Flexible Dieting: IIFYM (If it fits your Macros)

I was first introduced to the term Flexible dieting or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) by Layne Norton. Norton is a PhD in nutritional science, co-founder of Avatar nutrition and USA Power lifting champion. His Twitter and Instagram feed is used as an outlet to dispel nutritional myths, disseminate scientifically reviewed information and provide entertaining rants that call out ‘Instagram trainers’ promoting pseudo training and nutrition tips.

To understand what IIFYM is about you must have a basic understanding of what a macro, short for macronutrient, is. Macronutrients are the building blocks of energy we consume each day, you know them as protein, carbohydrates, fats and alcohol. The official site for IIFYM states, “For our purposes, fiber intake should be a major consideration when tracking macros; therefore we include it in with the other macros”[1].

How does it differ from other diets?

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Fitness and the Media – Managing the Maze of “Fitness Facts”

If you have made a choice to change your exercise or diet routine recently and you don’t have your own personal trainer or dietician for advice, odds are the first place you turned to was the internet. Sifting through the hordes of information available today about physical activity and nutrition can be intimidating and overwhelming. It is hard to decipher what is reliable and effective and what isn’t, especially with all of the social media marketing around exercise. Whether you are scrolling through Instagram being bombarded by fitness models promoting their “best body” workout and diet plan, watching Dr. Oz promote a weight loss supplement or flipping through a magazine, it is easy to see how people get confused when it comes to what is best for them.

Fitness is not black and white, there is no one right way of being healthy. What does matter is finding information that is reliable – meaning that it is backed up by peer reviewed research- and that you enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing so that you will stick with it. Maybe you read an article about drastically cutting carbohydrates to lose weight quickly but for many of us this is not sustainable for a long period of time and then the tendency is to relapse to old eating habits along with a new confidence barrier to changing those habits again in the future.

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Deep Water Running

Target Muscle Group: Heart (great cardiovascular exercise), legs (glutes, hamstrings, quads), core stabilizers (rectus abdominus, erector spinae, transverse abdominus).

Performance Points:

  1. Begin by jogging in the deep end of the pool.
  2. Engage the core and driving one knee at a time up towards the chest while pumping the arms.

Modifications:

  • Level 1: Put on a flotation belt to assist you.
  • Level 2: Try jogging without a flotation belt.
  • Level 3: Hold one aqua dumbbell in each hand while jogging to add extra resistance.

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Winner, Winner Chicken dinner!

Dinner, the last core meal for many of us. Growing up, dinner was on the table between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. My family of six sat down to eat a meal put together by my mom, while the news played in the background. What is put on the dinner table can be influenced by work hours, after school programs, being single, married, having kids and economic status. A lot of my own cooking is inspired by what my mom made.

Simple, comfort and healthy are the themes my mom wove into each meal, although the healthy theme did not go over well with most of my siblings when we were younger. Most meals included a protein, starch, vegetable and we rarely ate out. Dinner throughout the week was simple, where Sunday dinners were a little more special.

If you struggle to find time to cook a healthy meal, create a weekly menu over the weekend and invest in a slow cooker. Having a menu in place and doing some meal prep beforehand can cut down the time it takes to put together a meal.

Slow cookers can come in handy when you have a later start and finish to your day. Throw your ingredients in the slow cooker set it on low for the whole day and when you get home, your meal is ready to go.

When preparing food for the week, understand the life expectancy of raw or cooked produce, meats, breads, condiments etc. There is nothing worse than having an expensive protein go to waste. Here are a couple of of my favourite meals.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • One 3-pound (1.4 kg) spaghetti squash
  • 3/4 pound (340 g) turkey sausage (or any favorite sausage)
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced1 to 2 cups thinly sliced kale
  • 1 cup (100 g) coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Oil a sheet pan with one tablespoon of the oil, or line the sheet pan with Silpat.
  2. With a sharp chef’s knife, slice off 1/2-inch from the ends of the spaghetti squash. Then stand the squash up on one of the ends to stabilize it, and cut the squash in half, top to bottom. Scoop out any seeds and stringy bits inside, and place the squash halves cut-side down on the oiled or lined sheet pan. Poke the tops of the halves with the tip of a sharp knife.
  3. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until you can easily poke the sides of the squash with a fork. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Then using the tines of a fork, scrape out the “spaghetti”-like strands of the squash to a bowl.
  4. Pinch and remove small chunks of sausage from the sausage casings to a plate.
  5. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Add the sliced kale and cook for a minute or two. Add the sausage, and cook without stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, then stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage bits are cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the spaghetti squash strands to the sausage mixture and stir to combine, cook until the squash is heated through, about a minute.
  7. Remove from heat and add the grated Parmesan cheese and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 large red onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 Green and Red Pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (16 oz.) red kidney beans, drained rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tbsp. Oregano
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Optional

