, snack foods and baked goods. Nuts, seeds, coconut oil, egg yolks and avocados are all good sources of healthy saturated fat.

4. Low Fat Milk Does a Body Good


This may be a hard nut to swallow, but mounting evidence suggests that low fat dairy products are harmful to your health, and may contribute to obesity. Low fat milk is loaded with sugar, and most commercial brands contain antibiotics, pain killers, growth hormones and traces of other harmful pharmaceuticals fed routinely to dairy cows. Dairy milk is intended to feed baby cows, not humans. If you can’t give up dairy, mounting evidence suggests that full-fat milk is better for you. A 2016 study published in “Circulation” found the consumption of whole fat milk to reduce the risk of diabetes.

5. Margarine is Better than Butter


For decades, Americans have been slathering a goopy yellow substance from a plastic tub on their toast, thinking they were making a healthful choice. Now we know that margarine is loaded with trans fats and chemicals that are far more harmful than the naturally occurring saturated fat in butter. A 2015 study published in the “British Medical journal” revealed that saturated animal fat does not increase the risk of heart disease, but trans fat does. Choose European butter to avoid drugs and chemicals.

Ask Yourself This

Before buying into the latest nutrition fad, ask yourself a few questions: Is it a whole natural food, or has it been altered and processed? Does it provide nutritional value other than energy? Is it laden with chemicals or tainted with pharmaceuticals? Has the color or texture been altered to make it look more appealing? As much as possible, stick with whole organic food. Eat more plants, and if you eat meat or animal products, choose grass fed pasture raised animal sources.

Resources

Healthy nutrition goes hand-in-hand with physical fitness. As the saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” Whether you want to learn the basics or keep up with the latest, W.I.T.S. has course offerings to meet your needs. Bite into the basics with Certified Personal Trainer or Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Take a stab at Nutrition Concepts. Sink your teeth into Fundamentals of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Dig into Pregnancy Fitness or Older Adult Fitness Foundations. Feed your brain with continuing education from any of our awesome CEC bundles!

References and Credits

de Souza, RJ et al. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. British Medical Journal, 351.

Yakoob, MY et al. (2016). Circulating biomarkers of dairy fat and risk of incident diabetes mellitus among US men and women in two large prospective cohorts. Circulation, 133(17), 1645-1654.

Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net:

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Fuel Deficiency: Nutrition and Older Adults

Food for Thought
For older adults, healthy balanced nutrition can be a major factor in determining overall quality of life. Yet for many older adults, getting all the necessary nutrients for optimal health can be a challenge. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging, malnutrition in older adults is highly prevalent amongst older adults living in their own homes, in long-term care facilities, and in hospitals. A 2013 study published in “Osteoporosis International” found malnutrition, especially inadequate protein, to be a major contributing factor to muscle wasting, and loss of strength. As fitness professionals, we need to be aware of the nutritional obstacles faced by our older adult clients so that we can help them achieve peak health and optimal daily function.

wits oa grumpy
Physical Factors
Many physical changes take place as a direct consequence of aging that can affect nutritional choices. Dental problems can make chewing difficult, causing older adults to steer clear of foods like meat and raw produce. Diminished senses of taste and smell can make food seem less appetizing. Poor prostate and bladder function, combined with reduced ambulatory function, can be a deterrent to staying hydrated, as every trip to the bathroom becomes a challenge. Reduced strength and diminished reaction time can make cooking and food preparation a chore.

wits oa medicine
Environmental Factors
In addition to natural physical changes, many other factors can keep older adults from eating well. Medications can affect the taste and smell of foods, making them seem unappetizing. Chemicals and preservatives in processed convenience foods can interfere with digestion and vital organ function, and microwave ovens can deplete nutrients. Antibiotics in animal products and medications can disrupt digestive intestinal flora, causing upset stomach, constipation and diarrhea. Poverty among older adults is also a critical component of malnutrition.