  • Tabasco (for more heat)
  • Sour cream (to finish, balance heat)
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (to finish)
  • Green Onion (to finish)
  • Crusty bread (to dip)
  1. In 12-inch skillet, cook beef, onion peppers over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
  2. In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix beef, onion and remaining ingredients.
  3. Cover and cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.

Hip Abduction/Adduction In the Pool


Do you want an exercise to work your inner and outer thighs that you can do in the water?  Try this hip abduction/adduction exercise.

Target Muscle Group:

  • Primary muscles: adductors and gluteus medius. 
  • Secondary muscles: core stabilizers.

Performance Points:

  • Begin by holding one Aqua Dumbbell in each hand.  Bring both legs out into a front floating position like you are sitting in a chair with your legs straight out in front. 
  • Keeping both legs straight, open and close your legs 10-15 times alternating which leg goes on top each time you close your legs. 

Modifications:

  • Level 1: Start with both feet on the bottom of the pool and do jumping jacks (open/close legs) pushing off the bottom of the pool in between each movement.
  • Level 2: Take both legs into a floating position as described above.

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Nutrition: The Mid-day Refuel

Lunch is, for many, the first “real” meal of the day, so it’s important to make it healthy and filling. (Also important? Checking out last month’s article, “Make Breakfast Great Again,” to rediscover the importance and benefits of starting your day with a good breakfast!)

The days of brown bagging or lunch pail meals are over. It is time step up your lunches and make them a balanced, refueling part of your day. When to eat your lunch is often dictated by a scheduled break or when consumed your last meal. Going long periods without any kind of food leads to lack of focus or energy and restlessness or anger also known as getting “hangry”.

The first thing you have to do to make your lunch more satisfying is actually setting aside time for yourself to enjoy it. Often times we allow work to take over and neglect to sit down and enjoy our meal. Savoring a meal and taking time to enjoy it instead of shoveling it back in under five seconds will prolong the feeling of being satiated, reducing the urge to eat more between lunch and dinner. Instead of consuming your lunch quickly, spend more time to enjoy it and have the energy to stay focused and put forward quality work.

Buying your lunch every day can add up. The cost of a sub or deli sandwich can easily get you a loaf of bread, lean deli meat, a head of lettuce and a tomato. Below I will outline how to make a great sandwich. You can save yourself a lot of time prepping the night before or on the weekend. Tomatoes have a shelf life of approximately a week and cucumbers 1-2 days so plan accordingly.

The king of lunches, the Sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (after that everything is optional based on tastes)
  • Green leafy lettuce or baby spinach (higher iron, calcium content)
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Mayo, mustard (sweet, classic yellow or spicy)
  • Pickle
  • Cheese (Swiss, cheddar, provolone, Havarti)
  • Avocado
  • Bacon
  • Salt/pepper

To avoid a soggy sandwich line the two slices of bread with lettuce to create a moisture barrier. Stack the slippery vegetables, tomato, cucumber, pickles, avocado, then deli meat and condiments in the center. Fold one-half on the other and bring it in a Tupperware to save on waste. ENJOY!

Don’t Sit on Sedentary Behaviour

It is no secret that in today’s society we are spending more and more time sitting. However, are we truly aware of how much time it is on a daily basis and the health implications that can come along with sedentary behaviour? The phrase “sitting is the new smoking” is catching on as research continues to come out highlighting the dangers sedentary behaviour can present to our health. Increased sedentary behaviour is linked to health risks such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and premature mortality behaviour (Dunstan et al., 2012).

How Inactive Are We?

Sedentary behaviour is not just sitting on the couch at home watching Netflix – it is any time spent being inactive, whether it be sitting at your desk at work, lying in bed, driving in your car, or screen time (time spent watching TV, on the computer, playing video games, etc.). Adults spend on average 7-9 hours per day being sedentary (Dunstan et al., 2012), while children and youth (ages 6-19) spend an average of 8.6 hours per day sedentary (Tremblay et al., 2011).

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) has come out in recent years with guidelines for sedentary behaviour for ages 0-17 years that can be accessed via their website, csep.ca. Much like physical activity guidelines, they provide recommendations for the amount of time youth should be spending sedentary each day. Guidelines have not yet been released for adults, but it is safe to say that the vast majority of us will benefit from reducing the amount of time we spend inactive.

How Can You Change Your Behaviour?

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Exercise: Russian Twists in the Pool

Want a core exercise that you can do in the water?  Try a Russian Twist.

Target Muscle Group:
The primary muscles involved in the Russian Twist are: obliques and rectus abdominis.

Performance Points:

  1. Grab a set of Aqua Dumbbells or place a noodle behind your back for extra support.
  2. Begin by lifting both feet off the bottom of the pool. Engage your abdominal muscles and bend both knees.
  3. Extend both legs to the right, bend both knees through center and then extend both legs to the left.
  4. Continue alternating right and left until you have completed a set of 10-15.  Rest for 30 seconds and then try a second set.

Modifications:

  • Level 1: Russian Twists can be performed by bending the knees in between each one.
  • Level 2: Staying on one side for 10-15 reps rather than alternating back and forth after each one will make the exercise more challenging.
  • Level 3: Keeping the legs straight throughout the entire exercise.

Visit our website for our personal trainer bios and information on fitness program designs and individual and group personal training.

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.

Nutrition: Make Breakfast Great Again

We partially wake up, get ready, stop to get a cup of dark unleaded to completely wake up then try to beat the morning rush. In a go-go-go lifestyle, we often neglect any form of breakfast because there is a perceived time crunch or breakfast is for kids. The pre-diabetic starter packs we call cereal is heavily marketed towards kids, but there are options on the shelves and even better ones by combining items from the produce and cereal aisles. Most of us are not excited until that rush of caffeine hits our system and we feel mentally alert to start the day. It is time to make breakfast great again, get excited about waking up and preparing the fuel to start your day.

Breakfast is an important of your daily nutrition. Skipping breakfast is associated with other health compromising habits, such as smoking and infrequent exercise[1]. Start by changing the one lifestyle habit at the beginning of your day and stick with it before changing others.

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Benefits of Stretching before and after exercise

Stretching, in general, is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into Susie-Stretch-2your daily routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles.  There are debates as to whether or not it is best to stretch before or after exercise.  There are also conflicts regarding the best way to stretch and how long an individual should hold their stretches.

Use these tips to help you with your stretching routine:

  • Do dynamic stretches before your workout or activity. The short definition of dynamic stretching is “stretching as you are moving”.  Dynamic stretching can mimic the exercises that you will perform during your workout to help your body get used to the movements.  Dynamic stretching is important to increase core temperature, range of motion and nervous system activity.
  • Static stretches can be done every day and are especially important after a workout. Be sure to stretch out the muscles you used in your workout.  Static stretches require no movement and should be held for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Stretching should not be painful. If you are feeling pain then loosen the stretch slightly.
  • Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture.
  • Stretching exercises have powerful stress-busting abilities. Stretching loosens tight muscles which helps your muscles both relax and increase blood flow. It also encourages the release of endorphins, providing a sense of tranquility.
  • Don’t bounce throughout your stretch. Bouncing the stretch will produce tiny tears within the muscle.
  • Always remember to breathe when you are stretching.

If you’re feeling tired or you feel like your day is dragging, it might be time to get up out of your chair and do a few good stretches.  Muscles tighten when we get tired and stretching will help increase blood flow to our muscles and keep us more alert.

If you’re not sure where to start here’s some sample stretches you could do .

by Cindy Hunt

Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program.  She holds numerous group fitness certifications.  Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle.  She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.