organic eggs
Simple Solutions
Despite the many obstacles faced by older adults, getting essential nutrients can be simple. A daily smoothie made from whole ingredients like bananas, berries, greens and organic Greek yogurt can provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein. Ingredients can be prepared and frozen in meal-sized portions, ready to be blended. Organic peanut butter on whole grain bread can provide protein and healthy fat. Organic free-range hard boiled eggs are a rich source of protein and nutrients. The yolks contain lutein for eye health, and egg yolks are a rich source of vitamins A, B and D. Plain organic yogurt is an excellent source of protein and digestive enzymes. A probiotic supplement may help improve digestion.

smoothie
Resources
Understanding the needs and physical limitations of older adults is important for trainers who wish to tap into this lucrative and growing market. As always, W.I.T.S. is on the cutting edge, providing quality education to help you grow as a fitness professional. To learn more about training older adults, explore our Older Adult Fitness Specialist, Older Adult Fitness Foundations, and Able Bodies Balance Training courses, all available online.
References and Credits
International Journal of Nurse Practitioners: Why are elderly individuals at risk of nutritional deficiency?
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16529597

National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging: Malnutrition and Older Americans
http://nutritionandaging.fiu.edu/aging_network/malfact2.asp

Osteoporosis International: Impact of nutrition on muscle mass, strength, and performance in older adults.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23247327

*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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Trainer’s Lunchbox: Tools for Managing Your Clients’ Nutrition

by Michelle Matte, MSEd, CSCS

Fitness and Forks

Challenging and effective exercise programming is the foundation of fitness. But for optimal performance and successful weight management, nutrition plays a critical role. As the saying goes, you cannot out-train a bad diet. In a perfect world, you would be present to monitor every morsel of food that passes your client’s lips. But in the real world, your client must make his or her own decisions about what, when and how much to eat. The best you can do is to hold them accountable, and educate them as you go. Fortunately, you do have some tools available to help.

smart fitness

Dear Diary

Requiring a daily food and activity diary is perhaps the most effective tool you can employ to hold your client’s feet to the fire. A 2008 study of approaches to weight loss published in the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine” found that subjects who journaled lost nearly twice as much weight as those who did not. The more frequent and thorough the journal entries, the greater the weight reduction. For maximal results, don’t wait until your next session to review your client’s food and activity log. Require them to submit a daily log electronically at the end of each day. Knowing that the log will be reviewed will make your client more mindful of their food and exercise behaviors throughout each day. Encourage them to add comments about their thoughts and feelings. Emotionally charged journaling is more impactful.

journal

What’s the Plan?

If you ask your typical early morning client what they plan to eat for the rest of the day, they will probably tell you they have no idea. Therein lies the problem. Without a plan, eating becomes random and your client often ends up eating too many calories from the wrong types of food. Here’s the strategy: Have your client submit a detailed plan for healthy meals and snacks for each day of the week, and then work with them to create a grocery list from their menu. When you have a plan, and you’ve stocked up on all the groceries you need to execute it, there are no excuses for making unhealthy choices. Offering some recipe suggestions and creative ways to use leftovers will help your client make the switch from SAD, the Standard American Diet, to FAB, the Forever Awesome Body.

healthy food

Healthy App-etite

Fitness training and technology have followed a similar growth curve over the past decade, and there are now a plethora of useful apps and online tools that can help you manage your client’s nutrition. Sites like livestrong.com and myfitnesspal.com provide tools that will count calories and give you a breakdown of nutrients for virtually any food eaten. They will also calculate calories expended for a wide range of activities. For tracking tools, daily food plans, menus and recipes, also try choosemyplate.gov. With your client’s permission, set up an account on one of these user-friendly sites so that you can both access and track their progress.

 

Resources

Nutrition and fitness are rapidly evolving fields, and new research is constantly contributing to our understanding about how the body uses food for fuel. You cannot rely on the latest nutrition fads to help your clients achieve results. To be a top trainer, nutrition education is an ongoing requirement. W.I.T.S. is here to help you succeed with our Nutritional Concepts available online.

References and Credits

Hollis, JF et al, 2008. Weight Loss During the Intensive Intervention Phase of the Weight-Loss Maintenance Trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 35(2):118-126.

 

Livestrong Foundation

livestrong.com

 

MyFitnessPal: Lose Weight with My Fitness Pal

https://www.myfitnesspal.com

 

United States Department of Agriculture: Super Tracker

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/supertracker.html

 

*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.